I have a before and after picture. I have quite a few of them, actually. You can see them here if you have not already. Pretty cool, eh? Many people have told me I look like a completely different person. They tell me I look younger. I am unrecognizable. 100 pounds is a lot of weight, no doubt about it. I did something many people only dream of doing, and I have the pictures to show for it.
Yes, this is a part of my story, I lost a lot of weight. I have said this before but it bears repeating, my weight is the least interesting thing about me.
As time passes, I become more and more aware of the other changes that have taken place, the ones nobody can see. These changes are so much more meaningful and profound than my smaller size that I begin to find myself resenting the obsessive focus everyone has on weight. Whether it’s my weight or their weight or some celebrity’s weight, weight is very interesting to everyone. I get it. We live in a hyper-weight-focused society. Whether it’s the so-called “obesity crisis” or game shows that reward the person who can lose the most weight the fastest, or the latest celebrity diet “success story.”
I am aware of the weight obsession even more keenly because I participate in it myself. I don’t think there has been a day I haven’t thought about my weight since I was a teenager. How sad is that? What a waste of valuable time and energy I could have spent doing things I like, or things that could benefit the world. I wish I could prevent people from suffering the same fate, especially young women. But how is it possible? How can we let go of something society deems so incredibly meaningful and important? How can we not focus on our weight when it is impossible to go a minute without hearing about it?
Once I started thinking of my body as the enemy and started the lifelong battle with my weight, it was incredibly hard to extricate myself. More dieting led to more weight gain in the long run, a predictable outcome that is never talked about. Even as we attempt to control our bodies, we become more out of control. All the while, a persistent message reaches all of us, big and small: Lose weight. Lose weight. Lose weight. Lose weight. no matter what size you are, Lose weight. I lost weight, and I still hear the call, loud and clear. It never ends, no matter what size you are.
But recently, I have felt my feelings about this shift and change. It occurred to me how ridiculous this all is. I haven’t weighed myself since October. And, miracle of miracles, I think about my weight so much less. I am freeing myself. Perhaps someday soon I will not think of it at all.
My lifestyle is very important to me. It makes me a healthier person, mentally and physically in every way. Too often I am saddened when I see the word “lifestyle” bandied about as if it were just another word for diet or just another way to lose weight. It’s not, but most people don’t seem to get it. It is the Way You Live Your Life. It is taking the time to think about your food, where it comes from, how it is prepared, and honestly attending to what your body and mind needs and wants. It’s about listening to yourself, body and mind, which are truly connected in every way. The benefits are sleeping better, feeling happier overall, having more energy, enjoying joy, increased self-esteem, a feeling of accomplishment, and the wonderful feeling of knowing you care about yourself and take care of yourself. How sad that we distill this down to the number of pounds I have lost. You cannot measure what I have gained through this change.
The fear of losing control of our weight is apparent in almost every person I’ve ever encountered who has a Before and After picture. It hangs over them like an axe, ready to drop at any moment and return them to the life of miserable fatness they so valiantly overcame. Self included.
That fear is exactly the thing that kept me from being able to not think about my weight every single day. It’s the reason I stepped on the scale every single morning, just to make sure. And every morning, I would breathe a sigh of relief that my weight had not magically ballooned back up to 287 pounds.
There is only one way to overcome that fear and most of you are not going to like it: you have to give up the idea that controlling your weight is the most important thing, or even on your list of important things. And this may mean accepting that your body’s happy natural healthy weight is not as low as you might like it to be. I know this will not be something most people are ready or able to do. The importance of our weight is so ingrained in us, it is second nature.
It is what I decided to do though. I will continue to live my life with the healthy habits I have developed that led to my weight loss. I will continue to exercise because it brings me so many benefits. I will continue to eat my plant based mostly whole foods diet that brings me so many benefits. What I will no longer do is spend another second worrying about my weight.
I started to have these thoughts and feelings several months ago, and a strange thing happened when I put the scale away. All the sudden I stopped cleaning my plate. I found myself eating more slowly. Sometimes I found myself eating more than I would have previously, and sometimes less. My fullness signal seemed to magically appear as soon as I decided I would simply listen to myself and eat as honestly as possible according to my wants and needs without any thoughts about how it might affect my all-important weight.
Since I have not gotten on the scale lately, I can’t tell you if I have gained, lost, or stayed the same, but I would guess I have stayed the same. My clothes fit and I like the way I look. I have accepted my body’s natural shape, size and weight and it is glorious. But I do not now and never will fit society’s ideal. It was imperative to give that up to make peace with my unique and womanly body.
I am grateful for my journey through life, including my struggles with my weight. I am grateful for my weight loss. I was woefully out of shape and eating terribly unhealthy foods in quantities far beyond my body’s needs. I never developed a healthy relationship with food or moving my body. Nobody ever taught me that, because they were always too busy worrying about my weight. The time I spent counting calories and monitoring my weight was a learning experience for me and I am glad I did it. I’m not sure I would recommend it to others. Instead, I would recommend beginning to develop your relationship with food, focusing on eating nutritious foods and moving your body in ways that bring you joy. But in the end, I know each person must follow their own heart and path and I probably had to go through my own path to get to where I am now.
- I have deleted all calorie counting apps from my phone and bookmarks.
- I put the scale away, out of sight.
- I removed all clothing from my closet that do not fit me perfectly and make me feel comfortable and beautiful right now.
- I don’t look at the calorie count on the treadmill or elliptical anymore, I focus on how I feel.
- I don’t think about calories at all. I focus on what I really want and how much.
- I eat when I feel hungry, not when external signals say so. Unless I am celebrating in a social situation, in which case I eat whatever I like, which turns out to be very moderate and reasonable effortlessly.
- I deleted all the weight, eating, and food-related books from my iPad and bought some fiction.
- I look at myself every morning in the mirror and I say “thank you” to my body.
- I accept and embrace my body’s unique attributes, known by some as “flaws”.
- I am a beautiful and good person.
- I am much more than my weight.
- I have made peace. ☮