I received a request on my last Minimal Closet post to write about how I lost weight, but can I talk instead about “finding my body?” Because that’s what happened; I found my body. After years of yo-yo dieting, being slimmer, being heavier, not exercising, running 13 miles at a time, not running at all, lifting weights, bikram yoga, you-name-it-I-tried-it, I now, finally, feel at home in my body.*
At 5’3″ and about 150 pounds, I’m still overweight according to “healthy weight” charts, etc., etc., and I definitely feel like I have some weight to lose (at least 15 pounds), but if I don’t, I’ll be okay with it too. I feel like me now, like I never have before. NEVER. I don’t credit that entirely to losing weight, but I do at least 90% of it.
The first hurdle I had to overcome was simply becoming comfortable with ME. Just me. Not some woman who should have a house (with heated bathroom floors!!!) and 2.5 kids by now, throws dinner parties every week, travels the world, etc., etc.,. Just me. And I had to really start to love my body, which I was getting better at through Pure Barre. I began to recognize how strong it could become, and how many things it could do. Once those two things started to sink in, I saw how I could lose weight and keep it off.
Interesting how that happens…it’s technically harder to lose weight as you get older (I’m almost 42), yet I couldn’t have done it to the level of success that I’ve achieved now when I was younger. In fact, I DIDN’T: I’ve spent the better part of the last twenty years of my life losing weight, but something ALWAYS held me back from revealing my true body, my true self for very long. I did for a time, but the weight always crept back on. And much more than I’d lost in the first place.
That was me trying to hide myself again. Punish myself. Make myself uncomfortable, unhappy, and unhealthy so I really physically and emotionally couldn’t do those things I wanted to. I was so scared to be successful that I sabotaged it as soon as I saw that I was being successful. That voice in my head would say “okay..you’ve felt and looked good for long enough. Time to build back that layer of fat so you can hide yourself again, and have a reason for not being out with the friends you don’t have or for doing the things you really want to do. Let’s eat!”
And so I did.
But after I turned 40, I finally said enough is enough in February 2013 after I’d gotten back up to about 180-190 and was completely miserable. Well, not completely; I’d started Pure Barre the year before and was starting to see my body change, but not enough for me. I didn’t change eating habits at all, so I was working really hard at exercising, but not losing weight. I was feeling better, but not like “me” and I didn’t look like I wanted to yet.
So I read David Kirsch’s “diet” books and started having one of his protein shakes for breakfast every day. And sometimes I’d have one for breakfast and dinner. I’d eat ALL protein and vegetables during the day, and not very much at all. I also ramped up Pure Barre to 4 days a week from 3, and sometimes 5 days a week. For the first several days I was hungry and going through sugar withdrawals, but I pushed through and the next few months were a breeze. I ate red peppers as “snacks,” always had nuts with me, and only allowed myself one “cheat” day a week after I’d reached my goal of losing 25 pounds.
I reached 150 pounds by the summer of 2013 and have maintained that pretty easily ever since. Well…not easily, exactly, because I do Pure Barre at least 5 days a week and run/walk nearly every day in addition to that, but I am not “dieting.” I have changed my eating habits for the most part, although for many many years I’ve been interested in eating healthy – I was eating quinoa before ANYONE knew what it was. I try to eat enough fruits and vegetables, and generally eat fewer grains and breads/pastas/etc. and more lean protein.
Now that I know that I CAN keep weight off, and I finally WANT to, it’s easier to eat right (for the most part…we have pizza at least once a week and sometimes Chinese once a week, but other than that I eat very well at home – as balanced as I can get it). But I definitely credit my Pure Barre addiction for doing most of the work maintaining my weight; it kicks my butt 5 days a week, and keeps me feeling amazing. I’ve been doing it for nearly 2 and a half years and can’t imagine stopping any time soon.
I don’t know that I have any advice, really, if you’re looking to lose weight, but I guess what I would say is the most important “thing” or step is that you have to be ready to find your own body, discover how your body loves to move; the exercise it responds to. Then, you will have to be ready to see what’s underneath, and let it all hang out. THAT is the hardest part. Who said – Marianne Williamson maybe – that we don’t fear failure as much as we fear great success. We are afraid to BE the person we know we are inside. We are afraid to show that, so we put on weight and hide behind it. It’s easier than being vulnerable, and letting the world see us for who we really are.
At least that’s what I know now that I was doing.
That’s how I found my body. Have you found yours? What was your path like?
*I know everyone is different, and I truly believe that you can feel at home in your body and be overweight. I just NEVER was. I also knew I was overweight because I was hiding and couldn’t face my emotional issues. I wanted to be done with that… I don’t think that’s true for everyone, but it was for me.