On Loving Yourself
This time last year, I was about 40 pounds heavier than I am now. I didn’t really think about the weight gain much at the time, I just bought larger clothes and went on with my life. I had been really stressed out, my life had been falling apart, and it just didn’t matter. Then, last August, I went to a friend’s wedding in New Jersey. We were within a stone’s throw of New York City and I’d never been so we went up a day early so we could spend some time in the city.
I learned that NYC is a glorious place. I loved the 12 hours I spent there seeing the sights and eating the pizza. Oh man, the pizza. We did the whole Empire State experience and went to Grand Central Station and saw the Chrysler building (one of my favorites) and had lunch at a cafe table in Bryant Park. But when I got home and looked at the pictures, I couldn’t really believe what I was seeing. I didn’t feel beautiful or even attractive. I was kind of appalled and decided then and there it was time to get up off my butt and do something, anything.
So I started reading blogs. Lots of blogs. Fitness blogs were my new crack. I bought a bicycle, which I am still afraid of falling off of, and nearly died the first time I had to come up the hill by my house. I started couch to 5k, which was really hard and I STILL haven’t mastered the art of running. (I was a pack a day smoker for 10 years, my lungs still don’t like me much.) I got shin splints, I pulled things, I hurt myself a lot. I made “friends” with Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper.
But most of all, I lived and died by the numbers; calories in, calories out, measurements, weight. I bought a heart rate monitor to better understand how my workouts were going. I was living on very little more than 1200 calories a day, I knew I couldn’t do any less, and it was working for me. I was regularly losing a pound or so a week. I really believed that Kate Moss was right, that nothing tasted as good as thin felt. I was working damn hard, and I was seeing results.
The problem was, I was obsessed with my scale. I had a goal people, and I was going to reach it come hell or high water. No matter what it took, I was going to be what I thought of as the perfect weight. And then, out of nowhere one day, I hit it. I saw that number I had been looking for on the scale and I rejoiced. I bought new, thin clothes. I had done what I set out to do, but was my life really any better for it? Was I happier now that I had reached my ideal?
The answer kind of shocked me, although really it shouldn’t have. I didn’t. Yes, I felt stronger and healthier now, but not because of some number. I realized this very recently, this week in fact. You see, even though I hit that number, when I started eating what would be a normal amount of food for a person who doesn’t sleep all day, I started gaining it back. In fact, I gained about five pounds of it back. But you know what, I don’t really mind.
What I’ve realized is that what I thought of as my “ideal weight” isn’t necessarily my “happy weight”. I realized that I like food, in all it’s forms, and that one donut isn’t going to kill me. Numbers are still important to me, I still basically keep track of what I’m eating on any given day, but if I go over by a few, it doesn’t matter that much. All my “thin clothes” still fit, even with my 5 extra pounds. I still feel like I look great, and I still feel strong.
What I learned from this was the things I knew intellectually really were true. I don’t need six pack abs to be happy. I don’t need to be a size zero or a size two. Hell, I don’t even need to be a single digit size. What I need is to love myself more. To allow myself to make mistakes. I’m not perfect, and I never claimed to be, but I no longer feel the need to hold myself to a standard that’s unattainable. Yeah, I have lumps and bumps. I have cellulite. Some days I feel creaky and old and crotchety. (Okay, if you know me, you know I feel crotchety most days.)
I don’t even manage to work out everyday anymore, but that’s okay too. I may have dropped several dress sizes (or the entire weight of my dog) but the most important thing I dropped is my self loathing. And I may have gained a few pounds, but I also gained perspective. Thanks to the journey I brought myself on, I learned to love my body, cellulite and all. And that feeling is way better than feeling thin.