ďLetting go doesnít mean rejecting what is here. Rather itís an attitude of letting things be without picking up what we donít need.Ē James Baraz
Letting go is the theme of my Awakening Joy course this month. www.awakeningjoy.info
Itís a profound theme and practice, in which James Baraz suggests we let go by simplifying, by letting go of the stories we tell ourselves, by being generous, and by letting go of expectations and excess. I know I have room to work on all of these aspects of my life, and am paying more attention to it each day.
In keeping with this theme, I realized something this morning. I think I've been at goal for years now but I've been fighting against accepting this weight since I was a teenager, and Iím finally ready to let go of that particular story.
I'm 5'4" barely, and somehow I have this idea in my head that the only way I'm successful is if I weight 120 or less. This summer when I got to 110 I was in heaven. I felt I'd arrived. I was finally skinny! But the truth was that my bones were sticking out, I had absolutely no fat anywhere, and I stopped getting my period for about 6 months. Further, I was eating in a way that was too restrictive for me to keep up as a lifestyle.
Iím now back up to about 128-130, depending on the day. The truth is that since high school, my body seems to come back to this weight of about 128 pounds, sometimes a bit more, sometimes a bit less. And then I diet my way down to 120-ish, get excited and scared, and gain it all back plus. Then I start over. That's how it's been for over 30 years of my life.
I just finished re-reading the Beck Diet Solution (great book, highly recommend) www.amazon.com/The-Beck-
and in the very end she has a great chapter in which she explains when a person is ready for maintenance. I found it very eye-opening to reread this chapter, particularly because in my own handwriting, I saw that the last time I read this chapter, last year, I was in the same place - I had wanted to weigh 120 but then gained back up to about 128-130.
Here is Judith Beckís take (from her blog (I also highly recommend, you can get her free newsletter there) at www.beckdietsolution.co
ď[the] concept of Ďideal weightí Ė itís the weight that you get down to when youíre eating and exercising in a healthy way that you can maintain. Now this weight may not the weight of your thinnest friend, it may not be the weight you were at in college, and it almost definitely isnít the weight of the celebrities we see on television. In our minds, your ideal weight is the weight that you can get down to and stay at, not the weight that you can get down to, then gain some weight back, then work on losing it again, then gaining it back again. We just donít believe that itís worth getting down to a weight that you ultimately canít maintain (by either exercising or eating in a way that is not sustainable) because youíll just gain it back and then feel very discouraged.Ē
This is exactly what Iíve been experiencing. Though I can get to 120 or less when Iím obsessively focused on it, itís not sustainable because it takes too much restriction.
She then goes on to say, ďItís also important to know that most people, when they lose weight, get down to what we call their lowest achievable weight. However, most people donít stay there! They eventually end up relaxing their habits just a bit and gaining a few pounds back and end up leveling off at we call their lowest maintainable weight. Their lowest achievable weight is probably not their lowest maintainable weight because it would require intense focus on their eating and exercise.Ē
Yes, when Iím at 120, I have to focus intensely. Iíve was there when I got married, and for a few weeks each year, but never for a long period of time. Iíve never been able to maintain it.
Finally Beck gives very practical ways to learn to accept ourselves at this lowest maintainable weight, which for me, isnít the weight Iíve been telling myself I should weigh:
She says, ďÖ you [donít] have to be at all unhappy with where you are now. In fact, you should be extremely proud of yourself for the weight you did lose and for all of the hard work and dedication you put into it. Instead of focusing on the 10 pounds you didnít lose, think instead about all of the weight you did lose. Even if youíre not quite at the weight you wanted to get down to starting out, think aboutÖDo you feel better about yourself?...Ē
She continues, ďYou can also ask yourself: How would my life really be different if I lost another 10 pounds? Would the differences be so significant? Is it possible that Iím already experiencing many of the things I wanted to achieve, even though the number on the scale isnít what I initially had in mind? It sounds like it may be worth working on changing your concept of your own ideal weight, feeling proud about where you are, and move forward appreciating all the wonderful changes that have come about as a result of losing weight."
So here I am. I'm not at my lowest desirable or achievable weight, but I think I'm at about my lowest maintainable weight. And in my core, I know that if I could just accept myself at this weight, life would be so much easier. I've been at 120 and my life really wasn't all that different. Yes, I wore a smaller size, but that's about all. When I think about it, during those brief weeks at 120, I was also quite stressed about regaining, very uptight and anxious about any social plans, irritable because I was hungry all the time, and then plagued by months of binging, starving, regaining, and self-loathing.
When I let go of this story, I can see that I live a very healthy lifestyle and have since I was about 20. In fact, I love living this healthy lifestyle and all of the things I'm listing below come quite easily to me:
1. I workout daily.
2. I track my food.
3. I weigh myself each morning.
4. I drink a ton of water.
5. I weigh and measure my foods.
6. I eat most meals seated, slowly and mindfully.
7. I keep within a set calorie range for the most part.
8. Most importantly, I actually LOVE healthy foods. I don't eat sugar (gave it up completely 9 years ago when I had my daughter), adore all veggies and eat them with abandon, and prefer home cooked meals.
I also think that over time, maybe very slowly, my numbers might come down a bit, because this would be the FIRST time in my life that I'm accepting myself at this weight and saying, "I'm OK now". Further, because there is no more binging (day 12, hooray!!!!) and my body hasn't ever experienced this kind of consistency, I have this feeling that over time my body will settle in, perhaps around 125, which would be great. But if not, I know I'm OK at this weight. I'm not fat at all. I may not be skinny, not as skinny as my fantasies, not as skinny as some of my friends or my mom or some of the amazing people here on SP who are my height, but I'm fit and pretty slender.
I think Iím finally ready to let goÖ
ďWhen you see through your negative story, what you have left is the truth. That is why the practice of letting go of a limiting story is extremely liberating and leads to great spaciousness and joy.Ē James Baraz