Weight has been an issue for me since I was in high school, and will most likely be an issue for me for the rest of my life.
I hate a lot of things about that.
I hate that I used to feel ugly and alone, and I used to blame my weight for most of that.
I hate that I let my weight determine my worth in so many ways.
I hate that I feel like my weight was the reason I never got to go to a homecoming or prom.
I would have had more friends if I had been skinnier. I would have had boyfriends if I had been skinnier. I would have made the high school dance team if I had been skinnier. I would have been more courageous in pursuing my dreams if I had been skinnier.
I hate how insecure I was because of my weight. And the funny thing is, looking back, I wish I were as “fat” now as I was in high school! Little did I know then that my graduation weight would be my goal weight as an adult.
But what I hate even more than all that stuff I mentioned from the past, is that there have been so many times as an adult when I have felt those exact same things. (All but the boyfriend part, of course.)
I’ll be prettier at X lbs. I’ll look better in size X clothes. If I’m that weight, I’ll feel more confident, then I can really go after my goals.
I’d be SO MUCH HAPPIER if I were skinnier!!
And here is the truth: That right there, the I’ll be prettier, look better, be more confident and be happier, is complete and total BUL***IT!!
The truth is yes, I’ll probably feel better at a lower weight. Less pressure on my back and my sciatic, less pressure on my heart and my body in general, and all of that would be great for me, no doubt. But I am so, SO tired of thinking, worrying and focusing on my need to lose weight.
When I’m just focused on losing weight, my mind automatically wants instant results. I want to drop the weight quickly and if don’t I get disappointed and end up sabotaging myself. The need for instant gratification is a problem in many areas of my life and something I’m starting to work on, but it is definitely a problem when it comes to weight.
When I’m just focused on losing weight, I look at food differently. I feel restricted, I get bored, and I get uninterested. See, I like food. I guess that’s not a surprise because if I didn’t I probably wouldn’t be in this situation. I specifically remember when I was 18, living in St. Paul, Minnesota, walking home from working at Target, feeling like my weight was holding me back and thinking “Maybe I should try to be anorexic?” Totally dumb, yes, I know. I knew that then, too, but I was feeling desperate and lonely at that time. However, that thought lasted about a minute and then I remembered that I just like food too much, and that would never work out.
My weight is something that will most likely be an issue for me for the rest of my life. It’s just the way I’m made, and there has always been something so sad about that for me. But I’m tired of being sad about it. I don’t want to be miserable and unhappy for the rest of my life, eating from a plan and exercising all the time, just to be at a weight that I have arbitrarily set for myself. Being skinny doesn’t necessarily mean you are healthy. Being skinny doesn’t necessarily mean you will be happy. I truly just want to be happy and live a happy, joyful life according to my values, and I no longer want to base MY value on my weight.
I am no longer focusing on my weight!
So, if I am not focusing on weight loss, what does that look like for me?
- Healthy choices.
- Grace for myself when I make the not-so-healthy ones.
- Loving me just as I am, with no “but I would be happier if…” talk allowed.
- No longer letting the numbers on the scale or my clothes define me.
- More veggies, fruits, protein shakes, smoothies, flax seed, chia seeds, vitamins, chicken, turkey, and foods that will help me to be stronger and healthier.
- Experimenting with different foods and ingredients, with a LOT of inspiration from some amazing ladies and companies on Instagram.
- When I want to eat tacos, or spaghetti, or mac and cheese with the kids, that’s okay.
- No judgment. No guilt. Just grace.
- Progress, not perfection.
It’s been a couple of weeks since I declared to myself I was no longer focusing on weight loss, but changing the mindset isn’t as easy as just making a declaration. Proof: One morning a few days later, as I was getting ready for work, I found myself grabbing the scale behind the door. Then I found myself disappointed that the number was actually a couple of pounds higher than the weekend before. Then doing it again a few days later. I think the scale needs to go to the basement for a while.
I’ve started following Instagram accounts of women and companies who promote the kind of food I want to eat and the healthy lifestyle that I want to live. I’ve also found some amazing body positive (“bopo”) ladies on Instagram who are pure motivation and self-love. Some have already been huge in my decision to stop focusing on weight loss, like Megan Jayne Crabbe (@bodyposipanda).
A few weeks back, she posted a before and after photo that wasn’t your typical weight loss before and after. Years ago, this beautiful woman suffered from an eating disorder. In the before picture she was skinny and had what many might consider a perfect body. But she was dying inside – literally and figuratively. An eating disorder was killing her. The after picture shows a much different woman. Curves, glowing skin, radiant smile, complete confidence and self-love. It was actually after looking at that picture and reading the caption below it that I finally decided to stop the crap I was putting myself through. I had to stop obsessing over weight and believing I SHOULD be a number on a scale that my body was never supposed to be. Not only for my good, but also to be a better role model for my kids.
Again, this doesn’t mean I’m going to just eat whatever I want and sit around all day. I want to eat healthy food, and I want to have fun with it. I want to move and be active, but I want to do it on my terms, when I want to, not because I’m forcing myself. (That rarely worked on me anyway, so I usually did nothing.) As Jess Lively says, I now want to move at the pleasure of my soul.
This new mindset is not only about food, I’m working on the complete Me – body, mind and soul. That means along with nourishing and being kind to my body through food and movement, I will be exploring many of my other curiosities. Meditation, essential oils, yoga, listening more to my intuition rather than my ego and knowing the difference between the two, uncovering and living from my true values, figuring out how to be more patient and rely less on instant gratification, more writing, deepening my knowledge of and relationship with God, self-care and self-preservation, removing as much negativity from my life as is possible, and just doing more of what truly brings me joy and just simply LIVING in the present moment.
I know that this won’t be easy. I already find myself struggling at times with accepting myself as I am and not worrying about the size of my clothes. I still find myself feeling guilty for eating things like brownies or cookies. But when I stop, take a deep breath and remember my declaration – I am no longer focusing on weight loss – I find a peace within myself that feels so good.
I hope to share more of this journey with you and I hope somebody somewhere can find some inspiration in it. If one person can read this and make the decision to love themselves just as they are, the way I did that day I saw @bodyposipanda’s before and after photo on Instagram, then I will be so, so happy!