Fat Girl Wearing Thin

Life beyond the loss.

   Mar 05

Where do I fit in?

Last week I received an email from a woman who’d seen the featured article about my weight loss in Woman’s Day Magazine.  She was writing to let me know that she enjoyed reading the piece about me but was a little confused about my blog.  The mention of my blog in WD along with title, she suggested, led her to assume my blog’s writings were heavily based on weight loss and maintenance but the majority of my posts proved otherwise. 

She wasn’t being mean-spirited, just confused.  I can’t say that I blame her and when writing her back, found myself reworking my email over and over again because I kept apologizing for not meeting her expectations.   I didn’t have anything to apologize for really, but something inside left me feeling a bit fraudulent. 

It’s true that my blog has changed course over the past several months.  I have written over 420 posts since establishing it in late 2010 and in the beginning I had no problem at all writing about weight loss, maintenance, nutrition and exercise.  I had a lot to say, and I was grateful to have a platform for which to write about such topics.  Honestly speaking, I’m very proud of many of the posts I’ve written here.  Some of the best writing I’ve ever done has been here on this blog.  But once you’ve written about something from every possible angle, what’s left? 

A lot, apparently.  Some of my favorite weight loss/maintenance bloggers find a way to bring useful and interesting information to their blogs day after day and I very much admire that ability.  Writing a blog is not easy.  Writing a well thought out, topic-driven blog is extremely hard work and takes a lot of dedication and persistence.  When a blogger is in the ‘flowing’ part of the ebb and flow of life – the coveted sweet spot if you will, there’s nothing better.  But when one is stuck in the ‘ebb’ (the depleted slump which defines me right now) it’s a definite struggle to bring something of interest to the table.  I sometimes feel as though I’m doing a disservice to my readers. 

My enthusiasm has waned since my life came to a complete standstill last June.  My plan of being completely recovered and living a full life after my hysterectomy came to an abrupt halt when my relatively quiet back decided to surprise me with this major flare-up.  For the past several weeks as new treatments prove unsuccessful I am left feeling physically broken; I am emotionally tired and I am extremely frustrated – none of which I care to write about on this blog.

In these next few months before my blog comes up for its third annual renewal, this writer will need to decide where she fits in. 

Am I a weight loss maintainer? A painter and small business owner?  Will I be a chronic pain sufferer?

Perhaps many or all of those things – just not so much a fat girl wearing thin, anymore.

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  1. Sharon says:

    You are none of those things – you are Ellen! And it is your blog to write whatever is on your heart on any particular day. And those of us who are your friends have no expectations other than to continue knowing the “real” you better with every post. The WD article was a representation of an important part of your life, but the woman’s confusion was based on her perception of what she THOUGHT your blog should be. I hope you don’t consider changing it based on that opinion of someone who doesn’t even know you and isn’t likely to become a loyal reader. We’re all happy with you just the way you are!!

    • Ellen says:

      Sharon, you are such a loyal and kind person (and friend). I think what this woman wrote was something I’d had in the back of my mind for a while. She sort of confirmed something I already knew – what I write can be read by anyone and I don’t want to give the impression that I am the person I’m currently writing about – this tired, grumpy soul who is at the mercy of her health. I guess I just don’t want to turn into a chronic complainer and the truth of the matter is, I struggle with things to write about when I’m consumed with pain. I’m so grateful that I can continue to paint so at least I do have another outlet.
      Thank you for your faith in me. Maybe, as my mother says – things will look different in the morning. xo

  2. It’s great that your reader asked you directly, rather than just hitting the backspace button. Clearly, your writing and your story engaged her, even if she was a bit confused with what’s going on.

    I don’t see you as a “tired, grumpy soul” at all, and while I’ve never had to deal with chronic pain, I suspect you have many readers who do. No doubt your posts that do deal with pain issues are a comfort to them. It always helps to know we’re not alone.

    Hang in there, Ellen!

    • Ellen says:

      I agree, Cammy. You are very sweet to compliment my writing in all of this. xo
      I appreciate you not thinking me grumpy – I must be hiding it well 😉

  3. Mary says:

    I get a few similar comments in emails sometimes. I started out documenting my weight loss, then focused heavily on exercise and maintenance, and now it’s a lot about figuring out how to cope with my constantly changing pregnant body. My blog has changed as my life has, and I’m entirely unapologetic. I’d rather be dynamic than static – no one wants to read about meal plans and workout routines day in and day out. I can only speak for myself, but I know I’d rather see people actually living, showing the ups and the downs, because that’s the truth about weight loss/maintenance. It’s not always glamorous.

    Even when you don’t address the weight loss or maintenance directly, I still see your blog as inspiring. This is life after a big weight loss, and it’s not always about “this is what I ate today” and “this is what the scale says.” It’s life, and it goes on. The reality addressed in your blog is what inspires me.

