Can we be honest here? Nobody is perfect with their diet and fitness routine. We all make mistakes. And guess what, mistakes are usually a lot of fun. Who doesn’t love to spend an entire day on the couch binge-watching Netflix and not giving a shit? Who doesn’t love the occasional gluttonous feast? And there is nothing wrong with that. We shouldn’t feel ashamed when that happens.
Part of why I am able to stay in shape is because I’ve learned to not be too hard on myself. I made a lifestyle style change. I didn’t ever go in saying I was going to always stick to the plan. I suck at that. I am messy, disorganized and show up late to everything. So why would I expect myself to pitch a perfect game? Not my style. But I eat healthy most the time. I love fruits and vegetables. I love healthy food… but, junk food is kind of delicious. I eat the occasional pint of Ben and Jerry’s. I occasionally say “fuck it” and get a soda instead of water. And I’m going to say it, I LOVE FAST FOOD! Well, I usually feel like shit after, but it’s delicious in the moment.
So you want to know the real secret to being healthy and balanced? It’s called moderation! It’s this great thing when you are healthy most of the time, but you still unleash your inner fat kid every once in a while.
And the best part is I get to I eat chocolate on a daily basis.
Former Fat Person Disorder (FFPD) is a condition seen in people who used to be overweight or obese. It is seen more commonly in women, but can also be seen in men. Risk of FFPD increases the longer a person was overweight and as the amount of weight lost increases. Risk decreases the longer a person stays at a healthy weight.
Signs & Symptoms:
Bipolar body image– People with FFPD will often show high levels of body confidence, but every once in a while their deep insecurities from being fat once upon a time will come out.
Paranoia about getting fat again – Gaining the weight back will often be one of their greatest fears. They may say delusional phrases such as “Yes, half a pound of weight gain is a big deal!”.
Obsession with food – They will often be obsessed with analyzing their food. They will frequently check the entire ingredient list before purchasing something. But this obsession will occasionally show up in getting aggressively excited when they eat junk food. Junk food is the forbidden fruit for many of them and they may struggle to eat it in a responsible manner when they do have it.
Forgetting they lost weight – Sometimes they may forget they are skinny. They may find themselves wandering into the plus size section or starting with trying on a size 12 when they know they are a size 8. This may also be as a result of past embarrassment from having to ask for the next size up.
Not knowing how to handle being hit on – Many people with FFPD were sexually repressed when they were fat. This may result in acting like a deer in the headlights when they are approached by potential romantic suitors. Some may go into overdrive with taking advantage sexual opportunities to make up for lost time.
Only wearing clothes that make them look skinnier – People with FFPD may not wear anything that they think makes them appear even slightly larger than they really are. Flowy tops are usually off-limits for them. They have a compulsive need for people to know they aren’t overweight anymore. This may be because they have not truly internalized their weight loss yet.
If you think you may have FFPD, recognize that you are in shape. Appreciate all the hard work you have put in and know as long as you keep with it you will stay that way.
If you think your friend or family member may have FFPD, just remind them every once in a while that they look good and encourage them to keep living a healthy lifestyle.
So you’ve identified the problem. You have decided you want to lose weight. Despite knowing where you are and where you want to be, you fail to take action. Why? And how do you get yourself to flip the switch?
There are many reasons people don’t take action on problems they’ve identified in their life. I think a common reason in weight loss is the feeling of being overwhelmed. Another reason may be because they don’t believe they will succeed. Their goal is just a distant idea, an ideal, a dream they haven’t embraced as a possibility.
One of the reasons I was able to lose the weight was because I fully embraced my goal as something that would happen. I knew that my goals would be achieved. I never doubted that.
If you feel overwhelmed about making healthy changes, start small. Make a contract with yourself for daily, weekly, monthly and big picture goals. Rather than focusing on the results, focus on the process. The basic principle is to make slow and gradual changes. Rather than saying you need to eat healthy and exercise a lot, look for smaller specific changes you can make.
