Life After Numbers

It’s no secret I have changed my mind about some things.  I have moved away from numbers and data and onto a more holistic, experience-based approach.  If you read the posts I’ve written over the last few months, you know all about it.  If not, any of these posts will give you an idea of where my mind has been lately:

Weight and Weight Loss, I’m Over It

Book: Health at Every Size

Changes You Cannot See

Sometimes people ask me if I think I could have gotten to the point where I am now if I had not at one point approached this from a different angle.  If I would have lost the weight if I had never counted calories daily for almost 2 years and weighed myself daily for another year after that.  The only truthful answer to that question is “I don’t know.”  I can only tell you what actually happened.

I don’t regret any part of this lifestyle change journey thing whatever you want to call it.  I feel that every part of it was necessary for me personally.  Would I do the same again?  No, because now I know more.  Would I recommend anyone else do as I have done?  Some parts.  Maybe.  I would recommend everyone do what they need to do.

My goal has, in essence, always been the same: to be happy and healthy.  When I started out, I was physically out of shape, had trouble breathing after walking up stairs or any distance, ate a lot of processed, fast, and restaurant foods, drank way too much alcohol, and smoked cigarettes.  But in the beginning, my goal was to lose weight.  My goal was to lose weight until I lost all the weight I wanted to lose.  I lost 100 pounds. And then I lost another 20 pounds because I could.

Along the way, I got in shape, I can now participate in any physical activity I want to do, including running.  I eat a vegetarian diet of mostly fresh foods I cook from scratch in moderate portions.  I drink 1 or 2 glasses of wine occasionally.  I haven’t smoked in 3 years.  I also started writing this blog, speaking out about what I see going on in the world of body image, health, and fitness, and started my Facebook page, which currently has 22,000 followers.

All of those things I do now, or don’t do anymore, those are the lifestyle change.  Weight loss or not, doing or not doing those things are what makes me healthier.  I have no plans to stop doing those things.  I love my healthier lifestyle!  It gives me so many incredible benefits.

I like being in shape and being able to go do whatever I want to do, keep up with anybody.  I like shopping in stores where I have more choices that can reflect my personal style.  I know I am enjoying the privilege reserved for non-fat people that means I can walk into a room without all kinds of negative assumptions being made about me, wrong as I feel this is.  I like feeling good about my body, which comes not from being perfect, because trust me I’m not.  I choose to feel good about my body, and because I have been actively working on that for over 3 years, I feel very good about it indeed.

Those extra 20 pounds I lost?  I maintained that weight by weighing myself daily and adjusting what I ate to compensate for small changes.  It all seemed well and good, until I fell and got that concussion.  The concussion set off a cascade of inter-related changes.  One was that I realized right away how much mental energy I was expending about my weight and keeping it in a very tight range.  It became clear that I could not do that in the state I was in after hitting my head.  Not doing it made me rethink it entirely.  By the way, the concussion turned out to be a HUGE blessing in disguise, but I still don’t recommend it.

Between that and reading Health at Every Size, a few things clicked for me.  I don’t want to live my life based on external data points, whether they be calories, pounds, inches, percentages or any other method of tracking and calculating.  I want to live life by the way I feel and thoroughly experience every experience, without checking to see how many calories my activity burned or thinking about how my meal would affect the number on the scale.

I slowed down on the weighing, until finally I stopped last October.  At the time I stopped, I weighed 15 pounds more than my lowest weight.  And I am okay with that.  I have my chest and hips back!  I missed them.

One reason I used to weigh myself so much was to “keep myself on track.”  I no longer need to do that, and probably haven’t for quite some time.

You see, I don’t eat the way I do or exercise to keep my weight at a certain number.  I do those things because they are part of my life.  I like to do them.  They benefit me.  They keep me healthy and physically fit.  Whether I weigh more or less, this will not change.  If anything, now that I’ve finally decided to just DO this and trust myself, I’ve become so much more in tune with how I feel about certain foods or exercises and I’ve found a renewed love of the healthful activities.  I have given up the stranglehold on my weight.

I have eyes and pants though, and I know what’s happening with my body.  But I’ve become selfish.  My body is mine alone, and the only person who needs to love it is me (and my boyfriend) My weight is not all that interesting, nor is my size.  Everything I have to say is more interesting than whether I got bigger or smaller.  So I’m keeping it to myself.  I don’t need to be congratulated or consoled about my weight anymore.  I’m good.

4 years ago, I was very embarrassed about my weight and size.  Sharing with people helped me let it go.  I have let it go.  Sharing my weight or size serves no purpose for me anymore.

