Outside of the last few years, I don’t recall a time when I haven’t been consumed with worrying about my weight and body. Memories of my weight and food from years ago are still just as vivid today. All that crap I endured and thought about shaped my decisions and choices these past 5 years.
Some particularly great memories from the “fat years”:
In gym class in grade school we had to be weighed in front of the whole class. Yep, I was the heaviest. Heavier than every other kid, even the boys. And it wasn’t like I was just a pound more, nope it was like a whopping 15 or 20 pounds more. So, when my weight was announced the gasps and wide-open-mouthed-faces-of-astonishment told me exactly what it meant when you were the biggest.
I was volleyball manager when I was in junior high. As manager you helped take care of carting equipment around and keeping water bottles filled at games and practices. I couldn’t find shorts to fit so my mom made some for me. She did her best, but they were awful. They weren’t made from athletic material so they didn’t lay right or hold their shape. I looked ridiculous. I knew I did. But I still went to practices and did everything that was asked of me…I was excited to be part of the team. I looked up to those high school girls. And guess what? One of those high school girls made fun of those shorts, laughed right in my face and didn’t even try to hide it from me.
I could never simply enter a room at any time and take a seat. I used to survey a room and my seat/table selection was all about how to get in and out with as little notice as possible. If I thought I might have to ask someone to pull in their chair to make more room for me to squeeze through then I would not head in that direction. I never sat in the front of a room because then all the people in rows behind me would see how much of my ass and thighs hung over the sides of the chair.
I went to Weight Watchers for the first time in seventh grade…I went with my mom. It was humiliating being the only person at those meetings anywhere close to my age. I told no one. Thankfully my mom didn’t either. I lost some weight, which was good, but I still felt fat and I certainly wasn’t healthy.
It was those memories and others like them, paired with an upcoming high school reunion and living in a home with a pool, that were a catalyst for my change. In July 2010 I started on a personal transformation. For 3+ MORE years, food and movement were in the forefront of my mind. They had to be! I had to exert an enormous amount of energy to think about what I put in my mouth and when…it was the only way to change what I had been doing. I spent a lot of time thinking about pounds lost, my body circumference measurements, and clothes sizes. Again, I had to! These were numbers that kept me focused and motivated while I was busy learning and cultivating new habits.
Shortly before my 40th birthday I hit my goal weight. I assumed during this whole weight loss journey that when I arrived at this place I had never before got to that it would be easy somehow. That isn’t exactly what happened. While I had learned a TON of stuff and had revamped my entire behavior and mindset around food and movement, I found I was in a state of exhaustion. I simply did not have the energy anymore to record and focus on every bit eaten. In fact I felt like I wanted to cry. I had worked to effing hard and I STILL felt like I was fighting against myself daily.
So I kind of went cold-turkey so to speak and stopped pushing so damn hard. And I gained some weight back and I was devastated and embarrassed. Yet the thought of counting calories, wearing a health tracker, weighing myself daily…any of that…nearly brought me to tears. I didn’t want to focus on it anymore!! This wasn’t a give-up-and-throw-in-the-towel moment…it wasn’t me deciding I’m going to eat crap food with no consideration again. Rather it was me deciding I needed to figure out a different way to live from this point forward because having all those things take my energy anymore was not an option. So what did I do?
1. I really began focusing more on my hunger cues, which meant I had to learn what hungry felt like.
It feels scary to actually let yourself be hungry. The health industry, by and large, would have you believe that hunger is the enemy. Admittedly, I felt that way for a long time myself. It took me stages of learning myself to reach the point where hunger doesn’t scare me anymore. Throughout weight loss mode I ate 5-6 small meals throughout the day. I did this because a nutritionist I saw suggested it would help stabilize blood sugar and therefore help with cravings. After weight loss mode however, I found myself eating simply because it was time for my morning/afternoon snack or whatever. It was then I decided to transition to eating three squares again and tried to not snack in between meals. This approach got me cued into what my physical hunger felt like, but I found myself eating more than what I really needed at each sitting. So here we are at the present time and I’m learning to eat when I feel hungry.
What does my hunger feel like? For me it starts with a burning sensation right below my breastbone. As the hunger comes on more strongly, that burning sensation intensifies and then I feel it all the way through to my upper back. Further, if I’ve exercised hard on that day and I’m way late getting some fuel in, then I do start to shake.
Allow yourself to get hungry and take specific note of what is going on in your body. Is the feeling in your gut high or low? Is it a burning feeling, is it an ache, a hollow sensation? Is there sounds your gut is making? Do you feel anything in your head like dizziness, headache, pressure? Attach your own descriptors to what you feel in your body.
2. I stopped worrying about calories–eaten or burned.
By the time I reached this space of learning hunger cues I was well practiced with eating well and knew what portions equated to calories. Also I was already starting my meals with the idea of “What protein am I going to eat? What veggies?” My choices, for the most part, were centered around great fuel, so I could let go of total calories because I was eating whole, healthy food MOST of the time. You can learn to let go of calorie counting by trying a different journaling approach. I talked about that this past week over on FB…check out this post! Focus more on quality and type of fuel versus the calorie count!
Further, I don’t wear any type of health tracker…not for my steps, not for my sleeping, not for my calories burned. Why? Because doing so is going to contribute to my anxiety about “getting the numbers right.” I don’t need that crap and I’ve spent too much energy in my life already doing just that. I exercise because it is good for me. I know I am exercising in an effective way for me because my weight is staying steady and my clothes aren’t getting tighter. I sweat…I get out of breath…and I now STOP when I don’t feel right. When you strive for those damn numbers that is your entire focus–you aren’t paying attention to your body because you really don’t care what your body is telling you, you are going to get those numbers anyway. Try letting go for a moment and get tuned into your body. Take off the FitBit and heartrate monitor and pedometer. Move and get centered in how your body FEELS!! I promise you that your body will let you know everything YOU need to know!
So here I am at the “I’m not tracking everything anymore!” stage of my life. I’m going against the grain of the fitness world and I’ve dumped those habits from my life, because it makes sense for me!! If you’ve been following me for any length of time you know I am passionate about offering you an alternate way of thinking and behaving. Just because everyone’s doing it…AND recommending it…doesn’t make it right for you! Try being a little more introspective about your body and see what you learn! The best key to your success is WWFY, and that might mean moving to the dark side! Muhahahaha. It’s okay…I’m over here waiting for you! 🙂