Thinking about shrinking

I’ve lost a lot of weight in recent years. Occasionally I get complimented on this, and while it is pleasing to be complimented, I am also uneasy. I have not worked for this weight loss and I have not sought it. I have improved my quality of life, I sleep more, walk more, but I also eat a lot more cake. I’m aware that sometimes I lose weight because my digestive system packs up (usually stress induced). We praise people for weight loss, but it can so easily be a consequence of illness, while radical weight loss can be a cancer symptom. There is an assumption that thinner equals healthier, but that isn’t always so.

People tend not to ask me if I’m happy about this change, the assumption is that being thinner must mean being happier. Thin is not a magic cure all for life’s troubles, and a lot of people get thin, find nothing else changes, get miserable, and pile the pounds back on. It does not give you social skills, or turn mean partners into nice people, it does not bring true love in any reliable way. Thin is not always happier. I find bouts of weight loss make me especially vulnerable to depression – simply a blood sugar issue, and toxins previously stored in fat cells being released into the blood stream.

Eating less can mean having less energy and being able to get less done. That can mean becoming less able to exercise. Thin is not the same as fit. Nor is thin the same as having a healthy diet that provides enough nutrition. Body size and nutrition have no relationship, one can be overweight and malnourished as well.

I had long believed, mostly due to weight loss adverts, that being thinner meant having more energy, being more comfortable in your body and feeling good about yourself. I’ve dropped a number of clothes sizes. I remain uneasy about my bodyshape, and my energy levels depend entirely on how I balance sleep, activity and food. Size has made no discernible difference. I also have trouble walking into clothes shops and finding items that fit me, suit me and appeal to me. I thought that would get easier, but it hasn’t. Apparently my tastes have been a far bigger barrier in this regard than ever my shape has been.

Brains need fats. So does skin. There’s only so much calorie cutting a person can do before this becomes an issue. Refined sugars and carbs may be more of an issue, but these low carb diets are no good if you want to live an active life. I can’t walk the hills without energy in my food.

There’s also the problem of stopping. If thin is good, and more thin is more good, and amount of weight lost is what you post to facebook for your praise fix, when do you stop? When are you thin enough? And what do you do for a praise fix when you’ve not lost another couple of pounds? When being ever thinner becomes a goal, when ‘lose five pounds in a week’ is offered as a good thing regardless of your body size and health, we lock ourselves into a treacherous game. Being underweight is not a good thing. Malnutrition and hunger will wreck your quality of life.

Better to comment on people looking well, I think, than to focus on weight loss. Better to be interested in feeling well, than to be trying to get thinner at any cost.

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About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

5 responses to “Thinking about shrinking

  • aleanier

    Hi Nimue. Such an interesting blog. As a young woman I constantly battled to stay slim. Not easy I have to say. My ‘goal’ weight was around 9 stone, at this weight I could slip easily into size 10 -12 clothes!! Was I happy? No, not really as I couldn’t sit comfortably at this size and due to the years of bad eating habits formed due to my obsession of keeping slim, I screwed up my digestive system and along with stress, caused from various things going on, I now suffer (thankfully now very occasionally) from IBS.
    The last few years have seen my body shape changing. I am much curvier and a lot heavier than the sylph- like 9 stone and it hasn’t sat well with me until the last 6 months or so. The difference is now I am happy within myself and my life allows me to be who I am. I also know that without the necessary fuel my body and brain wouldn’t be capable of functioning in the work I do, let alone live a reasonably healthy life.
    I remember seeing a photo of you some years ago and thinking that the person on that picture was very different to the person I knew. Having seen a couple of recent photos of you now it is good to see that you look well and have a look of peace about you….and this has absolutely nothing to do with your weight, it comes from within.

  • Blodeuwedd

    This very much mirrors my experiences. I have always struggled with weight. I would like to lose some now, because I do know that my health would improve if I did. (I was around 3 stone lighter a few years ago and it did make me feel healthier) One of the reasons I lost all that weight though is that I was very unhappy. Feeling loved regardless of weight is a huge thing. There are so many issues around this its hard to know where to start but I do worry that we are bringing up our children to believe that the thinner you are the more attractive and loveable you are.

  • Yvonne Ryves

    I lost a pile of weight a couple of years ago, the result of being shocked into changing my diet by a high cholesterol level. The weight fell off and I was actually getting very worried about it. The loss hadn’t come about because I wanted it but through fear and the more and the faster I lost the more fear there was not of the cholesterol which is where it began but of where it was going to stop. The loss did stop, as my body got used to the new healthier food it slowed, stopped and then the weight crept back on. I am a but heavier now than when I started this but eat more healthily, and feel more healthy than I did when I lost all the weight. Now …..if only I could still get into my really skinny jeans as well.

  • Christopher Blackwell

    I mostly had the reverse problem as a teenager and young problem of gaining weight that I wanted. Recently I lost see about fifteen pounds and I found that to be alarming, so that I actually increased eating a bit. Now I am a few pounds above my ideal, but a few pounds, one way or another don’t bother me, just as long as I am close to the weight that I want.

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