I don’t know if you’ve seen the post that’s been causing an uproar of late, but if you haven’t I’ve included it to the left. It’s inspirational. It’s beautiful. She’s beautiful. Yet now she is also hated.
I can’t believe how many people have gotten in an uproar over it. The message is loud and clear – if you want something, you will find a way to get around it. Some of the responses (in rather harsh tones, mind you) list the excuses people are having – fibromyalgia, cancer, old age…
You know what, yes these might be excuses, but that’s what they are – excuses.
I could find a handful of methods that can be tried to help people overcome their excuses, but they’d just find more to come up with – because that’s the mindset they are set in. I’ve heard it before, from people I know… with the final kicker – “You just don’t understand.”
I also don’t understand how people think these kinds of images (and celebrities) impose unrealistic expectations. If they were unrealistic, then how could anyone do it? They mention time and money as being keys to being able to do it, but again, they are just excuses. Then there is the c-section excuse (you can’t exercise after a c-section, therefore that was given as an excuse as to why they were overweight) – well, how did you get there in the first place?
This image has inspired me to share my progress photos – and the story that goes with them:
When I was a kid, I was skinny. Like super skinny. I would get teased constantly. Teased so bad I would spend my nights crying myself to sleep. I tried to joke about it, to alleviate the hurt and stop some of the taunts, but secretly I wished that I was bigger – to be more accepted. So I did all I could, based on all I knew, to get more weight. I turned to junk food: Ice-creams (I remember once eating 10 ice cream sticks in one lunch break, to prove that I was not skinny due to anorexia – only to then have my best friend decide she didn’t like me because I couldn’t put on weight), chocolate (I would eat an entire family size block of chocolate every single day within the 5 minute walk from the shops to my school), chips, coke… Then I started working at KFC, and added fried chicken, chips… and working at a bakery where I would eat freshly cooked, deep fried doughnuts rolled in sugar for breakfast… And to make sure the whole lot worked, I also refused to do anything that resembled exercise. I didn’t need to. I had hollow legs. Or so I was told.
But of course, when you get into bad habits like that, and your metabolism slows down, the inevitable happens. It all catches up! My dreams came true as I entered my early adult years. I put on weight and got to my dream goal. The size 12 skirt (size 8 US) that I had been saving finally fit me and I felt awesome. It didn’t matter that my asthma had gotten worse. It didn’t matter that I had constant issues with thrush. It didn’t matter that I had difficulties breathing. None of that was related. I was always a poorly child and I guess it was just a part of getting older. But there was one problem that did bother me. Bad habits are not easy to let go of, and eating that way, with no exercise did not just stop your weight at your goal weight. It just keeps going. And going.. and going.
I denied it though. I wasn’t fat. Well, compared to some of the people I knew, I wasn’t. And they weren’t afraid to tell me I wasn’t, so I chose to listen. I became sicker and more tired, but it didn’t matter – I was no longer skinny.
And then I saw the photo that changed everything. I don’t know where the photo is anymore – I was embarrassed by it and hated it, so probably lost it on purpose – but it made me realise what had happened to me.
You see, I had taken to not weighing myself. I didn’t want to know – it was just a number and I thought I looked great anyway. Some people probably agreed with me. How I felt about myself meant more than how I felt about my health. However, the photo, which was of me in a bikini – posing (because I thought I was hot), with my rolls of fat and bruises (as I would bruise easily at that weight for some reason), was an eye opener. One that jolted me into the world of wanting to lose weight.
From one extreme to another. I tried everything under the sun but kept putting on weight. I had gone from a size 8 to a size 16 (which I believe is equivalent to size 4-12 in US sizes) in 4 years and was beginning to push a size 18 (14 US). I tried extensive exercise programs – joining gyms and actually going. I became vegetarian, then vegan. I did the soup diet, weight watchers… Diet after diet. And I became miserable. I did begin to lose some weight after a while, and took thought I was doing well in the photo above – but that photo just made me realise that I still had a long way to go. I had gone from a svelte young lady, into an unhealthy, overweight one.
At that time, I then joined a new gym that focused on helping you get healthy, rather than lose weight. I went in and they took blood tests and fat calliper samples, as well as general fitness. It was then, that I was told I was a fake fat person. While I thought I was fat, the instructor informed me that I indeed did not look too overweight, compared to my actual results – I was very unhealthy. I carried my fat well, and my fat composition was much worse than someone else who would be my size. This explained my increase in asthma issues. My difficulties in breathing. I was effectively working towards killing myself.
So I started on their plans. Reduced portion sizes. Salads. Exercise. And I saw results. I began to lose weight. VERY SLOWLY, but still… losing weight. It helped that the gym was walking distance from where I worked, so I would go there during my lunch break. It helped that I had someone doing the diet with me at home. So when I went to my 10-year school reunion I thought it was great. I was not the super stick-thin girl that they remembered, but I was also no longer the fat girl I had become.
