Elephant in the Room

I’ve always hated the saying, “elephant in the room.” I know what it means, but it never fails to make me think someone is making a fat joke or fat reference with regards to me. It’s conditioning from a lifetime of being told by society (and believing it) that I was less of a person because I carried (much) more weight. Every reference to the “obesity epidemic” with blurred out fat bodies across a television screen, on a blog I once liked, or on someone’s Instagram, I think “that could be me” and yet we judge and scorn the faceless fat. This is a great article with regards to this – hat tip to Carla for sharing it on Facebook.

elephant in the roombase image credit

My elephant in the room (or rather, on this blog) is my weight. I knew as soon as I posted my Whole30 results, people would ask about it. And I am not upset or anything by it: it is what it is. It’s the nature of what I’ve created. This started exclusively as a weight loss blog – my way of documenting my efforts to become a Biggest Loser without the television show. I totally get it – people want updated numbers.

I just wanted to take a minute to address it and explain a little bit about where I am right now.

Putting your weight and progress pictures online is scary shit, no matter what the number on the scale or your jeans says. To do it starting at over 450 pounds is effing insanity because it opens you up to so much criticism. I often think that I have lost my damn mind repeatedly to expose myself, my body, and that number on the scale that gives people major pause – even if for me it is demonstrating success.

Here’s the thing: In the process of trying to display some linear form of weight loss success, I stopped listening to my body and my distorted mind took over. With each step on the scale, I thought “oh, that sucks, people are going to think I cheated this week” or “oh, this will make a great blog post” or “oh, can I really write again about not losing any weight?”

Sitting down to write gave me a deeper sense of shame when none should have existed. The shame comes from the assumption people have about fat: that it comes from being lazy, undisciplined, and from a lack of self-control and self-respect. The one or two vocal people (really, there are very few of them!) who decide to try to “call me out” stay in my head, their words branding my brain with feelings of complete inadequacy and failure. Anything good that happens or that I made happen (an important reminder I try to give myself)  is washed away like a wave erasing a sandcastle. It felt that permanent.

These are verbatim thoughts that echoed in my head repeatedly when the scale didn’t show me what I wanted:

  • I am disgusting and not worthy of anything good.
  • I am lazy and undisciplined.
  • None of this will make a difference.
  • None of this matters. I don’t matter.
  • I don’t know why I even try anymore.
  • What is wrong with me?
  • This should be easy and I’ve fucked it up again.
  • I am a worthless person who will never fit in.
  • I will never be a success.
  • What am I doing wrong?

In order to stop those thoughts, I had to go through each one and look at them logically versus emotionally. Logic tells me that none of these things are valid. They cannot be proven, and stem from fear and shame others say I should feel – not from fact. The past several months have been an exercise in doing this. I’ve had to invalidate these thoughts methodically and repeatedly. This meant not weighing and focusing on the distinction between health and weight. It became vital that I removed “skinny” from the blog because it didn’t represent what I wanted to be. The chase for “skinny” was always about the quest for living a happy, healthy life. Not that I’d look good in smaller clothes.

I don’t want to be anything other than me. Me as a person and not as a number, yet the number is part of me. My experiences and happiness should be driven by what I want rather than what I should or shouldn’t do by anyone else’s estimation. I will not hide or shirk because of fear of what others will think.  I cannot, and will not, live that life anymore.

The past several months I’ve not been giving regular updates about the number on the scale while I try to stop these negative thoughts. I’ve gained weight, and I’ve lost that weight. It’s continuously moving. I’ve been holding my 343 number in my head as that’s the lowest I’ve gotten on this journey. Today the scale said 364. Tomorrow it might be 360, or it could be 370. All I know is I won’t know what that number is because I can’t let it hover over me day in and day out. I’m just working on physical and emotional health so the number won’t hold such power over me anymore. I’m not stopping.

So that’s that. Slaying the theoretical elephant.  Thanks for being with me regardless if you know my weight week in and week out or not.

  • Maeve

    I can’t say that I follow your blog for weight loss. I certainly read back into the archives and perused the weight loss journey posts. However, I hope you realize that you reach an audience that looks to you for updates on your journey towards self-acceptance and self-improvement, and that the self-improvement insights are not dependent on a dwindling scale number. Also, your fashion posts are fabulous. I guess my point is, I barely noticed that you weren’t posting about weight because everything else you have to say is SO worth reading.

