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Not A Race

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Recently, I made an interesting discovery. I realised that I had always made my health journey time-bound. It was as if I had some sort of deadline…or had to get healthy by a certain date. I wanted to project my results, and stick with something for a year or so, even while saying I wanted to keep those changes for life. All that did was make it easier for me to view myself as a failure.

Like, thinking about it, I was never ashamed of being fat, but I had become ashamed of still being fat, because I had embarked on a health journey, and had clearly abandoned it. I’ve fallen off the wagon so many times, and I think I’m sticking with it this time–but only because of the lessons I learned each time I failed. This is not a race. I don’t have to lose 2 pounds every week; I won’t always make it to the gym four times a week; every meal won’t be clean…and so what? Isn’t that life? Highs and lows? Good days and bad days? On days and off days?

Now, I no longer beat myself up when I begin to slack off. If I’m too tired for the gym, I know I’ll push harder the next day. If I eat unhealthy food, I know I will get back to my routine, because working out and eating real food is now a part of me. Since this is part of my life, I don’t need to watch numbers or feel like a failure. I can see where I need to improve, and make choices that are better for my health. More than anything, I can keep going, and that is the only way I will achieve my goals.

Every day won’t be a good day. Give yourself room to fail, because that’s how you learn. No matter what, never give up. You are doing this. You can do this!

P.S. I really think God is helping me to be more consistent on this journey. My overall lack of discipline has been a concern for a while. I’ve been praying about it…and I’m finally beginning to live it out. Slow progress is still progress. 😀

Blessings!

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Late Confession…and Some Lessons

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10/01/16 (From my food journal)

“Confession: I just ate over 1000 calories in potato chips. That’s about 5 servings. If I hadn’t bought it, I wouldn’t have eaten it. I thought I had leeway, could do one serving at a time…one day at a time. That worked for a day. I knew better. I bought it. I kept it in my room. Clearly, I had planned to eat it…them…no matter what lies I told myself.

No one can be kind to me on my behalf. I have to choose to be kind to myself. I know I’m too weak to not eat it, so I should not buy it. I will not spend money on anything that won’t benefit my health. This is my promise to myself. I hope I can keep it.

I would have to do amost 2 hours of cardio to burn 1000 calories…yet I ate that many in nearly 20 minutes.

I saw it coming, and didn’t stop myself.”

The next day (Monday), I did basically the same thing, but I think it set off something in me. With very little time until I had to return to work, I went to the gym, and I went 6 times that week. It had a terrible start, but it opened my eyes. Lessons:

  1. One day doesn’t have the power to ruin your week, or your life. It is what you do consistently that counts. Likewise, one day of healthy eating won’t fix your health.
  2. Progress always leaves room for learning and failure.
  3. I need to be kind to myself, not just by making good choices, but by showing myself compassion when I make poor ones.

 

Yes, you won’t be perfect, but you can make it on this health journey, one choice at a time. I’m rooting for us.

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Quick Update

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Yes, I am still alive. I’ve penned several posts in my mind, but never got around to typing any. So, what’s new?

  1. I changed gyms about a month ago. A couple friends from work signed up, and they bugged me to do the same. It was easily one of the best moves I’ve made. I don’t have to motivate myself to go, since they’ll drag me. Yes, it’s not ideal, but it’s working. My goal is to go 4 times a week. Other than the holiday break, I’ve either accomplished that or come really close.
  2. I’ve realised it doesn’t make sense to give up. I have failed on this road…so many times. Still, I couldn’t fully throw in the towel. Now that I am finally finding my rhythm, I am grateful I decided to try yet another time.
  3. I have these strange urges to eat things that held no appeal before, even when I’m not hungry. It is as if deciding to be more careful about what I eat has given life to a desire to do just the opposite. I have good days and bad days, but I am going to make it. 🙂

There is more to say, but I just wanted to pop in and encourage whoever is reading this. You may not think it is working, but do what you can. Perfection isn’t possible, and progress comes with not calling it a day. You can do it. Give yourself as many chances as you need.

