There we were, buying plane tickets for our dream trip to Australia, and the only thing standing between us and booking our flights was recording our weight for the the airline’s records. After going for more than a year without stepping on a scale, I put on my brave face, and stepped up. I had been feeling a little on the heavy side of my comfort zone for a few weeks and had begun cutting back and making wiser choices. Whatever that number read, I would be fine. I was feeling happy and in control of my health.
I held my breath, stepped up, and saw those red numbers glaring at me. I blinked and looked again. This couldn’t be right. I hadn’t seen numbers that high since I was in the last term of pregnancy. I stepped away from the scale. Each of the kids took their turns, each excited to proclaim to the whole island what their weight was. While I, still processing, couldn’t get out of there fast enough. I was confused and embarrassed.
Over the next 24 hours, my mind spiraled downward. My thoughts went from, “The scale must be faulty” to “How did I let this happen?” to “I’m a lazy, fat cow.”
It took me a couple days to tell Nate about the experience, not because I feared what he would think or say, but because I couldn’t bring myself to talk about it.
As I said in the previous post, all my life, I had made health and fitness a priority. As a kid, my family called me “Skinny Binny”. I participated in Track, Basketball, and Cross Country all through high school. At 20, I became a fitness instructor, which led to fitness literally being who I was and what I did. With my three pregnancies, I’d gained weight, but I was always able to get the weight off within a reasonable time (though, not completely without frustrations and insecurities along the way).
So, I told Nate about what had happened and presented my plan of attack. It included my exercise plan and eating plan, complete with the many evil foods that were to be off-limits. Even without my scale, I knew I could safely and consistently lose 2-3 lbs per week, which, given how much weight I thought I should lose, it would take me (this many) weeks. I could be back in fighting shape by the time we left for Australia.
I was feeling slightly better because I had a plan, but still super crappy. I hated feeling that way- fat and gross! The downward spiral continued as I thought about all the things I could or couldn’t do. Feeling down and discouraged, led me to crave the emotional snacking that I knew would only sabotage my progress. Even without giving into the cravings, I felt guilty for wanting to give in and then felt crappier still, for feeling guilty.
I knew I needed to get out of my own head.
I decided to stop dwelling on the negative, I needed to look for the positive instead. I found a picture of myself that had been taken months earlier, that I hadn’t been able to see far enough past my flaws to be able share it. Swallowing my pride, I posted it to Instagram and Facebook, for the whole world to see. I shared some of my feelings of insecurity and almost pointed out my flaws, but decided, instead, to highlight my strengths.
As you might assume, I received so many encouraging comments from girl-friends around the world. After all, that’s what us girls do best, right? Compliment each other. If only we could be as generous to ourselves. But one sweet friend expressed feelings of surprise, saying that I had always been so “beautiful and fit”, she’d had no idea I ever struggled with such feelings.
This, in turn, surprised me. It made me pause. During this pause, I had something of an epiphany.
Fast forward a week and I was out for a girls’ night. Someone suggested we share our highs and lows- what was making us feel lifted up and what had been bringing us down. As I listened, many of the lows had to do with feeling out of shape and needing to be better. (epiphany continues) When it was my turn, with ice cream in hand, I shared my experience at the airline as my low and continued with my high being what that experience had led to.
I realized that I had been going about this all the wrong way. I didn’t need to change my habits to lose weight, I needed to change my habits to find health and happiness in a balanced and sustainable way. It’s one thing to put a smile on your face, while your secretly starving, and say everything’s okay. It’s another to feel comfortable enough with yourself to allow others into your journey and be ready to help with theirs.
The third and final part (coming soon) will be the changes I’m making in my life and the changes in my mindset.