Growing up, I was thought I was overweight. I never looked in the mirror and saw a healthy girl. When I looked at my own reflection, I saw my perceived flaws, fat, love handles, cellulite, giant thighs, and stretch marks and they made me feel self conscious and defeated. Then my younger brother passed away suddenly and within six months, I found myself topping the scale at over 200 pounds and for the first time in my life, I wasn't overweight, I was obese.
I don't know what my weight was when I was at my heaviest because I wouldn't look down when I weighed in at my Doctor's office. The last time I saw my weight before I adopted a healthier lifestyle, I was over 215 pounds.
Having gone through a major weight loss, I'll be the first to admit that losing weight isn't easy. But anything worth doing isn't easy so why I expected the fat to "melt" away quickly is beyond me. I fell victim to articles with headlines that read "How I lost over 75 pounds" or "How to lose 25 pounds quickly". Looking at other people's before and after pictures never motivated me, they just made me feel intimidated.
I HATE articles with headlines like "How I Lost Over 75 Pounds" because I didn't simply lose 75 pounds. I lost 8 pounds, gained 3, lost 2 more, gained 1, lost 1, lost none, lost 2, gained 3, lost 1, gained 2, and that went on for an entire year. You don't just eat healthy, workout, and wakeup 75 pounds lighter. I became obsessed with my weekly weigh in and if I didn't lose weight or if I gained weight, I hated myself. I started making myself sick if I ate something that I didn't think I should be eating. I didn't know what healthy looked or felt like, I just wanted to hit my goal weight so that I could be happy with what I saw when I looked in the mirror.
Then, a year later, when I finally came close to my magic goal weight, CURVE BALL, I still wasn't happy. I'd look in the mirror and feel insecure and I kept asking myself when I would wake up and not dread going to the gym. My "weight loss journey" was never about getting healthy or loving the skin I was in. Even though my therapist worked with me on positive self talk, it wasn't until I started running that I realized how I needed more than a goal weight to motivate me.
Working towards something I could feel proud of, like crossing a finish line, shaped the way I saw myself. After I ran my first half and full marathon, I felt proud of what my body could do instead of wishing it looked a certain way. I started embracing my own strength and I started feeling empowered by my size and strength. I finally understood that strength didn't look a certain way, it felt a certain way. It didn't happen overnight, but I slowly started believing in myself and loving the body I worked really, really hard for.
Look, everyone's different. Some people actually enjoy being in a gym. I don't. I hate working out just for the sake of working out. I need a finish line or some kind huge goal to get me out of bed every morning. I need the sense of accomplishment I get when I cross a finish line to help me fight when I'm struggling or having a really shitty run. People always ask me when running gets better or easier. The answer for me is that it doesn't. I still cry on street corners more than I'd like to admit.
So why do I do it? How do I stay motivated when half my runs really, really suck? Well, because I need the constant reminder that I'm stronger than my doubts and insecurities. Just because something isn't hard isn't a good enough reason not to keep doing it. Running isn't easy for me but the feeling I get when I run down an impossible goal is addicting. Doubt is one tricky mother f*cker and if you let it, it will run your life. The only way I can beat it is if I run it down and prove it wrong as often as I can.
If you're looking to make a change, do it to get healthy. Set a huge and seemingly impossible goal. Then focus on what you can do today and during the week at hand. It's easy to feel intimidated or overwhelmed when you're first getting started. Don't let fear win. Start small and celebrate every tiny victory.
Look at what you eat and how you fuel your body. You should enjoy eating because food is wonderful. It's not about counting calories, it's about adopting healthy habits. Measure out proper portion sizes until you know what those look like. (It sounds obsessive but I still check in because I'm always forgetting what a serving size actually looks like. I'm a big fan of eating until I'm Thanksgiving full. Fun? Yes. The healthier option? No.) Learn to prepare and enjoy different lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables. Eating healthy really can be delicious.
If you're someone motivated by a challenge, sign up to run a terrifying distance. Get a training plan and take yourself and your goal seriously. The only way you'll fail is if you fail to try.
Just remember that nothing is impossible. It's never about how badly you want something, it's always about how hard you're wiling to work for it. Stop focusing on what you want to change and start looking in the mirror and naming things you love about yourself three or four (or twenty) times a day. You're already the best version of you possible. Everyday is a new chance to kick ass, take names, and put your strongest foot forward.
F*ck weight loss journeys. Life is complicated enough.
Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.