My weight has always been a struggle. Or maybe I should say I’ve always struggled with body image and weight. Finally, I have been able to make some changes that are working to help keep me positive and motivated as I pursue my health and fitness goals. This post may be a bit long, and I may ramble a bit, so I’ll apologize in advance.
Forming a Negative Body Image
From a very early age I remember worrying that I was fat. My mom once took a Polaroid picture of me, as I sunbathed on our trampoline. Looking at the picture I could see fat-dimpled skin across my stomach. I was mortified. I remember being consumed with the fact that I looked like that.
Thinking back to high school, I realize now that I was pretty thin. Back then, I certainly didn’t feel thin. I wore baggy clothes, in an attempt to hide what I could. I remember standing in line at a fast food restaurant when a “friend” poked my stomach, giggling at how fat I was. I was 16 then, and maintained a healthy, normal weight. But I made an effort from that point to hide my stomach, and wear baggier clothes.
Later, in my early 20s, as a guy picked me up for a first date, he commented that I looked nice, but would be so much cuter if I lost some weight. I felt humiliated, and confused. I had thought my body was average. But that is obviously others did not. And I was being told that me being chubby meant I was unattractive. Needless to say, there wasn’t a second date.
Later, as neared 30, I was in the best shape of my life. I was eating well, lifting weights regularly, and looking toned. I was starting feel strong, and I liked the way I looked. While visiting a family member, however, she poked my stomach and joked about how chubby I’d gotten. I felt defeated. I had been working so hard. I thought I had made progress, and that my body was finally ok.
Soon after, as I stood in the hallway outside of my classroom, another teacher approached me, asking if I was pregnant, pointing at my stomach. I couldn’t even find the words to respond. After working out tirelessly, eating almost perfectly, avoiding weekly happy hours…my 128 pound body was still not okay.
At no point has my weight been outside of the “normal” range. At no point did I ask for input about my body. Yet, throughout life, people have felt the need to make comments that have broken my heart, and my spirit. Some of these interactions weren’t meant to be hurtful, but each moment has stayed with me. And each interaction made me question myself, and my body.
I don’t share these stories for sympathy. Instead, I’m sure that most of my readers can relate. I want you to know that you are not alone. Even when I’m feeling my best, doubt always creeps in, and I begin to feel like it’s not good enough. I’m not thin enough. I will simply never be okay. But those feelings are fleeting, and I pick myself back up and continue to work hard.
The Struggle Continues
I gave birth to my son in September of 2015. Now, 2 1/2 years later, I’m still working to lose weight, and get back in shape. For the last three months, I’ve been eating well and going to the gym consistently. While I’m seeing some progress in the mirror, how my clothes fit, and my performance at the gym, the scale is moving at a snail’s pace. I’ve lost a total of 7 pounds on a good day, 3 pounds on a bloated, swollen day. It’s been so discouraging, and some days I just want to give up, and drown myself in French onion dip, and Ruffles, with a side of ice cream.
What is my point?
It’s taken a change in perspective to shift away from my obsession with the scale, and how my stomach looks, in particular. Instead, I have begun to focus on what’s best for me, and my body.
Instead of spending endless hours on the treadmill trying to (unsuccessfully) run off the fat, I’m focusing on what my body can do. I’m challenging myself to run farther, and lift heavier. I’m putting the scale away. Focusing on my growth means more gratification, and less disappointment. For the first time in my life, I can run for long periods of time. I can lift heavier dumbbells for more reps. I feel stronger.
Instead of obsessing over calories and macros, and a vegan diet, or a paleo diet, I’m eating what I know is good for my body, in moderation. And I eat food as fuel. So, instead of beating myself up over a high calorie donut, I avoid the donut, because it is sure to make me feel terrible. Instead of drinking a 400 calorie Starbucks Latte, I stick to coffee at home. I imagine how horribly swollen I’ll be after a meal at Taco Bell, and head home to eat healthy leftovers instead.
Shifting my attitude and frame of mind has had a tremendous impact on me:
- I’m enjoying my time at the gym, challenging myself to see just what I can do
- I’m not limiting my diet in an impossible way
- I’m not obsessing over the number on the scale
- I’m creating habits that are sustainable and realistic
- I’m getting healthy physically, and mentally
What obstacles have you faced in your fitness journey? What changes and strategies have helped you to overcome these obstacles?