You are going to have a hard time sticking to a diet if you don’t enjoy the food you eat. Find out which healthy foods you like. Chances are you will become more open to healthy foods as it becomes normal and comfortable. Start with healthy foods you like. First make sure you eat fruit and vegetables everyday. Then every meal. Then broaden your dietary horizons and try new types of fruits and vegetables. Then make sure you’re getting a full spectrum of nutrients. A good indication on the nutrients is by the color, so taste the rainbow. You can apply the same strategy to grains. If you eat white bread, try to gradually eat more whole grain. First have whole grain, then when you are ready, have 100% whole grain. Switch from white to brown rice or even try whole grain couscous or quinoa.
When it comes to exercise, start with activities that you actually enjoy. This can be a sport, dancing, running, hiking, swimming, biking, yoga, anything that involves movement. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Try to walk rather than drive. Find fitness classes and commit to that class for a certain amount of time. Go when it works for you. You will gradually make more time for exercise, but you will be most likely to go when it is convenient; when you have less excuses. Start by working out once a week. After a month, move up to twice. The next month, three times. Eventually you may find yourself having a hard time taking a rest day.
Always remember why you are doing this. Remind yourself of who you want to be. Why you don’t want to be where you are now. Remember that ultimately you are doing this for yourself and to improve your health and wellbeing.
It all started with a red bikini. I found it during the summer of 2010. I had recently completed my freshman year of college and had inflated to 210 lbs. I bought it believing that I would wear it someday. It took me another year and an additional 15 lbs. of weight gain before I changed things around, but I eventually followed through on that belief. Throughout my fitness journey I have used it to remind myself of the person I want to be.
The Red Bikini Project is my constant striving towards being the best version of myself through health and fitness. The Red Bikini is a symbol of what I aspire towards. It represents confidence, strength and not being afraid to stand out.
The Weight Gain:
I started to struggle with my weight in high school, although I was never more than 10-15 lbs. overweight. My weight escalated much more rapidly during my first two years of college. I used food as a way to handle stress. It would make the stress go away quickly and the effects would last long enough to get whatever it was off my mind. I kept burying every negative feeling I had with food rather than actually dealing with it. While I exercised a moderate amount, it didn’t make up for taking full advantage of an all-you-can-eat dining hall, late night study snacks and weekend festivities.
The Weight Loss:
I was able to get an on-campus apartment for my junior year, making me feel like I had much more freedom and control. I had avoided weighing myself for months, but I finally decided to rip the Band-Aid off and face the facts shortly before classes started. Once I saw my weight I could not hide from it anymore. Weighing myself was an expression of accepting the situation for what it was and committing to changing it for the better. An extra push was that I majored in health sciences. I didn’t want to make a career out of health and not make healthy choices in my own life.
I exercised about 5 times a week incorporating both strength and cardio. Taking fitness classes helped with regularity since I never made excuses and skipped workouts those days. This prevented me from getting into those ruts where you skip a few workouts and suddenly you haven’t been to the gym in a month. Running was one of the few physical activities that I used to dislike, but now running outside in nice weather is one of my favorite activities.
Calories were not my focus, but keeping track of them was helpful at first to hold myself accountable and get a better understanding of what an appropriate portion was. While losing weight I ate about 1700 calories a day, but I would usually go over on the weekends. I eat a balanced diet full of healthy and natural ingredients. I don’t believe in choosing between eating for health and eating for pleasure. I love food; eating a repetitive micromanaged diet of food I don’t like is not an option for me. Every time I go grocery shopping I buy something healthy that I haven’t tried before. Healthy cooking has become a creative outlet for me. Whenever I want to eat something unhealthy, I nutritionally upgrade it in a way that still tastes great. I love experimenting with different ingredients and creating healthy concoctions.
I never let weight loss take over my life; I made sure that I still had fun. I ate small amounts of dark chocolate on a daily basis. I allowed myself to occasionally have some junk food or moderate amounts of alcohol. I did not allow weight loss to feel like a punishment. While I had a goal weight, I approached it as a lifestyle change. This approach kept things in perspective when I made mistakes or inevitably didn’t always get the results I expected. Having a positive mindset is extremely important. When you change your behaviors out of love rather than shame, it is much easier to continue making healthy changes and feel good about yourself in the process.
My current focus is to maintain my weight, continue to improve my overall fitness and stay balanced.