Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The hard stuff and the not-so-hard stuff: An eloquent synopsis

I got to thinking the other day about how parts of this whole weight loss thing have gone much differently than I originally thought they would. More specifically, there are parts that are much more effortless than I thought they would be and parts that are much harder. So I thought it might be cool to list them out (mainly because I am a master list maker).

The Effortless (or at least, the way easier than I expected):

  • Giving up fast food: This was a big one. This was a huge one! I used to eat fast food pretty much every day. It didn't much matter where from, as long as it was fried and in a large amount. If you had told me that I would now eat fast food once in a blue moon, I would have thought you were crazy. That it just couldn't be done. But the thing is, when I splurge now, I don't want it to be on cheap junk. I want it to be something I really want, not just something that's convenient. 
  • Giving up soda: This was another daily occurrence. Granted, I exclusively drank diet soda, but that is still far from healthy. I pretty much just drink water and sugar free grape kool-aid now, and it wasn't even that hard to switch. I used to let myself have diet soda as a little treat in the beginning of my journey, but now it really bloats me, so I tend to stay away because bloating does not count as a treat. It was actually kind of an eye-opener the other day to how little I actually do drink soda now when I ordered Diet Pepsi at a restaurant and my boyfriend Brian looked at me like I had suddenly grown 3 heads. It's that unusual an occurrence.
  • Exercising (running in particular!): This part was not effortless at first. There is no way it can ever be physically effortless for someone over 300 lbs to do any sort of exercise. And running now is not physically effortless for me, nor should it be. I push myself to be better everyday. But what I mean is, the habit of exercise is now effortless for me. It's not a daily battle whether I am going to work out or not, because of course I will. And that takes a lot of stress away. 
  • Eating healthy: This falls under the category of "way easier than I expected." It's not effortless. I still crave cheeseburgers at times. And I still eat cheeseburgers at times. But eating healthy is far from the carrots and celery drudgery than many people think it is. There are truly delicious healthy recipes out there, and it has been really fun for me to learn how to make things and make healthy (and painless) swaps. 
I'm glad these major issues have been easier than expected, but there are some parts that have been harder than I expected too. They're mostly emotional issues that, like many people, I just assumed would be solved when I dropped the weight. It's so easy to believe that life will be perfect when you are thinner. I think that's actually one of the reasons many people keep the weight on, even if it's just subconsciously. It's easier to stomach having a life you don't like very much if you have a reason for it, a reason that theoretically, you can change. It's comforting in a way to think that maybe life isn't great now, but that's only because you're fat, and once you aren't fat, life will be great. It doesn't work like that. Many things are better in my life now that I have lost weight, but the majority of those things are better because I did some inner work in addition the outer work. But things still aren't perfect and never will be. So here are some things that are still hard for me.

The Hard Stuff:

  • Body image: Granted, I feel better about how I look than when I weighed over 300 lbs. I even feel like I look pretty good when I have clothes on. But when I don't have clothes on, it is still hard for me to see anything besides the imperfections. I see the skin losing all that weight leaves behind. I see the floppy arms. I see the stretch marks. I see the thick thighs. I see other people who have lost weight embracing these things as a part of their journey, and while I greatly admire them, it remains hard for me to see them as anything other than flaws in myself. It may even be a little harder for me now that I am so close to my goal weight, because I recognize that there is not enough weight left to lose for there to be some kind of miraculous transformation. This is how I am going to look now. And I wish I could look in the mirror with no clothes on and not immediately have that inner critic bashing every body part. 
  • Emotional eating: This one is tricky. I've had so many people ask me how I overcame emotional eating. The truth is, I didn't. I don't believe anyone completely overcomes emotional eating. It's something you learn to deal with. It's something you learn to recognize as a part of yourself. For a long time, it was something I was ashamed of, something I did feel like I needed to overcome. I felt ashamed and like a fraud, when even after losing a lot of weight, sometimes my first impulse when I was upset was to eat. But now, I get a lot more peace by acknowledging that emotional eating will always be something I am prone to, always something I need to remain aware of. I still have days when my first impulse is to eat my feelings away. There are some days when I do exactly that. But there are many more days when I acknowledge what is happening and that I am not actually hungry, and usually go for a run instead. But the fact remains that emotional eating is not something in my past that I don't have to deal with anymore. It is still a battle for me. 
  • Clothes shopping: Weird one, right? I mean, who wouldn't want to go shopping after losing weight?!? This has actually started to get a lot easier for me lately, but it's still something I didn't anticipate would be difficult at all. The thing is, for a long time it was practically impossible for me to choose the correct size. I would always get at least 2 sizes bigger than I actually was, simply because that is how I saw my body. So it took forever to shop. I don't know what it was, but I think it was mainly stemming from a fear of trying on clothes and having them be too small. Because when I was at my heaviest, when I tried on something too small, it wasn't a matter of just getting the next size up, because there was no next size up. I was just out of luck. So when I lost weight, it just seemed safer to always try on clothes that I didn't think would be too small, even though it wouldn't be the end of the world now to go up a size. Recently, I have begun fitting into size small tops. This has never happened to me before, and of course the first time it happened, I just said this brand must run really big. But after trying on many brands and having quite a few smalls fit me, even I can acknowledge that I really am a small/medium size now. I've been doing better about not stressing about sizes so much, and I think that has allowed me to start picking out my actual size clothes without the whole 2 sizes bigger thing. Also, a side note about clothes shopping: While it is fun to get new clothes, when you're losing 170 lbs, it isn't quite so fun to have to buy boring basic things like jeans multiple times and hardly get any wear out of them before you go to the next size. Plus, it's expensive!

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