There was a distinct moment in 2012 when everything changed for me. It happened the day after I fell and hit my head and got a concussion. I was sitting around feeling weird (concussions will do that to you) and it suddenly occurred to me that I spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about my weight, what I would do to maintain it, what I would eat, what exercise, etc, etc… in short, I realized my life revolved around my weight. It seemed to me that I had basically done nothing in over 3 years except work, sleep, and think about my weight. This may seem an exaggeration, but that was how I felt.
I also realized, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I didn’t want to do that anymore.
As time passed, things got better. My head healed. Other issues that had been plaguing me were addressed. The constant back pain subsided after many months of trying various treatments. But that feeling never left- the feeling that I no longer wanted to live my life with my weight at the center of it. It would have been very difficult to do any other way, but I was forced to let it go. It was either keep clinging, keeping that stranglehold on the number, or relax and make some changes.
I know that many people admire me for losing 120 lb. So that made it difficult because I knew that if I did not keep up my constant weight maintenance activities, I would gain weight. And I have gained weight. But my weight is the least interesting thing about me so I’ve taken it in stride. I can’t explain to anyone how to have this sort of epiphany or if they should also give up the crazy weight focus too. How you relate to your body is a very personal thing. But for me, it had to be done. I needed a break. I needed to get back to life and the things that really matter most to me personally.
When I thought about what I didn’t do anymore that I used to do before I became honed in on my weight, two things immediately came to mind: Art and Reading. Oh I had been reading, don’t get me wrong. But I had been reading only one subject: non stop weight, health, and nutrition books. What I missed was reading fiction!
So when 2013 came around, I made a different sort of New Year’s Pact with myself: to read fiction and to draw more. I set a goal to read 25 books (non-weight-related) this year and I’m close! I’m actually still trying. I’ve read 20 books and I have 7 days left to read 5 more, wish me luck. In any case, reading is such a joy. I have re-read several old favorites. It’s always fun to see old words in a new light. I’ve discovered new favorites. The best read of the year for me was Jennifer Egan’s Look At Me. I adored that book.
You can see the books I’ve read so far this year here: Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge. Next year, my goal will be 30 books.
I have filled 4 sketchbooks this year. That’s 4 more than I filled in the previous 5 years combined. Art has always been the most important thing to me. I discovered the art of Zentangle this year after I read a book about it on a whim and it really helped me get my pen on the paper. Just getting into the habit of drawing in a sketchbook again has been so fabulous. I branched out and started painting with water-colors as well. Next year, I have signed up for a watercolor painting class starting in January. I’m extremely excited to get back into painting.
As I reflect on this year, I know I feel that I am so much more at peace with who I am than I was the year before. I know I have a firmer grasp on what “health” truly means to me and in my case, it does not involve being obsessed with my weight. I still eat a nutritious, mostly whole foods vegetarian diet and I still exercise regularly. But it isn’t anywhere near what I was doing to lose the weight or maintain the low weight for my body. I was fooling myself for awhile there, thinking I would live my life that way forever. I was so caught up in it, I was letting the things that have true meaning to me disappear from my life.
I know some people find exercise and body-sculpting to be their passion. Not I. My passions are and have always been intellectual and creative. I’m a bookworm at heart. I have found ways to enjoy regular exercise in a way that fuels my creativity as well as physical health. These activities, hiking and yoga, are not optimal for fat loss, and that’s okay. Fat loss is over-rated to me in my life. I love being in shape and physically fit and it turns out I don’t have to be thin to be those things. Who knows, it may be possible for me personally to maintain that low weight if I make it my life focus. But I have other things I want to do. My passions aren’t in making myself look a certain way. My most cherished activities are sedentary. My career is computer art. The things that are most important to me aren’t in a gym.
To me, true health should encompass all the things about a person, not focus so narrowly on the physical body, especially not it’s outer appearance. Most of our society doesn’t seem to see it that way, unfortunately. But for me, I know I can never be truly healthy or happy if art isn’t the main focus of my life. I know that if I am not drawing or reading for pleasure, things are out of balance. And I know that when I ask myself what is truly, truly important to me, the answer isn’t in my reflection in the mirror.