It can make you crazy.
It HAS made me crazy at times, to different degrees.
It wasn't until a major mind-shift from the body numbers to the activity numbers, that I saw any success at significant weight loss. That's what I mean when I talk about health and fitness. Once I focused on that, the weight started to take care of itself.
Near the end of the first round of Biggest Loser, which happened to coincide with my hitting the milestone of 100 lbs lost, we wrote reflections. This is what I wrote, over a year ago. I'm posting it now because I need the reminder:
I’ve been quite deliberate in not talking numbers with friends and family. When asked how much I’ve lost, I’ve said, “I don’t know” or “I am choosing not to discuss it.” Scale weight is the worst way to measure health, fitness, or even weight-loss progress. How much I weigh shouldn’t define who I am, and I resent how much it does. I resent how important that one stupid number is for the world in order to judge my worth. I resent how important it has been in my lifetime, and how much it has messed-up my self esteem and damaged my mental health. I am angry with myself for having let it.
So, I’ve tried to focus on fitness instead of weight. That means that I measure in increases, not decreases.
I won’t usually talk about how much I’ve lost, but I’ll talk about how long I can swim. How many lengths can I do in how many minutes? How many days per week do I work out? How much can I can lift, pull, or push? I measure by how much stronger I am than the day before. Gaining is no longer a bad thing. More is better. More reps. More dumbbell weight. More variety. More minutes. More muscle. Success is when I do something new, something I never thought I could.
With physical strength has come mental strength. The stronger my arms get, the stronger my mind gets. It’s more than just no longer telling my self “I can’t.” I try new things just to see if I can do them. I push harder. I want to be seen as the girl who doesn’t quit, who is a fighter, not the girl to be pitied for being weak. But the mental strength is more than just a desire to try. I handle stress better. I sleep better. I have stamina. There is a confidence that I thought was always there, only now others can see it. It gets projected in how I walk, how I hold myself. I have a more consistent positive outlook. There is no doubt that I am happier, and I finally understand what people mean by endorphins. It’s actually a lot harder to stay negative or angry when I work out regularly. Bouncing back from adversity is so much easier. Exercise has made me physically flexible, and emotionally resilient. Focusing on fitness instead of weight has made me stronger physically, mentally, and emotionally.
And, yet, there are the numbers. Those numbers I can’t escape because they are what we all understand.
They are how we all measure ourselves, and compare ourselves.
They are what determine our progress.
They are what determine the winner.
One hundred pounds lost is a huge milestone. Triple digits.
So, why doesn't it feel like a bigger deal?
Hitting a milestone like 100 lbs lost is momentous, but it’s been all-consuming as well. What happens after I get there? Wahoo, I see a number on the scale. And then … I just keep going. A few more pounds, and a few more. I don’t have an ultimate goal weight. The numbers are mind fucks for me. I am reminded just how obsessed I can get about weight loss by how these numbers are front and centre lately. Trying to focus on being fit, getting strong, and being healthy is supposed to mean that it doesn’t matter if I don’t lose another pound of fat. I can always get stronger, right? Even if my body stays exactly the same as it is right this very minute, I will still be able to lift more, to move faster, to swim longer, as long as I keep on going.
Letting go of the numbers is my biggest challenge, and I need to remind myself constantly of all the other benefits I've gained by changing my lifestyle.
For the first time in my life, I enjoy exercising. I like moving. I can feel the endorphins.
For the first time in my life, it’s not just habit, it’s a form of pleasure.
For the first time in my life, my fat is not the first thing or the only thing that people see about me.
For the first time in my life, my body works the way it is supposed to.
For the first time in my life, I feel strong and healthy.
My weight still defines me. Truth be told, it probably always will.
But with the changes I’ve made in the last few years, and with the help of friends, people at the Y, and especially Fitness Coach Mat I am getting to a point where I no longer hate the definition of who I am.