That should be obvious, shouldn’t it? Not something that I have to tell myself over and over until I accept it as truth. But, here we are, with me waffling between this obvious truth and the fear that there is something morally “wrong” about it. Like, I am betraying some “should” about loving my body and being confident with the way it is, by not being content with carrying 30-ish extra pounds. “ish” isn’t meant to be cagey, by the way. I truly have no idea what I weigh, and it’s gonna stay that way, maybe for a long time. The “30-ish” also refers to the fact that even if I knew what the number was on the scale, I wouldn’t have a solid “goal weight.” I’m not going to let that number define me, or my success at getting fitter, stronger, and healthier. BUT, that’s not to say I am not trying to make the number smaller, even without knowing it.
It’s a strange time, in fitness/ health/diet/wellness culture, and a confusing one. In the eighties, fat was bad, on your body or in food. We know better now, but there are also those who swing in the extreme the other way. I’m not here to have the Lizzo discussion, only to say that if I have learned anything in my 17 years of learning everything I can about health and wellness, it’s that anything extreme is not ideal or healthy in the long term. It’s not good to be too skinny or too fat. It’s also not good to hate my body, because it’s part of me and it’s the part that enables me to do and love and experience this life-it’s carried four babies, given birth to two at full term, it’s sustained both of them well into toddlerhood, it’s carried me- sometimes crawling and wailing-through the past five years and all that has come with them. And I truly do not hate my body. I know I’m not morbidly obese or anything, but i am not content with where i am. I wrote a lot about this the other day- I know what it feels like to feel good, and strong, and confident, and energetic in my body, and I want it back. Not the specific weight, size, whatever, I just want a body that is able to live fully and freely without being self conscious.
Even trying that last part, I hear a little voice in my head telling me “You shouldn’t be self conscious! You should embrace your body how it is because it is beautiful and to change it is only giving into diet culture…” blah blah blah. No. Here’s the thing, there’s a lot of truth in that. I can be free to love my body exactly where it is today. I am beautiful, I am strong, I am capable of so much more than I ever realized. But that doesn’t mean exactly where I am is where I am meant to stay. I hear another little voice saying “Well, doncha think, with all the things you’ve tried and all the hard work over the past five years, if it was going to happen it would have?” Wellllll, yes, I have thought that. But here’s the thing, again: I tried everything between 2006 and 2011 too, and was stuck, and what if I had given up then, or even when I struggled to get movie going again for over a year after Lexi was born? Quitting never got anyone anywhere, and I won’t do it.
Since learning about intuitive eating and throwing off diet mentality a year and a half ago, I’ve really wrestled with the “shoulds’. Should I just trust my body to know what it should weigh? Should I be trying to get smaller at all, or is that a sign of some slavery to the current fashion? Maybe I “should” be focusing on just getting stronger and not changing anything about my exterior. I mean, I definitely “shouldn’t” be tracking my food at all…Y’all, it’s truly made my head spin.
But another big thing I have learned in the past few years in general is that the word “should” needs to go. Anytime I find myself “shoulding on” myself, it’s time to stop and reframe. I decided to start from scratch and ask myself what I want, and WHY.
“I want to lose a moderate amount of fat off my body.”
“ I don’t like how I look in the mirror.”
“ or how I feel in my clothes.”
“I don’t feel like what I see in the mirror is a reflection of who I am.” (Meaning, I feel like I am strong and confident and not this version of me that has kinda given up.)
“I also want to be fitter/stronger/more muscular”
“ I’m tired of being tired and slower than I was”
“ I want to set new PR’s in the gym and on my bike”
‘I want to be able to flow through yoga poses more smoothly and confidently and really enjoy my practice more.”
Y’all, there is nothing wrong with any of that. I am allowed to want all of it. Who is anyone to tell me differently? Part of my journey into BOLDNESS this year is recognizing that it’s okay for me to have wants, and in most cases, I don’t have to prove the value of them to anyone. I am not hating my body by wanting to improve it both in health and aesthetics. If that were true, we wouldn’t brush our hair or bother with clothes that match.
The sliver of truth in all the “shoulds” in my head is that I can love and celebrate my body every single day along the way. And here’s the thing? There is no “before and after”. There is only yesterday, today, tomorrow, because the journey toward our best, and hopefully healthiest, selves, doesn’t end until we die. I didn’t touch much on this when I wrote about the freedom I found in being finished trying to lose weight, having reached my initial “size goal” in November 2013, was that I did continue losing weight all the way up to when I found out I was pregnant with Declan seven months later. The “after” portion was a more dramatic change than the “during” that time. I lost something like another twenty pounds and 2 more pant sizes in that time, and was both smaller and healthier than I’d ever been-and, let’s be real, the two don’t always go together- but I really was. I don’t know if I’d have kept leaning out or if it would have settled, but it didn’t matter. I felt SO good, and I was eating freely- the Kroger chocolate pudding cake and Pioneer Woman Brownies were not strangers to our household!
