Smug as a bug… Or why diminishing self-loathing can be a bad thing

Wednesday, November 9, 2011 Permalink

I was responding to a comment on my blog yesterday when it occurred to me that one of the reasons I’m suffering some motivational problems (in terms of weight loss and exercise) is in fact one I’ve experienced before.

And no, I’m not talking about my love of chocolate, corn chips and alcohol, or even my general apathy… I’m talking about the fact that I’ve become a tad smug.

Now people who know me would be shocked to hear me describe myself in that way. Just yesterday I was chastised a couple of times for minimising my chances of getting a job and commenting on myself negatively; but, while I’m not saying I think I’m the best thing since sliced bread (is that just an Australian colloquialism?) I’ve realised I dislike myself less than I used to.

I should note that I had initially written ‘despise’ rather than ‘dislike’ the previous sentence, but changed it lest people think I’m being overly critical of myself.

Although I’d like to be a more confident person, I abhor vanity, so I’m unlikely to go too far on the self-congratulations front. But, even I know I’m prone to self-deprecation, so in many ways despise isn’t too strong a word to describe how I’ve often felt about myself. However I should note that ,while I’m critical of a number of aspects of my personality, it is predominantly the physical ‘me’ (and the behaviour which has led to it) which has borne the brunt of my self-disgust.

I don’t believe I’m unlovable (for example), but I can’t imagine why anyone would be ‘in love’ with me, or physically attracted to me. At all. And, I’m not being coy or victim-like when I say that. I can’t imagine being attracted to someone VERY overweight, so why would anyone feel like that about me?

Obviously there is a direct correlation between my level of self-hatred and my weight. Like anyone and everyone, I feel SO much better about myself when I’ve lost some weight.

And therein lies my current problem. I’ve mentioned before that several of my diets (oops, sorry… healthy lifestyles) have gone awry once I’ve lost some weight BUT before I reach my goal weight: I lose some weight and start to feel a little better about myself and – it seems – my weight-loss motivation wanes.

|| self hateWhen I’ve lost weight (as I have done recently), although I’m not likely to prance about in skimpy clothing primping and preening, I do feel more confident in whatever I’m wearing; I feel better about myself; and probably act a little differently as well. I’m less prone to shame or embarrassment about my body and my weight (and presumably my ‘weak-will’ which has led me there). I feel less judged and less ‘pathetic’. All of those things I’ve written about before…. all of those things I think about other bigger people – are alleviated. Just a little.

But… it has its downside. I suspect some of that self-hatred or self-loathing kept me motivated, it kept me on-track and made me hungry (in an Eye-of-the-Tiger kind of way, not a god-I-could-devour-a-chocolate kind of way). And what I’ve realised is that with some of that self-hatred gone, so has some of that drive and determination.

I’ve never been good at perceiving what I look like. I’ve previously claimed to have that body dysmorphic disorder… though mostly in reverse – I’ve never realised how big I actually am / have been, which means I cannot really tell what I look like now or how I have changed. My view of myself is entirely reflected by those around me. Lately I’ve been constantly receiving comments about the weight I’ve lost… which isn’t helping keep me ‘hungry’ or motivated. Instead I feel a little smug. But… I am still 20-30kg OVER my ideal weight so I have a long (long, long) way to go.

I don’t want to go back to where I was (when I’d stress about making myself as ‘small’ as possible on the train seat so fellow commuters didn’t cringe at having to wedge in next to me or live only in overly baggy clothing akin to maternity smocks and mumus!), but I need to get past this ‘Look what I’ve achieved?’ mentality. Note to self: I need a reality check.

  • Liz N
    November 9, 2011

    Hi Deb,
    I reckon you’re in an interesting phase of your loss. I remember when losing it for good thinking the same at a few points but my old competitiveness crept in – wanted to really be the best I could be and not do it half assed! I know you can do it – enjoy what you’ve achieved but also that you’re still going to kick some butt and take names.

    • rockafellaskank
      November 9, 2011

      Hoping I get there Liz… that the old competitiveness kicks in. SOON!

  • Marion
    November 9, 2011

    I used to feel quite a bit like that. Now I glory in the things that I’m good at and the happy moments I have. I *don’t* think the world is going to get thrilled about (or even notice) my personal great moments, but I’ve decided that I’d better because otherwise I’m not enjoying myself. Myself–is my best friend!

    And, I’ve talked to a *lot* of guys about this. Attractiveness is mostly about good attitude. Men will forgive most bad traits, even physical ones, if a woman is fun and interesting to be around.

    • rockafellaskank
      November 9, 2011

      I think I am my own best friend as well Marion. Well… me and my mum! And I think you are right about the attractiveness thing. I hope that – as I feel better about myself – I might be more attractive to others as well!

  • Julia
    November 9, 2011

    I do the same exact thing – all of it. In a way it is a good thing – having positive self-esteem, but it does get in the way of the big goals. I’m glad we are on this journey together, and have each other to pull us through both the good, the bad, and skewed times ; )

    • rockafellaskank
      November 9, 2011

      Thanks Julia… and me too! xx

  • Michele @ Within Reach
    November 9, 2011

    Okay, this one hits close to home for me. I’ve experienced the same thing where I lost 90 pounds and felt like I looked so much better, yet still have much much more to lose. I think we can celebrate our success while still recognizing the path ahead is still long.

    • rockafellaskank
      November 9, 2011

      Thanks for commenting Michele. It sometimes occurs to me (this time, plus other times I’ve lost a lot of weight) that complete strangers would look at me and just consider me to be obese / overweight and wonder why I haven’t done anything about it…. not realising I might have just lost A LOT of weight already. I need to get the balance right!

  • Karen@WaistingTime
    November 9, 2011

    Interesting. And never ceases to amaze me what we can still discover on our journeys.

    • rockafellaskank
      November 9, 2011

      Yep… I’m 43 years old and have been ‘dieting’ on and off for more than half of that time, and yet I still have those, “Oooohhhhh… that’s why xxxx”. (Argh! Over 20yrs of dieting and I still can’t get it right. THAT’S depressing!)

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