Somehow despite the fact that I’ve not been totally on top of my healthy food and exercise game, I’ve been feeling pretty good about my body (yes, even after all the chocolate covered pretzels). And that’s something that’s kind of new. I’m aware more than ever that it’s not just about the weight.
As I mentioned in my post about my first mile of 2018, I wasn’t a fit kid. I literally can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a belly and bingo wings. I’m 5’10” (and have been this height since about the age of 13) and was always told I was big-boned (which I am), so for a lot of my life it didn’t really occur to me that I wasn’t healthy. I just thought, “well my height makes up for it”. But I hated going to the doctor and getting weighed, and I knew was bigger than my friends. Somehow, neither of those things made me want to make a change.
Until senior year of high school. I weighed 274 lbs at the time. My all time high. It was much too close to 300 for my liking so my mom and I joined Weight Watchers and I started going to the gym. Motivated by prom, I lost 30 lbs. I went from a size 22 jeans to a size 18.
Throughout college, I continued going to the gym… but only just enough to balance out the junk food and sugary alcohol drinks (sophomore year my go to was Hawaiian Punch and Malibu rum… #why). By graduation, I was back up to 252. I moved home and started to focus on being active and making better food decisions. It was a slow process,and I hit a few bumps along the way, but within six months I saw 238. It was the lowest number I’d seen in my adult life at the time and I was inspired to keep moving forward.
I started my first real job out of college and moved in with roommates in Boston. Somehow in the first four months, I avoided buying jars of Nutella and eating them with a spoon (even though it was a common thing in the house) and since I didn’t have many friends in the city, I spent most of my free time at the gym. I also may have been slightly motivated by the possibility of sex. I mean… who doesn’t want to look good naked? One day in April 2014 I stepped on the scale and said 229. Another all time low!
The sex didn’t happen (thank God) but after a while, the good habits I had formed fell away and I gave into eating jars of Nutella with a spoon and began skipping the gym.
A little less than 18 months later I had unknowingly gained almost 40 lbs.
After my cousin’s wedding in late August 2015 I had been tagged in a bunch of Facebook photos. When I saw them, I was mortified. The dress I wore was not flattering. And I’d worn it many times… why hadn’t anyone told me I was huge!? (That’s harsh, but it’s how I felt looking at the photos.)
I untagged myself and told myself I would make a change.
Fast forward just about two and a half years later, I’m back down to about 229.
But I feel completely different than I did in 2014 – and it’s not just that the size 16 jeans that were tight then are almost loose now. Obviously losing weight has played a factor in how I feel, but I don’t think it can take all the credit.
It’s not just about the weight.
Many people think losing weight is the solution to their problems, and it’s not. The “when I lose X lbs, I’ll be _______” attitude isn’t realistic and I think is actually really harmful. The truth is: Losing weight isn’t going to make you happy. It’s not going to make guys like you. It’s not going to get you that promotion at work.
I know people that have lost a ton of weight and don’t see themselves any differently. They still look in the mirror and see themselves at the “fat” girl. The girl that needs to wear baggy clothes to cover her body. The girl that isn’t good enough. But we can’t focus on the flaws.
Instead, focus on the positive.
I think that’s been the biggest difference for me. While I wanted to lose weight, I framed it as wanting to be more active and be healthy. And while there are days, weeks even, when I might not feel great or I know I didn’t make the best decisions that I could have, I remind myself what I’ve accomplished. A year ago, I would’ve been ecstatic to see the number that I now see as negative when I step on the scale. Why should it be negative now?
The number on the scale doesn’t tell the whole story. I don’t think I’ve lost weight in almost 3 months. I’ve been fluctuating between 228 and 235 for what feels like forever. And looking at the picture from April 2016 to today, the changes don’t seem drastic. Nowhere near the difference of the first few months, and yet it’s a difference of (almost) 20 lbs.
But when I look at myself in the mirror, I can see slight changes in the shape of my belly and the curves of my hips. And when I look in the mirror, instead of being critical about that shape or that curve, I’ve become more accepting of what I see. That shape is constantly changing and that curve brings all the boys to the yard. Why not be thrilled?
So forget the number on the scale! I recommend taking lots of full body mirror selfies. It’s amazing what we don’t see from one day to the next. And as my mom always tells me, take your measurements! Appreciate the small changes in not just how your body looks, but how it feels and what it can do. It’s a tough journey and many people will never find their way to positivity and acceptance, but the fact it: it’s a journey. And one that is worth the weight.
(That was cheesy, I know. It’s late and I should be sleeping).