Krissie: Vanity, Vanity, All is Vanity

So that’s what my hair looks slightly parted with the dreaded bangs to one side. Not happy. Maybe it’s simply the cut. It looked fabulous after Hannah did it, but it’s not wearing well, and I don’t want to be using product on a daily basis. It’s fun for special occasions but not now.
but I digress. The scale is sitting happily at 230.5 to 231, which is nice if only slightly frustrating. Losing at a glacial pace is always better — means the skin gets less saggy, means you’re in better shape about regaining.
So, I’m still on vanity, because there was so much food for thought in the comments yesterday. One thing that’s changed — the last time I lost significant weight I was at least …. hmmmm, fifteen years younger? Maybe more. And yes, times have changed. It’s such a loaded question.
Case in point — every time I go to RWA people compliment on losing weight, even if I’ve gained. And my theory is that everyone remembers me as bigger than I really am, so the reality is better.
Of course, that’s a fairly depressing theory.
And now that I’m (cough, cough) 57 significant weight loss usually signals something dire, not something nice. I’m probably just as guilty of thinking those dire things when I see someone my age melting away.
And here’s a little Krissie story. I do try not to offend (at least, not on personal matters) and I’ve run into trouble so many times asking people if they’re pregnant (always much worse than mentioning weight). A couple of years ago an acquaintance came by to pick up a check for garden work and she was wearing a maternity top and clearly about 8 months along. Having run into trouble before, I blurted out “Oh, are you fat?”
Yes, Krissie, well done.
I remember a larger woman I know talking about “when the baby comes” and I said “Oh, are you pregnant?” Considering she was almost at term that was as big an insult as asking someone who isn’t pregnant if she is.
The last library job I had, when I was about 31, I was trying desperately to get pregnant. I’d also made a nice, loose, trapeze-style denim jumper (they were big that year). And every damned person kept asking me if I was pregnant, rubbing salt in the wound. I finally embroidered “No, I’m Not” on the front. Sometime I’ll talk about infertility, but today isn’t the day.
But I digress.
I have very mixed feelings about being praised for weight loss, just as many of you do. It’s that old line — “you look beautiful — I hardly recognized you.” What’s wrong with the way I used to look?
Part of me wants to show off, but part of me doesn’t. Because we go up and down and temporary weight loss means nada in the long run (and might even be bad for us). I didn’t want to show up at RWA a newer, slimmer version. Not until I wrap my heard around it.
Mind you, I was more conflicted the year my sister died, when I lost ten pounds and then got distracted. It said right on her death certificate that she died of “emphysema complicated by obesity.” She wouldn’t have died if she hadn’t eaten herself to death. Death by Cheez-its, I kid you not. As if I weren’t conflicted enough about the entire weight issue to begin with!
I’ve made some peace with it, at least better than three years ago. But I’ve got a ways to go.
I guess part of my issue is, again, the roller coaster. The high of losing weight, gathering the compliments, preening, buying new clothes. Followed, almost inevitably, by the regain, the buying larger clothes again, ending up worse than you began, and the added shame of having failed.
One good thing about surgery — even those who regain don’t go back to their previous weight. But it’s clear it’s not a magic button. People with eating disorders find a way around everything to regain. God knows, I have.
I don’t want to do it again. I don’t want to dance around the house singing “I’m skinny, I’m skinny” when I finally dip into the 220s or teens or even below 200, only to surge back up when something terrible happens, because terrible things always happen. (Sorry, but you’re talking to someone who lost her beloved father when he was 58, nephew at 18, brother at 40, sister at 64, all without warning. Just a phone call and everything changes.)
So I think I need to make peace with weight loss. Look at it clearly and calmly, figure out what I need, why I need it, and stay on task. It’s much much harder to keep weight off than to lose it, and it’s once you stop being in the moment that disaster happens.
Big sigh. (Mentioning my family always puts me in tears). Anyway, clearly there are no easy answers or dieting wouldn’t be such a multi-billion dollar industry.
I have lots of food for thought, even if not much on my plate (chortle).
And on the good news front, Crusie’s still losing weight too, even while ignoring the whole thing. And when she mentioned she wasn’t down 10% (though she’s close) I realized I am. Or close enough that I’ll take it. I was in the low 250s when I started, and I’ve lost 25 pounds. Very very cool. I think it calls for a celebration or a (non-food) treat.
I’ve accomplished a lot.

