Monday, January 21, 2013

What's Your Perspective?

Perspective is a funny thing isn't it?  If your perspective on something is out of whack, it can color everything around the issue.  I've been thinking a lot about this ever since I wrote that post about deciding to be fat.  What got me going on it was part of one of the comments:

"As for being fat, I don't know what your BMI is but your picture looks in a normal-ish range??"

This person who made that comment, like so many of those who read our blogs, doesn't know me at all in real life.  So it was fascinating to me that he saw me as someone with a normal-ish BMI.  Truth be told, my BMI is not normal at all and I'm probably close to, if not in, the obese category.  I guess because I'm somewhat athletic, I carry my weight good enough that I don't look like anyone who would typically weigh what I do.  As I said before, I don't know what that number is right now, but I DO know what size clothes I'm wearing, so there's that.  Of course the whole BMI thing is a bit nutty to me anyway as I know many people who I would consider to be normal weight and who would be overweight by that chart, Mr. Helen included!

Anyway, the point here is that in his perspective I looked normal-ish.  Which makes me ponder my own stringent view.


I had a vice-versa situation while reading another blog.  This blogger had not gotten the result they thought they were going to get from their scale and the despair that was oozing out of that post made me sad.  Because she has already lost over 75 pounds and her photos of late have been remarkable.  Good grief I would love to look like she does right now!  But she was so upset - not to the point where she had or was about to blow it or give up, but to the point where I wished I could just shake her and say, "The scale is just a snapshot of the moment you step on it, it's not you and it's not how you are perceiving your looks!"

My perspective of the situation vs. hers.


Sunday morning I woke up with a bad case of the Seriously Fats.  While I'm not going to say much more about this just yet, I've been having some issues with my back that have been discouraging and making exercise quite difficult lately.  Sunday I got up with considerable concern about the issues I'm having, but it was nearly 50 degrees and sunny here, so I was determined to get outside for either a run or a walk depending on what my back would allow.  Due to a number of reasons I hadn't gotten to exercise on Saturday so mentally I was really craving it.  But even in my excitement about the sunshine and being able to be outside, I could not get past my Seriously Fats and changed my workout clothes 3 times before I had something on I thought I might be able to go down the street in and people wouldn't be completely mortified.  

I took off and was having a hard time enjoying the beautiful sunshine simply because I felt so Seriously Fat that it was messing with me.  I was waiting for a car to drive by and yell something rude - sure it was going to happen.  As I got about a mile into the workout, I was passing the Subway and a guy came out and started down the sidewalk towards me.  As I went by him he said, "Gorgeous day for a workout, isn't it?"  I suddenly realized that he didn't see a Seriously Fat person chugging down the sidewalk, he saw someone working out.  It was so gorgeous I ended up purposefully adding on a bit more and as I was nearing home, I saw  2 men walking in the opposite direction side by side.  I was nearing them and wondering if they would yield any of the sidewalk to me or if I'd have to run up on someone's lawn, when they parted like the Red Sea.  As I went through them, one of them said, "Good job girl, keep it up, keep it up!"  Again, they just saw a woman working out.  Their perspective vs. mine.

Perspective.  Something for me to think about for sure.  Is yours out of whack?


  1. My perspective is pretty clear right now and I am very grateful for that. But I so totally hear what you are saying. I find your first example to be one of the difficulties of blogging. Another blog friend recently wrote a post similar to your last one and so many of the comments actually minimized what she'd written because they were so busy telling her she SHOULDN'T feel that way or that she didn't NEED to lose anymore weight. You hit the nail on the head with your statement....we don't KNOW each other IRL at all (for the most part) and to refute feelings someone shares in a post doesn't seem helpful to me at all. Hope that makes sense. You are right! It is TOTALLY about perspective. Great insight!

  2. Very interesting and recognizable post. Sometimes my perspective is out of whack and when it happens it's in the last situation you describe.

    I can feel fat and think it shows while someone can say to me that day I look fabulous. It's hard to believe that for me on my "fat" days. But we are much harder looking at ourselves than others do.

    On the other hand I was wearing an outfit last week and saw myself in the reflection of the mirror at my work and said to myself "damn girl look at those legs, you look smoking hot"

    I can feel good about myself too it seems. Can you?

  3. Great post Helen, thank you. BMI, for me--isn't something I consider. I had it checked at one point in my weight loss (I weighed about 290 at the time it was taken) and it said I had a BMI of 16. The suggested and "correct" pinch points on me--just happened to be places where I have the least--or less fat. So I was suspicious of the number--and decided I wasn't going to rely on it as a measuring tool.
    Like you--I carry my weight very well. In my struggles over the last 7 months--gaining back nearly 60 pounds, I still have people who say they couldn't tell--and act surprised when I reveal the gain by admission. I guess we're lucky? I do know losing the 60 again--the differences will be noticeable-- and it's always noticeable to me--in my clothes, in the mirror--- I see it, I know where I am. Perspectives--different for everyone.
    The perspective on the scale-- I love your attitude--You're so right. It's sad to me too, when I see someone allowing the scale to generate so much anguish--It's one of the many ways people complicate this entire process.
    I love what you said about the scale. Love it... Thank you again!

    my LIFE perspective is really out of whack these days.


  5. The BMI drives me crazy. My husband's BMI shows overweight and if you saw him you would never ever think that is the case. I have also had comments when I have been running outside, like "go girl", "you are doing great". It really does help keep me motivated, even when I don't feel like it at the time.
    P.S. I really do need a good shaking :-)

  6. So interesting and thoughtful, Helen. I know I have a distorted picture of myself - at times I fear that I think I look less seriously fat than I really do. Other times I can't be in any moment with any one or at any place because my conscious mind is consumed with how disgustingly obese I am. Getting right sized seems to be as much of a head issue as a body issue.