Courage

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Preparing For Failure

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Sometimes, I wonder if all I’m doing on this journey is setting myself up to fail. I’ve taken on something I don’t want to do, but I need to do it. I know that, but it doesn’t make me any more likely to actually do it. I’ve developed negative habits since starting this journey, specifically as it relates to food. It is as if I am driven to sabotage myself. As if failing at this is trapping me in a cycle of destructive behaviour, one that guarantees I will keep failing.

I think my approach is wrong. Even though I say this isn’t about weight loss, it’s a sure way of telling if I am making the right choices. When I make poor food choices and skip the gym, and then the scale reflects that, I get down on myself. I decide I can’t be bothered, and then I eat. I mean, I’m even eating junk food again. I didn’t even like junk food before this journey! I have given myself something to fail at, instead of something to work towards.

If my goals are to eat clean and exercise, when I don’t do that, I process it as failure. That always fuels my self-destructive tendencies. If my goal is to become healthier and fitter, then even when I make poor choices, I can still keep working towards it. Health isn’t a number, and fitness isn’t a size. If I want to improve my health, and I see my stomach taking on a life of its own, I don’t have to start beating myself up. I can start being more deliberate about what I eat, I can take more walks…I can stop donating my money to the gym, and actually get up off my butt and go.

It’s such a subtle difference, but one I need. From now on, I will give myself something to work towards, not something to fail at.

 

Weigh-In No. 4

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272.5 (25/05/15)
Previous weight: 274

Numbers aside, I’m starting to see a difference in the size of my stomcach. I doubt it’s obvious to others around me, but it’s progress. I’m also trying to go to the gym more often, but I haven’t really been committed. Classes are great and all, and they’re good enough for now, but I haven’t been to the gym for a workout of my own in ages. I can also see where some of my old eating habits are creeping back in. I might write about that soon.

This is very much a journey, and making backward steps can be frustrating, but I have to keep going. I know this works, so it doesn’t make sense to give up. I didn’t even want to do this, but the small changes are becoming a part of me. I’m no longer fighting myself to go to the gym. It’s not aways compatible with my schedule, but it’s almost automatic now.

I could have made it to the gym four times last week, but I went shopping instead. There was a really good sale, and I wanted to get some stuff for my family. Three out of four wasn’t too bad, though. 🙂 I’ll keep that challenege until I complete it.

This week hasn’t been going great so far, and I need to cook, but I honestly can’t be bothered. We’ll see how it goes.

Weigh-In No. 3 (And Challenge Accepted)

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274 (18/05/15)
Previous weight: 277

I didn’t make it to the gym last week, and I didn’t eat perfectly. This just reinforces how important consistency is. I won’t pretend I eat clean all the time, but I try, and that was how I made my 1% goal. Last week was interesting. I had white rice on Thursday, movie theatre nachos and popcorn (my friend and I shared) on Friday, and Chinese food on Saturday. I really thought I had blown it, so I tried to keep up my hydration…just so I could make my goal. I learned two things from that.

1. I have to be on guard so it doesn’t become about the numbers. I know how my body works, especially at this weight. I know how it responds to water and to certain foods. I want to keep losing weight, since it’s a natural part of getting healthier for someone my size, but I don’t want that to be my goal. My weight loss has to be about healthy eating and exercise, not playing some numbers game.

2. Results come through consistency. This works with positive and negative behaviours. Three meals didn’t have the power to undo weeks of basically clean eating. In the same way, if I return to consistently making poor food choices, my weight will increase and I will become more unhealthy.

That said, I doubt I will continue to lose weight at this rate if I don’t work out. Even if I do, I don’t necessarily want a smaller body. I want a healthier body, and that means improving my fitness, strength, and endurance. That means going to the gym I’m paying for each month. I don’t have a choice in whether I pay, and I need to make exercise as steady a part of my routine.

