What I have learned from weight loss.... so far.
There isn’t just one thing but many things that I have learned from my weight loss. I am still not yet at my goal, but in this short ten months, I have learned so much about myself (psychologically and physically). This process also taught me about creating new healthy lifestyle habits and it has talk me that others will have opinions about my weight and weight loss. However, instead of entertaining these opinions, I keep on truckin’ and try not to let anyone burst my bubble. Yet, it has given me perspective.
The comments on my weight loss have been - “Wow! You look fantastic! What diet are you on? What are you doing these days to get you so slim and trim?” - and this has morphed into new meaning for me. For me it really means (and what is usually left unsaid) “you were huge before” or “wow, you were a real whale”. I am sure that people never mean any comments towards my weight loss to be negative, but since they never said “Wow, you are so fat!”, when I was well over 400lbs, the idea that looking great should be rewarded has sparked my thinking even more. It makes me wonder about what I might have looked like before in their eyes and the silence about my weight that was never previously a hot topic of discussion. I like whales but never intend to look like one past or present. My weight was always a hot topic among family because they were worried about my health. Being that healthy was unhealthy and would only result in further morbidity. I also realize that the media attention brought to the issue of obesity and weight loss plays a role in how we are perceived as well. It is clear that the weight-loss industry is a multi-billion dollar industry and this is not lost on me. I realize that being thin is the equivalent of being accepted in some ways but I think it is more a way of how people categorize others and about keeping consistent with social norms. In my situation, I did not have surgery solely based on how I looked. I did it because I wanted to feel better, get active and have a better future for myself and my family.
As I’ve learned through life, looks are important, but they are not everything. They make a difference in how you are perceived and how you are judged. I remember that people stared at me when I was at my heaviest, especially at the gym. I has no idea what they were thinking but it did make me uncomfortable. Maybe they wanted to add their opinions about my life or to inform me that I was too fat. Who knows because they never said anything just stared like I was an old time circus attraction. This was difficult and uncomfortable for me. It also stopped me from going to the gym for a while.
Let’s not be fooled to think there isn’t a whole lot of judging going on in the world. Sometimes it is nice to live with the delusion that we are taken for who we are on the inside and yes that matters too, yet looks are part of the first impression and unfortunately have a role in how people judge us at first sight.
I’ve read many articles and blogs about people who pass judgment. Every day we can open any magazine and see the comments about weight, health and fitness of those in Hollywood.
What did this or that celebrity wear today and how awful or glorious it was is also the highlight of entertainment news. The celebrity who gained too much weight is shown as having “lost control” and shunned for the weight gain. They are plastered all over the front pages as some sort of pariah for not “keeping it together”. The reviews pour in along with all the people who have an opinion. We all seem to have opinions about the looks of others. This is the norm for our society.
So I have collected some tidbits about what I have learned in this not so long ten months and I wanted to share. I hope these tips are useful.
#1 - I’ve learned that everyone is being judged, don’t be so sensitive. The fittest and the fattest are going to be judged. Period.
Out of this I have learned that how I feel and my level of health is much more important than how I look. This does not mean I’m going to stop bathing or using deodorant but it does mean I’m not going to beat myself up over the judgment of others. They will have their opinions and not much I can do about their opinions. Instead, I’m concerned with my own health and well-being. I can do enough criticizing (of myself) of my own, I really do not need help from others. So, my new focus is just to “work on me” and let all else roll off my back. As Wayne Dyer once said “what other people think of me is none of my business”. To accept judgment is difficult and to wonder about judgement can make a girl crazy! Therefore, by letting go of the perception - letting go of the “what ifs” - this is a practice that I am consistently working on to accept myself unconditionally regardless of my weight.
#2 - I’ve learned that my weight fluctuates over time, plateaus happen and that if I am on track it will go down.
And I don’t mean 100lbs fluctuate but anywhere from 3-5 lbs on average. I’ve learned not to freak out and that if I’m on my plan I’ll get back to where I need to be in due time - as long as I am sticking to my plan. This is especially relevant to weight training/strength training and during those girly-times of the month. If you are gaining weight (more than a few pounds), and the scale is not budging, you might want to call your nutritionist, doctor’s office or health provider to get an appointment to discuss. For me a few pounds up and down within week is normal - which is why I stopped weighing every day, it drove me nuts (see #3)! If I am not on track, I have to repeat my motto: Protein, Water, Exercise! Protein, Water, Exercise! Protein, Water, Exercise!
#3 - Staying on plan will give consistent results.
However, if stuck in a rut, stall or plateau be sure to increase protein and water content, and don’t forget your strength training. Exercise is as equally important. Also, maybe it is time to check in with your nutritionist and go over your food journal. What have you been eating lately? This is my go to for when I get stuck.
#4 - Weigh-ins should be consistent but not obsessive.
In other words, I have learned not to weigh myself daily. I used to do this and it drove me nuts. Too much weighing can actually stress you out if you are not careful. (Go back and see #1.) Yes, nuts! I weigh myself weekly and sometimes bi-weekly. This helps with staying on track with goals but also gives me something to look forward to.
#5 - Sometimes it is not *all* about the weight.
Have you measured yourself lately? Measurements are also a good way to keep track of progress. It is not just about the LBS, but also about how you feel in your clothes, how loose they are getting, etc. How do you feel about yourself? I feel great, moving easier, feel healthy, etc. Also, looking at it from another perspective gives more perspective that it really is more about overall total health and not just about the numbers on a scale.
#6 -My eyes are *still* bigger than my stomach.
I like to “try” it all and I have had to psychologically transition myself to making choices and to making better choices. Before bariatric surgery, I would order whatever I wanted on a menu, including multiple appetizers (sharing with others of course) to get a ‘taste’ of everything. Now not only can I not do that but I do not have space for even one appetizer let alone an entree or more than one of each. So, when going out I start coaching myself on making one choice and on making healthier choices in general. I have realized that by thinking about it ahead of time and psychologically preparing myself, I am more in control that if I just fly by the seat of my pants. I realize this one choice about what I will eat tomorrow or today is not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of my life, but it has been a transition from how I used to think and working on this helps me keep track of what I am eating and gives perspective to my habits especially when eating out. So, I try to think small, stay on track with my plan (protein), and also keep in mind the size of the portion.
#7 - Just say “NO” to TO-GO boxes and kids meals
Ordering kids meals(at restaurants) sound like a good idea until you see the kids meal menus. They are loaded with chicken fingers, hamburgers/cheeseburgers, french-fries, etc. If I made this surgical change to put good things into my body and to eat less, why would I order the junk off the kids menu? Is it just to get less junk food? Personally, I say no. I choose to make conscious choices that are healthy and that are fuel for my body. I choose to eat food that is tasty but also healthy. I choose to order the regular portions and although I know it goes to waste, it is better than fried or greasy options. I choose to eat what I want regardless of the portion and I share with family/friends at my table and then I make another staggering choice. I say “NO” to TO-GO boxes as well. I used to get the TO-GO boxes until I realized that my fridge would have to-go boxes lined up for days. I would not eat the leftovers and neither would anyone else in my house. So I save myself the headache of having to throw away the box later or the added calories of eating takeout leftovers by just saying “NO” to to go boxes. It works for me.
I hope to collect more tips and tidbits as I go through my weight-loss journey so watch out for future posts that may continue what I have learned so far.
To be continued….
With love and light,