5 Things Losing 70 Pounds Taught Me
I am not blessed with a speedy metabolism. Nor have I ever been. If you have read my "So How Did I Get Here?" post from way back when this blog was just a budding dream of mine, you might know that I (along with every other female in my family) have struggled with obesity my entire. 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.