Part of listening to myself is no longer looking for others approval.  Sure, it’s nice when everyone congratulates you for losing weight and tells you what an inspiration you are and all that.  But in another way, I feel like it just focuses on the wrong thing.  You should be proud of me because I hiked almost 8 miles on Saturday and could have kept going and I made myself a beautiful veggie filled meal for dinner.  That’s the right thing!  That’s an action, something I DID.   Does it make it more or less worthwhile if it results in weight loss or gain?  Not at all.

Another part of why I’ve decided to keep my body size to myself is the sensitivity to the people who follow me.  I want to have a page and a blog that is safe and happy for people with eating disorders or disordered thoughts about their bodies and weight.  I care deeply about trying to create a world that is less treacherous for women (and men) and our body image.  I cannot do that and simultaneously get excited when my jeans are loose or angry when they’re tight.  I truly believe in what I am preaching these days, and that is self-acceptance and mental and physical health.  I’m living it.

I could end this post by telling you whether I’m bigger, smaller, or the same as I was last October.  Do you think your perception of what I’m saying would change depending on my report?  Is it only okay if I’m not bigger?  Is it only a success if I’m the same or smaller?  If so, you don’t get it yet.  That’s okay.  I’m going to keep writing.

I just won’t be writing about my weight and size.

8 thoughts on “Life After Numbers

  1. Thank you so much for this post……I loved reading it as it really resonated with me……I am at the beging of a similar journey and I often get asked (feel pressured to know) what my weight is or how many pounds I have lost……..I don’t know nor do I know what I weigh! I do know that I weigh substantially more than what would be healthiest for me…….but I also know that I am 3 weeks away from the 2nd anniversary of my quit smoking date……… I know that I have been a vegetarian for almost 8 months…….I know my body feels tired and sluggish if I miss my green smoothie in the morning or slip and eat processed junkie foods……..most importantly I know I am proud of myself for all of these changes I have made. I know there are many more things to do but I know I am on the right path and my body is getting healthier every day………so I agree with you it just doesn’t matter what the scale says…….we should all be congratulated for the things we do like hiking 8miles with energy left over, quitting smoking, cooking from scratch, or learning to love ourselves! I know that I have a long journey ahead of me and I am grateful for it…..because that means although I have treated my body horribly it is strong and has endured and now that I am treating myself better I can be sure my journey will take longer………because my life is my journey!!!

  2. I am in about the same place you are. I lost 150 over 2.5 years. Maintained that weight for another 1.5 years and then started easing up a bit. I’ve gained about 15 back. There are advantages – my blood pressure doesn’t drop ridiculously low anymore, I am much warmer and parts of me filled in again. The disadvantages are mental – the weight gain should not be a big deal but I am my own worst enemy. I am sure this is the start of a huge gain. Clothing is tight which makes me “feel fat”. I keep trying to restrict calories and then talk myself out if it. I still exercise and eat healthy – I just allow more leeway for social events. I am hoping to get to the mindset you are at soon. Always a work in progress…

  3. I want to hug you and this post. Thank you. From the bottom of my ED disrupted heart and mind, THIS is helpful to me. The line where you said be proud of your hike and dinner? ROCK ON, SISTER. I am proud of you. And looking at you as a mentor. I want what you have – not the smaller body, although I admit it would be very nice – but the sanity, the simple way of putting health first and loving your body and taking care of it. THAT is what I want. If I get thin doing so, great. But I want the sanity more than I want the skinny jeans. I want the peace more than I want the piece. And having a safe place to learn, from someone who walked the walk and is still walking tall and sharing the experience is priceless to me. I hope you never tell me your jean size, scale weight, or anything else size related again. Because the body you are in is just the right size to hold YOU. And I admire that openness, the transparency, the vulnerability you share with us. Thank you.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom. I am about to quit smoking (three left in my last pack). I think after quitting sugar, I can certainly do this, this time for sure! As far as weight goes… I have been too skinny and too fat at different times in my life. I fear either end of the spectrum! But I have never been one to worry about what a scale reads. How do I feel? What can I do? These matter far more than a number. And the answer to those questions can be directly affected by what I eat. So, I am in control of that. I am so grateful for the internet and the people that share their experience and wisdom on it. Otherwise, making wise choices would have been much more difficult. (and trust me, it was hard enough!)

  5. I seriously needed to read this today. A year ago I was fully on my way to wrapping my heart & mind around this healthy attitude. Then I had to dramatically reduce my exercise due to having ignored my lower back pain through a year’s worth of grueling exercise, which I love. As soon as my activity level dropped my positive outlook crumpled and I’m back to indulging damaging thoughts like “I feel so fat today I wish I could wear a tent to work. Gimme a donut so I can stuff it in my unlovable face.” Thank you for writing & sharing your journey so that those of us who have stumbled and fallen off our own paths can brush the dirt from our dimpled knees and get back to a healthy mindset.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s