An Open Letter to Skinny People - by Tracey

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The scale is your friend. Except when you’re busting your butt to lose some weight and it’s not moving. Then, it becomes the most discouraging, de-motivating, obnoxious thing in your home. Then you’d like to throw it out on I-95 during rush hour… or take it back to the store because clearly, it must be broken. Then, drive directly to your favorite diner and have some pie. Or a whole pie! Because nothing you do differently, seems to matter.

Ok, I admit it - I may sound a little angry right now. I am.

I have worked hard to lose weight and I did lose about 60 pounds about 2 years ago. I kept most of it off but then, over the fall, my old default mode kicked in and I started using food for comfort. Again. I got on the scale and realized that 12-15 pounds had snuck back on and my battle wasn’t over. I never really thought it was.

This weight thing I’ve struggled with for years is like my thorn in the flesh and I have always feared it coming back on me like an old addiction. I will be 49 years old this year, and this thing I’ve battled for decades is still a struggle. You feel me? Or maybe you don’t?

Unless you’ve been there, it’s hard to identify with this struggle. And so, with that in mind, I write this to you. For all of you who by the grace of God, have been either genetically blessed, consistently made wise choices with food and exercise, or who maybe even struggled long, long ago, but figured it out. Consider this an open letter from your friend Tracey. In no way, does this letter represent everyone’s process and story, but I do believe there is enough commonality here, that many can relate to it. So here it goes…

Let me start by saying, I am not jealous of skinny people. If anything, I admire the inner strength that many of them have to fight their own demons a different way. I have always fought my demons with food. I can remember when I was about 14 years old, my mother and step-father were getting divorced and I suddenly became insatiably hungry. I never connected why. I was athletic and didn’t have a weight issue at all and so I probably burned up all those calories up so no one knew, except me and God… that I was eating like crazy during that time. Anything I could get my hands on. Which at 14 years old, was usually breakfast cereal. Did my mother ever wonder why a box of Apple Jacks or Raisin Bran would disappear just days after bringing it home?

It was the first time in my life I can remember using food to help soothe some inner anxiety I was feeling. It didn’t work. It only took the edge off for a short while and left me all alone. A few years later, my mom re-married and my mom, sister and me, moved into his house. Their first year of marriage was a difficult one and while I tried to press through their late-night yelling matches, I was getting hungrier and hungrier. I started to gain weight and between the age of 18- 20, I had probably gained 60 pounds. Still not connecting why I was so hungry, I eventually married and gained more weight. To be lonely as a single person is one kind of pain. To be lonely as a married person, is a slow death.

And so I took a lover. Food. And once again, food let me down. It promised me a quick relief to my deep pain and quick relief it was, as the pleasure centers of my brain would go wild with happiness with a sugary treat or late night Taco Bell run. But as soon as that wonderful feeling faded, I was alone again wondering what I could do to make the pain stop. Food was never a good boyfriend. So I’m not quite sure why I rang him up again this year, while I was dealing with some private pain, but it turns out, I still had his number- and he still had mine.

Here are some things to know about those of us who fight this battle that may help you in your relationships:

  1. Be supportive- not superior. If you are blessed enough to have never dealt with this struggle, be thankful and humble while you support your friends’ umpteenth attempt at losing some weight. We haven’t given up- so don’t give up on us. Just because this isn’t your issue, doesn’t mean that you are a better person and have no issues. We are all fighting battles. The weight issue is one we fight publicly for everyone to see. What’s yours?
  2. You are not the food police. There is nothing I hate more than people seeing me out somewhere and critiquing what I am eating. You have no idea how I’ve eaten all week, or all day.. When people say to me, “Tracey, I don’t think that is on A Better Weigh..” I want to say.. It’s not. But I burned 900 calories at the gym today so shut it.
  3. Shame is a big thing. Many of us that battle our weight deal with this. So please.. don’t “should “ on us. You should this and you. should that… Choose your words, your timing and your tone carefully. We want your love and support- but as soon as it turns to judgment, I feel shame and won’t hear another word you say.
  4. Lead by example. You want to be a great encouragement? Model good choices and healthy living. Show me what it looks like consistently. If you know I’m struggling, maybe you could skip dessert one time when we’re out to dinner and not tell me how great you’re doing with food and how your clothes are all loose and maybe we could even talk about something else. Beating this thing is possible and it’s a process. I am so much better than I was. I actually caught my issue before I needed to grab another size out of my closet and I am back on track. That is a victory for me.
  5. Be thankful. If you’ve lost weight and you’re doing great- I want to cheer you on and I want to hear about it. But… be careful. Be reverent and thankful to God for your success. You have no idea what hard life stuff could trigger those old demons to come back. And if they do, I don’t want shame to keep you from trying again and staying in the process.
  6. Pray & Think. If you know someone you love is going through a hard time emotionally and food has been their go–to source of comfort, pray for them, and offer some fun, healthy alternatives to get them through this season. Have some social gatherings that don’t center around food.

I hope this is helpful as you relate to people you care about who struggle with weight. I am currently trying to lose some pounds and I am working out almost every day, even using an amazing personal trainer. I am eating very healthy and sticking to my diet plan with a few exceptions- like Ravens football games… And that blasted scale is barely budging. I actually cried this morning when I got on it because I’ve been working so hard and I don’t understand.