    • Ellen says:

      Your blog has certainly changed, and I really appreciate you reaching out to me regarding this post Mary, because you’re showing me what’s happening to my blog from that perspective. I see your blog as a cornerstone in this community as well as being able to offer other, just as important topics, to people of all walks of life. To me, that is extraordinary.
      Your comment means very much to me, and gives me a lot to think about. Thank you. xo

  4. Roxie says:

    Most of the bloggers who have written over any length of time evolve into more of a lifestyle genre. Life still happens once the scale hits that magic number, whatever that is.

    Most of us discover, to our chagrin, that our weightloss wasn’t the panacea that we thought it would be. It does, however, open the door to many other opportunities to share our human-ness with the others. As always, I sending back-healing thoughts your way. You have been through such physical trials and have shown us what grace looks like.

    • Ellen says:

      You are so good to me; always with the right words and soothing thoughts. Thank you my sweet friend, for caring about me (and my blog) as much as you do.

  5. Kyra says:

    This is your space, define it as you see fit. I write about all sorts of stuff, and people who are looking for just one thing aren’t looking for a person’s blog, they’re looking for a clearing house or newsletter with specific information. They’ll find it somewhere else, and that’s ok. :)

    • Ellen says:

      You make a very good point, Kyra. Thank you for your thoughts on this topic. Sometimes I ponder things so much in my head that a new perspective is exactly the kind of fresh air I need.

  6. As you can imagine, I can identify with this. I’m in a big ebb phase. And have, as you know, questioned my blog and its purpose. One thing I will say is that I don’t think you owe your readers anything. I think you should blog for yourself. If you have something to say, say it. If you are getting something out of writing, write.

    • Ellen says:

      And I completely sympathize with you, Karen. I don’t think any of us can understand this kind of crossroad we experience it for ourselves. I wonder how you feel now that you’ve taken this time away from it. Do you miss it less or more?

  7. ((Ellen)) Please know you’re not alone. This reply you wrote above hit me hard: “I guess I just don’t want to turn into a chronic complainer and the truth of the matter is, I struggle with things to write about when I’m consumed with pain.” I could have written that. As everyone has said here, you are Ellen and this is YOUR blog. You only need fit in with yourself. Wishing you the best, my friend.

    • Ellen says:

      Lynn, you are so kind to rally around me right now with such a meaningful comment – I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that. An email to you may be in order from me soon. xo

  8. julie says:

    I understand what you’re saying. I started a blog a few years back, wrote a bunch about losing it, then a bunch about maintaining it, now that it’s old and familiar and just my normal lifestyle, I have nothing more to say. Or rather, nothing that I feel like saying. Besides, I’m sick of people commenting about how I’m doing things wrong, or have a bad attitude, etc. I’m beyond the emotional stuff, more interested in the science and hormones, but I can’t speak to much of that, it’s hard enough for me to understand it myself. I feel a bit guilty never updating, but really not feeling like sharing right now.

    • Ellen says:

      Julie, I think readers are very keen to things like this and it benefits no one when a writer’s heart just isn’t in it. The trick is realizing that before it happens, which sounds like you have done – and good for you for recognizing it. A blog shouldn’t feel like a burden, but something fulfilling and liberating. There may come a time when you get a second wind and decide you have new things to offer. This is something I need to consider, too. Thank you for your comment.

  9. vickie says:

    I have always wondered, if I broke my blog posts into percentages, what topics would fall in which percentages. Like you, I am diverse in my topics.

    Remember each part of your life IS maintenance. People in the beginning of weight loss are sort of all consumed with what they perceive as weight loss topics.

    Somewhere long ago I wrote – if you think I have gotten off topic – look again – it is all sooooo inner-related.

    I had a note from a long time reader just yesterday, saying she had started at the beginning and was rereading. It is her second time doing so, brave soul that she is. That is something I have never done. I go back and look for topics, but I have never re-read the whole thing. (3270 posts as of this morning, so imagine how brave she is, restarting).

    I make very good use of my post labels. So people can go back and find topics of interest. And that is my suggestion if this is really bothering you. Go back and find key posts on maintenance and label them. Find key posts on hysterectomy and label them. Ditto with lower back or grief or jeans or food. By using your search function, it will not be hard.

    • Ellen says:

      all very good points, Vickie. Your blogging habits are truly something to be admired. I think I do need to clean mine up a bit in order to make it more useful a tool for those looking for something specific. Doing this now will serve me well in the future. Thank you.

  10. Fiona says:

    I think you are very important in this sector of blogging – you are showing there is a life BEYOND dieting and weight loss – and that you don’t have to spend the rest of your life fixtated on it :) (which is something I think many people fear.)