I have had more than one well-meaning friend tell me during my journey that the weight loss won’t make me happy, that I’ll never be satisfied, I definitely see where that is coming from, and again, it’s about the “why”. If I thought I needed to be “skinny” or even a specific weight or size to be”whatever”, that would all be absolutely true. But my goals at this point don’t hinge on that kind of thing, I don’t think. It’s tricky, I’ll be honest, because I am motivated by data, milestones, benchmarks, and it hasn’t been enough to just use “performance” milestones the past year or two to measure my success, so I am probably going to have to decide on something tangible as benchmarks to keep me going. But what?
Probably not the scale, at least not yet. Partly because I don’t want to know what I weigh right now, because it’s not going to make me feel good, and I can’t do anything about it but more forward, and also because I don’t know how long until something in my body “clicks” and things start moving in the right direction, and I don’t want the excuse to be discouraged. I could start weighing myself once a week or so AFTER I know that I am making progress in the slimming down direction.
I could use measurements, maybe every other week? Even that feels tricky, because it’s all about how tightly I hold the measuring tape, isn’t it?
Clothes fit? I mean, in a lot of ways, this is all that really matters to me, but even at my very most efficient, I was “only” dropping a pant size every six weeks or so.
Back in 2013, my goal was to wear a size 8 or hit 150 lbs, whichever came first, and the size 8 (in Old Navy jeans) came first, and fairly quickly once I figured out that I needed to eat more. I did actually hit 150, but when I did I was a size 4 and newly pregnant with Declan. I feel like it would be a reasonable goal now to try to get back into the size six jeans that I was wearing at Christmas 2016 (see, not something from before Declan, something reasonable and doable.), but I also just went through that whole thing this past fall where I got all new jeans and put the striving for that past size behind me- which I had also done in 2013. I had thrown out all my old jeans from before Lexi, and bought new jeans as needed along the way. That’s generally been my plan this time too, though I have less sizes to lose (I bought new jean sizes six times in that ten month period, and I think I only have whatever the euro sizing equivalent of the last three is to lose now, if I were going back to the same general size), and that’s probably good because these new jeans are expensive.
Okay, here is where I am landing on this. It’s going to be mostly clothes fit, but when I start noticing changes there, I might start weighing myself to note progress in between the need to buy new pants. So, here are my milestones:
- Current jeans are comfortable again, right out of the wash (goodbye December Chub!)
- Current jeans are feeling a bit loose, right out of the wash
- Weigh in, if weight is below whatever it says in MFP, enter it, if not, leave it be and keep working it! Repeat, and celebrate every improvement.
- Measure waist, hips, thighs, monthly, on a day weight is DOWN. Again, you don;t need the negativity on days it isn’t.
- Current jeans are loose enough as to be less than flattering. Is it shorts weather yet? If yes, time to buy some shorts, or at least try on the ones in storage. If they don’t fit, get rid of them. You don’t need that negativity. If not shorts season yet, first, GO YOU- you’re killing it! Second, can you wear the one pair of old navy jeans you still have with just this possibility in mind until it *is* shorts season?
- Buy a new swimsuit or two!
- Ok it’s jeans season again. Time to trade in the old and get some new roadtrippers! Repeat whenever current jeans are unflatteringly loose.
- Buy cute new undergarments whenever it’s time!
Do I have a concrete goal, like I did in 2013? How do I know I’m “done”? AAAARGH this is so hard, because I don’t know! I am not trying to “get my body back” as such. I know that at 38 (by the time I am “done”, most likely) my body is not going to be the same as it was at almost 32, and that’s okay! I need something more concrete than “ when I feel like me”, because I can’t measure progress towards that. I don’t want to put a number on the scale to it, because it’s not about that, and I don’t really care about what that number is, if I feel good in my skin and my clothes. I guess I could google what the Madewell size equivalent of an Old Navy 6 is… that’s about halfway between where I currently am and the size four I was in June 2014. I have also been that size a couple times (however briefly) in the past few years, so I know it’s attainable, and I didn’t feel done then, so it’s not “too much” to ask of myself, or unrealistic. (Telling myself in my head, that despite these “should’s”, it’s absolutely okay to have a goal)
And here it is: Size 28. That’s the Madewell equivalent of a six. I’m currently wearing a 31, and the very smallest I can imagine being able to maintain is a 26, so this feels right. So, I’m going to aim for that, by September as a goal, though I have hopes it could happen sooner. It feels entirely doable and almost too within my grasp, so I think that’s a good thing. I am going to take, and/or get Scott to take, at least monthly photos of my progress, because that did really help me before.
I can do this, and it’s absolutely okay that I want to, knowing that every step of the way, I am SO beautiful, and worthy, and lovable, and valuable.