    • Abby

      This!

    • http://www.shaunareid.com/ Shauna

      Maeve said it all so well! I’m here for your wonderful voice and take on life :)

      Emmie, I can relate so much to your thoughts, the one or two naysayers getting under your skin, and the necessity of changing blog name. Keep on truckin’ comrade… thank you being bold and brave!

    • Denise Elliott

      You are so much more than your weight/weight loss adventures to me, Emmie. Before I started taking better care of myself, your blog was a window into a world that inspired me: striving for better health, dressing beautifully, and slaying outdated notions of what “healthy” looks like. Now that I’m on a journey of my own, I love seeing your new blog posts in my inbox so that I can learn more about gorgeous clothes, being healthy at any size, and honest reflections about how flippin’ hard it is to make healthy choices every single day. On my down days, I look at your posts and they make me step up and try again, and on my happy days, I read through with a smile knowing that I’m not alone.

      Thanks for being you and for being so very honest, even when I’m sure it would be easier not to.

  • Glenneth Reed

    i love reading your blog regardless of the number on the scale. you have such a great sense of style. post your weight, don’t post your weight, i will keep reading!

  • Kel Sanchez

    This made me cry.
    I relate to it and wish i was in a better place with it.
    It is funny how we see people.
    You are such a accomplished person.
    Your fashion sense is wonderful.
    You are so put together.
    I would have never known you struggled with this.
    I am glad you shared this with us…I want to get to the point where the number has no power over me :)
    You are Awesome

  • Sarah Kerr

    Even though I’ve lost over 70lbs and kept most of it off, you’d be amazed to hear that that entire list of thoughts still goes through my head when I’ve been eating too much (or even not eating too much) and my pants get tighter and the scale jumps up.

    I was down to 138lbs and a size 4/6 at my skinniest, which was thinner than I ever thought I’d be. I’m about 10lbs heavier than that right now and am going away on vacation next week and I genuinely feel like a complete failure for spending two years gaining and losing and then regaining the same 10lbs.

    I don’t know what my point is, except to say, do whatever you can to keep heading down the road of not letting the number on the scale bother you – because I genuinely think that growing up as the “fat girl” (I was the only one at my school and was bullied for years and it ruined my childhood and teenage years) scarred me so much that I will never see myself as normal or acceptable or someone to NOT be ridiculed or shamed for my eating habits.

    god. that makes me so sad writing that out. I remember when I weighed 215lbs and was binge eating so often that I thought I was literally going to burst my insides more than a few times. I remember thinking if I could just get to a “normal” size that I would be “happy” and somehow fixed and it would somehow erase all the years I spent feeling totally worthless because I wasn’t skinny like all of my friends.

    sad to say none of that happened. therapy would probably do me some good.

    just keep doing what you are doing and love yourself no matter what. that journey is one that has absolutely nothing to do with size, and trust me when I say the number on the scale is totally irrelevant to self-love.

    you are beautiful and a total inspiration. I think you’d be surprised to know how many times I have sat here in total envy of your fashion sense, your beauty, your wit, your sense of humor and your bravery. I know I’m not the only one.

  • Danielle

    I find inspiration on your blog, not because of the number on the scale, but because of who you are and how your perspective is real. We all have a different journey to health and happiness, none of which are defined by numbers on a scale. Your fashion posts and thoughts on life in general are easy to relate to and will always be, no matter the number.

  • Courtney C♡

    This is absolutely amazing. I’ve lost 30 lbs so far but been stuck hovering around the same number for weeks. I *feel* better, I eat better, but the scale isn’t moving. You are such an inspiration to me and to other people out there. Thank you so much for this post :)

  • Anita

    Reading this is an awful lot like looking into my own head. Since January I have been trying my best to be healthier and learn how to accept myself as more than what I’ve always been told I was. We moved in July and since then I have really been struggling with stay on a healthier track…so I’ve let those old voices in my head make me feel worse and used it as an excuse to not take better care of myself. Your post today is a great wake up call. So thank-you so much!

  • hward

    Well said. Your words echo in many of us. And many, probably the majority and those that count, read and follow your blog for so much more than that number. Does that number help us relate to you? Sometimes. But not everyday or week or month. All the other stuff matters the most. Thanks again for inspiration and laughs and cries and letting us be on lifes journey with you.

