I must be honest with all of you, when I decided a month ago to begin this blog, I was a little bit afraid.
While I wouldn’t exactly say that I am a particularly secretive about my life, I will say that I struggle with the idea of being an open book. I am not a perfect person (shocker!) and while I make sincere efforts every single day to be better, I am always falling short of my expectations. I make mistakes. I take detours. I make choices that others probably wouldn’t consider ideal. As much as I really want to tell you all that I don’t care what people think of what I say or do, doing such just wouldn’t be honest.
I have been blogging off and on since I was a teenager, but for the most part, I never had the figurative “balls” to keep my writings public for any extended period of time. My first real foray into public view was probably when I began losing weight on SparkPeople. I participated in discussions in their various communities and I sporadically blogged my successes and failures. In my writings there, I tried to be as genuine as possible. The importance of being true became even more significant to me once people had read my motivational blog entry about weight loss success and I was voted a “SparkPeople Motivator.” I had no idea why anyone would want to read my story or use me as a role model, but if some people could be helped through my experiences, then I wanted to be as candid and as sincere as possible.
There were many people who heard exactly what I was saying and I received literally hundreds of comments and SparkMails about how inspirational my journey was to others. I couldn’t believe it. Me? Inspire you? Get out of town.
The problem, however, was that there were plenty of individuals who only took what they wanted to from my story. Over and over again I would be literally in tears, or completely livid due to comments or messages I had received where the person had completely missed my point.
In my article I recounted an incident where I was humiliated by a restaurant worker because of my size. I said in plain English that being trashed by someone didn’t inspire me to lose weight, but instead just made me bury myself further in the hole under an entire pack of Oreos. That it made me feel like the rest of the world thought I was less of a person because I was heavy and instead of encouraging me to do better, it only reinforced my opinion that I was hopeless. I said that despite this event’s proximity to turning my life around, it wasn’t the catalyst…my “healthy tipping point”, if you will. It was just another day in the life of someone who assumed she “would always be fat”.
Despite my insistance that being ridiculed, for me, isn’t a motivator, there were certain people who just couldn’t get away from the idea. For every person who said that waitress was the worst person on Earth, there was another one who told me that the miserable hag had done me the biggest favor. They said, “Isn’t it great that you were once again emotionally beaten into the ground? It made you lose weight!”
News flash, people: If people publicly ridiculing me could produce weight loss, I would’ve been the skinniest 6th grader in history.
Even recently when I wrote about being a “Beautiful, Grown Woman” I got responses about how great it was that I had lost the weight and finally became pretty. I was floored. Am I speaking in another language, or something? Some weird, crazy internet language where everything I say means the opposite?
In addition to people sometimes completely misconstruing the point of my writing, there is also the pressure I put on myself to be the best for my readers. While I certainly am not one of the “high rollers” on Spark, I get traffic, and I wanted to be what they wanted me to be. The person who never gives up. The person who pushes on when times get rough and frankly, the person who doesn’t put 20 pounds back on because of her ongoing battle with emotional eating. When I’m struggling, I don’t want to post about it. I don’t want anyone to know. I want to be a superwoman for you all. I don’t want you to think I’m phony.
Here’s the truth: I’m not fake…..but I’m not a superwoman either.
These are the struggles that blogging and public weight loss have left me with over the last three years. When I talk about these feelings, most people have no idea what I’m talking about, so my friend Maya has had to bear the brunt of my emotions on the matter. Maya was actually the one who introduced me to SparkPeople in 2007, and more recently, had been the person who turned me on to ideas that come from Healthy Living Blogs.
(read: Oatmeal with awesome toppings and Green Monsters! I’m in love! ❤ )
She has talked me down from my rants many times, reminding me that I can’t control what others take from my writings. Some people will get where I’m coming from, while others are hung up with their own problems and only see what they want to see. She reminds me that no one will think I’m a fraud because I, like everyone else, have demons to battle. She reminds me that people have liked following me because I am real.
She’s sounding kind of smart, right now, isn’t she?
It’s true though.
When I think of what draws me into the healthy living community, it isn’t just the fact that these people run marathons, cook amazing food, blog three times a day, take beautiful pictures and still have time for their significant others. What draws me in are their bad runs, kitchen blunders, cell phone shots and the way they admit that life, is in fact, hard. These bloggers do achieve amazing feats, but they’re normal people, just like me.
I love them for that.
When I read the Marie Claire article that ripped so many of my favorite bloggers apart, I was enraged. Not so much at the idea that there may be readers out there who get the wrong idea about these women, as I think that is a real issue. Even from the small taste of the public eye I’ve had, I know first hand that no matter what you do, some people will get the wrong idea. I was incensed by the idea that instead of creating an open dialogue where both sides of the issue could be discussed rationally, the so-called journalist decided to wage a personal attack on 6 very real women based on a few examples taken out of context and medical professionals who were most likely paid to say what would best support her exceptionally weak thesis.
All I want to say to “the big six” (how ridiculous is that handle?!) is:
Keep doing what you’re doing.
You all inspire me to do better and to keep it honest and real.
And I am grateful.