Even if we’re not intending to transition, as trans women we’re frequently intense observers of female behaviours in our quest to achieve that elusive ability to be able to “pass in public”. While there are lots of facets to this “ability”, for many, this is felt no more acutely than the difficult topic of “body image” or more specifically “weight”. The media bombards us with perfect images and articles on everything from “the benefits of dress size” to “how to achieve the perfect body shape” with all the negative connotations for our self esteem that come with them. So how can we get to overcome these stereotypes and be happy with who we want to be ?
For many, addressing excess weight or unwanted muscle mass is a key part of the transition process and with the power of the internet at your disposal, within a few clicks, you can be left with a bewildering array of options. Don’t get fixated on losing weight though, the key thing to a successful transition when you think of it, is being happy with the skin you’re in, whatever shape size or colour it is. Remember, a real woman is whatever she wants to be and so can you be too.
But if you do want to lose weight in a healthy way without resorting to starvation or anorexic behaviours, here are some tips from Vicky and me to get you going in the right direction.
- Be Patient, you’ve got time. The transition process itself takes time and so does losing weight. You don’t need to rush either. Most diets we looked at targeting an average weight loss of between about 2.0 – 2.5 pounds per week (That’s about a Kg in new money). This is only an average though, when you start you may lose more (a lot of the additional weight loss will be water weight) and some weeks, you’ll plateau and not appear to lose any. Both are perfectly okay, relax !!!
- Weigh yourself at the same time each day. When you weigh yourself (and record the associated weight) you want the record to be as consistent as possible. Doing this will take a lot of the swing and emotion out of your efforts which can lead to a loss in motivation. I personally weight myself weekly because I find it more of a reasonable and better indication of success. Remember, it’s a health game and not a numbers game !!!
- Plateaus are normal !!!. A weight loss plateau is a stall in your weight loss, where your body is overcoming latency. Although its frustrating, don’t lose your motivation. You’re doing all the right things and you don’t want to change your routine with drastic actions such as starvation. Just be patient and continue what you are doing and you will break through when your body is ready.
- Oestrogen will take care of your shape. While there are lots of exercise products which claim to target specific areas, these claims are mostly not true. Oestrogen however will redistribute your body fat and reduce some muscle mass, you only need to concentrate burning calories and eating healthy.
- Consider Yoga and Pilates. Its easy to get fixated with losing muscle mass to the point where they will avoid any form of weight training because they see it as a form of “bulking up” which is the last thing they want. The truth is though that it takes bodybuilders mad amounts of time in the gym to bulk up. Exercise regimes like Yoga and Pilates help “sculpt” and “tone” muscle leading to a better shape and posture. You’ll actually develop metabolically active muscles without the fat they are helping you burn. You will actually get a little smaller.
- Make use of a personal trainer. Lying to yourself and making excuses are easy ways out when you’re struggling, particularly when you are trying to do things on your own. Taking advantage of your gyms personal trainer is a useful way to make a commitment to your goals and getting support when you need it. Those things are just secondary benefits though, their primary benefit is to help you make the most of the exercises you are doing and use the equipment safely without damaging yourself.
- Whatever you do, exercise should be something you ENJOY. Ideally, you’re looking for three to four exercise sessions a week (more if you can manage) So you’ll likely be spending quite a bit of time doing it. If you’re going to stick to it, it makes sense that you should enjoy it. If you absolutely hate exercise, it will become to skip sessions or worse quit altogether. Even if you do enjoy your preferred routine, mix it up every now and again to prevent you from falling into a rut and just “going through the motions”.
- It generally takes about 30 days to form a habit. When you start changing your lifestyle for the better, each change, whatever it is will take time to become “normal” Remember what we said at the start, you have more time than you realise and there are no quick fixes. Transition is a long term plan you’re looking at and losing weight is just one part of the journey.
- Take an interest in cooking. The more you cook for yourself and prepare your own ingredients, rather than microwave a meal for 4 minutes or so, you’ll start to appreciate your food more. It also is a great distraction from just sitting in front of the TV with a plate on your lap and can be tremendously social too. It also feeds through into your shopping habits too, when you start to think about cooking something and preparing your own meals, you go through the supermarket with a plan and a list, rather than hunting out bargains and “two for one offers” which tend to be unhealthy food choices.
- Don’t think of it as a diet, more of a change in lifestyle. Once you reach your goal weight, going back to your old lifestyle will only take you back to where you used to be. Your transition and routine needs to be a real lifestyle change. Continue living healthy with good food and great exercise. Between this and the Oestrogen, you will pull off a healthy woman’s appearance into the rest of your life.
So, there you go, that’s our tips – what are yours ? Let us know – who knows, we may even try them out and get back to you !!