I am not blessed with a speedy metabolism. Nor have I ever been. If you are an OG TNNer, you might know that I (along with every other female in my family) have struggled with obesity most of my adult life. My younger years were spent crash dieting, trying to motivate myself to exercise, and basically feeling like a grumpy stranger in my own body. I had just about resigned myself to a life of being overweight when I had a straw-that-broke-the-camels’-back moment and got myself on a path to a healthy life. In little over a year, I had lost 70 pounds and was on the way to leading the healthful, whole life that I now share with all of you.
As I was losing my excess baggage, I learned lots of things. Like how important it is that I drink my daily water, move my butt everyday (and every other part of my body), and that fruits and veggies need to be the primary chunk of my diet. However, there were several other unexpected lessons on the journey to a thinner me that will stick with me forever…and that continue to make me a better person.
1. Confidence is what makes you beautiful, not your pant size. My self-esteem was crap for many years and I truly believed that once I was a skinnier, I would feel beautiful. And while I felt my confidence grew as I felt empowered by taking control of my health, losing weight wasn’t the magic switch that I had expected it to be in loving what I saw in the mirror. But I had a moment of clarity that helped me kick my negative body image to the curb. I realized that when I meet someone that I think is beautiful, it isn’t their flat stomach or perfectly toned arms that defines that opinion. Its their confidence. Tall, short, skinny, or rocking some love handles…a person is beautiful based on how much they own and accept who they are. If you think you are gorgeous and amazing, many other people will follow suit.
2. Skinny is not the same thing as healthy. When I first decided to truly tackle my weight issues, I (like many people) assumed that once I was thinner, I would be a healthy person. What I learned is that, while I can lose weight inhaling Lean Cuisines and chugging Diet Cokes everyday, those were certainly not things that made my body healthy and functioning at its finest. So why the hell would I do that? If I was going to revamp my life to get my body to a healthy weight, I was sure as hell going to learn and practicing healthy habits. I wanted to be at a healthy weight to improve my physical and mental well-being…not just to look a certain wait in a swimsuit.
3. Counting calories turned me into a crazy person. Seriously guys. A C-R-A-Z-Y person. I obsessed about how many calories I had eaten so far in the day, how many were in each food I was about to eat, and how many I had left. Every day. I didn’t really even see food anymore, just numbers. And if I went over my allotted calories for the day, my day was ruined and I would be wildly disappointed in myself. Guys, this is no way to live. I got sick of the obsession and frustration. So I stopped counting calories and started focusing on eating a balanced diet of whole nourishing foods and listening to my body’s cues. I mindfully ate these foods when I was hungry. And I stopped eating when I wasn’t. It really was as simple as that. Making that switch helped me to relax and enjoy food again….and it also taught me to eat in a way that made keeping my body at a healthy weight easy and sustainable.
4. My body knew exactly what weight it wanted to be….and naturally took me there. I wish I had realized this fact a decade or so ago. My body wants to be healthy, It craves health. It didn’t like carrying around that extra weight anymore than I did. My body naturally wanted to shed pounds, I just had to give it the right tools. By giving it the nourishment (not too much and not too little), moving my body the way it was built to move (walking, running, jumping, and carrying heavy things), my body naturally let go of the weight I had been carrying around for years and years. It didn’t happen quickly. A little at a time, but I was okay with this because I knew I was losing the weight by living a healthy lifestyle that I could easily maintain. I had foolishly and vainly assumed that my body would want to settle at a size 2 (because I wanted to be a size 2), however that wasn’t the case. My body wanted to be a size 6. And it thrives at a size 6. I’m a healthy, happy, active, and confident size 6 in fact. So who am I to argue with Mother Nature?
