Monday, September 12, 2011

I’ve Been Doing It Wrong

I quit Weight Watchers this weekend.

I hate to admit that, but I have to be honest on my blog. I quit. When looking over my weight record from the past 2 months, I realized I had been paying $40 a month (ended up around $120 total) to gain weight. In the past two months, I’ve gained around 2 pounds. Is it terrible? No, not at all. But it is when you forked over $120 to lose weight.

My heart hasn’t been in it. I’ve been searching long and hard for reasons why. Am I just not cut out for weight loss? Do I just not have the motivation within me to do this? What is missing in me that is found in others who can lose weight?

On Saturday, it felt like a light bulb went off in my head. It’s not that I have no motivation or the right stuff to lose weight. It’s that I’ve been approaching my health in the wrong way. It’s been more about being skinny than being healthy and satisfied with who I am. For as long as I can remember, I have had body image issues. I have never liked the way I looked, even when I was younger and had a normal, healthy body. I didn’t start gaining weight until high school, but I have always felt awkward in my body. My body image issues have gotten worse as I’ve grown older. At 23, I want to believe I am done with worrying about how others perceive me and feeling as if I don’t measure up to others standards because I have 30 extra pounds sitting on my midsection, but I’m not. If anything, my body image issues are worse now than they were 10 years ago.

For the past few years that I’ve tried to lose weight, I’ve been approaching it more from the perspective of being skinny and feeling more comfortable in my body. And I think most people who have lost weight or are trying to lose it approach it, at least in the beginning, from that same perspective. We want to lose weight because we are unhappy with the way we look and feel. I don’t feel like I have ever crossed the line to more intrinsic rewards found in healthy eating and weight loss.

Ever since I joined Weight Watchers, I’ve been approaching the program from the wrong angle. I think it is the best weight-loss program there is and you can find success with it - as long as you do it right. If you don’t follow the plan, you’re not going to lose weight. Simple. As. That. But for me, Weight Watchers was about being “good” for 6 days of the week and then having one day of cheating. But why can’t being “good” be my normal?

The truth is that I need to take a step back and reevaluate. Weight Watchers isn’t working for me right now. (Because of me, not because there are flaws in the program.) I need to start learning to love my body for what it can do for me. I need to stop seeing my size as a detriment to my character. The size of my body has nothing to do with who I am as a person. I am a smart, funny, driven, pretty amazing individual. Being overweight does not take any of that away from me. Being skinny does not make me a better person. Change has to start on the inside.

Changing your entire lifestyle is hard. Heck, any change is hard. Changing how you approach food and health involves more than just what you put on your plate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s about how you deal with your happy moods and your sad moods. Holidays and special events. Those days when you feel like doing nothing but sitting on the couch but know getting your butt to the gym will make you feel 1,000 times better. It’s about throwing away the scale and deciding that your health is more important than your waistline.

I don’t have a firm plan in place on how I’m going about this. I do know that it doesn’t involve tying up my success in what the scale is telling me. Whether or not that means throwing out the scale (or at least my weekly weigh-ins) remains to be seen. Sometimes, it’s nice to have that as a way to track how I’m doing but it only gives a small piece of the puzzle yet I have a tendency to make it the biggest piece. I do know that I will still be tracking what I eat, but in a completely different way. And I also know I need to learn to appreciate the body I have now. I have to stop hating the way I look, just because it’s not as slim and trim as I want it to be. While I intend to work hard to change it, I also need to really work through my body image issues and discover how to love who I am because of who I am, not because of the size of my jeans. The truth is, if I don’t work on loving my body as it is right now, it’s probably not going to get much better once I have lost the weight. Change can happen on the outside, but it means nothing if change also does not occur on the inside.

So, yes, I’m overweight. It doesn’t make me any less capable, any less beautiful, any less remarkable. It just means my stomach curves out more than I would like it to.

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