  • tobakett

    I’m so refreshed to see that I’m not the only one who feels this way. I started at just over 390 lbs. I lost 70 lbs. I wanted to lose over 100, because I wanted to be married at under 300 lbs. I got married, feeling like a failure because my number was wrong. I tried starting a blog, got discouraged by a lack of readers and then shame over the fact that my weight plateued for 7 months. Was going to update post wedding and was ashamed because I gained back like 20 lbs. Its stupid how one number can just wreck havoc on you. I admire your strength and will to overcome so many obstacles on your journey, and to be able to keep a good mindset. I’m still working on that myself.

  • Maria

    “They cannot be proven, and stem from fear and shame others say I should feel – not from fact.” This sentence jumped out and smacked me in the face. I am currently struggling with this. Thank you for going over this.

  • Shannon

    You are incredible with a beautiful message!

  • http://austinstf.tumblr.com slavetofashion

    It always makes me sad when I hear that a real, honest, amazing blogger gets torn down by the vocal minority. I hope you know that your life and your story is inspirational; not because of the numbers on the scale or the numbers on the pedometer or the number of calories. It’s inspirational because you genuinely want better for yourself; better peace of mind, better health, better quality of life. The numbers don’t matter my friend – the heart and the work and the honesty are what matters. Lots of love to you!!

  • Curvily NYC

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I love the change to your blog name and the reasoning behind it.

  • AN

    You’re not alone and don’t let that darn number discourage you. It really is how you feel. It’s not about how quickly you get the weight off, but how long you’re able to keep it off. Many, many, many of us yo-yo, but it’s that moment when you see an increase and go… what happened? Did I over indulge recently or is there some emotional stress I’m going through right now? Then figuring out a way of addressing it. Other people will always judge, but you need to realize that they have their own problems too. Yours is just more visible. It’s unfortunate that they have to knock you down in order to feel better about themselves, but you know what… that’s their character flaw… so don’t let it get to you.

  • SassySarah

    Oh girl! That took a lot of guts to write that out! You have accomplished so much and are a healthier stronger person from when you began this journey! I know that feeling you’re talking about & of seeing numbers on the scale get higher when you’re trying so hard to accomplish something. It can be such an out of control and helpless feeling, especially when it seems like you’re doing everything “right”. I’ve come to the sort of realization that our bodies are so intricate that one little thing out of balance can make everything out of whack. Like for me- being stressed for one week, but eating “perfect”, I can step on the scale and be up 3pounds- for no apparent reason. Awesome! Or for medical reasons of things you can’t control effect your body- like I had surgery on my legs and was not be able to work out/be active, just to find that I gained 25pounds- super awesome!! And on the opposite side, I’ve also had times where I’ve wined & dined all week and found a -5pound loss… I dont understand it! It’s crazy and unfair and frustrating all at the same time! However, I think the fact that despite a number- I can control & strive to be the healthiest person, whatever that means to me, that I can be capable of- here in this body! Just know that you’re not unsuccessful- you’re healthy & getting stronger everyday! Your dedication is to be admired, and just know that no matter what number it says, you are always such an inspiration!(oh and a bad ass chick too!:-)

  • Annabel

    Emmie, the most meaningful transformation one can ever undergo is the transformation from feeling powerless and like her worth is contingent on her weight and/or appearance to one who realizes she is already powerful and that her weight and appearance are fleeting and superficial. This is your true butterfly moment, Emmie! Sending you my <3

  • Amy

    Your post pierced my heart. I know, deep in my bones know, how this struggle feels. I fight it every day. I read your posts for the wisdom, humor, and insight they offer – the reassurance that we are not struggling alone. I do not read your posts looking for a number on the scale. I think you are awesome.

  • Tammy Bright

    I love your blog for everything you write about, not just your weight-loss posts. Your fashion posts have pointed me towards some items I might not have found otherwise. Ignore the naysayers, and just keep being YOU.

  • nakia

    Once again, thank you for being so open and honest. It’s crazy all of the negative self talk that goes on…you logically know it’s not true, but emotionally it feels like it.

