Posts Tagged ‘looking good’
Along with diet and exercise, one of the biggest changes I adopted while losing all my excess weight was sucking in my tummy – morning, noon and night. This might seem like a no-brainer, but it requires a lot of mental and physical work to tense all the muscles in your abdomen and prevent “overhang” (and at my highest weight of 450+ pounds, there was a lot of overhang). But no matter what one weighs, there are a lot of benefits to be had by sucking it… In!
Think about it… Are you sucking in your stomach right now? Or are you letting “it all hang out” and using it to keep your lap warm? Yeah, that’s right – I went there.
Hopefully you’re already actively “sucking in” your tummy when power walking, treadmill-ing or doing other forms of exercise. But what about when you’re watching television? Standing at the kitchen counter making lunch? Talking on the phone? Sitting at the computer? Reading this blog? The time to suck in your gut and think about overall core strength isn’t just when you’re working out. It’s really an all day commitment that can have an amazing effect on your overall goals of good health (along with your goals of looking good).
I remember one of my favorite exercise instructors used to tell me, “The only time your stomach muscles should be relaxed is when you’re in the bathtub or when you’re going to sleep.”
I really took this advice to heart and found it made a big difference – not only in helping me motivate my weight loss efforts, but also in regard to my overall appearance (not to mention my posture). When sucking in my stomach, my posture improved as did my core strength. Suddenly, I was walking taller and even commanding more attention. Talk about a self-esteem builder. When sucking your tummy in and standing upright (without any ‘slumping’), you really do look (and ultimately feel) better. It’s the kind of thing that Supermodels do. And as I’m always reminding you, we’re all Supermodels. So start acting the part.
Sure… Sucking in your stomach is a lot of work – but it means you’re working your core muscle group throughout the day. This not only strengthens your muscles (on top of whatever workouts you’re already doing), it makes clothes fit more easily and even look better when worn. Not to mention, the more you suck in that tummy and sit up straight, the less your back has to work to hold you up (potentially resulting in less back pain).
Hopefully you’ve already started thinking and eating like a thin person. Now’s the time to start acting like one. So suck it in from dawn to dusk. You’ll be surprised what a difference it makes.
Growing up heavy (okay, fat), I quickly learned the best way to pose for pictures. After all, I knew I was fat, but on some weird level, I must have thought I could hide it (or at the very least minimize it) by positioning myself behind people, furniture or walls.
I’m not sure what, exactly, I thought I was hiding. In retrospect, I guess I was really hiding from myself. After all, I wasn’t being honest with myself in regard to the amount of food (and therefore calories) I was consuming at the time. So why would I be honest with myself about my actual girth?
It’s for this reason that I marvel at the series of pictures taken at my heaviest weight. I knew I wanted to document all 450+ pounds of me as I began my 5,000th (10,000th?) attempt to get rid of the excess weight once and for all. But I’m still surprised that I not only posed people-, furniture- and wall-free, but even appeared without my shirt in one of the shots (stretch marks and all). Of course, these days I’m glad I was brave enough to pose for these pictures. They not only remind me of where I’ve been, but also of where I never want to ‘go’ again.
But there’s something about these photographs (taken when I was at my heaviest) that I find even more fascinating than my size 60-inch waist. Look closely at these shots and you’ll see I had a ‘perm’ in my hair. (And no, I didn’t lose a bet – this is a perm I not only paid for, but wanted.) And it’s this perm from my past that makes me laugh hysterically and cry tears of joy at the same time.
Before going public with my book and blog, I would only show my “Before Pictures” to a precious few. And if I would trot them out, I’d quickly point out the perm in my hair, noting that I was more embarrassed about getting a perm than I was about having boobs that would fit into many of my girlfriends’ bras (and yes, we tried once or twice).
But looking back on the perm, I must applaud my 450+-pound self. At that weight, I was terrified to go out into public and would often even food shop only at night or use only drive-thru windows at fast food restaurants in order to come into contact with as few people as possible. So the fact that I went to my hair stylist and ordered up a perm for something fresh and funky (emphasis on the funky) lets me know that even at 450+ pounds, I had not given up all hope of being part of the human race.
I remember always having a good head of hair on my head. As I kid, I was a sprightly red head, who soon evolved into having more of an auburn color mop top. I remember even at my heaviest that women would sometimes approach me and ask hopefully if my hair was colored and, if so, what hair colorist I went to. (They were usually disappointed when I told them it was all natural.) I suppose that these queries gave me hope at the time. It helped me to realize there was at least one thing about my physical appearance that I could work with in order to try and put my best foot forward.
Fact is, at 450+ pounds I was running out of clothing choices. I couldn’t even find many pant options at my local Big and Tall Stores (my waist had gotten that big). Thus, I’d taken to wearing sweatpants and one of two oversize t-shirts (sold as novelty shirts) that I could fit into. My fashion options had become virtually nonexistent. But damnit, I could control my head of hair. And I was gonna do so by getting a perm, which I guess was in style at the time. So even though I wanted to hide in my apartment for fear of being judged, I went to my salon of choice and ordered up some tightly wound curls.
Look at me, world! My hair is permed! Woohoo! (Now, someone point me to the nearest auditions for the next community theatre production of “Annie.”)
Funny. Sweet. And a little heartbreaking.
But solid proof that I hadn’t completely given up on life. And it’s that ‘not giving up’ that eventually brought me to the point of caring enough about my appearance (and health) to shed my 250 excess pounds and keep it off once and for all.
If you know someone fighting obesity, or if, perhaps, you’re battling it yourself, what do you do for your physical appearance that could compare to my perm? Do you always make sure your nails are manicured? Do you make sure that your hair always looks good? Or are you do you have a shoe collection that would make Imelda Marcos jealous?
Whatever it is, that’s your proof that you care about your appearance (or that your friend cares about his or hers). And this ‘proof of caring’ can be the first step toward committing yourself to lasting and permanent change when it comes to other matters like losing weight and/or getting healthier.
So no matter what goal you have ahead of you (even if it’s a goal that you haven’t quite committed to yet), think about how you can affect your life (and your self-esteem) today. This moment is all you have. So do something that boosts your ego and adds a little pep to your step. These small enhancements can fuel your dreams of achieving all of your goals, whether health or appearance related.
It’s all about showing faith in yourself and making an effort in the present moment. And if I can do it – even with a perm – then you can, too. Isn’t it time you made a perm-anent commitment – to yourself? (If so, please let me know!)