So, this week’s challenge: Go to the gym four times. One down, three to go. I went to a muscle mix class this morning, and then embarrassed myself in Zumba.  I should listen to myself, and not go again (I said so last time).

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Weigh-In No. 2

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277 (12/05/15)|
Previous weight: 280

I haven’t been to the gym in nearly a week, mainly because I’ve been super busy, but this past week has shown me even more that eating right goes a long way. I’m pretty sure I would have gained weight if I hadn’t been careful about what I ate. It has also taught me that I don’t need to be perfect. I could have made better choices at times, but I think I did okay overall.

It’s amazing how you crave what you eat. I can now go grocery shopping without being tempted to buy junk. There are still some things I’m having a hard time saying no to (like free pizza), but one day at a time.

I’m beyond tired, but I’m hoping to make it to the gym at least 3 times this week. Some consistency wouldn’t hurt there, I guess. 🙂 We’ll see!

Weigh-In No. 1 (Again)

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I think my arms might be too dead to type this. I just had my butt kicked by a lady old enough to be my mother. That class wiped me out, but I’m glad I pushed past my unwillingness, and didn’t skip the gym. So…

Although I will not be numbers-driven, there is no discounting the reality that frequent weigh-ins are a good indicator of progress. I will weigh in once a week. My ‘plan’ is to lose 1% of my weight each week. That might not always be the case, and that’s fine, but I think it is a healthy and modest rate.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my last recorded weight was 283. I think I had lost some by that point, so it is safe to assume I was somewhere close to my heaviest recorded weight (291) before then. Anyway…

280 (04/05/15)

So, that’s 1% down. I’m not as happy about the number as I am about the fact that I’ve been making better choices, and exercising more control over what I eat. I’ve even been going to the gym more than once a week. 🙂

Perhaps my biggest lesson so far has been that consistency is more important than perfection. I will mess up, I will eat what I shouldn’t, and there will be days when I just can’t be bothered, but that doesn’t mean I should quit. I’m in this for my health, for my life. Giving up is no longer an option.

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Weight Loss Mystery Solved…Part 1

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Last week was such a pensive time, and I think I’ve made a breakthrough. Somehow, I understand why I’ve never been able to embrace weight loss as a separate entity, why I’ve never felt whatever it is that compels people to try to lose weight. Of course, I see the need for weight loss, as part of a commitment to a healthier lifestyle, but that doesn’t change my aversion. So, my epiphany, if you will…

No matter how strong you are, even if you think you’re unaffected by things people say, you build resistance. I’ve had perfect strangers ask me if I didn’t see I was too fat (because, apparently, I don’t have either working eyes or a mirror), had people who hadn’t seen me in a long time not even greet me properly, but make a comment about my size. I won’t go into how the average person becomes a nutritionist or something–all the lovely ‘concerned’ questions about my health. I took it all in stride, often laughed and responded politely to people who were downright obnoxious, but I can no longer deny its impact.

I’ve absorbed, without realising it, so much of the negativity aimed at me because of my size. I’ve never hated myself or my body, but I think I transitioned into no longer actively loving myself, as if I didn’t have that right, simply because I had let myself go. Even the love I had for myself became ‘in spite of’, as if I had to defend my right to love myself–or not hate myself.

People have suggested something must be fundamentally wrong with me, just by looking at me. In the same breath, I knew being fat didn’t make me less of a person, or unworthy of love. Because of that, I feel the need to protect myself…to protect my fat self.

Trying to lose weight feels like giving in to everyone who has made my size feel unacceptable…to the random people on sidewalks who told me I should stop eating, to family members who’ve reduced my portions or flat-out told me I shouldn’t eat something (things they didn’t do for others), to those who have celebrated my smaller self as if accidentally (or deliberately) losing weight made me a better person–as if I would finally be worthy of my spot on the planet if I lose enough weight. I oppose that idea so strongly that trying to lose weight feels like a betrayal of my very self.