    I always think about the line “if you wouldn’t say that to your best friend, why in the world are you saying it to yourself?!”, but it still doesn’t stop that stinkin’ thinkin’ to creep inside. Thank you for your willingness to share that it’s tough, because it is. Thank you for also showing that we have to keep trying, because we do. Much love to you, Emmie! You are brave and awesome!

  • Karen P

    Great post, Emmie. You’ve gone through a lot with your ankle and thyroid disease, and the Whole30. I’m happy you are working on things and doing what you need to do for yourself. Onward and keep up the good work.

  • Abby

    All right lovey dove, I’m gonna lay it on you.
    WE ALL LOVE YOU JUST AS YOU ARE.
    You take that to heart and you heal those old wounds. You don’t have to carry it anymore. WE LOVE YOU JUST AS YOU ARE. Everyone of us who read your blog as soon as a new post comes out. WE LOVE YOU JUST AS YOU ARE. Your friends, your family, the spirits of those who have passed on, LOVE AND ACCEPT YOU.
    I am crying typing this. But I mean it damnit. You are beautiful inside and out. It breaks my heart to hear your pain, to see you not deeply love and appreciate the tender, magical person you are. You are a gift, Emily. We all are. It is our job to protect that knowledge and love ourselves the way we love others.
    I just saw Winn Claybaugh & Kathy Buckley speak yesterday so I am a little fired up.
    You are getting healthy, what could possible be shameful about that?
    The past regrets: say thanks for the lessons they taught you and let them go.
    Forgive yourself and anyone who has wronged you. For you.
    Fuck the haters. They either get you are they don’t.
    Do you. Love you. We do.
    Big, big hugs. Shine girl!

  • Tracy

    Thanks Emmie for sharing! This is definitely something I’ve needed to do myself. You can’t let the number on the scale be the end all, be all in the journey to get healthy.

  • JR

    Beautifully said! Something that we all need to work on, both not letting others opinions matter and not judging others. I try to remember that “I am not in competition with others, simply trying to be better than the person I was today”

  • RoniNoone

    I’ve gone through these same feelings (as they pertain to the blog and thinking I’m letting people down by not posting my weight, or my food journals or whatever) and what I’ve learned is I need to write about what I need to write about (for me.) It’s about what’s going on in MY head. People may not like it or be disappointed or even request I post something else but at the end of the day — and this is about to sound harsh– they don’t matter. They can’t matter. If we try to please them we lose ourselves. It’s taken me these 8 years to figure that out and feel really comfortable with it. We’ve opened up our lives in this crazy blogging world and we set the rules. Remember that.

    Love you Emmie. Can’t wait to get another real life hug in a few weeks!!

  • Jody R. Goldenfield

    What a great post!!!! People can be so cruel – weight & other things too – it is hard to get ourselves to the point of being OK with who we are no matter what. I am sure people think I am all OK with myself which is furthest from the truth & why I did that I AM ENOUGH campaign a while back & still working at it at close to 56 years old. I am proud of you!!! We all have our own journey.

  • MSB

    I think you are amazing. It takes a great amount of courage to put your struggles on public display. Yes, you may have started out as a weight loss blogger, but you have grown and evolved into something more. And that’s important to note. You have your own business, you are active in the areas of your passion, and you do us big girls proud with your stylish fashion sense. How many people can say the same thing? Not many. Keep growing, learning, and moving forward. And forget the rest.

    It has always been my experience that others will be quick to point to your elephant in hopes that their’s will become invisible. :-

  • http://twitter.com/#!/pattyaizaga Patty

    You’ve never been a number to me. Since the moment I met you I knew we’d be friends forever. That’s what your blog has given me. You’ve inspired me. Cheered me on and heard me cry. You’ve shared your life and allowed me to be there for you. I understand what those thoughts in your head feel like because I have them myself. It’s a hard place to be but I always think that of all people…I should be the one who judges myself the least. I know the struggles in my life and I’m doing the best I can. That always helps. xoxo Can’t wait to see you on Monday!!! :)

  • Deb

    Just found your blog. Don’t care about the weight. Love your journey.

    • http://authenticallyemmie.com Emmie

      Thank you so much!

