Sometimes I feel like the roller coaster of emotion that defines this journey is never-ending. I feel good, I feel like shit...I see the positive and then I can't focus on anything but the negative. It's exhausting.
I had a follow-up appointment at the hospital the other day and it didn't go as well as I expected. I had assumed (mistake #1) that with the changes in my eating habits and the addition of physical activity, I would have lost weight. People tell me all the time how good I look* and I guess I had taken for granted that I lost weight. And then I stepped on the scale for my appointment (mistake #2) and my heart sank.
For the past few months, I've been really focused on making positive changes for my health. It's not about the number on the scale I tell myself over and over. Well guess what? That was easier to believe when I thought I was losing weight. With the weight gain, it's a lot harder to tell myself "it's just a number".
You know that feeling where you're on the brink of tears, but you think that you can still turn it around and chose a different reaction? And then the feeling gets stronger and stronger, your voice cracks, your chin starts to quiver and you know you're past the point of no return? For me, that came to a head in my doctor's office when the topic of weight came up. She looked at me with all the empathy in the world, was super validating and explained what the concern was. I burst in to tears and just kept telling her how overwhelmed I was, trying to balance exercise, healthy eating, volunteering, connecting with friends and working, among other things.
It's just so hard and all I want is to feel better, even though I keep hearing or internalizing the message that I can't do that without losing weight. I had to do a lot of thinking and explore my feelings (as my sister-in-law would say to my nephew, there were a lot of "big feelings"). What was I feeling? Why was I feeling that? Ok, yes, but why was I actually feeling that.
Once the tears dried, here's where I landed:
I believe that the diet culture I've been immersed in my whole life is a sham. I don't believe that calories in < calories out = weight loss. I DO believe that our bodies are all different and what we need to nourish them and sustain them varies greatly from person to person. I also believe that skinny doesn't necessarily mean healthy, but I'm less comfortable with the idea that someone can be healthy and larger-bodied (maybe they exist more as the exception rather than the rule?!) but I'm trying to reconcile that. I don't know exactly how I feel about the number on the scale, but I do know that it is NOT a reflection of the positive changes I've made or how I feel about myself. That number doesn't make me "good" or "bad" or speak to any kind of success or failure I've experienced (even though my doctors might disagree).
Here's something else I realized...if I was wholeheartedly committed to that number on the scale, I would give up on all the things I've been doing. I would throw them out the window because clearly they aren't working if the number is going up!
I can totally see how yo-yo dieting is a thing...
All this has me lacking motivation so if anyone has any idea on how to re-frame my thoughts, I'm all ears! Like I said, it's been a roller coaster of emotion but I guess the difference between my journey and an actual roller coaster is that at least I'll end up in a different (hopefully better) place from where I started!
* Some thoughts on how it makes me feel when people comment on my appearance (sensitive topic alert)
I've been conditioned to believe that everyone else's thoughts on my appearance were really important - like, the most important. I lived for "wow! you look like you've lost weight" and, conversely, wanted to die when I got "you're really pretty, but..." (see previous blog post).
These days, people tell me I look good. It's more important to me that I feel good so that's usually what I say but I still find it super awkward. I know that the majority of people are well-intentioned but these are still unsolicited comments about my appearance and my body. Am I very sensitive about this? Yes. Do I have a right to be? Absolutely!
I found this great article in the Washington Post that explains it way better than I ever could. They also suggest as an alternative "how are you - you look really happy", which gives the person the opportunity to go more in to detail - or not.