Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Why I Haven't Lost the Baby Weight

I know how to lose weight. And I'm a very disciplined person when I want to be. When I set my mind to something I make it happen. Recently I had to ask myself what was keeping me from setting  goal to lose weight and obtaining it? And more importantly, why?  I knew that if I really wanted to I could at least drop half of the pounds (I'd done it before. I'm not sure whether or not I can drop them all right now as I am still nursing JaiseAnn and feel it could play a part). 

I must not want to. Or must not want to enough

But why? I had to take a good and honest look at myself and after a lot of reflecting I think I've figured it out--at least partly. 

Allow me to back track a bit. 

It's New Year's Eve 2012. Zach and I are on our way to his sister's house for the holiday weekend. We are road tripping, so of course unhealthy food is in abundance. I feel awful, but I keep eating. And then obsessing about what I'm eating(and what I've eaten over the holidays, too). Once we finally get to his sister's house, I'm feeling so bad about myself. Knowing I want to enjoy this trip (and the food on it) I keep having this mental battle in my mind, "After this weekend, you can start eating healthy. You haven't done anything major and you'll get back on track. Get through the weekend and you'll be fine. Just let it go and enjoy yourself." I battled this and yet still wanted to go get a hot chocolate to enjoy while we played board games.  So I went and got hot chocolate. Despite the fact that I'd had SO MUCH JUNK that day and despite the fact that the "food" I was eating was causing me so much mental distress, and even despite the fact that if I'd actually listened to my body--I really didn't need it. 

Of course when Zach's sister called hot chocolate one of her "favorite desserts" I started obsessing again. "This isn't a dessert? Is it? It's a beverage? Oh my goodness, I must have the worst eating habits of anyone ever if I don't think this is a dessert? No wonder I'm "fat."" (I put "fat" into quotation marks because I have come to truly loathe that word with every bit of myself. But I've surely said it about myself enough along with a million other things.)

I wake up the next morning and get dressed, "Phew, my pants still fit." An honest worry of mine because if I go up a size I'm "fat" because that's the size I was freshman year of college when I was "fat." I check myself in the mirror and take a few pictures of myself on my point and shoot camera just to make sure I "look okay." We go out that day and play at an arcade. While Zach and I did play a few games of air hockey, we all kind of did our own thing. I am not exaggerating when I say I must have gone into the bathroom to look at myself in the mirror at least 30 times in the two hours we were there. THIRTY TIMES! Checking my face, checking my side profile, checking my love handles, and promising myself that I would "be better" once I got home. 

There's more to that weekend  but I'll not go into too many more details, but an other example includes me telling everyone I was going to be healthier and my sister-in-law criticizing my decision to order a salad instead of french fries and told me they were the same amount of calories. Which then turned me mean and grumpy as I would have rather had fries and I was upset about the idea of "all those calories."

I probably didn't truly enjoy anything I ate on that entire trip. I felt guilty about everything I ate but also entitled to it so I ate anyway. More importantly, though, I wasn't really present for much of the trip either. I don't have a lot that I remember--except feeling down and sad and frustrated with myself.  I went home feeling so gross and sluggish--and really badly about myself

That is a very honest look at my life in my pre-pregnancy size. While that's just one instance, it's very reflective of my feelings and experiences for much of my life for about a decade. I constantly felt tension about my weight, my eating habits, and my body image. I have been working for years to remedy this, sometimes making great improvements, and some sliding back a bit I guess you could say. But in hindsight I see now that I was truly sick. Something was wrong with me and it wasn't my weight. 

It was my fear of being "overweight" or "fat." It was my fear of losing whatever version of confidence I thought that I had. Sure I had moments especially when I made active decisions to move forward and learn to love myself, but I had far, far too many low moments like the one described above. And when I think about them all, I want to cry. 

And honestly, my fear of being "overweight" is a reality now. I have seen numbers on the scale I never thought I'd see and do you know what?

The world didn't end. 

And do you know what else?

I see the same person in the mirror I saw back then. Same size and all. Maybe I had an unrealistic view of myself then. Maybe I do now. (I'm going to guess, though, it's the former). I know I'm bigger because my clothes don't fit, but I see the same person starring back at me in the mirror. But instead of spending all my time convincing myself I'm not her or that I will be a better version of her, I'm actually learning to accept her and better yet, love her. 

And honestly I'm much healthier in many many ways than I was then. I exercise daily and do it because it makes me feel good and I do the kinds of exercise I enjoy. I eat more vegetables and wholesome foods. My diet is far more balanced than it ever was before. I still overeat too often and I still over indulge my sweet tooth and those are the things holding me back right now, but I honestly feel like I'm holding myself back on purpose. I maybe was unaware of that until now, but I see it. 

You see in some ways, I'm actually happier carrying these extra 30 pounds than I was without them. It might sound crazy, but  that's the honest truth. Do I still want to lose the weight? Yes. BUT (and this is a big but) I don't want to lose the weight if it means going back to that same place. I want to get better before I get there. Fixating so much on my body and my eating made me a selfish person and I like this new version of myself much better. I want to be stronger for my own personal sanity and in order to set a good example for JaiseAnn.

I have always struggled in my relationship with food. And I've struggled with my relationship with my body. In the past, I've tried to address my relationship with food first. If I tend to my diet then I will love my body. But that's never really worked because my relationship with both my body and food has never seen lasting improvement. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing but expecting different results. So I'm doing something different. I'm loving my body first this time. 

I think this quote from Glennon at Momastery captures how I feel about this process perfectly: 

"Here’s what I’ve come to accept: Progress is not linear. We don’t go from here to there and put things behind us. Progress is a spiral staircase and we just keep coming around to the same issues again and again. But every time we face the same demons: we do so with a higher consciousness and stronger muscles and heart from the climb. So we do a little better each go ’round." (See full post here)
For now, I'm going to keep climbing the staircase. I'm taking away a timeline-it hasn't worked. I'm going to keep taking care of my body. I'm going to keep working on loving my body. And maybe I'll lose weight and maybe I won't. But I'm not in a place to pull out the "big guns" and tell myself I can't eat something or that I have to do something because I need to lose weight. Because the weight isn't the problem, my problem is the perception about myself regarding my weight and that is where I need to start. 

I'm actually at a point where I'm grateful for this struggle. I'm honestly grateful for the extra weight and the difficult adjustment and my past struggles with my body. I am grateful because they were the cost of learning some incredibly valuable lessons. I am really excited to share this journey to loving my body with you all. I'm sharing some snippets over at The Morrell Tale today and I will be sharing my first post next week. 
I'd love to hear any of your thoughts/feelings or experiences on this topic or on the topic of progress in general. Can you relate? Even if it's not weight related, is there something you struggle with and feel like you're on the spiral staircase? 

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