As my trainer Chris Welsh says to me, “Come on Tracey. You can do this You’ve got this. Keep going”, slowly the old negative tapes in my head that say, “I can’t do it”, will be replaced. And while the scale may not show it just yet, I know that like a seed in the ground, there is something happening underneath the surface that is producing in me a beauty and strength that will be evident one day. I can feel it. God is in this with me. Unlike food, He is a great source of comfort and peace and I am still learning how to be satisfied in Him.

Comments :

8 comments to “An Open Letter to Skinny People - by Tracey”
Anonymous said...
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Thank you for this letter. I have struggled with my weight my entire life. Take it off put it on. Got to goal weight when I was 50, worked out everyday, swore I would never put it back on . I felt better than I ever have. And here I am turning 60 and I am once again trying to lose. I did Ideal Protein at Ideal Weight Loss. Lost 26 pounds very quickly. Gained 20 over the holidays. Hit rock bottom last week. Was also crying and now I am back to Weight Watchers again. It is easy to lose the weight but the hardest part is keeping it off. I can certaintly relate to what you are going through Tracey. I know you can do it. And I know I can. Keep at it. I ask God everyday to help me with this and I know he will. I listen to you everyday on the radio on my way to work and you are such an inspiration. Thank you.

Anonymous said...
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Hey, its ari :-) thank you for a beautiful post. It is sassy, funny, poignant and forthright....and reflects you perfectly. ;-) I also believe the points made represent a lot of people to a T. Your words will resonate with the pitch of truth to the folks who need to hear it most. Much love and light to you <3

Anonymous said...
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Thank you for this insight. I am struggling along with you. I had a trainer last year and lost 25 lbs and ran a half marathon in Dec. Then I stopped pretty much and have gained 4 lbs back. So not it's time to get back at it again. Only I dont' have my trainer any more, but I do have all the good things she taught me.
Anyway, when you are working out every day and eating well, you are gaining muscle, so don't worry about the scale. My trainer wouldn't even let me get on the scale until it had been almost 4 months. She would just say, "How is your energy level? How do your clothes fit?" and use that to gauge my progress. The scale is just a number, not a measure of your fitness level. Just keep at it - the scale will catch up to you eventually. Who cares about the number if you are feeling great and have more energy?
You got this - I believe you have grit and determination and God is on your side!!
Sue

Anonymous said...
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I feel your pain. I have struggled with weight my entire life. I am short in stature and this makes things even more difficult. When I look back I actually wasn't as heavy as I thought at the time. Unfortunately, my Mom was very critical of my weight all my life. I had aunts talk about it in front of me. I have seesawed my entire life. I can never seem to keep it off permanently. I recently lost 30 lbs. only to put about 7 lbs back on again. On me 5 lbs looks like 10. I was in tears over the weekend. I just wish I could take it off and keep it off. I really need to lose another 30 lbs.

With all of that said, I truly appreciate you telling us of your struggles and your suggestions to others. It helps to know others are in the same battle as I am. I realize I will struggle with this until the Lord takes me home. I plan on having a thin body and be able to eat anything I want in heaven. :)

Much love and support,
Mary

mrsament said...
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I am struggling too Tracey! I had lost 87 and gained 30 back! I am sure you have read Crave, but I am now trying to really hold onto its principals! He is the only one that can fill us!

donsands said...
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I think most of us in the USA struggle with eating too much. It's a culture and ungodly system we live in. Yet, we can work on it, like you have done. But there are many who love to stay in good shape and eat right, but they don't know Christ, and they may die with a nice body of fleah, but a heart dark and void of truth and love. Sad.

We need to reach out, and shine in this world, which keeps getting darker. May our Lord help us to speak His truth, the Gospel of grace to a generation that is very blind.

I pray our Lord will help you be in good shape Tracey, and most of all that your heart, mind and spirit grow deep in His truth, where ever word of His Book becomes food for your soul. Amen.

I just finished reading though Revelation again, and wow, what a Book! John gives us much to chew on here; actually it is from our Savior, and we need to eat it, and not add to it, not take awya.

Here's a really good song I put on Facebook, by Phil Keaggy (Thought it might lift your spirit): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bduf2_B3Q0&feature=share

Spiess said...
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Thanks for this post. I understand as I too am there with you and after losing 72 lb have fallen back further than I want to. I keep wondering why is this so hard for me when others don't struggle with it? What can I learn. Lysander Terkurst's book Made To Crave has a lot of great insights and I think if I get the spiritual perspective my thinking might change as it is so easy to go back to old habits.
Marie

Sharon leasure said...
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Wow Tracey I admire you and your strength. It is the hardest thing to do because when a person wants to quit smoking they can stay away from smokers they don't have to buy the ciggerates BUT you can't stay away from food nor not buy it. Yes we do have choses we can make with the food we buy but when your emotions are involved all sencible reasoning goes out the door. A year ago I went to the doctors and was at the highest weight gain ever in my life with high blood preasure. She said she wanted me to lose 50lbs by next year. Ok 50 in a year sounds resonnable. I lost 20 and my world came crashing down on me. I gained it back and then some. I was so ashamed to go back, I felt I not only look like I failed but had no regard for what she said. I know I can't do this on my own so I joined Weight Watchers and am doing much better this time. But yes God has to always be in the equation no matter what we do. You are right though it is a never ending battle, but we can get this battle under control. One other thing that I hate that some skinny people do is when they stand next to you looking in the mirror and say "Oh I am so fat." Fat? What fat? Did your earlobe swell up? Come on if you're fat than what am I? We are beautiful that is what we are. Sharon

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