It seems that the more hectic and painful your season of life, the more difficult maintaining healthy habits.
Here’s me, August 2014, a few weeks after moving across the country, recently ripped up from a community, job, and church I adored. When I got to Missouri, I was exhausted, deeply depressed, lonely, and confused about who I was, and what was home. I ate and drank my emotions. I cried. I was sedentary, if not making meager attempts at exercise. I was in a raw, horrible spot. I weighed 175ish lbs.
Ok, fast forward.
Tada!! This is me in January of 2016. I’ve now settled into my new home, found a job I love, a church where I feel at home, and I’ve also been working out 3-5 times a week for the past six months (I have no excuse, I work at a gym).
(Why yes, that is a cat in outer space, farting rainbows and shooting Earth with purple laser eyes. My leggings match the lasers, FTW!)
I’ve also done a cleanse, eaten cleaner, relapsed many times into eating my late night popcorn /wine/whatever treats are set in front of me, and bounced back. Its been a big potpourri of dietary habits, but all headed in the right direction.
Compare the pics. How much weight do you think I’ve lost?
Trick question. NONE. The scale sat at 175lbs the whole time! But to me, that isn’t relevant right now. I’m measuring how I feel, move, and exist. Muscle is now replacing fat. I can lift more than ever. I am strong and confident. I don’t slouch when I sit so my shirt hides my tummy fat (even though I do still have some).
This has been a slow and steady transformation.
I want to show you another transformation. This is me in 2011 (and note the amazing husband). I didn’t get my August of 2014 body overnight. I did it slowly, consistently choosing food that wasn’t great for me. Allowing stress to lead me to a glass of wine before bed instead of a workout to blow off some steam. Working too many jobs and too many hours. Soon enough, I had changed my body from a size 6 to a size 12. That ‘transformation’ was not possible overnight!
Neither is transforming my body to what it is becoming today, and a lot of it had nothing to do with going to the gym or eating.
I only saw progress after I got realistic about what self care looks like, and I started fixing the structural issues that were hurting me in my life. Quitting a job that was not healthy for me, as much as I loved what I did, and finding a new job that leads to a balanced schedule. Grieving a move that changed my life and took away everything that made me comfortable. Staying in counseling to work on my personal things. Making new friends. Finding a church I can call home. All of these changes support me making decisions that heal my body. They make it easy!
Ironically, the one thing that has stayed the same through all this change is the number on the scale, 175. I think that number looks better on me than ever. That’s why I call it a ‘fake weight loss’ journey.
So, if you’re like me, and have struggled for a while to stay consistent about healthy habits, maybe its time to think about self care. Try digging deeper beyond the symptoms, the physical things, and ask yourself some questions.
- Am I emotionally eating? If so, why? What drives me there? Why am I hurting? Is there a pattern?
- Am I turning to alcohol to relieve stress? Ok, how often, and what is stressing me out?
- Am I getting anywhere close to enough sleep? Why not?
- How much free time do I have, and how do I spend it? Why?
- Am I lonely? Depressed? Burned out?
- Is my job life-giving, and how much room do I have for myself when I am not working? Do I even realistically have time to go to the gym?
- Do I feel supported and alive with my relationships?
- How do I feel in my living space? Do I feel at home? Is it cluttered? What feelings or sensations does it bring me?
- Have I been through any major life-changes lately? How do I feel now compared to before?
- How do I feel spiritually?
These questions are just a starting point. But I believe that by addressing the structural and emotional foundations of our day to day life, and having the guts to change things that are cluttering and holding us up, we can create space to develop the habits we need without straining.
I wouldn’t look and feel how I do now had I not gone deeper and taken bold steps to change my life. Now I have energy and space to maintain the habits my body needs.
Has anyone else had a similar experience, or even found that their life structure or emotional burdens are what shoots their weight-loss efforts in the foot?
I want to hear your story.