I’ve been singing the same tune for years.
My weight goes up, my weight goes down. I make a dramatic life change, I lose more than 100 pounds, I have a child, and all bets are off.
You see… losing over 100 pounds in 2012 and 2013 was one of my biggest accomplishments ever and something I’ve been insanely proud of. And as the weight has crept back on since pregnancy and motherhood, I’ve felt horribly ashamed. I’ve felt like people are looking at me, disappointed that I couldn’t stay skinny for long. I’ve tried to avoid the subject, as if I’m some sort of fraud. I hate posting pictures, knowing that people may “tsk tsk” in their heads, wondering why I haven’t kept all the weight off. I show up to places, embarrassed of my big again body, thinking that people are staring, wondering where the hell it all went wrong.
Here’s the thing, the thing that I’m finally learning years after the fact. I told myself that what I was doing — counting calories on MyFitnessPal — would work permanently because I was making a “lifestyle change” and not going on a diet. I knew that diets always inevitably fail, and I was certain I knew better and was above all that. I thought that counting calories for years consecutively meant that I had truly changed internally and externally, and that I had actually changed my life.
The fact of it is… calorie counting IS a diet. It’s just another diet. It was one that I could sustain for much longer than your normal diet, but it wasn’t one that I could sustain forever. I didn’t change my head, either. Mentally, I am still the same food loving, obsessive, anxious person who overeats and binges on sweets. Counting calories doesn’t change all that on the inside.
So here I am, and while I haven’t gained ALL of the weight back, I’ve gained back a good chunk of it. I’m finally in the right mindset again, the mindset where I realize that my health is more important than endless cookies. I’m ready to get back in the game, but I have to play the game differently this time. I can’t be drastic again, because drastic only works for so long (two years in my case). Drastic is almost always a diet, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time. Eventually, you get tired. So tired of measuring out portions, of weighing your food, of turning the simple task of eating into a technological ordeal in which you have to log onto your phone and search for what you’re putting into your mouth as opposed to just… putting it in your mouth. Of eating like a normal person. I can’t do that shit for the next 60 years, guys. I can’t. I also can’t work out six days a week for over an hour like I used to either. Those were the single, childless days before I worked full time and owned a house and had no free time at all.
Here is what I am doing instead.
I am doing what I can, where I am. Where I am is this place and time in life where I need to be healthy but I can’t continue to put my weight and exercise regime at the forefront of my life like I once did. I have to stop thinking and obsessing about my size and just make a change… but it has to be small. I truly believe now that the small changes are the only changes that are truly sustainable, the only proper way to change your life and not merely diet.
I know I need to make a change because I cringe when I look in the mirror or see a photo of myself. I know I need to make a change because I feel tired and bogged down. I know I need to make a change because I want to be proud of myself again, because I want to run in the wind and feel my feet hitting the pavement again and know that “hey, my body is doing this thing I once thought it couldn’t do.” I know I need to make a change… again… because I feel much the same way I did at the start of my initial weight loss journey, all those years and a lifetime ago.
Sometimes, you can only give as much as you can give. That’s okay. Do what you can, where you are. Sometimes what you can do is just stop eating cookies for breakfast and eat granola instead. Sometimes what you can do is order the grilled chicken instead of the fried. Sometimes what you can do is just stop eating dessert every night, and only do it on the weekends instead.
In case you were wondering, those are all things I’ve been doing lately. They are small things, but it’s okay. That’s what I can do right now. That’s where I’m at right now.
I don’t have to keep failing just because I don’t have the time right now to train for another half marathon. I don’t have to keep failing just because I can’t be at the gym every day anymore. I don’t have to keep failing, period. I don’t need to make those huge changes or do those huge things that I just can’t right now. I can do small things right now and still make a change. I can go for a walk with Caleb in favor of sitting on the couch a few nights a week. I can do that, can’t I? Even if I can’t run races right now like I used to?
I’ve always been a real “go-getter.” I do what I set out to do, and I often do it obsessively. Go big or go home, ya know? I didn’t just run 5Ks, I ran a half-marathon. I didn’t just drop 18 pounds, I dropped 118 pounds. And that’s kind of what my mental roadblock is right now. I’ve been telling myself that because I don’t have it in me right now to lose another hundred pounds, that it just isn’t worth it. That if I can’t go big, I may as well just go home. But that’s a lie that my perfectionist and obsessive tendencies have been telling me. It’s a lie that you have to do it big all the time. I can make small changes, shed a few pounds, go for walks instead of runs right now because I’m not physically there at the moment like I used to be.
I can do small things… I can do ALL things, actually. But I don’t have to. I know that I can do it. I proved that to myself. But I don’t HAVE to do all the things all the time. I just… don’t. The pressure can come off.
For now? I’ll do the small things, the small things that will add up, the small things that are small enough to maintain for a lifetime, and not just for right now.
I am doing what I can, where I am. And that IS enough. I AM enough.