Recently I needed to go to the nurse for my 6 monthly check up. I have been putting this appointment off for a few weeks and had no option but to attend this time. Ever since I made the appointment two weeks ago, I have been full of dread. The dread that I will have to do something that I have consciously been stopping myself from doing, as it is an instant trigger for my self-loathing. Getting weighed. I decided before I went that I would explain that I did not want to know the results either way. It took a fortnight of me rehearsing that conversation over and over, and usually at my witching hour of 4.27am, to get it just right.
I made my way up to the door of the surgery and it was like walking the green mile, I felt hot faced, ashamed and full of anxiety. My nurse, a lady who I have seen for years, smiled and welcomed me in. She slid out the scales from under the chair. I stammered and spluttered before managing to explain, quite poorly, that I have been actively not weighing myself, it was a trigger for my mental health and I’d rather not know. I was shocked at just how emotional I became. I asked to either “not be weighed or not be told the results”. So, naturally, she went for the secret weigh in. My heart sank, but I also found it quite sweet how she wrapped her arms around the dial, so I couldn’t see the numbers. It was over with in seconds and she informed me that she wouldn’t type it in until I left. However, my weight obsessed brain heard this as “I won’t put it on, in case you see just how fat you really are”. I was at a low ebb that morning and standing on scales, regardless of the reading, can still have the same result: Me feeling shit about myself.
Then there was another thing that happened. the nurse offered me a flu jab. I have never been offered one before, so I questioned why I was being offered it now. Don’t get me wrong, the prospect of not having flu was very appealing, but like I said I was never offered it before. She kind of stammered and said “well it is because of your weight”. I wished I had never asked.
“The Sad Step”
I had expressed my views to my secret girl gang earlier that morning, about my fears of being weighed and what I should do it about. It was all agreed that I just need to be straight, but as I mentioned above that was easier said than done. It became clear when I was chatting away with these ladies that I most certainly was not alone in my fear and dread of that bloody machine, of those numbers that can ruin my mood in an instant. One of my friends called the scales “the sad step”, it is so true, you feel sad before you get on them, anticipating the reading, hoping on hope that it will not destroy you. Then ultimately if that reading is not what you hoped for… just utter desolate sadness. On here I try to preach that the reading on the scales does not determine our worth and I strongly believe that… for everyone else. For me it is my Achilles heel. But then there is the further issue that we feel obliged to be weighed when a health professional asks us to, when in fact we are totally within our rights to politely decline. It was discussed that it is amazing how submissive we become (especially women) when it comes to standing up for ourselves in a healthcare setting. I am almost apologetically submissive when talking to a doctor or specialist. My visit to the nurse was traumatic and I blamed myself for it, because it was my issue, however it was pointed out to me by a friend that “we live in a society which conditions that kind of thinking”. It is not my fault, we are just conditioned into thinking that we must do things we are not comfortable with like standing on the sad step regardless of the need for it.
Some of my ladies explained how they had been fat-shamed by health professionals and told off for any weight gain, and it is those kind of shaming words that force us into yo-yo dieting, comments like “oh look how much weight you have put on” are not helpful. I had had an unhealthy relationship with food for 30 years and that is mainly through yo-yoing. It’s all well and good telling us to lose weight, but it is not as simple as that, I eat healthily and exercise when I can, I am active, but I do have a penchant for wine (all the carbs! … I’m very jealous of my mates who have got on the gin train… I just cant stand it, it’s like licking armpits). Other comments made were how mental health declines when we are dieting and it is so true. You feel motivated at first, but when you start to deprive yourself, that is when you are likely to kick back. I’d like to point out at this time, that I do not equate “diets and dieting” with healthy eating and balanced nutritious food. And don’t get me started on the weight I “should” be… standing there rowing with the reps at SW or WW that 8st is unachievable and that actually I would feel more comfortable aiming for 10/11st.
The Next day…
…I went back for more punishment. I went for my smear test. Now this is a necessary evil and I will urge anyone who is procrastinating to go and get it done. I was only putting it off because I am lazy, I realised quite early on that this test, whilst not the most fun way to spend 5 minutes, is just that. And the embarrassment is minimal. That nurse has seen loads of foofs before. But there are the weird things that go through your head… do you have a “tidy up” down there, you know “make a good impression” or do you leave it au naturale? what do you do with your clothes, neatly fold or just chuck on the chair? Whilst she’s down “there” do you chat? or stay mute? will she think I am rude? What if I fart? have I left tissue down there? It is a bloody minefield. There should be a You Tube tutorial on Smear-etiquette, and if there was, I’d assume that “do not fart” might be at the top of the list! After we finished our (thankfully fart-free) procedure, I asked for a sticker, my nurse laughed, but I was serious! Slightly disappointed, but proud of myself I made my way home and drew my own! Turns out that it was a good job I went for the dreaded smear as I have just found out that I have “abnormal cells” and I have to go for a colposcopy. Not the news that I was hoping for, but whatever the outcome at least I’ll be in good hands.
Fat Girl at the Gym
So since we have been renovating our house (one of the reasons for my lack of posts!) I have been finding my mental health deteriorating, there’s stuff EVERYWHERE. You would think the Hoardy McHoaderson in me would find living like “Steptoe and Son” fine, but I have been getting increasingly stressed about it. Mainly because I can’t get to exercise on my cross-trainer. So I decided to download the Couch to 5k app, with every intention of coming home from work and going out for a run. But the crippling fear of going out and running in front of ‘Joe Public’ in the park just filled me with dread. That and it’s now dark and scary out there, and I saw my poor worn out, puffing, wheezing and sweaty self, as easy prey for murderers, robbers, muggers, evil doers and werewolves. So that poor app has been left untouched on my phone. Getting frustrated and fed up, I have been increasingly grumpy and sad.
So Husbandface suggested that I start back at the gym. I went for my induction and was asked the dreaded question “so what’s your primary motivation?”. I swallowed hard and answered “Look, Stella, I know I am fat, but if I am honest losing weight it not my primary goal. I want to raise my levels of fitness and strengthen my back (I better get brownie points from my chiropractor!). Also I want to start exercising for my mental health, so if weight-loss is happy by product so be it”. Stella was delighted with my answer and explained that weight-loss is nearly everyone’s goal and it’s not the best way to approach training. Also I know in my heart of hearts that if I approach the gym with a weight-loss goal in mind, I will use it as a stick to beat myself with. So I have spent this week training with a really positive mind-set, excited to be moving my body, to have some brainless time on the treadmill and very excited to use the new E-gym! And I was so relieved that the only measurement they took was my height!….and I enjoy being a short arse!
So weighing in is your choice; your body, your choice.
By the way, did I tell you…? Exercise is not exclusively for weight-loss or for the ‘uber fit’ and your mental health is paramount.