It was a great night and I received many compliments from people who attended. I felt like it finally was all worth it. And then I saw the photos. They were not of someone who was happy. I still had fat that I did not like on my jaw. My arms were bigger than I liked. I didn’t like who I was. So I pushed myself harder.
Sometime around that time, I discovered that I had an intolerance to wheat and dairy, which shattered me. While trying to work with my health issues, it was suggested that I eliminate the two, to see how they affected me – with my asthma being the biggest suspected issue influenced. After some trial and error, I learned that eliminating the two not only got rid of my asthma but also stopped my regular migraines (that I had been getting at least once a week for some time by then). This made me cry. I had no idea how I was going to survive, cutting out elements that were integral to my diet. I loved baking. I loved cooking. I loved eating.
On a quest to help me, my husband thought he’d research recipes without wheat and dairy. On his questing, he discovered the Paleolithic diet, and after much research, he decided that not only did it look beneficial for my needs, but that it looked logical for the general health of anyone. He decided that it was important that he should trial the diet and encouraged me to go on it with him. The idea of doing this was horrific to me. I had issues cutting out wheat and dairy. How was I going to go eliminating all grains, and beans and sugars and… and…
But I tried. We started off pretty easy, with the rule: “If you can eat it raw, you’re allowed to eat it any way you prepare it”. Can I eat a carrot raw? Yup! Then I can have cooked carrot. Can I eat potatoes raw? Nope – they’re not good for you. Then I can’t eat them. And I almost died. What the hell was I doing with myself? This was HARD! It was IMPOSSIBLE! I HATED IT.
But I couldn’t let my (then boyfriend now) husband get the better of me. So for most of the time, I still followed the Paleo diet. We ate most meals together, so when we were together, I’d eat what was recommended. When I was alone, I’d stuff my face with chocolate and cake. But you know what? That majority of the time made a difference. As Mark Sisson of the infamous Mark’s Daily Apple says the 80/20 rule works. Following the diet 80% of the time WILL make a difference. And boy did it ever.
Suddenly I realised that I was not only losing weight, but I was beginning to breathe better. I was using my Ventolin less. My migraines were less often. My skin was looking better. And then I wondered what would happen if I got serious about it. So after I got married, I got serious. Well, as serious as I could – still trying to overcome my addictions. I attempted to improve my diet, which I mostly did, with only the occasional slip ups. And then I noticed my thrush issues disappear too and I began to sleep better and as a result had more energy. And I kept losing weight.
Falling pregnant, for me, was luckily very easy. The first month we ‘tried’ my fertile genes kicked in and we were expecting. I loved the fact that I was a ‘healthy’ weight and that I could enjoy my pregnancy without worrying about the extra weight being put on. I loved that my diet allowed me to eat whatever ‘amount’ I wanted to eat – provided it was the ‘right’ stuff. I was in my prime.
I did my first pregnancy while still eating the paleolithic diet, which I no longer considered a ‘diet’. But I still had my vices. Cravings of entire 2-litre buckets of Neapolitan ice-cream didn’t go ignored, nor did the cakes in the staff room morning tea break. But on the whole, I was eating well. I did have to fight for my right to eat a ‘different’ diet – taking in an armful of researched, and a well-versed husband, to explain our choices to the dietitian – convincing him that we were well covered. And I put on weight just as everyone else did. Overall, I think I put on 13kg the whole pregnancy. It wasn’t a lot, but it wasn’t all baby. Some of it fluid, some of it Neapolitan ice-cream. But it wasn’t a lot and at the end, my flabby tummy went unnoticed as I focused on that which I birthed – my first born son.
The few weeks after giving birth, being at home with my husband meant I ate well. I didn’t really have any means (or temptations) to eat anything else, so I pretty much stuck 100% to the paleolithic diet, which meant that within a week or two, I was back to pre-pregnancy weight and then kept going. By the time my son started solids, I had reached a lovely weight of 55 kilos and decided I wanted another baby. Again I was blessed, second month of trying.
This time around, I was a lot more disciplined with my diet, which was made easier being at home most of my time, with my ‘cheat’ days restricted to playgroup days, which was generally once a week. The biggest difference I noticed, was my weight gain during pregnancy. I barely put on any weight at all, about 6 kilos over the whole pregnancy. This put all the medical staff in a tizzy. They were constantly monitoring me and the baby – but I felt great and I thought I looked great. The only issue I had with the baby, was that it was breach – which I think had a lot to do with the stress I had to deal with during the pregnancy (including having my dog put down due to illness, watching my 16-month-old son go off for an operation, my husband and a friend both being diagnosed with and treated for Cancer…). By the end of the pregnancy, I was that stressed that I could barely think about anything else that having a breach baby broke my heart.
