Two years to life

So, this week marks two years almost to the day that I reached what I determined to be my “goal” weight through making some changes to my diet and managing to lose about 20 pounds. And, after two years, I am happy (and sometimes incredulous) to report that I have not only managed to maintain, but to drop a few more pounds as well.

Why do I care? And, more importantly, why should you? I’ve made it clear in the past that I’m not a huge fan of before and after shots, and I most certainly don’t consider myself an “after,” as I believe this whole journey of health, wellness, healthy eating, diet and exercise is a never-ending process. Life isn’t static, and things are always changing and evolving, thus our bodies follow suit.

In the spirit of not being an “after,” here’s me standing and thinking about all I’ve learned over the last 2 years.

There is also so much more to health (and life) than a number on the scale, and many of you may choose not to use that number at all to monitor things (which is totally great – go you).

BUT it is a number I choose to use – not the be-all end-all of health. Not as something that dictates my day or mood (still working on that one). But as data. Just another piece of information that helps me know where I’m at.

And 2 years at (or below) that number (which I’m not sharing not because I’m embarrassed or anything, I just don’t think it’s necessary and I don’t want anyone needlessly comparing themselves to me) is a big deal for me.

First of all, it’s because it’s a number I never thought I’d see again. Before starting down this road just over 2 and 1/2 years ago, I hadn’t seen that number since my university days. And I got to that number by eating a lot of “fake” food, and really was motivated not by self-love, but a desire to change myself because something was “wrong” with me.

I think because I was so not wanting to go back to that headspace again, I truly told myself that I couldn’t get back there. Even though I was heavier, I was happier with myself and in a better pace mentally, so I didn’t want to mess with things.

So why did I even start down this road? Because someone else believed in me, saw the potential, and knew I could do better. Someone saw how hard I was working, realized that focusing on nutrition and changing up my diet could make a difference, and (carefully and kindly) made a suggestion of a goal and how to get there.

That’s the first lesson I’ve learned in these two years: surround yourself with people who believe in you, even if your own self belief is feeling a bit shaky. Make sure this person (in the case mentioned about it was one of the coaches/owners of my gym) or people are ones you can trust, listen to their advice, and you might just end up surprising yourself (I know I did).

And speaking of surprises, these last 2 years have been chock full of them. Not only was I surprised that I made it to my goal, I can still say, in all honesty, that I am often surprised I’ve managed to stay there (goes back to that whole impostor syndrome thing I was talking about).

It’s embarrassing to admit the number of times I face my own self-doubt. Or that I am treating myself, enjoying a night off from the healthy habits I’ve worked so hard to maintain, and I am suddenly worrying. Worrying (again) that I’m a fraud. Worrying that a night out, or a week or two of vacation means I’m on my way back to being where I was. Worrying that I can’t do this the rest of my life. Worrying that this was all some sort of accident.

It’s like I said the other week – I really need to change the script of stories I tell myself. Those healthy habits really will serve me well. I mean, if I look back at these past two years, my weight hasn’t been static. I’ve been up and down. I’ve gone on vacation. I’ve drank alcohol. I’ve eaten ice cream. I’ve taken rest days from exercise. And nothing horrible has happened! Sure, my weight has gone up. But it’s those healthy habits that allow it to come right back down. If I could just truly believe that I know what I’m doing and trust myself, I think I’d be able to relax and enjoy life a whole heck of a lot more (hmmm….).

Speaking of trusting myself, I am also on a journey of learning to see myself as I am now. I can honestly say that until the last couple of years, I’ve never felt so comfortable with my body and my physical appearance. I say that not to boast, just that, being heavier for most of my teenage years into young adulthood, it’s been a long and bumpy road to get to where I am now. I look in the mirror and I am proud of the muscles I see. I feel truly beautiful, but more importantly, strong.

I think the reason I am so in love with where I’m at is that I know I worked hard for this body. I will never be naturally “skinny,” (thanks genetics) and I know I’ll always have to have a handle on what I’m eating. And although physical activity has made a big difference and is a huge part of my life, I’m not the person who just “starts working out and then the weight falls off.” So knowing that the way I look is pretty freaking awesome AND that I worked my a** off to get there? More gratifying than just being skinny if you ask me.

But all that to say, I still have a hard time not seeing myself, at least mentally, as the “big girl.” I’m getting better, but I still find myself holding onto certain clothes “just in case.” I’m still surprised when I’m shopping at what sizes fit me. I still assume that when people tell me I look great, it’s not actually great, just great compared to what I was before.

Fear is a powerful emotion, but you’d think by now that I’d realize: I’ve done this for two years; I can do this for the rest of my life the way I do everything else – one day at a time. And maybe I won’t always look this way. Maybe I won’t always eat this way. Almost certainly I’d say. God willing, I’ve got a lot of life ahead of me so things are certainly going to change. But I think I owe it to myself, after two years, to stop letting fear take the front seat. To applaud myself for putting in the work. To trust my healthy habits to carry me through. To keep surprising myself. I’ve been doing it for two years now – why not the rest of my life?

*One more note on the scale before I wrap things up: there are a million schools of thought on weighing yourself. I’m sure we’ve all heard those studies about how people who lose weight are more successful at maintaining that weight loss if they weigh themselves regularly. There’s also the school of thought that health is way more than just a number and your scale weight isn’t where you should hang your health and happiness hat.

Honestly, I agree with both. But I’ve concluded that a once a week weigh-in keeps me accountable. And if you’re the kind of nerdy note-taker I am, it is kind of neat to have a long-term record to look at, and see how weight changed (or not) during different times in your life. But you have to know yourself. Know what works for you, what keeps you on track, or makes you crazy. The great thing about the path to healthy living? There is no such thing. Trust yourself, get help if you need it, but at the end of the day YOU DO YOU. As I’ve said before, this blog isn’t about having all the answers, I just share what’s worked for me!

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