38 thoughts on “Krissie: Vanity, Vanity, All is Vanity

  1. You HAVE accomplished a lot. Maybe if you forget about the phrase “I’m losing weight” and focus on the “I’m getting healthier” then the big bad “What if I put it back on???” will go away. Or at least lose some steam and power.

  2. Commenting on weight is a very tricky topic. You wouldn’t think so, but I find it very irritating when people come up to me and call me “boney” or “tease me” about being anorexic simply because I am at a good weight for my height / frame. Just because I don’t need to lose weight doesn’t mean I have an eating disorder. Grrr.

    And don’t you just love that “Wow! You look great today!” As opposed to what? How I usually look??

    LOL – sorry. My WTF Wed is bleeding over here…

  3. Ylva Hedin says:

    You have accomplished alot!! Well done!!!

    ah thats a problem telling people they looked wonderful loosing all that weight.

    I have a friend that was on the lager side until she got cancer…

    People use to tell her she looks great: “thank you” she said “but I feel like shit. Thats cancer for you!”

    She survived the cancer but still… I think people that told her that she looked great loosing all that weight really dont want to do the same misstake again!

  4. About the product, Krissie: I resist, too – I love the texture of my hair au naturel. But I’ve got fine, dead straight hair, and I don’t want to start perming it again. So I’ve reluctantly accepted that I have to put gunk on it if I’m not to look like a pinhead (I’m five foot ten and larger than I should be).

    I don’t bother if I’m going to be at home all day (don’t wear a bra, either: comfort rules!). But if I go out – or if I were to take a photograph of myself, like you! – I gunk up.

  5. Kieran says:

    You know, when you stay busy as a bee focusing on good health, all those vanity issues fall by the wayside. Keep talking, researching, doing–anything that has to do with getting healthy. You simply won’t have time to consider the beauty aspects when you’re pouring sweat after another workout or scraping veggies around your wok!!!

    The hardest thing for me, and I am still learning, is to turn away from the emotional hot spots and say, “I’m not THAT. I don’t even have to think about THAT.” It’s not a cop-out. It’s a choice. Life boils down to free will. How will you exert yours? Ask yourself that every day.

    I think I sound bossy and know-it-all sometimes, and I don’t mean to. I simply want to share what has worked for me.

  6. Kieran says:

    One more thing related to what I said earlier. In my life, I tend to get slung around by my feelings like a rag doll. But I’m MORE than my feelings. I’m a thinker. A worker. A walker. A mom. A writer. A lover of lowbrow movies and chocolate. Feelings have their place, but they are NOT all of me. And I’m tired of being held hostage by them.

    In the old days, people had to focus on daily survival. When you won’t have food that day, who has time for feelings? You go pick berries or stalk an animal and kill it so you can stay alive. We have too much time these days to analyze our feelings. Krissie, I like that you’re staying busy, sewing, swimming, researching good, healthy things to do and eat. Yet you are acknowledging your feelings and in general, seem to be showing them that you’re the boss and not the other way around.

    Yay for that! You’re not suppressing those feelings–you’re acknowledging them and moving forward, staying busy being the WHOLE you, not just part of you.

  7. I like the side bangs.
    A young stylist gave me a super hint for side bangs. Spray your finger tips with hairspary and then tug on the ends of the strands you want to remain straight. You can do similar with the roots of hair on the crown and that way you get a little volume but not too much and you don’t get that stiff look that says your hair wouldn’t move in a tornado. : )

  8. You said: Having run into trouble before, I blurted out “Oh, are you fat?”

    Oh Krissie, that is fecking hysterical. Seriously, I read that after taking a gulp of water and *just* about doused my keyboard with it.

  9. oneoftheotherjennifers says:

    There is a strong bias against obesity in our culture, and that sucks. It sucks a LOT more than the fact that people think it’s OK to be rude and insulting to those who are a healthy weight.

    But calling someone “boney,” “skin and bones,” “a rail,” “a toothpick,” or implying that they are anorexic, bulimic, or just shallow is still rude and insulting.