I think the doctor could feel my anguish about wanting to deliver my baby naturally, that he tried all he could to turn the baby around, but without any luck. My decision was to book in for a c-section later that week or transfer to a better-suited hospital for delivery. I opted for the transfer and went into labour that weekend, only to end up with an emergency c-section anyway – delivering a beautiful, little girl.
Which, at this point of the story, brings me to the excuse given before I started the story – c-section.
Well, you know what? I did no exercise while I was recovering from my c-section. In fact, I had done no exercise for 4 years beforehand
either. Most of my weight was lost via diet alone. No exercise at all – I had given it up when I started the paleo diet. Yet within 2 days of my c-section, my weight was back to pre-pregnancy weight. And within a couple of weeks, I was below my pre-pregnancy weight – hitting 50kg at 4 weeks post c-section.
And I felt great!
The problem this time? People started to comment about me being too skinny. They commented that I looked unhealthily skinny. It was at this time I decided that, instead of turning to bad habits to make myself put on fat, I would increase my size with muscle gain – through exercise. It was at this time I chose to record my exercise journey and take progress photos, with my 4 weeks, post c-section photo being my starting point.
Still sticking with my now rather strict version of Paleo diet (further research had led my husband and me to eliminate some food groups that are normally accepted among the paleo community as okay – such as the nightshades), I turned to weightlifting to build my muscles, which then lead to greater muscle definition, but not much gain in size.
I loved the strength I gained, but I didn’t like the work involved. I am a lazy person, and even though I tried to maintain a good routine, my exercise was sporadic at best, with me eventually letting it fall to the weigh-side.
But by now, I didn’t care. I decided I was going to be happy with who I was. Why should I put on weight if people thought I was too skinny? Why should I lose weight because people thought I was too fat? Wasn’t it only my opinion that should count? Wasn’t it only my health that should decide my weight?
And with that, I left it to be. And that’s when I was the happiest I have ever been in my entire life.
When everything was falling into place. And you can see it in my face. I am relaxed. I am happy. It was how it should be. And you know what? Looking at that photo in China, I feel that I was at an ideal weight. I was comfortable in my skin. I wasn’t too skinny, I wasn’t too fat. I felt healthy. I felt happy.
But then that all came crashing down when I came home, to be confronted with a family issue that would destroy things the way I had come to know them. It sent me on an emotional roller-coaster, which in turn sent me off my dietary rails. I began to eat crap food again and began to fall back into very old, long-abandoned habits. And I began to put on weight. I put on 10 kilos – hitting 60kg after a few months.
But I stopped myself there. I didn’t want to become the person I was before. I wanted to be in control of my own weight. I wanted to be strong – but didn’t want to do weights anymore. But I also wanted to be flexible. I wanted to be in control of my body. And so I decided to begin my journey to be who I wanted to be. I wasn’t going to allow my negative thoughts to dictate anymore. I wasn’t going to allow conventions to dictate anymore. I wasn’t going to make excuses anymore.
So I’ve started eating better again, and I found exercise, I actually ENJOY! Not just something to make myself be the way people expect me to be. Exercises that will help me become one with my body. That will make me strong and flexible. That compliment my diet and my goals.
Which means that for me – there are no Excuses. I refuse to let them control me.
And bringing this back to the original topic of this post – Why do people get upset when confronted with the question – “What’s your excuse?”? It’s because they don’t like to admit that they let their excuses control them. They like to have something to blame, but when faced with the hard truth that it is only their own barriers stopping them – they get upset. Because if their excuse was truly beyond their control, they wouldn’t be getting upset – because it wouldn’t be an excuse – it would be a reality, and the question would not apply to them.
So I put the question back on you – What’s your excuse? Are you going to let it control you, or are you going to take back what is yours?
- Bullying the Overweight? (hypothyroidismsucks.com)
- Maria Kang Responds To Photo Controversy, Says She Still Has Flaws (socialnewsdaily.com)
- Maria Kang Accused of “Fit-Shaming” Women With Facebook Pic, Issues Non-Apology (thehollywoodgossip.com)
- Maria Kang, Exercise-Loving Mom, Defends Asking Less Fit Mothers ‘What’s Your Excuse?’: Fat Shaming Or Inspiration? (medicaldaily.com)
- ‘What’s Your Excuse?’ Sacramento Mom Comes Under Fire for Facebook Post (fox40.com)
- Fit mom accused of ‘fat shaming’ with skin-baring photo – CBC.ca (blog) (cbc.ca)
- Why The Exercise-Loving Mother-Of-Three Shouldn’t Be Considered A ‘Fat-Shaming Bully’ (elitedaily.com)
- Judgey Much? Woman Who Posted Fat-Shaming Facebook Pic Offers Apology (thebump.com)
- “What’s YOUR excuse?” – Fat Shaming or Fit Shaming? (lovelifeandlemonade.com)
- ‘What’s your excuse?’ Fitness blogging mom under fire for Facebook post (q13fox.com)