Like many people, my journey towards losing weight has not just been about numbers on the scale and measurements, it's also been an incredibly emotional journey.
This is me at about 240 pounds:
Although I was quite overweight, I had a lot to be happy about. I had a great husband who loved me no matter what size I was, lots of wonderful friends and a nice life following my dreams of living in a different country. But when I looked in the mirror, I wasn't happy with what I saw. I was so frustrated that I had let myself gain back so much weight, about 95 pounds out of a 115 pound loss, after working so hard to lose it. My frustration with my weight affected my self-confidence, my energy levels and my general outlook on life. I was beginning to resign myself to the fact that I was always going to be an overweight person and that I should just accept that. I obviously didn't have it in me to do what it takes to lose weight and keep it off permanently and this mentality was beginning to affect other areas of my life as well.
But then one day, I decided to give it one last shot. I don't know exactly what it was that inspired me. Maybe it was a friend's wedding. I was going to be a bridesmaid again and didn't want to be wearing a size 22 or 24 dress and feel miserable about being photographed. Maybe it was seeing one unflattering photograph after another and feeling disappointed with myself. How had I let myself go so much? Whatever my motivation was, I decided I just had to do it. But how was I going to make this time different from all of the other times that I had failed? That required some serious reflection and a plan.
Like my dad, I'm a competitive person, but it's not so much that I'm competitive with other people--I'm competitive with myself. That can be a great, self-motivating trait to have but it can also be self-defeating. How many times in the past had I blasted my way through lots of weight strictly adhering to my diet 99% of the time only to throw in the towel completely? It was clear that my expectations for myself were too high and that I was setting unmanageable goals. None of us are perfect and I was expecting near-perfection from myself. When I couldn't achieve that, and who can?, I gave up.
So this time around, I decided that I needed to be kinder to myself and let the weight come off more slowly. That meant planning more treats, taking time off from my diet and even a bit of backsliding from time to time. But each time, I got back on track and kept plugging away at my goals. As long as my overall trend was going in the right direction, I couldn't let myself get frustrated with the occasional ups and downs. I had always read and heard that losing weight more slowly can be an important component of long-term success. I got that idea in theory but I had never paid more than lip service to it until recently. Now I really understand what that means. Any weight loss plan has to allow for life to happen. That means being able to take part in celebrations and special events without always having to say no to everything. It means letting yourself deviate from your diet and exercise plan sometimes when life events come up. It means sometimes giving in to a craving and sometimes overdoing it. It just means that you pick yourself up afterwards and get back on track--that you don't let a temporary setback turn into permanent derailment. That doesn't mean that I don't set tough goals for myself--I absolutely do. I'm doing a fitness bootcamp now that I never, EVER imagined I'd be able to hack. But I didn't start doing that bootcamp from Day 1. It's taken me a few years to work up to that point after beginning with the smallest of baby steps back in February 2010.
So, almost two and a half years after beginning my weight loss journey, here I am now:
I'm finally at a healthy weight and it's been over three months now since I reached my goal. Happily, I'm a few pounds under goal at the moment. More importantly, I finally feel good about myself again. Not just when I see my reflection in the mirror but also in terms of self-confidence, energy and motivation to achieve things in other areas of my life. I'm proving to myself that I can set goals, meet them and keep them going, even if it's taken me longer than I'd like to achieve them.