    Thanks for the follow up on your previous post. Perception is reality - at least or own perception of self is, unless we're blowing smoke and trying to gauge others' opinions, which creates a whole different set of issues! I'm glad your workout became one of powerfulness, rather than powerlessness.

  7. I'll admit my perception of myself is a bit distorted and I'm not sure why. I told my husband yesterday that when I look in the mirror, I see no difference in me at 132 or 152. The good thing is that my pants tell a different story. He said I looked a LOT different. I didn't ask if that meant better. Ha ha

  8. Perception is a funny thing, isn't it? And don't even get me started on the BMI - this is mine:

    "Your BMI is 31.1, indicating your weight is in the Obese category for adults of your height. For your height, a normal weight range would be from 101 to 136 pounds."

    If I were 5.11" I'd be fine! :D

    I think any woman who has been overweight and at a normal weight has an out of whack perception - hang in there Helen - you are amazing!

  9. Well, you know how I feel about BMI - even at my lowest (146) I was still screw that. It IS about how you feel, though, and I'm sorry you're feeling so bad.

  10. I don't need a BMI to know I'm fat. There used to be a Special K commercial to check for excess fat. The gauge was..."If you can pinch more than an inch." Well I can use both hands and roll it like I'm kneading bread for the community:)

  11. Yes, perspective is a very tricky thing. Do you think that accepting reality can help with our perspective? I'm just thinking out loud. Well, not out loud. You know what I mean.

  12. Great post Helen. I can't speak for everyone, but sure seems like most people see themselves through very different eyes that others do. And tend to focus on the "negative". Hang in there Helen!!!

  13. I hate BMI, I really do. I still struggle with perception of myself. At about 20 pounds heavier than my lowest, my brain sees that as 50 pounds. I still really look like a 'normal' woman. Not thin, not fat. John is always asking my why I don't see that and I really don't know why.

    I love when people pipe up and say something and it was totally the opposite of the thought *I* put in their heads for them :D

  14. Fabulous post. Yep...what we see depends mainly on what we look for. That has been a mantra of mine for a long time now and it serves me well when I remember to think it hahahaha.

  15. I finally realized why losing the last 30 pounds or so has been so hard....because it is not an external event. People don't view me as fat anymore, they view me as normal. I can coast. I have never been viewed as normal...The last thirty pounds are cosmetic..but now it's more. It's about wanting to finish and be the person I know I can be. So the only true perspective shift that needed to happen, needed to happen inside of me...I think that 'feeling fat' thing only happens to slightly overweight people. Truly fat people know they are fat. lol. Thus every day is a fat day and some days they feel less fat than others. Good post.

  16. Hi Helen,

    This my first time here and I really enjoyed this topic. I am Steve and I have lost 291 pounds. Took me almost 3 years to lose the last 200 pounds about 2 years ago. So I have done a pretty good job keeping it off. I have gained about 15 pounds in the past 2 years and that's the reason why I am searching the blogs recently to help me focus back on my weight loss.
    Perspective, well I still feel like I am overweight. I went from 475 pounds to 184 pounds. 56 pants to 32, 4XL shirt to M. The best part of the whole journey is I can do normal things like sit in a booth at a restaurant or go to a baseball game. I don't have obstacles but always catch myself checking to make sure I will fit. In time maybe I will feel better about my perspective. The best part is I am healthy, I can have fun, I am out of the jail I created for myself. One trick I have practiced was meditation/self hypnosis. To visualize myself being thin, acting thin and living thin... believe me, it helps. Never realized life could be so exciting and enjoyable. Thanks so much for the Blog. I will be back to read it often.
    I will spend the rest of my life trying to help others do the same. It's a good feeling.


  17. Great post Helen as always. I think spending some time in our own heads is an essential part of this process and I think it's great of you to share that with us. My perspective is probably more out of whack than it's ever been. Right now I'm losing a pound a day but that doesn't seem like enough!?! I'm probably more self conscious than ever!

    I completely agree that you look "normal". I would never look at you and see a fat person - not that I've met you but from the pictures I've always thought of you as looking athletic!

  18. My perspective gets WAY out of whack! I see myself in a totally different way than others see me. It can be totally self destructive too!

    As for the scales.....I'm trying to not focus so much on the numbers I see. :-)

  19. Great post about our personal perspective as it relates to our body image. Mine can be so out of whack at times. I have thought that I look really good and later see a photo and think -really? I looked like that in those clothes!

    When I gain a little weight and no longer at what I consider a good weight for me it completely changes how I feel about myself. I would never be as mean to another person as I am to myself with my thoughts!

    I always look at you and admire how athletic and fit you are Helen - regardless of your weight at any given time.

    I think we need to toss the BMI crap out the window! It doesn't take in to account muscle vs fat!

  20. This is a very thoughtful post, Helen, and it hits the nail on the head for so many of us. I think that those of us who have had a lifelong struggle with weight are very conflicted about the reality of our situations. Many of us have been at many different weights over the years, and sometimes we rail against what the scale shows, and at other times we get tired of the battle and just accept or deny reality.

    I know that I am currently overweight, actually still obese, according to the BMI. However, I have been this way for several years, and I alternate between denial, as in "I'm not that bad," or total despair, as in "I hate myself." I need to get a consistent perspective on where I really am, instead of allowing my fickle emotions to govern how I'm going to eat on a particular day. Perhaps then my efforts will be dedicated to the work I need to do to ensure a healthy body, versus constantly dealing with my often skewed emotional perspective.

  21. Lovely post. All I see is that you look great and you're kicking butt.