A weighty issue

A month in Turkey left me glowing. Revitalised. So much stronger, fitter, healthier and happier than I’ve been in months. My skin glowed, my cheekbones were visible, my eyes bright, my stomach flatter. I walked straighter, I smiled and radiated health. My cravings had disappeared, I wasn’t being ruled by food, happily making good food choices and not overeating. I was feeling bloody fantastic.

Then I stepped on the scales at home and my confidence crumbled around me. 

A month of living my best life and I had lost 1.5 kilograms. I was gutted. What was the point of spending all that time and energy and thousands of euros? Of depriving myself of Turkish Delight and bread if all I was going get out of it was a measly 1.5kgs? I had consumed nothing but fruit and vegetable juices for two weeks, reduced my daily calories to around 1200 and on top of this had been moving enthusiastically. I had swum vast distances fuelled by fish and salad, delicious olives and divine tomatoes, not tempted by the sweets at the breakfast buffet, and when I had eaten the bread it had felt devoid of nutrition and the Turkish Delight after a swim had left me a bit woozy. But I had denied myself and still not got the results I needed, that I deserved. Where was the fairness in that? I’m going to buy Doritos damn it.

And then I shook my head in confusion. Frustration. I had got exactly what I had needed from Turkey. I felt amazing. I was confident, and I was happy for the first time in months. I wasn’t being ruled by food. And I was going to let all of this goodness be undone by this machine? Am I insane?

To a certain degree, I think that I, that we, are insane. We are taught to obsess about our weight and our looks. To measure our worth in the weight that we hold. I don’t want to be overweight. I function better when I am a healthy weight, depression lifts when I exercise and it reduces the risk of illness…although as I’ve already had cancer at 39, I’m not sure how I feel about that argument. But to pursue a number on a scale obsessively and relentlessly seems unhealthy too.

My therapist put it perfectly – comparing yourself to an ideal is constantly punishing yourself. Wow.

Do I want to be healthy? Undoubtably. Do I want to let scales tell me if I should feel good about myself? Hell no.

My family knows how concerned I am about my weight and how desperate I was to lose some while I was away. On my return, my svelte and careless sister laughed, “I lose 1.5kg doing a shit.” Her enormous shits aside, it was frustrating that her first reaction, like mine, had homed in the tangible measurement. So when I spoke to mum I flipped it. Do I look healthier? Do I sound happier? She agreed that I did, so I said, let’s just leave it at that. She suggested I lie about my weight loss, but I think that’s a disservice. I would prefer to let people know how hard it can be. That you can do all the right things, but it doesn’t translate to the scales.

Weight gain is a massive issue with treatment, particularly if treatment includes medically induced menopause. Body image is a massive issue with treatment, the lost of a breast makes weight gain even more obvious. Losing weight is particularly difficult with treatment. I hear so many stories from women uncomfortable with their changed bodies and, like me, often it’s not the loss of one or two breasts they are struggling with, it’s the weight gain.

I was going to end this by saying, so, no quick fix in Turkey, but that is wrong. I feel amazing.

I have put my scales away. They are an important measure for a long term goal, but they don’t have to be a daily flagellation.

Distance swum since last post: 1.0km
Distance swum to date: 35.3km
Distance to go: 164.7km

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