Don't get me wrong, I love a New Year's resolution. I'm all about setting goals and using them as motivation to do something amazing with my life. But there is one New Year's resolution people tend to make that makes me a little sad. It's wanting to lose weight. So I ask you,
Do you want to lose weight?
There's nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight, but if your answer is "Yes" or "No, but if 10 pounds were to magically disappear, I wouldn't complain about it", then I need to ask you a follow up question.
Why do you want to lose weight?
I don't have all the answers, but I want to share why I think some people want to lose weight. It's because they feel the need to change so they can be feel attractive or desirable to someone else. Obviously that's not the only reason why people want to lose weight but I think it's a very common one and that makes me sad.
Speaking from my own experience, wanting to be attractive for someone else was one of the main reasons why I felt the need to lose weight. At over 200 pounds, I didn't believe I deserved to be loved. I didn't think I was attractive or desirable so understandably (NO. NOT UNDERSTANDABLY), I didn't think anyone else should find me attractive either.
I was tired of hating myself and avoiding mirrors so I set an unrealistic goal weight that I truly believed would make me happy and worthy of someone else's affection. Then I changed my diet and my entire lifestyle. I stopped eating anything that wasn't a lean protein, veggie or a fruit. I dragged myself to the gym, I got active, and hated every minute of it. 75 pounds later, I still felt undesirable and unworthy of anyone's affection.
What happened? Why wasn't I happy in my "new" body? Well, I was terrified that guys would find out that I had been heavier and wouldn't find me attractive anymore. I was really ashamed that I had been heavier. It's terrifying and difficult to admit that to you but every time someone tells me that they want to lose weight, I can't help but wonder why. What difference is it going to make if you lose 10 pounds? This may be a bit nit picky, but to me, there's a huge difference between working out to lose weight and working out to put your strongest foot forward.
It wasn't until I learned how to workout for a feeling instead of a number that I realized how powerful it was to love what I saw when I looked in the mirror. Running helped me remove shame from my weight, both past and current, and it taught me that my weight gain wasn't a skeleton that I needed to hide in my closet. Anyone who is going to judge you because of your weight isn't someone who should be in your life. Sometimes life throws some f*cked up curve balls your way and it's no longer a matter of getting through them, it's figuring out if you can survive them. Losing my brother was tragic and awful. I didn't sit on a couch eating myself to over 200 pounds. I lost a sibling and struggled to move forward. I dealt with his loss and my own mortality in an unhealthy way.
I will be the first to admit that losing weight is infinitely harder (and less fun) than gaining it, but had I known year's ago how empowering it feels to love a body that you work hard for, I would have never hid in the bushes when we had to run the mile in school. Had I known how helpful running is to manage my grief, I would have run from sun up to sun down. But everyday we make choices, and I did what I could to make it through the day. And today, looking back, I don't have any regrets. I just have more tools going forward.
The only person who needs to love you is you. A skinnier frame or smaller number on a scale isn't going to make you happy. Anyone who doesn't want you the way you are now doesn't deserve you tomorrow, should you ever decide to make a change. You're only as beautiful or as attractive as you feel and though I think goal weights are wonderful motivators and indicators of progress, they are only one piece of a thousand piece the puzzle.
Stop working out to lose weight. I honestly believe that I hated working out and being active my entire life because I was only doing it to look a certain way. That is why this year, I urge you to make a different New Year's resolution. Let's put "New Year New Me" to rest and instead run towards "New Year Stronger You". Strong. Limitless. Confident. Those are what I'm working towards this year and I invite you to join me. So let's set terrifying and intimidating goals and take our first steps towards a stronger us. Ready? Here's mine...
This year I want to run a sub 3 hour and 50 minute marathon.
Is it possible? I don't know! We'll find out! What's your "New Year, Stronger You" goal? Let me know in the comments below. We have 12 months to make it happen! Speed bumps and set backs are inevitable, but together we'll overcome them.
Here's to putting our strongest and most confident feet forward! Let's find joy in 2016. Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.