  10. McB says:

    You’ve accomplished a lot! And I always think accomplishing something is the biggest incentive for continuing to move forward.

    One small suggestion, just something to think about. You are right that something else is bound to happen eventually. I don’t say that to bring you down, but to encourage you to acknowledge it and make a plan NOW. It’s like knowing how you’ll get out of the house if it catches fire. You might not ever need it, but when the time comes, you should know where the rope ladder is and not have to go rummaging around for it. I even find that just having a plan helps me feel less out of control.

  11. oneoftheotherjennifers says:

    The side bangs are pretty, but only the same amount of pretty you were before bangs. Whether we like it or not, people interpret our personality first through appearances (seems shallow, but visual is the first thing they get so what else do they have to go on?). Different looks have come to stand for different personality types, but maybe you don’t really see yourself as a “bang person,” whatever that means to you, and that’s why you’re not happy with them.

    Dunno, just throwing this out there, because really the bangs do look nice.

  12. Alis says:

    Those trapeze jumpers are a killer! I had one that I loved. It was mid-weight denim with a subtly quilted top/front panel. It packed well and went with everything, so I wore it to visit my in-laws. In one week I was asked 3 times if I was pregnant and once was mistaken for a nun. (Catholic high school football game. Loads of fun.)

    I’m right beside you on this weight loss journey. I hit 20lbs lost (almost 10%)and am in a little holding pattern right now. I completely understand your vanity frustrations! I have a different problem with people commenting, though. A lot of my overweight was a way of hiding from the world and when people notice me and comment on my appearance I realize, “Oh shit! I’m visible!” Then I freak out and run around pretending to be a “normal person” but really just want to eat doughnuts until I’m back at a weight where people just ignore my existence.

    It’s an old panic, though, and I finally feel like I’ll be okay when people start to “see” me again. So, I’m just slogging along, losing a little at a time and getting used to the new me.

    No matter what else happens, though, I doubt I’ll go back to the jumpers–no matter how cute I think they are. 😛 “Sister Mary Alis” is just too weird.

  13. The only way I keep myself from obsessing about the weight aspect of getting healthy is to set my goals in terms of performance (I want to be able to run a 5k, for example). That way, when I bring up the work I’ve been doing to get in shape/be healthy, I can frame it in terms of “I’m looking forward to [activity]” and people can react to that how they will without having to mention weight loss.

    I’m the type of person that doesn’t notice weight loss unless it’s either drastic or I see the person regularly. If I think they’ve lost weight, I’m not sure so don’t want to be awkward and bring it up. Conversely, if I know they’ve lost weight but can’t really tell the difference because of my oblivious, it seems fake and wrong to exclaim over it. With my powers of awkwardness combined, I tend to stay silent or default to “you’re looking good” and let people apply it as they will.

  14. You’re doing great. 10% is amazing. Having lost and gained, I know slow is better and lasts longer, but its so frustrating.
    And Kieran, I love what you said. “I’m MORE than my feelings. I’m a thinker. A worker. A walker. A mom. A writer. A lover of lowbrow movies and chocolate.”

  15. Heather says:

    Please, please don’t beat yourself up. Weight loss is not a simple equation. Researchers have been trying FOR YEARS to find a reliable way to help people lose weight and keep it off, and if it were just a simple matter of eat less/weigh less, they would’ve proven that by now. But it’s complicated by our own bodies’ reactions to weight loss – hormonal changes, metabolic changes, appetite changes. Regaining isn’t destined to happen, but if it does, please do not take that as proof of failure. Take it instead as proof of your body’s cunning instinct for survival. Or something like that, anyway. 🙂

    Two things for you – a book I both love and hate called Rethinking Thin by NYTimes science writer Gina Kolata, and the National Weight Control Registry.

    Keep doing what you’re doing. If the scale settles for awhile, that may be your body resetting and getting ready for the next round (that’s what one of my endocrinologists believed, anyway – he said that after losing 10%, the body pauses to reset at the new weight).

  16. Good thought. I’d like to be able to go for a walk with my husband. Though actually that’s more a problem with the knees than weight. Though less weight should make the knees less painful until I can (ulp) get them replaced.

