Friday, March 22, 2013
I've been thinking a lot lately about where I started out and how far I've come mentally and emotionally in this journey. I wholeheartedly believe that weight loss is about 90% mental and 10% really really hard work. If we don't address the underlying reasons why we became fat in the first place, it's going to be awfully difficult to sustain any weight loss in the long-term.
I realized long ago that this is something I'll be working on for the rest of my life. Losing all this extra weight I've managed to accumulate over my lifespan is not a race, but if it were, it would be a marathon and not a sprint. I've done tons of emotional "work" to get myself to a place where I fully understand the emotional and physical reasons for my obesity.
I've been reflecting lately on the sort of foods I was offered as a child, and the contrast to the sort of foods we have in our house now and my own children are growing up eating. My mom always made dinner at home, but she was very much a "meat and potatoes" type of eater. We had vegetables with every meal, but they were usually those frozen packages drowning in some sort of franken-sauce. As she got older, (and once I'd moved out of the house), I noticed that healthy choices disappeared and they were eating at places like McDonalds a lot. It frustrated me to no end, and actually made it very unpleasant for me to go visit my family at their house because I knew they'd only have junk food. To top that off, they would constantly harangue me about my weight. I'd have to go grocery shopping every time I visited, and cook completely separate meals for myself (and later for my family as well), because they just wouldn't compromise on the types of food they would eat.
I became a vegetarian at age 14, mostly because I always hated both the taste and the concept of meat. I had tried to go vegetarian at age 8, but my parents were never supportive of that choice, and it wasn't very easy to do when you're dependent on them to feed you! At the time (early 90's) there weren't a whole lot of vegetarian options in the mainstream grocery stores. So I learned to eat endless carbs. I've always loved vegetables, but it wasn't until I was on my own that I really learned how to cook them.
In more recent years, I've moved away from almost all highly processed foods. I bake my own bread on occasion, but I still buy whole wheat bread and cheese and things of that sort. I also do buy some of the processed vegetarian "meats", only because protein is so hard for me, and I need it. (I do make my own seitan on a fairly regular basis). I really want the vast majority of my diet to be minimally processed and plant based.
I've written other blog entries about my emotional journey. Figuring out the reasons that being fat was working for me was really important because then I could focus on getting those "needs" met in healthier ways. Keeping a journal that identifies my "triggers" and lays out healthier alternatives to binging is also really helpful for me.
And removing the physical barriers that stood in the way of my previous attempts at weight loss has been absolutely revolutionary for me. I am currently at the weight where my horrible nightmarish periods started. To be back here without the absolute fear of the pain and inconvenience is so, so liberating. Nothing can stop me now!!!
Doing all of that work has prepared me for the physical work of actually losing the weight. I'm not doing this to meet some arbitrary societal ideal. I'm doing it for myself. Because I want to be healthy and strong, not because I want to be skinny or because I give a damn if anyone else thinks I'm attractive. I'm doing this because I want to gain endurance and energy and maybe a little more confidence to try certain things without dire consequences (like zip lining without breaking the line!)
I live a big, full, and satisfying life. Even at 300 pounds, I wasn't afraid to travel, dance, or run a 5k (I did the warrior dash at 280 and while it certainly would have been easier if I were lighter, nobody was going to tell me I couldn't do it!) being thinner won't change my life in huge ways (aside from the health benefits), but it will make it easier to live the life of my dreams. Making sure that the way I do it is sustainable for the rest of my life is the key to ensuring my long-term success!