December 31 2010 | November 3 2011 | November 6 2012 | November 11 2013
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.
I’m 38 and for me, it was deciding I just wanted to be healthy and strong. I stopped thinking about exercise as just for losing weight and being skinny, which took the pressure off for some reason. My goal is/was to not necessarily change my weight, but my body composition and shape. I also decided that it was only going to get harder as I got older and I really needed to get my act together before I hit 40.
My story is different from yours in that I’ve always been thinner with a great metabolism. But I’m not athletic. And I was never taught that being active is different than being athletic and that activity is important for your general health/weight in adulthood. As an adult, I *knew* this, but kept thinking I could skate by on genetics. But my weight’s crept up over the years and I decided to make changes. I do a kick-butt body resistance training/dumbbell training 3-4x a week, with cardio on the elliptical on the off days. Nothing more than 30 minutes …. but it’s always an intense, dripping-with-sweat 30 minutes.
At this point, I’m 5’10” and 150 lbs. According to the scale, I’ve only lost 5 lbs. in 4 months. But I’ve gained a lot of muscle and my body shape has improved, so I’m very happy with my progress so far. I’m at a point where I could ramp it up more, but I’m also lazy. 🙂
What’s also helped me is learning that weight loss/maintenance is 80-90% diet. That’s great news for someone like me who really doesn’t enjoy bouncing around and breaking a sweat. I also try to follow a lean protein/veggie diet. I probably eat 75% cleanly and could do better in this area.
But yeah, there was a definite mind shift that took years to occur regarding my health and body. Like I said, making my goals “strong” and “healthy” made more sense to me than “lose 10 lbs. by June” or “look good in your swimsuit” or “get sexy abs in 3 months” and all that magazine nonsense. Making subtle changes over time makes it all more sustainable for me, too.
You are so great.
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Grechen Reiter says
thanks for sharing your story anne! i too wanted to just be healthy & strong, but for ME, that went hand in hand with weight loss, and changing the way i think about myself and food. i’m not going to lie, i also wanted to look “better” and be able to fit into the types of clothes i wanted to wear. but mostly, i really just wanted to feel like i was giving my body exactly what it needed – no more – to excel. i didn’t want to have the extra bits hanging around here and there either, but even though those “bits” have diminished, they’re not completely gone yet!
A very good story that I’m sure will resonate with people who struggle to figure out why they are over weight. For me, the aging process is kicking my butt so I think I can do all the same things, but really .. I need to change what I eat and how I exercise .. I’m still learning.
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Great post, thanks so much!
Thanks for sharing Grechen. I have also taken the journey to that place of ‘finding my body. It’s liberating and wonderful to be able to happily proclaim “this is me”. I would like to read that book you mention as I am at a place where I am ready to drop my final 5 kilograms but am fluffing around and not really doing anything about it 🙂
Thanks for sharing your story. I really loved reading it! And I’m glad you’ve been able to find your healthy self – both inside and out! It’s very inspiring and encouraging!
I enjoyed reading about your journey. It’s very inspiring too, to hear about a healthy path to looking and feeling great. How’s the quitting coffee coming along? I hope that you’re doing okay, and maybe finding other satisfying substitutes.
This is just a fabulous, fabulous post. Deserves to be widely reprinted. At the very least, you should consider posting it again, regularly!
Grechen Reiter says
thank you so much frances – that means a lot coming from you!