I’ve done a lot of thinking about my original weight loss journey and subsequent weight gain.
While I wouldn’t consider it a complete failure, it sure wasn’t a total success. After losing 118 pounds… in the span of four years, I gained back about 90 of those pounds.
It wasn’t a total failure for the obvious reason of not gaining ALL of it back before deciding this past September to get back on track. I’ve now started to lose the weight again and it feels really, really good. It feels like I’m more in control of my life now again and I needed that. I’m succeeding again and I love it.
It also wasn’t a total failure for the less obvious reason of the transformation I went through, both in body and mind, with some of the effects still lingering despite the weight gain. Back in 2012 and 2013 when I lost all the weight, I finally started to realize who I was and what I was capable of. I never felt more confident in myself, both in appearance and in spirit. I was stronger than I knew I could ever be and my body was capable of things I never expected. The weight fell off and uncovered who I truly was underneath it all. A girl who had an actual voice and could stick up for herself when she needed to. A girl who could run, even if it was incredibly slowly. A girl who could wish for something, hope for something, dream for something, and make it a reality. A girl with determination and grit that was always hiding under the weight and accompanying low self-esteem. For those reasons, my transformation was a huge success on the inside, maybe even more so than on the outside.
Then I gained much of the weight back during and after my pregnancy, and I started to retract into my shell again a bit. I lost some of the confidence I had worked so hard to uncover. My anxiety, obsession, and depression began to kick it into high gear again. I felt my control slipping out of my hands and I scowled at the body I saw in the mirror the same way that I used to. I decided in September that I needed to feel control again, to love my body again, to lose the weight for both my appearance but also for my confidence, the confidence I worked so hard to grow and find.
While trying to assess what happened and why I started to fail, I uncovered the biggest reason and that was my need for perfection.
I dropped weight incredibly quickly, which in and of itself isn’t normally a good idea for long term and permanent weight loss. But the way I did it was also not the best idea, though I didn’t see it at the time. I did it nearly perfectly. I logged every single bite of food and stayed under calories nearly all of the time. I exercised six days a week and threw my entire life into losing weight and getting fit. I had a 1000+ day streak of logging in on MyFitnessPal, and prioritized that app at the risk of other, more important things. Nothing else much mattered. I skipped parties and gatherings so I wouldn’t be tempted by food and missed out on family time because of it. I tried so hard to be perfect and I was. It worked for a little while, but then Caleb came and priorities changed. I got burned out on being perfect all the time, and became fed up with watching every single bite of food that I ate. I couldn’t do it anymore without going crazy and losing my mind.
This time around, I’ve learned from those mistakes and have made changes to the way I’m going about the weight loss. Though I want so badly to wake up and be skinny again, it cannot and should not happen overnight. It will take time and I’ve learned to slow my weight loss down, even though sometimes I get so impatient and sick of being fat. I want it to go faster but I know it’s not the wisest way to go about it.
I’ve decided to be good instead of perfect, even if that means slower progress than I’d like. I can log my food but without the precision and in depth details that I used to. I can make estimates, and not log every single bite if I know that I have a lot of calories left for the day and will generally not be going over. I can miss a day here or there. I can go over calories a few days a month if I want to and not beat myself up over it and feel incredibly guilty. I can lose half a pound a week instead of two (and one week in 2012, FIVE pounds!). I can exercise without taking it to the point of exhaustion. I can forgive myself if I slip up and gain a pound here or there. I can be good but I don’t have to be perfect.
I know that I will struggle with food, fitness, and weight for the entirety of my life. Being overweight is partly genetics, partly behavior, and it’s an incredibly difficult thing to break free from. Maybe, because of my build and my history, I am destined to be fat… but I am not destined to hate myself. I believe it’s within my control and power to change that destiny, that mold that I’ve been placed in my whole life and am trying to escape. Because this is a lifelong thing for me, I simply can’t be perfect. I know I’d burn out again and give up. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and quit when you won’t let yourself make any mistakes or won’t allow yourself to ever slip up from time to time.
I’m going to give it all that I have, but sometimes all that I have is simply just… good, but not perfect. And that’s good enough! Giving myself grace in this journey and realizing that I don’t have to be perfect or obsessive is what I believe will work permanently. Some days, some WEEKS will be better than others. Some days I’ll stay perfectly on track, and some days I will slip and fall and mess up. That is ultimately what this weight loss journey — and life — is all about. Slipping but catching yourself. Falling but refusing to stay down. Picking yourself up and dusting yourself off when you need to. Making mistakes some days but correcting them the others. Living and learning from the past, and realizing what needs to change this go round. It’s all about balance and eating cake when you want to, but not the whole damn thing. It’s fighting temptation, but not all the time (just most of the time). It’s holding yourself accountable, but not missing out on life because of it. It’s doing the right thing but without the self-imposed pressure and guilt when you sometimes do the wrong thing. It’s doing the wrong thing from time to time and eating the candy even though you’ll go over calories, because dammit, sometimes you just want to live.
It’s true that you can be good without being perfect. And truth be told, I’d rather just be good. It’s a lot less boring than perfect.