Kelly's session was about Life After Goal and I told her later that attending that session was worth the conference ticket alone and I still stand by that because I got so much out of it. Kelly, Sarah, and our fearless FitBloggin leader Roni have all lost a significant amount of weight and maintained that weight loss (for Sarah and Roni it's been about a decade each), which is just so impressive to me, and all three were a big part in leading our small group discussion.
It was during the session that Roni said something that really struck a chord with me, enough that I am still thinking about it, which was how important it is to accept the body that is a result of your lifestyle.
Many of you know my weight loss story, and I sum it up on my About Page (with pictures!), but the quick and dirty version is that I started at 311 pounds, got down to my goal weight of 175, and then, well, life happened. As much as I thought I had it all figured out, I hadn't really solved the mental part of weight loss so when personal and professional stresses all seemed to hit at the same time and old demons came to call, I started to put the weight back on and am now about 60 pounds heavier, maintaining at around 235 for the past few months.
I haven't talked about weight loss on the blog in awhile because, well, first it was out of embarrassment that I had 1) gained it back and 2) haven't been losing it, but more recently it's because the weight loss and my weight hasn't really been a priority. All the other things in my life have taken precedence, like the fact that I finished my second half marathon and will soon become a certified spinning instructor. Right now, those things are far more important than the number on the scale and when I look at pictures of myself compared to when I weighed this weight two years ago I can tell my body looks different because of those activities. I'm currently wearing a pair of size 14 pants that I bought back in November that probably shouldn't fit but they do because of that change in my body shape thanks to muscles gained and inches lost.
Yup. I weigh almost ten pounds more in the picture on the right but just look at the difference in my waist and abs.
Now, when I said my weight hasn't been a priority it's not like I'm going out and eating all the things. Notice I said I've been maintaining this higher weight. Which is where things interesting, because while I know how to get back down to 175 and I know I can get back down to 175, the real question is do I really want to?
We become so consumed with the number on the scale and when you've seen that much smaller number it's hard to let it go. Especially when you blog about it and put yourself out there to readers. Then there is the whole being an inspiration and hearing compliments from people regarding your weight loss, but as Roni, Sarah, and Kelly all pointed out, nobody really compliments you on maintaining that weight loss and, let's face it, maintaining weight is far more difficult than losing.
It took a long, long time for me to finally forgive myself for gaining the weight back and to stop justifying this higher weight to other people. To stop apologizing and to allow myself to just be. Because that mental part has clicked, finally, in a way it never did when I was smaller.
But still that number hangs over me and so in the past year or so I've tried to lose weight and get back down to something smaller, for no other reason than thinking that I should, but that fucks with my head in a bad, bad way.
It's like part of my brain is rebelling because it knows I'm in a good place right now but the other part of my brain continues to think I need to lose weight so these two parts of the brain are constantly fighting and it shows up on the scale. It has caused me to spend part of the past year being a yo-yo dieter, which is actually worse than just maintaining this higher weight for the past few months. So maybe I need to start listening to that first part of the brain and realize it's trying to help by self-correcting behavior it knows is not good for me in the long run.
Part of my reason for going back to eating meat was because I trusted myself enough to not fall back on those old bad eating habits and several weeks in I continue to feel confident that I won't feel the pull to go through the drive through five times a week. There were plenty of opportunities over the weekend where I was put in a position where a choice had to be made and I'm proud of the fact that I continued to make good choices, despite the temptations in front of me and, more than that, I made those good choices without really thinking about it. Which is always so interesting to me: when I don't really think about it I tend to do a lot better than when I actively try, if that makes any sense. Like, intuitive eating comes naturally to me when I don't think "Okay. Now I'm going to eat intuitively" and actually, y'know, just eat intuitively.
It takes so much mental energy to lose weight and do I really want to do all of that again or would I rather use that head space for other things, like the running and the spinning and being happy and enjoying all that life has to offer. Which brings me back to Roni's quote at the beginning.
Okay, so maybe my current lifestyle choices keeps me at this higher weight. If the mind body thing is figured out and I can continue to stay at this weight, despite being 60 lbs heavier than I once was, just take one more look at that comparison photo again and tell me if that is that really such a terrible thing?
Love from the ashes,