Now that I understand this, I need to find a way to include weight loss in my health and fitness journey, without having it as the point of my journey. Weight loss will be the consequence of my changing lifestyle, not the cause of it. It will give me a sense of how my changes work, how my body responds to those changes, but I will not work for a number. I refuse to be a slave to the scale, or shackle myself to the idea that my weight and worth have any relationship, especially that of inverse proportion. Weight loss, on this journey, will be only a guide, not a goal.

I may still struggle with my aversion to weight loss, and while people may assume I’m working towards losing weight, and may even applaud me for it, I have to remember my goals–health, fitness, and discipline. I am not a thin girl trapped in a fat girl’s body. My body is not a prison, and I refuse to try to escape from it. I will, as I am changing, transform it…see its potential for strength, continue to appreciate its beauty, at every size.

This is my body, and I love it. I am fat, and I love myself. Fat is not my identity, and rooting my identity there, embracing fat as who I am, is no less than destructive than those who would see me as unworthy because of my weight.

I am fat, and I love myself…enough to change.

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What If I Don’t Want To Lose Weight?

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Two things hit me last week: I started this blog almost 2 years ago, and I’m currently the same weight I was the first week I recorded weight loss here–283 pounds.

It’s almost as if nothing has changed in the 8 months since my last post, but so much has. I’ve moved away from home, slight changes to my routine and eating habits caused me to lose a bit of weight since (hence the 283), and I could go on, but there’s one thing that has really hit me: I don’t want to lose weight.

Do I need to lose weight? Definitely. Do I see the health risks, imminent and otherwise? For sure. Am I lazy and unmotivated? No. I do want to be healthy, fit, strong, able to walk to my third-floor room without getting out of breath, and those other boring, everyday things most people at a healthy weight don’t have to worry about. But, I can’t honestly say I hold weight loss as a goal, or have a desire to be smaller. My body isn’t a prison. I’m not dying to wear smaller clothes, be attractive, go on amusement park rides, or any of those other things you come across in these before-and-after stories. Being smaller does not appeal to me, and I think the idea of such a drastic change scares me more than I usually care to admit.

I’m not afraid of working out, and I know I’m strong, with the potential to be even stronger. Fitness appeals to me, even though I still hate cardio. I’ve joined the gym yet again, but I still haven’t voluntarily gone for a workout–been almost a month since I signed up. I think I can’t get past the idea that, in order to get the things I want, it’ll mean the one thing I don’t want: weight loss.

Maybe I’m worried people will look at me, and assume I want to lose weight. Maybe I’m afraid to fail, or concerned that people will wonder why someone my size isn’t working with a trainer. Maybe those things don’t even matter to me, and I’m just trying to legitimise my folly. Whatever the case, I need to make peace with the part of me that is content to hide behind fat. If there were a way to achieve my fitness goals, and somehow not get smaller, I’d be in. But, there isn’t…so, maybe I should just shut up and go to the gym. Or, maybe I should acknowledge that I’m stronger than I think, because I haven’t given in to the idea that being fat deems me worthless; neither am I in the camp of those who think loving oneself means not needing to change. (Don’t think I’ve ever used the word ‘maybe’ so many times in a single paragraph before.)

This is who I am, who I’ve been for as long as I can remember. Maybe I can’t picture myself smaller, because I’ve never had to. I know losing weight doesn’t have to mean losing who I am, because I am more than my size, but that knowledge isn’t helping. Fat may be all I’ve known, but it doesn’t get to be who I am. Not now, when I’m finally in a position to embrace change, even if I don’t want to.

I honestly wish I could say changing my lifestyle is going to be the hardest part of this journey. I’ve been down this road enough times to know what works for me. I just need to follow through, and not let fear hold me back. Honestly, I think my greatest fear is that this just might work, that I might actually stick to something. Guess we’ll see.

I

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