A long, painful realization...
Friday, December 19, 2014
Losing weight is easy. You eat healthy, exercise, and you lose weight. Right?
It's easy, but it's not simple. Sometimes you think you're eating healthy, but you're consuming far more calories than you realize. Or you make those bad choices a little more often than you realize (or want to admit). And maybe you exercise here and there, but it's not even enough to combat the hours spent sitting at your desk job, let alone burn the extra calories to lose weight. You tend to be lazy, you make excuses, and if you're honest, you really aren't trying. That is my problem in a nutshell.
And I like to convince myself that all those little nothings add up. I've read articles that tell you to park far away from the store, take the stairs instead of the elevator, clean more vigorously... all these things are supposed to add up. I'm sure they don't hurt, but who's ever lost any real weight doing this? It's a joke. It tricks you into believing that you can keep doing what you're doing and magically lose weight. And just because you exercise, that doesn't mean you can eat whatever you want.
I'm sorry to tell you, after years of personal experience, you actually have to WORK for it. That fast food meal you grab "just this once", or that dessert that you "deserve" after a stressful day, or that bag of salty snacks that you can't stay out of, or "letting loose" on the weekends... THAT is what adds up, and it adds up much faster than your few extra steps, or vigorous vacuuming. Heck, you could exercise for an hour every day, but a couple bad food choices and a desk job can still leave you gaining (or at best, not losing any) weight.
I know, I know... we're supposed to be encouraging and supportive, but sometimes I think we're hurting ourselves. I logged 10 minutes on the treadmill the other morning, and while it was nice that people commented and "liked" it, I felt like they should have been saying "that's good, but what else are you going to do?". 10 minutes at 3mph burned 45 calories. Sure, that's good. It's better than nothing. But it isn't going to get me where I want to be.
I was supposed to work out daily, track my food (and stay in my calorie range), and drink at least 6 cups of water every day, just from Dec 1st until Christmas. And while I did ok sometimes, or hit 1 or 2 goals, as a whole I really failed miserably. Why? The short answer is that I didn't really try.
But I really want to lose weight... don't I? I sure don't act like it. Why aren't I giving it my best effort? I was thinking the other day that if someone offered me $100 for every pound I lost, I'd try a lot harder. And if someone offered me a million dollars if I reached my goal weight, I'm sure my main focus in life would be eating healthy and working out every chance I got. So what does that say about my true motivation? WHY do I want to lose weight, and what's stopping me?
I thought it was to feel better about myself. I struggle a lot with finding something to wear that I feel cute and confident in. On a good day, I feel pretty good about myself, unless I happen to run into some cute, skinny thing (and I feel huge in comparison), or see myself in a photo (I always look twice as big in photos!). On a bad day, I look in the mirror and see my 40 pound overweight self for the size I truly am. On a really bad day, I look in the mirror and see my 300 pound overweight alter-ego named Bertha, who I believe shouldn't be seen in public. Is that a little crazy? Yes. But somehow that still hasn't been enough for me to really try.
I also thought it was for my health. I found myself turning 30, and staring down the inevitable aging process, along with a strong family history or diabetes, high cholesterol, and cancer. Surely such serious health issues that are all more likely with someone overweight would get me motivated to change! But even though I've had high cholesterol since my early 20's (thanks mom!), and I've watched my father and grandfather battle with diabetes, and my own mother is a 2 time breast cancer survivor (and I'm already having annual mammograms)... the health issues amazingly haven't scared me into me doing what I should be doing. I'm also waiting to have kids for 2-3 more years, putting me into my early 30's... don't I want to give myself and my future baby the healthiest body I can? I guess not, because that's still not enough.
And I even thought it was for my husband. When we met, I was just coming into my own, having been overweight since the 6th grade. I was incredibly shy, awkward, and let's be honest, a bit of a dork. The summer before my junior year of high school I started transforming. I slimmed down, changed my mousy brown hair to platinum blonde, and found just a bit of confidence. I was a cute size 6/7, and at age 17 I met the man who I was meant to be with. And at that time, I was a catch. I was beautiful, slim... some even said I was "hot". I remember doing everything I could do be "perfect" to get him to notice me. Now we're older, married, and while I'm not completely "gone", I have let myself go. I see myself as average. I'm not sure how, but that man still loves me, extra weight and all, and still looks at me with love and happiness and pride. And sometimes when I'm trying to get dressed and I see myself in the mirror in my undies, I can't believe that body belongs to me. I catch myself thinking about how gross my body looks. And I've cried because I'm convinced that one of these days my wonderful husband will see what I see, and not find me attractive anymore. And yet... I haven't lost the weight.
The worst part is, last year (or was it 2 years ago now?), I lost the most weight I had in years, and it was ALL by controlling my eating. I was feeling good about myself, I had dropped a pant size or two, and I was thinking that yes, I CAN do this! And I'm really not sure what happened, but I suddenly found myself right back where I started. I can't tell you why or when or how. And that kind of scares me. I think part of my problem is I'm afraid to fail before I've even started. I'm also exhausted by the thought that this seems like it will be a life long struggle. The last time I was happy with my weight was 10+ years ago. If I haven't figured out how to lose the weight and keep it off by now, what makes me think I'll get back to my goal weight and be able to stay there? Part of me is even afraid of the attention. Can you believe that? I hate being the center of attention, and I think losing weight will have people noticing me and commenting.
I actually had someone at work ask me last week if I had lost weight. I laughed and said "I wish!" and thanked them for saying that... but all I could think was "Oh my god... that means I obviously have weight to lose! People think I'm fat!" Sometimes my brain convinces me that I don't look that much bigger (I "carry my weight well" I've been told) and I think maybe no one noticed I gained weight, or maybe that no one notices me at all. But obviously, they do. Which is why I try to avoid family functions and parties and photos. I feel like a failure all over again when I haven't lost any weight the next time we get together.
I really think that maybe I need to change my mindset. Maybe I shouldn't try to find a reason why I "should" lose weight. Maybe I shouldn't wait for that magic motivation to kick in. Maybe I need to just do it. Eating healthy and exercising needs to be something I just do, just like going to work, brushing my teeth, and paying my bills. I do so many other things without question, without excuses, because that's the mature, responsible thing to do. I need to cut out the choice, because right now I allow myself to decide if I feel like eating healthy or exercising. And much more often than not, I let myself off the hook. Can you imagine if I just decided I didn't want to work anymore? If I didn't want to shower and brush my teeth? If I stopped paying my bills? I'd be broke, dirty, and homeless. My choice to not eat healthy and exercise has left me overweight, lacking self-confidence, and at a higher risk for cancer and heath issues. That doesn't sound very mature and responsible to me.
So, I'm starting today. Right now. This isn't an option anymore. This is just what I do. I eat healthy. I make smart food choices. I drink water. I work out every day. Period.