Friday, December 30, 2011

Reverse BDD

Before we get started – this is not an invitation to be an asshole. Thank you in advance for either being respectful or being quiet.

Okay, so I think we have all heard of body dysmorphic disorder…you know, that thing that some people accuse skinny chicks of when they talk about being fat too much? A comment from one of my twitter friends about needing to lose baby weight got me started on a train of thought. Do you think it’s possible to have REVERSE BDD? Like, if people with BDD have an “excessive concern about and preoccupation with a perceived defect of their physical features”, reverse BDDers would have no concern whatsoever about an actual defect of their physical features. Except, in this case, I’m talking about weight, so let’s not call it a defect (hells no). I’m replacing “defect” with “characteristic” since I’m talking as a matter of fact with no negative or positive connotations whatsoever.

What I’m trying to say (poorly) is that I think that part of the reason I have been carrying around 35-55 pounds of extra weight since 2006 is that, when I look in the mirror, I don’t see those 35-55 pounds. For the most part, I think I look pretty average, despite the fact that I AM overweight (5 out of 5 doctors agree). Every once in a while I will catch a glimpse in a mirror or see an especially unflattering picture and I am genuinely shocked by my appearance. I think it’s really easy for me to write it off as bad lighting or a weird angle and just delete the picture and move on. I carefully edit the image of myself in my head the same way I carefully select which pictures I will actually post on my blog or on Facebook.

I think some of the contributing factors to my reverse BDDism are:
1) I gained 60 pounds over the space of a year and a half, which is pretty darn quick (caused by change in activity and stress levels and lots of pizza, not some medical condition your father's brother’s nephew’s cousin's former roommate had).
2) I’m still a skinny chick in my head, just like I’m still only 28 years old.
3) At 5’8”, I can carry extra weight better than someone who is shorter.
4) I’ve never been one to be overly concerned about any aspect of my physical appearance, so why should weight be any different?
5) I’ve been pregnant twice since I gained the weight, and all pregnancy long people tell me how great I look (I lose weight when pregnant thanks to the 9 months of barfing).

The friend who got me thinking about this said something to the effect of “four years is probably long enough”. As we are entering 2012, it’s SIX years for me. Six years is a long time to have no urgency whatsoever to lose weight, especially when considering how much I would have to lose to get back to my starting place. It’s a long time to be in denial about the fact that my weight is causing my knees to hurt, my heart to race, my clothes to not fit right, etc. etc.

I have no interest in going on a diet – I love food and don’t think you need to completely deprive yourself of the things you love to be a healthier person. There is, however, lots of room to make better food-related decisions, so I am going to start taking (baby) steps in that direction.

I do have an interest in exercising, but not necessarily the motivation - you saw how quickly I jumped on an excuse to quit 30 day shred. I know for a fact that I feel significantly better when I work out regularly, so I’m not really sure why it is so hard to get the kick in the pants to just DO IT. I think I need to lose the reverse BDD, gain a realistic perspective of what my body looks like, and add the desire to LOOK better to the desire to FEEL better. That’s kind of backwards and screwy, isn’t it?

So, 2012. Eat less, exercise more = goal #1. HOW VERY ORIGINAL.


Jessica said...

I have the EXACT SAME THING. In my head, I am way skinnier than I actually am. I weight just short of 50 pounds over what's recommended for my height.

There's one picture my husband took while Meg and I were making cinnamon applesauce ornaments that shocks me every time I see it. I look like a BLIMP. But all I do is try to forget the picture exists, not seriously lose weight. For right now, breastfeeding is my excuse. If I diet, my milk supply goes down. Also, I'm losing about 1/2 pound per week doing nothing, which is excuse enough for me to not mess with it.

I'm terrified of when I stop breastfeeding, though, because I gained 25 pounds in 3 months after I stopped breastfeeding Meg. (Then got pregnant and started losing weight from puking.)

Lacey said...

Ditto. I feel the exact same way. And for me, because I'm 5'9 I'm always "average weight" according to every dr and chart I've ever seen so that gives me even more motivation to not be motivated. Ha. But my pudge, badonkadonk and thunder thighs are definitely not average and I should really do something about them.

I'm using the breastfeeding excuse right now too, and I also HATE having to limit what yummy deliciousness I can/cannot eat. On top of all that I hate exercising. So I really have to want it badly to overcome all of that, and I just don't.

If anything will motivate me though, it's the half closet full of clothes that don't quite fit yet. I'm gonna want to wear some of that stuff soon and that's probably what will make me start working for it again.
(Sorry for the novel!)

Shalini said...

OK, I am NOT trying to be a suck up here, but I *think* that women who have very pretty faces and hair might have reverse BDD more than the rest of us. I have known a lot of very beautiful women who feel no urge to lose weight except for the dr. nagging them, because they're fabulous looking. I think it's more difficult for average-looking women. Seriously.

Brenna said...

I'm the same way. I need to lose about 40 pounds, and I've needed to for 4 years, since I had my third baby. But I don't feel fat on a day-to-day basis. I definitely see it in pictures and know logically that the weight is there and noticeable, but I remain unfazed. Oh well. Better than obsessing about it, in my opinion.

lifeofadoctorswife said...

What Shalini said. :-)

But from a HEALTH standpoint, exercising and eating well is a great goal. (Whether or not there's any weight loss involved.)

Can't wait to meet you now that the holidays are over!!

Erin said...

You should try Fat Bet! A couple of my friends and I are trying it for 2 months, and I think I'll do well with it as I am cheap. (The idea is, you pledge to work out 5 days a week for at least 30 minutes, and for every one of those 5 days you skip, you owe the pot $5.) You're welcome to join our Fat Bet if you're interested :)

Hillary said...

I don't mean to be insensitive because I don't know you, but when in college I called this reverse BDD "skinny gone fat." These girls -- including me -- who had gained the freshman 15 (and then some in my and other cases) just couldn't seem to admit they'd gained the weight. As you said, they just didn't see it. It's entirely possible.

Also, I totally agree with Shalini.

LazyBones said...

Just found your blog and I have this too! I've been 30 lbs overweight for the past year (since my daughter was born), and it's really hard for me to feel any sort of urgency about it. Technically, I know that I can only wear a tiny percentage of my clothes, and that it would be good if I fit into more of them, but for the most part I just toss on the ones that fit and keep truckin'! I'm trying to pay attention to what I eat, and how it makes my body FEEL, and I hope that -combined with exercise, which I actually do love- the weight will gradually come off. Enjoyed the post!