Wednesday, 7 May 2014

You Look Slimmer - Well Done?

I’m not going to blog about recovery, because quite frankly, it’s sh*t. I don’t know when it will be fixed nor when I will be able to boulder and lead. I sincerely hope that there won’t be more surgery. Not having a timescale sucks. But to be honest, there are ways to enjoy climbing safely and that’s all that matters, besides recovery. So it’s ok, mostly.

And yes, as the title implies, this is another blog, by a woman, about what the right shape of a woman is. If this bores you, please do skip to the end where there is a picture of my biceps. If you’re wondering why this is not about how men should look, it’s because I am not a man. I will update the blog if this changes.

As I eat pasta with bacon and Gorgonzola (yes, it’s f*king good), I’m pondering on something which has been in the back of my mind for quite some time. A friend re-posted a cartoon on the subject on Facebook a few months ago,  and it struck a chord. The situation is this: Since I broke my leg, a number of friends have commented on my weight. (My mother and my boyfriend’s mother did too, but in an altogether more “I should feed you” sort of way). Lots of people said that I looked “thinner”, or “slimmer”, or had thinner legs, or wondered “how I didn’t get fat while sitting around”. Well actually, here’s how:

I broke my leg. I spent a week in LGI eating very little because I was either 
a) about to have surgery,
b) having surgery 
c) crying.
 I then went home (and by home, I mean to someone else’s house because it was nicer than my student box) where I took diclofenac for too long and spent some more time unable to eat. A total of about 2-3 weeks was spent eating less than is required to maintain the same weight. I then wasn’t that hungry because opiates made me feel sick. Some kilograms were lost. A total of about four months was spent not walking. Some leg muscle wasted.

Mmmmm…. Healthy.

A lot of people complimented me on looking lighter, several said it must be good for my climbing. The problem is, I quite liked it. It made me wonder though, if they’d thought I was fat before. Would they think I was fat when I resumed normal activity and presumably put some of whatever it was that was there before back on?

I then ditched the opiates. I started to walk. I ate more. I trained more. I gained some weight.
Over the next few month months, I gained back almost exactly the same weight as I’d lost, and some of the lost leg muscle. The difference is negligible. I changed shape slightly, more Fingerboarding, less walking. But I weigh the same. Yet this is apparently a positive state of affairs.

Now I know ‘you look slimmer’ is meant as a compliment. I certainly don’t mind the people who said it, saying it. They meant well. But it is no longer something I’m pleased to be told, either. It no longer flatters me. Because it’s somewhat irrelevant. According to NHS guidelines, I wasn’t under or overweight before, and I’m not now.

I can honestly say I don’t really tell other people they look thinner or fatter because- shockingly- I rarely notice. For me I think that sort of thing actually encouraged me to question whether I looked right. A couple of friends said “Lisa, you look stronger since breaking your leg”. Now that, to me, is a compliment. That is an achievement. That is something I am proud of. If someone needs to lose weight for health reasons, then by all means do compliment them on achieving this. But if someone’s weight slightly changes because they got very broken, it probably isn’t a good thing.

I will never be skinny. Nor am I overweight. At 5’7” I weigh somewhere between 60 and 65 kilograms. I don’t actually know, nor do I want to. I have perhaps less muscle definition than I could, but I also have boobs. I like them. That’s not to say any other girls look wrong, it’s just that the lifestyle choices required to be thinner than I am now (i.e. no biscuits) would not make me happy.

That’s not to say I don’t have insecurities- who doesn’t? It’s just that whereas my teenage self used to act on these, I’m able to objectively see that for my body, eating significantly less would not be optimal for climbing gains. I would like more cardiovascular fitness, but that took a bit of a hit when I broke my leg. So I look thinner but am actually more unfit. I don’t actually think it’s the good thing people seem to think it is. What I’d actually like, is to keep getting stronger. I imagine that this will not coincide with suddenly becoming an unhealthy weight. I will continue to whine to my boyfriend when I feel insecure. He will continue to have the good sense never to comment on my weight.

People like different shapes and sizes of course. But I wish my teenage self had spent a little less time trying to be thinner. I would have looked at the way I look now and thought “Ewwwwww, FAT”. Well that’s bullshit. That’s awful! It’s not even unusual for girls to feel like that! Weight isn’t even fixed! It changes all the time. Bits of us are different densities to others! Muscle, fat, titanium. Oh wait, you don’t have titanium? Guess you’re heavier then. So unless it’s a health concern, I’ll focus on getting stronger and fitter thanks, and keep letting my body do its thing.

As promised in the introduction.

p.s. I don’t know whether the people who complimented my on looking thinner said it because they thing it looks better, or because they thought it would be what I wanted to hear. Either way, I appreciate the sentiment.


  1. Oh now I am sorry that I said that:( I did not want to say nothing bad you look fab now and on the past:)

    1. I know you didn't Krzepa, it's OK, and thanks :)

  2. So...many...fat jokes...Not sure...if....allowed.

    1. ha! only if you come and visit