My mental health issues are not a secret. If you look back in the recesses of this blog you’ll see tons of posts from when I was at the lowest point of my life. I’ve struggled with depression for probably 10 or so years, and then after Noah was born that manifested into severe PPD and PTSD due to the events of his birth.
In November/December 2012, when Noah was almost 2 years old, I was actively planning how to kill myself. However, I decided to get help. Talk therapy and Zoloft helped pull me out of the hole. I also decided to take 2013 off from any weight loss attempts, and just concentrate on pulling my mental health back together.
After 6 months, I got pregnant so I dropped my pills cold turkey (not smart, I know). I had a miscarriage only about a week or so later (it was very early), but I decided not to continue with the medication or therapy.
I decided that I didn’t want to hate my body anymore. I came to accept that that was the weight that I was. I got rid of all of my skinny clothes and bought clothes in my actual size. I decided to stop putting off my wedding in the hopes of getting to my goal weight. I got married in July 2013.
When 2014 came around, I was in a completely different, and much healthier mindset. I was ready to actually put the work in. So I did. I lost 40lbs between January and May. Then I got lazy and basically maintained (I gained 7lbs but that is so incredibly minor that I was not too concerned about it) until this January.
I am outlining my mental health issues because of a comment someone made on a lady fitness group I’m in:
“I strongly believe that loving your body is the first and foremost step to losing weight. Believing that you deserve to have the body you want is so much more important than people can believe.”
I very much strongly agree with this. So many people, women especially, are prone to starting diet or exercise plans because they HATE themselves. That negative thinking and attitude will NEVER attain positive, long term results. Starting out hating the way you look will (more often than not) result in someone who is obsessive about the scale fluctuations and obsessive about every single thing she puts in her mouth. That kind of thinking results in fad diets, scammy MLM diet aids, crash dieting, etc etc. These are NOT good things.
Look at food as something that nourishes and propels you. It is not your enemy. You have to consume SOME sort of food for your entire life, so don’t demonize it. That gives it too much power.
Don’t punish binges with insane cardio sessions. Exercise is NOT a punishment and shouldn’t be used as such. Exercise helps your cardiovascular system, helps build muscle, overall health, and many other key components for living. Regular exercising also helps with bone strength and density for women in particular. And guess what? You physically CANNOT work out enough to burn all of the calories from your binge (nor does it really work like that).
You also can’t binge on Sunday and work it off on Monday morning. Sorry.
Losing weight is 80% food / 20% exercise. You can lose weight without exercising (this is easier to do when you have a lot of weight to lose, and it tends to be a slower way of doing it – BUT THAT’S OKAY), but it’s pretty damn difficult, if not outright impossible, to lose weight without changing your diet up first.
Whatever particular diet you subscribe to, the first and foremost thing you need to establish is….is it sustainable?
There are NO quick fixes. No 21 day diets or 30 day diets or detoxes or cleanses or anything like that. They don’t work.
General Dieting Tips (from a non-expert)
- If you do not have a good knowledge base for how much food you are eating and how many calories you are consuming, start weighing and measuring your food (use grams as much as possible) and logging your calories on a program/app like My Fitness Pal. (Click here to add me as a friend or just to check out my food diary).
- Do NOT estimate your food consumption. This is how I ended up eating 2 tbsp of peanut butter and counting it as one serving, resulting in an unknown extra 200+ calories a day. Weigh and measure EVERYTHING until you feel like you have a good idea of what a serving looks like. Even then, don’t get cocky! Weigh it occasionally to make sure you’re right.
- Go figure out your BMR. That’s the number of calories needed to maintain your current weight if you were in a coma.
- Try not to eat less than that (I know that can be difficult).
- For the love of GOD, do not aim for 1200 calories a day. You are a grown ass adult person and need more than just air to survive.
- “Clean” eating is a damn lie. Pretty much everyone can stand to eat less processed food and more greens and meat, BUT demonizing food as “bad” while allowing marketing to determine what is “good” is not a good thing to do.
- Organic is not better. Sorry, it’s a marketing tool. If you like the taste better or just prefer it, go for it. I’m not your mom. But don’t feel guilty about not buying organic, and don’t think that you are ruining your weight loss attempts because you are buying conventional food. GMOs are not evil or dangerous for human consumption.
- 1-2 lbs is a healthy weight of loss. However, when you are first starting out and/or have a lot of weight to lose, you will probably lose more than that initially. But it will slow down. That’s normal.
- Your weight fluctuates 1-3lbs/day on average. Always weigh yourself at the same time and in the same conditions. I prefer to weigh myself every day but only log my Wednesday weight because I like to see the fluctuations. I know that if I was 210 on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, and then had pizza on Tuesday night and weighed in at 213 on Wednesday, that 213 is not my real weight.
- Women can fluctuate around 5-7lbs per day when they have their period or in hormonal changes in their cycle. Keeping track of where you are in your cycle can help you understand why your weight may change so much from day to day (I’m not sure if this varies depending on what birth control a woman is using or not using, though). As an example, I “gained” a pound on my last period two weeks ago, but when I weighed in last week I lost 4, and I’m not on any hormonal birth control.
It’s so important to remember that real life is always a factor. There will ALWAYS be birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, etc, where food is a central aspect of celebration. Having a cupcake won’t kill you. One day of overeating won’t ruin your entire diet, it just doesn’t. Part of self-love is not getting obsessive over what is put in your mouth.
Blah, blah, love yourself.
I realize that this is way easier said than done. I look at old pictures of myself and the feelings of shame and embarrassment creep in around the corners. It’s HARD not to judge yourself for your body, especially if you’re like me and you’ve lost a significant amount of weight (and have more to go). I still catch myself feeling up my belly fat and wishing it would go away. I think that this is normal. I mean, I’ve been doing the same thing since I was a small child, which is sad in it’s own way.
In a society where a woman’s worth is determined by the number on the scale, it’s really difficult not to internalize that message. Shopping is still pretty terrible, especially for tops. I see pictures every day of women in my various lady exercise groups who have my dream body, or women in my local running club who are beautiful and fast athletes, and it’s hard not to have little twinges of disdain for my own body.
But I really try to focus on the good parts of my body. A woman from my bootcamp class complimented me on my shoulders over a month ago and I still think that’s one of my favorite compliments ever. I’m getting my collarbones back and I’m really proud of that.
A year ago I couldn’t run across the parking lot of my condo complex without huffing and puffing. This past Sunday I ran/walked a half marathon. In 2012 it was discovered that I had a fatty liver. As of this summer it’s cleared itself up and I’m back to being completely healthy again.
My body is capable of so many amazing things and it’s really important to concentrate on that. I know that I have a long way to go. I probably will never be an elite or in the top 3 of any race, but I think I’m okay with that. One day I won’t be dead last. There will be someone like me out there and maybe I could encourage her too.
We are only limited by the boundaries we place for ourselves. If you wish to lose weight and/or achieve fitness goals, you need to WANT it. You need to know that you are worth it. You are worth so much more than a number on a scale. You have to accept that there are no quick fixes and to not get hung up on the plateaus, weight gains, life circumstances, or anything else that may impede your progress.
You’ll get there eventually.