This is the first year (I can remember) that I didn’t set a resolution to lose weight.
I didn’t really think anything of it, but then again, I was sick as I rolled into the New Year and the first week of January I hit the ground running with meetings, lunches and phone calls everyday.
The second week into this year I read Gluten Free Girl’s honest and inspiring post about weight loss, acceptance of yourself and how January is rocked with foodie guilt and lack of exercise from the holidays. She lovingly asked:
What if January were the month we all owned the fact that we ate cookies and cinnamon rolls and rich dishes and too much food at parties because we stood at the table nibbling while talking to friends, even though every health magazine told us not to do that? What if January were the month we walked into a room not pulling at our shirts to cover the extra three pounds we gained in December and threw out our arms wide instead, and shouted, “Hey everyone! I’m here. So happy to see you!”
What if January were the time to say, “Wow. I survived another year. And I’m alive. Hell yeah!”
What if January were a fresh start, a chance to quiet the guilt and nastiness to ourselves, and in the silence we had the chance listen to our bodies and hear that they just want more vegetables, please?
And it hit me. Something is different. I didn’t set a resolution to lose weight this year and what a beautiful reminder this is.
I’ve never spoken of it before, but most of my adolescence, I have been unhappily unsatisfied with my body.
Like many other wonderful women I know, I’ve tried every diet and repeatedly restricted myself enjoyment. I was never able to share clothes with my girlfriends, my body was so curvy. I gained 15 pounds in college (oh yeah, Freshman 15) and never lost it. I have self-loathed until there was no more loathing left to do.
I’ve wished I looked different or even wondered what it might be like to look like my beautiful, thin blonde girlfriends. I always fall into the “overweight” category according to Body Mass Index (BMI) standards with my athletic build but short height. I weighed more than my friends who were 5’9″ who have almost 9 inches on me.
I know I’m not an anomaly.
I’m not trying to trump your weight story, your dieting or body image – I am simply relaying the way I have felt for most of my life.
In a study by BBC, they state that 80% of their respondents (all women) “thought about their body size or shape everyday and 1/3 were always on a diet.” In addition, 70% felt “depressed about their shape and size.”
All this wishing, wanting and trying was always a roller coaster and I know that no one but myself truly chose to feel this way. I have been incredibly supported by friends, family and even boyfriends over the years. I was in sports for as long as I can remember and really active. But still…I can recall being younger and being called “chubby,” but I know besides a few mean jabs I was supported collectively and that this insecurity came from within and societal standards I let get to me.
So, 2011 rolled around and I’ve recognized that I am healthy. Nothing has really “changed” in terms of my weight. I will always look like me, but my health is a priority. I am active, I eat right (most of the time!) and a sense of acceptance crept in.
Acceptance let me exhale. And I exhaled a long deep breath, “wooooooh,” as if I haven’t exhaled in years…
Healthier feels better, but the number on the scale isn’t how I measure my greatness. I don’t even own a scale (this isn’t toward avoidance either, I don’t need it). I know when I’m healthy.
Instead of trying to be thinner, a quest that I hadn’t managed to emerge from victorious, I was going to focus on getting STRONGER.
I have made a commitment where 3-5 times a week I’m active. I have a yoga studio membership, gym membership, season pass to the mountains, I walk to work each day and I have mountains at my fingertips for warm weather hiking. This will never change. When you’re aligned with health, you feel better everywhere even if it does take commitment.
Acceptance Over the Holidays and No Judgment (January):
This holiday, I didn’t work out for two weeks. I traveled (causes stress, more eating) flew home to the Midwest, drove to the East coast and then flew back to Colorado. I ate cookies, a lot. I drank with my closest friends I see once a year when we’re all home. I sat on the couch all afternoon with my mother and best friends, doing nothing, because I wanted to. And every holiday event I was at involved rich foods and lots of drinks.
But in ingesting all that, somewhere along the lines, I started to quit the guilt and nastiness I project to myself. Not worth it. Life is filled with change, just pivot and realign. Pivot and realign.
If anything, use that fuel to vow to be active. To eat more vegetables. To laugh a little more (hello, belly laugh calories burned). To love deeper. To smile one extra time today. To take a walk around your block if that’s all you can muster. To give yourself the biggest hug, because you’re not alone and we could all use a little more self-love. To look at yourself in the mirror and love you.
Love just that.
We all have our demons.
Maybe this year, you do want to lose X amount of pounds. That’s great. Go for it. There are reasons to lose weight and there are health risks to extra weight. But, you are beautiful. You are. Losing weight is healthy, but doesn’t mean it will “fix” everything. Maybe you can also remember that you are truly not alone. That the girl next to you ordering her coffee or behind you in line at the bank has probably felt pain, lacked acceptance and struggled.
We could all use a little less judgment. Why not start now?
Thank you for Shauna’s beautiful, eloquently written post for inspiring this post and reminding me of my past, my present and my future self.