5. It truly isn’t a destination….but rather an ongoing journey. I’m not saying this to discourage anyone in the process of losing weight, but rather as a simple statement of fact. You cannot get your body to a healthy weight and then stay there by reverting to all the crappy habits that put you at that unhealthy weight in the first place. Healthy living is not something you do for 6 months and then reap the benefits of for the rest of your life. Healthy living is simply something you do for the rest of your life. Period. Is that to say you have to be perfect all the time? Hell no! Health is about balance. Should you curl up with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s at the end of a bad day? Probably not for several reasons. But can you enjoy a bowl of Chunky Monkey every now and then because you enjoy the way it tastes? Absolutely! The key is to find the habits and healthy lifestyle (there are oh-so many styles out there, after all) that work for you and that are sustainable…and then keep them up to the best of your abilities forever.
I didn’t become healthy by losing weight. I lost weight and keep it off because I became healthy. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. Some of these lessons were truly unexpected. Others I kinda saw coming. But, in the end, I have not only found my happy, healthy, beautiful, thriving weight….I found the person (inside and out) that I was always meant to be.
Such a great article! I lost 20 pounds 8-9 years ago so I can totally relate to your story (I never counted calories though since I know how perfectionnist I can be. It would have been a dangerous path for me.) Since then, I’ve gained about 8 pounds back and I’m struggling between accepting that it’s my body’s natural weight or trying to eat healthier like I did when I first lost the weight… You’re right when you say it’s an ongoing journey.
Thank you for writing this post. It was excellent! I have lost and regained 80+ pounds 3 times in my life and I am currently starting to lose the weight again. I have conflicting passions in my life. My love / addiction to food came first. By the age of 14, I was 5’3" and weighed 230 pounds. At the age of 15, I discovered my passion for long distance running. When I am engaging in both passions fully, my weight is usually OK. When I let my running go and only eat, I get large.
One of my recent struggles ties into one of the points in your post. My self-esteem is no longer tied to my weight. When my self-esteem was tied to a number on a scale, it was easier to be consistent with my running. Now, my self esteem stays the same no matter what my weight is. That is a blessing and a curse.
Thank you again for you sharing this post.
Weight loss is such an incredible journey that is about so much more than the number the scale shows us. I think that fact is so hard accept…at least it was for me. I remember gaining a good chunk of weight back during my pregnancy and having to fight the same fight all over again to get back down to a healthy weight. It was then that I realized that I needed to address how/why I was living the way I was…and that I couldn’t let it define my self worth.
Thank you for your kind words!
I literally could have written #3 myself, word for word. I feel like I have eating-related PTSD from a bout of psycho calorie-tracking I endured a couple years ago, lol. Just thinking back to that time makes me feel anxious. I felt like an out-of-control addict, where my days had nothing to do with joy or inspiration and only with obsessive calorie counting and netting under my goals. You hit the nail on the head when you write that it’s no way to live. People, it really isn’t.
I am so feeling #4 right now. It’s a state of mind I hope to eventually reach, this place of just letting my body do what it’s meant to do and unconditionally loving and accepting it for that. I’m probably not meant to be a size-whatever or have a such ‘n such waist size or cup size or other measurement, and that’s perfectly OK. I feel like my body deserves better than being held to these meaningless standards set by people whose opinions don’t actually matter, unlike the things that do: health, family, living a joyful life. So thank you for sharing that, and congratulations on your insights. Wishing you many more 🙂
I think calorie counting is an issue for many people. Rarely do I meet someone who can do it with balance and not obsess over their calorie input and output.
Thank you for all your kind words! It amazing how many people are on the same journey as us
Hi Taesha! You are such an inspiration. I will really focus on these 5 points. I want to learn to accept & love myself. And take good care of myself. Depression takes a toll on my desire to take care of myself. I look forward to seeing your healthy example & I’m working to imitate you.
You are so sweet! These 5 points took me a long time to accept and internalize…and some of them are still a work inprogress.
I completely agree with your advice because you very clearly and correctly described how it is necessary to motivate yourself to achieve the desired result.
I think that you very clearly and seriously approached the solution of this issue because this topic has become radically important for you and you could do it.