**I am not a trainer, a doctor, an expert, a dietitian, or anyone associated with any of those things. This is my personal story. Before deciding on any weight loss/exercise regime, please consult your doctor**
As someone who’s been considered “skinny” my entire life, most people don’t believe me when I tell them I struggle with my weight. Blame it on two kids, blame it on chronic pain, blame it on a terrible reaction to birth control. There’s plenty of blame to go around, but what I blame the most is my scale.
Two years ago, I was the lightest I’ve been since having kids. I felt confident. I felt skinny. And I felt completely unhealthy. I was killing myself with high intensity workouts and cardio every single day, living off of two bowls of cereal, and sick every weekend. I live with chronic pain, and it constantly stayed at a high level– but I was skinny, and the scale said I weighed what my “goal” weight was, so I was happy. Or so I thought.
I knew I needed to make a change, but with the scale telling me what I wanted to hear, I was afraid. I made the smart decision to value my health over my size, and I went paleo… and it completely backfired. I’m not saying this is a bad diet- it’s amazing for some people, but my body rejected it. I ballooned. I didn’t recognize myself, and the scale screamed at me how “fat” I’d become. I felt betrayed. By my diet, my doctor, my scale, and especially my body.
When I made the decision to go against what my doctor had recommended and get off the paleo diet, I was once again afraid I was doing the wrong thing, and once again relying on the scale to tell me if I was moving in the “right” direction or not. The scale agreed. The scale went down. The scale was my friend again.
My pants weren’t as tight, I wasn’t as sick, and I was finally beginning to look like “myself” again. Only, there was still a problem. I was hungry. All the time. STARVING, even. I’d listened to the scale and when it went up, I cut calories. I was eating healthy food, but not very much of it- and that made me frustrated, anxious, angry (hangry, even) and generally miserable–and probably miserable to be around. I couldn’t keep surviving like that- but the scale told me I was doing everything right. I fit into my “goal” jeans. I was staying at my “goal” weight. How could I be there and still be so unhappy?– and if I dared to stray from this diet of cutting calories, I was afraid I’d gain all the weight back and bust out of my pants again, and once again, be guilted by my scale.
I was living in a world controlled by the scale. If the scale went up, I was doing something “wrong” and I’d cut more calories. If the scale went down, I was doing something “right” and allowed myself to feel good. And trust me, as someone who has studied health and exercise- I KNEW in the back of my head that the scale lies. The scale isn’t the ultimate be-all end-all indication of health, well-being, and success, but I couldn’t shake its influence over me.
I had to finally trust in myself- trust in the advice from people I trust, and let go of the scale, start REALLY nourishing myself and not cutting so many calories, and it was probably one of the best decisions I could have ever made. Real food, fat, grain- hearty snacks, these are all things we’ve been told by so many people to steer clear from- but those people are wrong. At least, for me they were.
When you cut so many calories, when you try to live off of so few, you aren’t nourishing your body, your muscles, your brain- the way you need to in order to actually, REALLY lose weight. Sure, you might drop pounds, you might be like me and hit your goal weight- but it doesn’t feel good. It’s not sustainable, and it certainly isn’t healthy. Your body NEEDS these things, especially if you’re working out.
Now, I’m not about to show you something dramatic, so I don’t want you to get your hopes up for some breath-taking miracle story. This isn’t one of those.
On the left is me in 2013- surviving on two bowls of cereal and one full meal per day. Thin? Sure. Healthy? No.
In the middle is me in March of 2016, after cutting tons of calories and finally getting to my goal weight- spending most of my days feeling guilty about eating anything outside of what I told myself I could have. I’d reached my goal, but I didn’t feel good about it.
On the right is me this morning, 5 pounds HEAVIER than my goal weight, and one size smaller than both the other pictures.
I didn’t lose a drastic amount of weight. I GAINED weight- and at first, that totally freaked me out. What did I do?? I thought I was doing everything right! I’m eating healthy, drinking lots of water, not killing myself with insane workouts every single day. What is happening?? That’s when I realized all my pants were loose, I was fitting into clothes I hadn’t been able to wear in years, my muscles were strong, I wasn’t sick all the time, or starving, or miserable. I’d gained weight- the scale said so- but that didn’t mean I got BIGGER. That’s the thing about the scale. We let it trick us into believing that we have to live based on the number we read on it. That being heavier means being bigger, automatically means being less healthy- but that’s NOT true. Not at all.
I’m not showing you these photos because I think I deserve praise, or because I’ve found the Holy Grail of weightloss. I’m showing it to you because I know what it’s life to live a life dictated by a number. To be controlled by it. To be guilted by it. I know what it’s like to see food as the enemy. And I know what it’s like to struggle with knowing what to eat, how much, with feeling guilty for indulging. I have struggled for years. Hell, I STILL struggle- but the proof is not just in the photos, it’s in my clothes, in how I feel.
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