    • Ellen says:

      Thank you for such a supportive comment, Fiona. If I ever needed rallying, it was with this post. I really appreciate your thoughts on my post and you’re right – many people do fear that it’s a life-consuming thing. Sometimes it can be, but like everything else we just need to balance things out in life. I will remember this point when I begin doubting myself. xo

  11. tree peters says:

    well, it looks like the comments before me have covered about everything.
    I’ve been pondering my own blog lately too. In the end, I think you keep writing what you want and what you feel.
    Everything you’ve been going through is interesting and inspiring to others. Plus, you are really in the middle of this huge physical change, growth… figuring out how to be well and pain-free…. you have so much to share if you feel like doing it.
    There is only one Ellen and only you can share your particular story. Don’t worry about readers who don’t find what they thought they would.. if they keep looking they’ll find something perfect for them and they might even discover something here they weren’t expecting.

  12. Val says:

    I wish you strength as you endure this latest challenge, Ellen.

    Like others have said, you owe nothing to anybody (forgive awkward grammar) & should write whatcha want… I put up a new post when I had something to say & nowhere else to say it; even if no one reads it, blogging remains therapeutic for me.

    (Maybe that’s some sort of koan – does an unread, uncommented-upon blog post have meaning?? 😉

    • Ellen says:

      Thank you, Val. Your last question really does pose a lot of thought, doesn’t it? I guess the answer depends on the writer and who he/she is writing for…..hmm.

  13. didi says:

    Ellen, you deserve a break. You have posted valuable tips, advice, and all kinds of gems dealing with weight loss and weight maintenance. There is a lot to be proud of. You’ve been strong and reached so many readers. You’ve changed lives for the better. Losing weight and becoming healthy is a huge part of who you are, but it isn’t the only part. There is a beautiful, elegant, spunky, and creative pie that is the ALL of you, and the weight loss and maintenance is one slice of that pie. This blog has focused largely on that slice, but it isn’t your duty to keep trudging on and dedicating posts to that one slice of you if you aren’t feeling it anymore. What good will that do? You’ll be resentfully writing posts and trying to stay positive and motivate people, and it’ll leave a bitter taste in your mouth. Maybe that part of your life is coming to a close. I think you need to unroll a prayer rug, or wrap up in a meditation shawl, or offer flowers and fruits to some sage goddess- go to some quiet inner place and ask yourself How can I take care of myself? Where is this pain coming from, and how can I release it? What is my focus now? Who am I blossoming into?
    Maybe this part of your life is about unfolding and self discovery, and maybe you’ll have to change your blog title. The thing is- you owe it to yourself to put YOU first when it comes to your life and your blog. Maybe you’ll lose certain readers, but there will always be those on the same page as you who value and appreciate your insight and feedback.

  14. Hanlie says:

    What they said! I think it’s important for people to understand that people who have succeeded at weight loss employ a wide variety of coping mechanisms when the going gets tough. And you do that very well.

    • Ellen says:

      Thank you for your vote of confidence in me, Hanlie. I am managing, but there are some days when everything just seems so hard! I hope you’re doing well and are back to 100% since your surgery.

  15. I really can’t add anything new…everyone else said it! We evolve…that’s what humans (hopefully) do! :-) Keep on keepin’ on Ellen!

    • Ellen says:

      Thank you Karen. I do need to look at things as evolving and quit dragging my heels behind me. I’m learning a lesson in changing with the times, that’s for sure.

  16. Ellen-
    I’m rather newer to your blog and although I may have discovered you because of your title, I’ve grown to love it because I feel like I’ve grown to know you a bit and have learned about your life. While I do understand the reader’s question, I also believe that one’s blog is an outlet meant for that person alone and should be whatever that person wants it to be. 😉 For me, keep blogging as is. Like I said, I’m newer to your blog, but love following!

    • Ellen says:

      Carrie, as a newer reader I really appreciate your comment on this post. It has shown me that perhaps I’m not on the ‘wrong track’ with my blog – or any track, for that matter. If you enjoy reading it for what it is, then I must be doing something right and that means a lot. Thank you.

  17. […] last post was very raw, emotional and honest.  I wasn’t sure what kind of feedback I’d get.  […]

  18. Hello Ellen,
    I read a lot of blogs which discuss weight loss and fitness but i find your posts more realistic. I will following your blog.
    ( If you’re going through hell, keep going. ) ” Winston Churchill ”
    thank you very much for your sharing :)

    • Ellen says:

      Linda, thank you for leaving such a kind and thoughtful comment. I love that saying from Winston Churchill and it is certainly appropriate here. Welcome here to my ‘home’ as I continue to figure out exactly where that is. Hope to hear from you again sometime.

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