  • Alicia Velice

    I wonder what these folks who are so cruel to others think about themselves it can not be good thoughts.
    If you love yourself even a little bit you would never slay another person because of weight or looks.
    I am so tired of people offering their opinion trying to be “helpful” just to mask that it is actually Cruelty.
    I am a strong 240 pounds, it is not my ideal I would love to fit back into my size 14 pants, but I am okay with being strong and happy.
    I read your blog and you have helped me be okay with where I am at it does not matter what you weigh it matters that you are loving yourself and happy where you are.
    So thank you.

  • Steph

    You’re a rockstar! Keep doing what you’re doing as you inspire people daily!

  • Jaime

    One of the best things I have done for myself is to stop weighing. After a lifetime of failed diets I thought of myself as a total failure. I started reading about Intuitive Eating and going to counseling for it and it has changed my life tremendously. The first principle is to acknowledge that diets don’t work and stop weighing yourself. We judge ourselves so harshly on that number and create worse problems. I have a much better self image now and am focused on eating intuitively along with moving more to have a healthy lifestyle. I applaud you for sharing your journey with others.

  • Jennifer Dome

    I struggle with this exact same thing. Please know that others are right there with you, struggling too, but the point is that we’re still trying. I’ll be here with you whether you’re posting your weight or not. To me, I learn from you from the journey, not from the number on your scale.

  • http://www.doublechindiary.com/ Alyssa @ DoubleChinDiary.com

    I love you regardless of any elephants of any kind. And for the record, elephants are gentle, beautiful, intelligent creatures, so when that jerk in Thailand called me an elephant, I guess I just have to assume he meant I was awe-inspiring, not fat… Fuck thailand. lol. <3 Much love!

  • Lea Goossen

    You blog is awesome. I love following you on your journey! I totally enjoy your blog. I hope you do find your inner strength to get beyond the negative thoughts that are SO far from true. You are amazing!

  • k

    Bravo! I just want to be healthy and feel good and that’s what I tell people if they bring up that topic for me. Numbers are for math! I’m over it…I just want to love myself and see what happens. I’ve spent a long time not loving myself because of numbers, so I’m getting rid of them. Good for you!

  • Linda P.

    You are beautiful just the way you are! And the way you were, and they way you will be! I found you through GB, so I love seeing the outfits you post. I support you if you want to lose weight, but I have no opinion whatsoever about whether that is something you should or should not want. That is completely up to you. For myself, after many years (a lifetime!) of failed diets, I have given up dieting, and I no longer weigh myself. I am working on loving myself, and my body, just the way it is. Thanks for sharing your doubts, it helps all of us when we are more real with each other.
    Linda

    • http://www.authenticallyemmie.com/ Emily Sandford

      Thank you so much Linda for the kind comment!

  • Pam

    Wow. You are amazing. Just found your blog. Those same “Medusa” thoughts plague me. Thank you for being authentic and wonderful!

  • Heather

    Don’t give up. I need you to not give up.

    • http://www.authenticallyemmie.com/ Emily Sandford

      No worries! Giving up isn’t in my vocabulary :)

  • Chloe

    Awesome blog. Awesome honesty. You are beautiful inside and out.

    ciao bella.

  • Sian

    I hit the button to update a year on with your weight loss.? Have you lost any in the whole year? Not being critical just curious really.

  • Pingback: An Interview with Weight Loss Blogger Authentically Emmie, Part 1

  • leandra

    Girl, you just keep on keeping on! Don’t worry about what a couple buttholes say. I think you’re great and brave and a heck of a writer!

  • Jen

    I just discovered this blog now – super cool!

    Just wanted to say you’re really inspiring (and EXTREMELY brave)! Wondering if you’d be willing to post a workout routine?

  • zentient

    My eyes fell on “What is wrong with me?” and it stopped me in my tracks. It’s what underlies all of the other thoughts in the list. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU! There never has been and never will be. It’s a trap, a vicious cycle, this trying to “figure out” what is “wrong” with you. Health is a matter of choices, minute by minute, day by day. There is no one or nothing to “fix”.
    So be it, perfect as you are, may you be at peace.

    • http://www.authenticallyemmie.com/ Emily Sandford

      Thank you :) Most days I agree, my brain just hasn’t stopped those thoughts from popping up every so often. I agree it’s a vicious cycle.

  • Monica Weaver

    I have been reading your blog and its SOOO encouraging// I am just like you and have SO much to lose….Keep hanging on and remember where you started