  17. Jessie says:

    When I was a girl -back in the previous millenneum (isn’t it insane to be able to say that) – , my grandmother always said that we should not ever (1) ask personal questions and (2) make personal remarks. It is rude. Her other favorite was that I should not add my two cents worth to a conversation that I was not included in even if it was occuring right next to me and the conversation was occuring at normal volume. Also do not discuss religion or politics. Grandma didn’t have any fun but on the other hand, everyone thought she was very nice and very charming.

    It is part of our American heritage to make personal remarks. And I have never found a way to complement someone without making a personal remark. Although looking at the reactions to complements it is clear that Grandma was correct. So – Is it good to say “What a pretty outfit” instead of “That outfit looks pretty on you”?

  18. Lee says:

    Krissie, I love this picture of the bangs! They are very flattering to your face, especially with those glasses.

    As a matter of fact, I may print it out as a reminder to myself; I’ve been toying with the idea of bangs, and haven’t really seen any I liked until yours.

    A hairdresser several years ago introduced me to leave-in conditioners. I use the Tresemme for Volume – it’s fairly inexpensive, easy to find in most drugstores and lasts forever (until I wash it out) without feeling stiff. My hair is past my waist, but I can work a tiny (quarter-sized) blob into it to keep my hair mostly corraled for the day. You’d only need a fraction of that; squeeze it into your palm, rub them together to distribute, then run your hands briefly through your hair before brushing/combing into the style you want. Fairly fuss-free ~ you might try it with whatever conditioner you currently have on hand, but remember to use only a tiny bit because you’re not rinsing it out again.

    Good luck ~

  19. Egads says:

    What Heather said.

    Genes take charge, and diets fall by the wayside

    Two quotes that stand out to me:

    “And that led them to a surprising conclusion: fat people who lost large amounts of weight might look like someone who was never fat, but they were very different. In fact, by every metabolic measurement, they seemed like people who were starving.

    “The Rockefeller subjects also had a psychiatric syndrome, called semi-starvation neurosis, which had been noticed before in people of normal weight who had been starved. They dreamed of food, they fantasized about food or about breaking their diet.”

    So my take on this is that when we lose weight we are driven by our bodies to regain it. The results of losing weight literally mess with our minds. That said, personally, it helps me to understand what the body is doing, so I don’t imagine the reactions are merely a “failure” on my part. I can respond more rationally then.

  20. Maria says:

    “I blurted out “Oh, are you fat?””

    Oh dear gods, I am still laughing. Thank you so, so much for this. I think that I may use this as a new catch phrase for all of my own verbal faux pas.

  21. Maria says:

    You know knee replacement isn’t that horrible and much easier to get through than hip replacement. Or at least that is what I’ve been told. Hip replacements are the ones that are tough on the recovery because you can over do it.

  22. Oh, yeah. Get me started on being skinny… (grits teeth). I even had someone go to my mother one time to tell her I was anorexic and she had better do something about it (I was 28 and married).

  23. I’ll join the ‘like the bangs’ crowd. That having been said, I hate spending time on my hair. I think it’s because I spent too much time on it when I was much younger. 🙂 My kids nagged me into getting a short cut/no perm. It took awhile to get used to (for me, everybody else liked it), but now I love wash and wear hair!

    As for your weight, you are doing an excellent job. Take your time taking it off. Not only is it healthier for you and your body chemistry, but it will give you time to mentally accustom yourself to the changes you’ve made in your eating habits, making it less likely you’ll go back to bad habits.

    “Oh, are you fat?” just about put me away. 🙂

  24. JulieR says:

    I was in an airport once waiting at the baggage carousel. When my suitcase showed up, a nice gentleman made a big deal out of grabbing it for me. He wanted to take it to the taxi, or get me a porter, or something. It became clear he didn’t want me to carry it. My thought at the time: I must look really old today (I was probably late 40s) and he doesn’t want the old lady to lug her own bag.

    Later, I realized I was wearing a top that I knew made me look pregnant. Oh! He didn’t want the *pregnant lady* to carry her own bag! Then I was kind of tickled: I was late 40s and he thought I looked young enough that he assumed I was pregnant!

