This post might have been better had I written it last June, as I planned. But you know me – never on schedule when it comes to the blog! In a way, I’m glad, because I have so much more to say now than I would have had to say in June.
This challenge has been…well, challenging for me. Which was the point. Honestly, I made this challenge for myself and posted it here just in case anyone else wanted to join in. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve always had a challenging relationship with food and with my self-image, and in the past couple of years, I have felt that continuing to wish I’d lose weight or to continue to set goals for losing weight is ultimately destructive.* I feel those actions are usually destructive because they come from a place of judgment, of telling ourselves we are not good enough unless we weigh such-and-such a number. I heard myself talking about my weight all the time – and my friends, too. Don’t we have more important things to say and think about?
And so, I’ve been determined to remain focused on staying active and eating whole foods and accepting my body for what it is in any given moment.
I started out the year in a good place, physically speaking. I was energized, eating well, and inspired to do lots of yoga. I was so strong and my clothes fit well (which meant I was at a good weight for my body) and I felt good about the way I looked. And then March came.
We were having tons of snow storms, after a very mild winter, which prevented me from biking to work much. I was summoned to jury duty at the county courthouse, 20 miles away, where I was being considered as a potential juror for a three-week trial. I had a lot of job trainings to complete that month. I was experiencing some family issues. And, oh yeah, my friend gave me Amish Friendship Bread. Looking back now, I see that I did not take the time to sit down and connect with myself. I was sprinting from one obligation to another and grabbing a piece of Friendship Bread whenever I got hungry. (That’s the bread that never dies. If you are familiar with it, you know you get starter cultures and feel compelled to keep the cultures going…so you have to keep making more and more of the bread.)
I seriously cannot believe how much weight I gained in six weeks. I don’t know for sure because I refuse to weigh myself, but I could barely button up my pants by mid-April. I started changing what I wore and how I wore it to hide my burgeoning muffin top. And yoga? Out the window. I was so busy and by the time I got back to it, I felt like I had lost all the strength and muscle tone I had built up at the beginning of the year. By the time we ended the school year in June, I was wearing my fat pants and a sweatshirt, and hanging back in the shadows feeling extremely insecure.
I didn’t panic, though. I rarely do anymore because I KNOW I will lose the weight as long as I refocus on health. And again, I’m determined not to judge myself based on my weight. But the summer rolled on, and despite my better eating habits and bicycle commuting, I did not lose any inches, so far as I could tell.
However, by November, I had noticed that my stress eating had gotten really bad again. I started to focus really intensely on listening to my body as I was eating. My only goal was to stop feeling uncomfortably full after eating. That was a constant battle and a huge challenge for at least six weeks. But by the end of December, I finally felt that I had mastered it. I was reminding myself that treating myself with love meant not making my body so uncomfortable with too much food. At that point, I had not lost any of the weight I had gained, but I was much happier and calmer.
I think the monthly challenge that stuck with me the most was the last one: Who are you, really? I started asking myself this question back in November, when I realized how much I identify myself as someone who is chubby and who struggles with food. I have been that person in the past – for a very long time. But is that who I am? No. Who I am is so much bigger than that. What kind of possibilities await when we are not stuck in the past? It’s a big thought.
In any case, as February stretches on, I have lost that weight (at least according to the fit of my pants). Part of it has been a commitment to movement (not “working out”) and continuing to eat in a loving manner and part has been the simple fact that I’m so busy, I’m not home enough to hit the chocolates more than once a day! But I’m still committed to this process, busy or not, and in seeing what unfolds.
I would LOVE to hear about your own experiences with the challenge, and if you had any insights or light bulb moments! Leave your story here on email me!
*There are exceptions to this, of course, and I’m not against weight loss on principle. I just think we are hyper-focused on it, in general and that that is destructive to our spirits.