It will never become the focus of what I write about, as so many others do it much more eloquently, but the issues surrounding my weight limited the amount of joy I felt for most of my adult life. I’m not arguing that a normal weight is necessary to fully experience self-love and contentment, but being significantly overweight clouded and distorted my perception of myself and my surroundings. For me, it’s not the weight that I’ve lost that has made the difference, but the celebration of my self-efficacy that has made the biggest adjustment in how I now see myself and why I am able to more fully appreciate the treasures around me.
I had a difficult and unstable childhood, raised by people who enjoyed upheaval and lots of drama. Many times food was scarce. I went from a skinny little kid to a chunky tween to someone who graduated high school already wearing plus-sized clothing. I associated eating with personal security, stress relief, and other emotions. When I was a child nutritious foods were not usually offered and healthy eating behaviors weren’t modeled. As an adult making my own decisions, I continued to adhere to those well entrenched habits, even as I acknowledged that they didn’t best serve me.
I dieted off and on for many years, sometimes finding limited short term success, but more often failing to get through even a few days of whatever plan I tried. It often seemed futile to even make another attempt, but I knew that those who had found success often cited how they had tried everything repeatedly before finally finding what worked for them. I kept trying.
About two and a half years ago, I started a new job. During orientation, reps from the wellness program came in to do a presentation. I distinctly remember tuning out, thinking that I was way too unhealthy and overweight to participate. However, I discovered a few months later that they offered Amazon gift cards as one of the incentives to adopt healthier behaviors. That was a rabbit I was willing to chase.
I started by walking. If I got a minimum number of steps everyday I earned a few cents for shopping everyday. I did classes. I went to the gym. I joined Weight Watchers. I built my Amazon wish list and cashed in.
Between June 2016 and April 2017, I lost 85 pounds. My lab work improved tremendously. I could shop in the section of the store that housed regular sizes. I even got enough points for the health insurance discount. I was on top of the world, ready for the first time in my life to finally get down to a normal weight, but then I hit a plateau.
Plateaus are part of weight loss. I really wasn’t worried, at first. I had all kinds of tools I felt would work to shake things up for me. However, no matter what I did I couldn’t lose anymore. I did all iterations of the Weight Watchers point systems through various apps, counted calories, ate more protein, drank more water, started strength training, walked more, took maintenance breaks, gave up the Sunday splurge meal and dessert that I had enjoyed during my entire loss- nothing has worked. The scale has not moved, not for the 10 months I diligently worked at it or since. It is easy to fall into feelings of frustration and despair, but at 50, I know my hormones are not necessarily helping this process. I’m not giving up.
I have been tempted to do low carb eating plans, packaged fixes, and even to start running. However, I know that for me, none of these are sustainable. I refuse to start anything I can’t do forever.
Right now, my focus is maintaining where I am. I know, according to weight charts, I have more to lose, but I am really trying to be content where I am. I am focusing on strength training, walking, building healthier eating habits, and staying off the scale. I know this struggle will be with me for the rest of my life, but better health and a stronger body are crucial to enjoying this phase of my life. I feel I’ve missed so much already.