  25. Tara says:

    I completely understand what you mean by needing some form of validation, preferably by the people who love us. In the last year I have lost 65 lbs, and the only people who seem to notice and comment are people that have not seen me in a long time. Those close to me don’t seem to notice at all. However, I was terribly ill for much of that time, so maybe people are scared to mention it as they don’t want to bring up the illness. Then one day one of my teenage son’s friends told me that I was a total MILF and I have to say, it completely made my day and continues to make me smile when I think about it, although it is inappropriate and I should probably discourage such things (not). Anyway, please accept my comment as validation. You look MARVELOUS! The difference in your pictures is considerable and your face looks much thinner and your hair is shinier and you just look great. Now if only you would smile….

  26. Oooh, hair past your waist! Jealous! Mine could ever grow past elbow length (of course I had long straight hair when I was a folkie in the early 60s. When I hadn’t been born yet. No wonder I couldn’t grow my hair).
    In fact I have some leave in conditioner that I bought at the hairdresser a couple of cuts ago and never used it. I’ll try it next time.

  27. Micki says:

    (-: This whole “noticing people’s weight” thing is in the air for me. I was at a BBQ last week, and there was a stranger who really, really looked pregnant to me — her face and legs were very normal, but she had the blousy top, and it looked like there was something under it. And, being pregnant in Japan can be a lonely, scary thing, so I thought I’d ask . . . I got as far as, “This is terribly rude, but . . . ” when it suddenly morphed into, “you have a beautiful top!” And it was a beautiful top.

    “Oh, that’s not rude at all!” she burbled.

    I totally chickened out (-:. Because when it comes down to it, it’s really none of my business if she’s pregnant, and I gave her a chance to spill. (-: I still wonder if she’s pregnant, though, but that’s the curse of my curious monkey mind (-:. (I’m smiling so much at my own goofballiness.)

    Lots of food for thought in this post . . . .

  28. Krissie, I so identify with the lose-gain-happy/ashamed roller coaster. Sucks to the nth.

    I couldn’t do it to myself again and that’s another reason I chose weight loss surgery. A dear friend was worried for me and begged me to try one more time to lose weight on my own. I gently told her that losing it was only half the battle. I had no confidence that I could keep it off.

    I still worry. The reduced stomach size is a incredible tool but the hard work takes place in my head and heart. That’s where I will succeed or fail.

    From what you share here it sure sounds like you’re shoring up the foundation for long term success!

  29. Diane (TT) says:

    I like the way the bangs look, too. AND I’m envious of people who are able to grow their hair long – much past my shoulders and mine gets all wispy and thin.

    10% is good – they say that losing 10% can make a significant improvement in your risk of those various lifestyle-related diseases, so good for you! And I hope that you DO get to take a walk with your husband – those of us who can walk easily take that for granted, and we shouldn’t. Go, you!

  30. Ah Krissie – you do make me grin. And think. And thank the gods for my wonderful family. You’ve accomplished SO MUCH.

    Love the bangs – seems like you’re just taking time about adjusting to them. Hang in there.

    Sending hugs!

  31. Yes, indeed, the hard work takes place in the head and heart. All those diet companies pay little or no attention to that, but it’s crucial.
    Richie’s cousin did take off about 60 pounds twenty years ago, when she was about 35, and she’s kept it off. So it can happen.
    Catherine Coulter was pudgy when I first met her. She’s been ruthlessly thin for decades.
    So it can be done. It’s work. Most things in life ARE hard work.

  32. Stephanie says:

    I think you look great. However, I only just found out about you, therefore have no basis for what you might have looked like before. My husband is always on a diet. Always. It drives me bonkers. Don’t get me wrong I’m a advocate for healthy living/eating. But oh boy do I get cheesed off when he tells me he’s not eating *insert fad diet veto food here*. It’s usually the one thing I have out to cook for dinner or its been in the menu for the week. Very aggravating. So one month I’m not cooking carbs, then next we’re vegetarians, and the month after that we are in an high protein world. Then back to no carbs. *head wall*

    So with that, I’m off to cook a no carb/no fun dinner!

  33. I like the bangs. Actually you look like you are on the verge of a laugh out loud belly laugh. Come one. Go ahead. Celebrate your day. Do a little happy dance sitting in your chair.

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