The size of my body was a daily burden to me.
Some days, it was the frustration of not being able to find clothes in my size at department stores. It was an epic excursion just to find a simple white button down blouse and black slacks to wear to work as part of the required uniform.
Other days, it was the physical exhaustion and pain of doing manual labor at my workplace and carrying around an extra 150 pounds all day (every day) while my average-sized co-workers assumed I was lazy for taking more breaks than them.
And on especially low days, it was the feeling that the only kind of man who'd ever be interested in me was a freak or total loser. Who could be attracted to and fall in love with a woman who couldn't even see her own vagina without a handheld mirror? I accepted that any flirtation that happened with the opposite sex would never end with a real relationship.
These were just a few of many reasons I sought comfort in food and alcohol and suffered from mild depression since the age of 10. It was the judgment from others, how much harder life felt for me because of my size, and the fear that I would grow old alone.
At that time in my life, it was impossible to hear messages that claimed I just needed to love my body more, be nicer to myself, and trust the process. I was in such a low place of despair most days that it only made sense to either accept my body size as a life sentence or bully myself into trying fad diets and damn near starving myself in the process.
When I started my last weight loss journey seven years ago (weighing 300 pounds), I wish someone I trusted and respected had told me these three little-known truths that would have saved me a lot of heartache and frustration:
Everyone thinks they have it the hardest.
All of us have something that holds us back and makes life harder. For me, it felt like I was destined to be morbidly obese for the rest of my life because my entire family was. I wasn't a genetic rock star. I also felt like I couldn't get healthier because I was living paycheck to paycheck and couldn't afford a gym membership or healthier foods.
Some folks have family responsibilities that take up a lot of time and energy, the stress of studying for school exams, hormonal issues with the thyroid or PCOS, or other genuine physical limitations and disabilities. We all have something that makes reaching our goals more difficult. It's easy to forget that when you're in the trenches of trying to improve your life.
When you're ready to start making big changes, barriers will come up left and right. Sometimes, they will seem like the truth and sometimes they'll just sound silly. It's a test. You have the choice to allow those obstacles to continue to hold you back, or you will find creative solutions around them.
The best thing you can do is be truthful with the excuses you make for yourself right now, instead of thinking about what your ideal self can do. I know my ideal self would be able to workout in front of her television to a fitness DVD, prepare all of her meals fresh each day, and have a never-ending supply of energy. My real self needs to join a gym for variety and accountability. She also needs to prepare some of her meals ahead of time or rely on a few pre-made meals from the freezer section of the grocery store. She's also going to be tired at the end of the day, so she needs to recognize that her willpower will be depleted and will need to set up a plan to avoid making poor decisions after 5 p.m.
Some days, just showing up is good enough.
Fast sells. Complicated sells. A good majority of people have an all-or-nothing mindset--that's why quick results are favorable and complex techniques are viewed as superior to what's simple. It's all about the marketing. It will also leave you feeling worthless when change doesn't happen overnight, and you can't keep up with the complex routine you're supposed to follow.
Despite popular belief, you don't have to plan out every little thing about your weight loss journey. It never goes according to your plans anyway. Unexpected events will come up, and you'll need the flexibility to handle them. It's okay to fail and even momentarily give up. The very best thing you can do for yourself is to get back up and show up again and again. You don't have to give 110% at what you do. You don't have to go hard or go home. The truly successful person knows this.
Perseverance can sometimes be painful, especially if you don't see any noticeable rewards. It really is a lifestyle change. You have to be willing to be in it for the long-haul. Some days will be amazing. Some days will suck. The more you learn to enjoy what you're doing, the easier it is to tolerate the crappy days and the lack of visible results.
By the way, this also applies to starting a business, becoming a new mother, going back to school, etc. Keeping it simple and sticking with it is the best advice for any challenging endeavor.
It's OK to try.
I never wanted anyone to know I was trying. Trying to lose weight, trying to diet, or trying to exercise. To me, trying meant that I acknowledged I needed to change, and I needed help. And needing help was a sign of weakness. Just the thought of awkwardly pushing my big sweaty body through workouts in front of others made me squeamish and I dwelt on, "What will they think of me?" So, I foolishly delayed getting that gym membership for years.
When I finally took the terrifying plunge of joining a gym, I realized very quickly that no one seemed to care what I was doing. No one rolled their eyes at me. No one commented that I was sweating too much. No one said I should be lifting weights instead of walking on the treadmill. No one stared at my naked body in the locker room as I changed. No one said a damn thing. Everyone was focused on their own workouts and their own bodies.
Eventually, you'll no longer see trying as a vulnerability. You will realize that it's important for you to continue showing up and allowing people to see you're trying. It helps others understand they're not alone, and it's okay for them to try, too.
Are you working on a weight loss journey and need to hear some words of encouragement? Leave a comment and let us know what you need to hear!
Photo credit: Naomi Teeter