Growing up in Little Italy was pretty amazing. I was surrounded by culture and felt like I was living in the old world, while also being in touch with the modern world. There were museums right down the street and an influence of young people from different cultures with Case Western Reserve being so close by. It was the perfect place to grow up for an empathetic history lover like myself. But, there was also food at every turn. I could walk up to Mayfield Road (referred to as “going to the corner” by the neighborhood folk) to get whatever food I wanted at any time. Mix that with being a non-sporty kid, who would rather watch black & white movies instead of climbing trees and you can see that the weight was easy to pack on.
When I was fifteen and started developing panic attacks, I dropped a lot of weight. I remember looking at myself in the mirror and being thin and wondering why I still wasn’t happy. As the years passed I packed the weight back on and by the time I graduated college, I was the heaviest I had ever been. Looking at pictures from that time, I honestly don’t remember being that heavy. It’s like looking at a complete stranger.
In 2011 I started eating better and doing activities, like Zumba or just using free weights. What worked for me was eating more throughout the day. I used to go long periods of time without eating anything, not realizing that I was stalling my metabolism. In the past year I have cut out sugar, dairy and gluten and that helped me get the final pounds off. It took me 6 years, but I am 102 lbs thinner. I literally dropped a pre-pubescent human off of my body.
So why did I title this “Weight Loss Woes” you might ask? Well, I didn’t realize the mental component that goes into weight loss and transformation.
Am I happy and proud to have lost this weight?
Do I view myself differently? Not really.
For some reason, I thought when I lost weight I would suddenly be a happier person. That some how these extras pounds were also a metaphoric weight pulling down my self-esteem. It wasn’t. Before I used to stand in the mirror and criticize the fat I saw. Now I stand in the mirror and look at the faded stretch marks, the cellulite that has formed and the loose skin. So my body has went through a huge physical change, but my negative thoughts about myself have stayed the same.
I can say that my health is better. In that sense, I can do more things and not get instantly exhausted and I can breathe better. But my mental health and my negative thought patterns still need to be worked on . In a world so obsessed with image, I fell for the lie that beauty and worth were physical. That loosing weight would make me more desirable, worthy and happy. That’s not the case at all. I will only see my beauty if I make the choice to love who I am on the inside.
Dropping weight was a goal that I achieved and will need to maintain. I’m always striving to be better and become stronger. Physically, I’m working on toning and tightening, but I need to do this mentally too. My body is just the shell and while I want the shell to look good, it’s what the shell holds that is of true importance. You can be a heavy or skinny person and love yourself, or you can be a heavy or skinny person and be miserable. The mental component cannot be ignored when transforming the physical.
With the New Years coming up there are always resolutions to get in shape, loose weight or start a regimen. I encourage you to continue with that if that’s what you planned. But you need to throw this in the mix too – love yourself and be patient with yourself. Do the best that you can, but at the end of the day, your physical appearance is not what defines you. Nothing on the outside should determine your self-worth. Remember… worth is not measured in weight.
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Thank you for putting into words the feelings that I could not. I’ve just lost a lot of weight myself and while the outside looks healthy, there is always the mental war raging on. It is so brave of you to share something so personal and difficult. You can do i! Just get through this day. Then tomorrow get through that day. Stay strong and love who you’ve become.
Thanks Deb! And you can do it, too!
Yah, I’ll add to that. As you get older it will become harder and harder to stay in shape. Metabolism slows down, your body changes and not for the better, responsibility increases making it more difficult to find the time to work out and eat right, etc. It’s so important to develop yourself in other ways, academically, in the professional world and socially. You need to know that your appearance does not determine your self worth. This is not easy to do in a culture that celebrates youth and beauty and being thin is such a big part of that.
A very eye opening documentary film called, “Miss Representation” demonstrates just how deeply the media penetrates our psyche creating that insecurity. It’s very well done, I highly recommend it.