When I started my weight loss journey six years ago, I topped the scales at 300 pounds. I spent the first 25 years of my life overweight, miserably bouncing from one fancy fad diet to the next in an attempt to drop the unwanted fat. All of them seemed to work for a few weeks, but then I gave up on the diet and myself.
But when I embarked on the last weight loss trip — the one that worked, and stuck — I started asking myself important questions. I can almost guarantee I would not have sustained my 125+ pound weight loss these last six years if I hadn't asked myself these five questions.
1. Could I love myself even if I were overweight?
Over the last six years, my weight has fluctuated. On any given day, I tend to weigh anywhere between 154-185 pounds. At 184 pounds, I'm classified as overweight even if I exercise regularly, eat healthfully and feel great physically.
Being someone who was morbidly obese for many years of my life, I was naturally left with some saggy, loose skin after I lost a lot of fat. The extra skin often keeps me in the overweight category on BMI charts. But "overweight" is just a term, it doesn’t define who I am. So, even though I lost well over 100 pounds, I go through seasons when I dip into the “overweight” category and I’m OK with that because I still feel healthy and take care of myself.
2. Am I a bad person if I eat unhealthy foods?
While the majority of the foods I eat these days are truly nourishing, that isn’t always the case. Because unhealthy foods get demonized as "bad," many of us feel like we're bad people if we do something that goes against society's values. We identify too much with our food and habits. Just because I choose to eat cake every once in awhile or something full of chemicals doesn’t mean I'm a bad person.
A simple saying like, “You are what you eat” reinforces this rotten idea for many people. Feeling like an immoral person because I decided to eat nachos for dinner only led me to feel ashamed of myself and guilty. These emotions always lead a person down a dark road of self-hate and undeserving punishment.
3. Why do I honestly want to stay this smaller size?
While it’s nice to fit into smaller clothing, that’s not my primary reason for sustaining my weight loss. I want to stay my healthier self because I appreciate not having all of the painful, physical ailments that came with being obese: acid reflux, water retention on both of my kneecaps, rashes between my legs and fat rolls, heavy menstrual cycles, and so much more.
I also enjoy being physically active. I like to be able to ride my bicycle, run races and doing something as simple as yard work without feeling like I’m going to die from exhaustion.
4. What makes me happy about being healthy?
The biggest reason I'm happy about being healthier is that I can physically do things I never thought I'd be able to do! I’ve run marathons, climbed a mountain, went skydiving, rafted, etc. Now, when someone asks me if I want to participate in a physical activity, I don’t have to say no because of my size or lack of endurance.
Health isn’t just a physical thing; it’s mental and emotional as well. After I had started working on my physical health, I recognized that my mental and emotional health needed a tune-up also. Self-growth in all areas was (and still is) a difficult and often painful experience to endure. But nothing is as painful as living with an extra 100+ pounds strapped to my body every day of your life.
Self-growth and discovery makes me happy because I am learning more about myself, and how my thoughts and interactions in life shape my life's path and the relationships with others.
5. What kind of life would I want my future children to have?
I'd like my children to follow the good example I lay out for them. Do I want them to be full of shame and self-doubt because they witness their mother constantly seeking comfort in food, spending hours on a treadmill “burning off” a binge or speaking negatively about having junk in the trunk? No.
I want my influence to be healthy — physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I want them to know that their mom makes mistakes, but she doesn’t beat herself up over them. I want to teach them how to sit with and acknowledge their emotions instead of judging them, avoiding them or numbing them with distracting activities like eating, shopping, or drinking. That's the healthy life I want for them and myself.
Do you question your health journey and how it will affect you for life? Are you attempting to lose weight but can’t seem to make it last? Please leave us a comment and share your thoughts!