You know, it occurred to me last night while I was out walking my dogs…there have been dozens if not hundreds of times in my life, particularly in the last five years when I was over 300 lbs, that I have “woken up” all of a sudden and said, man I wished I would have stuck with that diet I started last (month, year, January, summer, whatever) because then I wouldn't be feeling so huge and miserable.
I would have said to myself, DCHound, you have to lose this weight because you have (a party to go to, to fly home for Christmas, to start dating again…). So I would start a diet and of course something would come up, and I’d fail. Again. And give up. Again. Then eventually wake up, look around and be miserable. Again.
Last night though, I was bringing the dogs in from going potty. I looked down, and I was wearing a short skort. And sandals. And a cute top. It was really hot, and I wasn’t wearing sweatpants, horrible wornout tennis shoes, and a ratty t-shirt. I actually looked fairly cute. I didn’t have to hold onto the stair railing to haul myself up the stairs; I walked up normally. My ankles, knees and back didn’t hurt. I didn’t have heartburn. I didn’t feel sick and tired and old.
This is what’s different: I made a promise to myself, I made a plan, and I stuck to it. August 14, 2008, was my mental click. Why is it working this time, when it never has before except in very limited ways (I lost 100 lbs in 1999, I lost 50 more in 2003 then immediately gained it all back and then some by 2004)?
This is why it's different: It’s working because I finally think I’m worth it. I finally have learned to love and value myself. I had to learn to love myself at 350+ lbs before I could start, and stick to, this journey. I didn’t love myself a lot, but I loved myself enough to start. I’ve been able to love myself a little bit more each day since then. And it’s not because I’ve lost weight, although that helps. It’s just because I’m being mindful of it and I’m doing it deliberately.
I force myself to give myself compliments. In return, I am now able to accept compliments much more gracefully than ever before. I force myself not to belittle myself or cut myself down. In return, rather than always feeling bad, guilty, stupid and worthless, I fluctuate between feeling average/normal, good, and even great sometimes.
I think what I’m trying to say is, there’s a lot more to weightloss than simply losing weight. It is more than just a physical journey, it’s a mental journey.
I’ve made this journey before but ultimately failed because I only made the physical journey, the “being on a diet and losing weight” part. I didn’t change my mindset one iota, and when tough times came I caved and gained it all back, and then some.
Late 2003 is a blur. I remember making the first bad choice (at about 180 lbs/size 14, the smallest I’d ever been as an adult) then really I don’t remember anything else til Christmas and having to borrow a size 26 outfit from my sister because I literally had nothing to wear for Christmas dinner other than pajamas or sweatpants.
I had to love myself, at least a little bit, BEFORE beginning the journey.
I had to believe I was worth it.
I had to take this love and this belief in myself and use it to prop myself up and fight back whenever temptation struck.
All this added together equals a lifestyle change, rather than a diet.
I stick with low-carb because it’s a lifestyle and I love how I look/feel from staying on plan, not because it’s a diet.
I go to the gym because it’s a lifestyle and I love how I look/feel from working out, not because it’s punishing exercise.
I wish someone would have sat me down in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, early 2008, and forced me to spend time reflecting on my life, choices, habits and reality. I might have gotten here earlier. But what’s past is past. I’m here now. It’s a total life-change. And I’m truly happy.
And last night, when I realized that I have finally stuck with it, and I’m really reaping the rewards…for a few seconds I was completely and utterly happy and content. What a wonderful feeling it was.
Maybe reading this will help someone who’s teetering on the edge of beginning their journey take that first step. I hope so, anyway.