Getting Healthy Again: The Tough Lessons

I could write a novel about my issues with weight and body image, but I’d rather stick to what I’ve learned from my experiences. I’ll summarize by saying that I’m still a work in progress. I’ve also come to accept that my healthy size doesn’t fit into the normal BMI range. (In fact, the only time my BMI would’ve been considered normal was for a year or 2 back in middle school.) This was the first of many tough lessons in my quest for better health.

I’m working on eating mindfully – as I have for most of my life – but I did have to change my eating habits in order to get back to my healthy size. I’ll detail these changes in my next few posts. What I didn’t realize at first was how important the emotional component would be.

The Fear of Getting Started

At 9 months pregnant with my 5th baby, I realized that I’d need to lose 65+ lbs. to get back to my normal size. It intimidated me to set that goal, knowing how long it would take to reach it. However, I decided not to wait for the perfect day and got to work immediately. Baby steps are still steps in the right direction, and they will get you there eventually.

Taking Responsibility

Long before I got started, I heard lots of pessimism about how hard it is to lose weight. I felt that most people wouldn’t support my goals, so I never shared my intentions on social media. I instead decided to wait until I’d actually reached my goal before saying anything about it. (I’m still not sure if it’s a good idea.) If I’d waited for overwhelming support, I never would have started. I relied on myself, my husband, and God to help me reach my goals.

I had to learn responsibility for my failures as well. When I had a tough day and didn’t make the healthiest choices, I kept going instead of blaming others. I learned how to adapt and forgive myself for not wanting to eat healthy foods all the time. In a way, perseverance was the hardest of these tough lessons to learn because I had to think about it almost every day.

Adapting Goals

I’m not in my 20’s anymore, I’ve had 5 babies, and I’ve been through some pretty difficult times. If those things changed my identity permanently, why can’t they also change my body? I’ve thought about this every day for many years now, wondering exactly how I’m supposed to look now. I decided to set a tentative goal. As I got closer, I reevaluated my progress again and again.

I thought my goal would take me a year, but it ended up taking 18 months. I’d also planned to lose 70 lbs, but I ended up stopping at 65. The journey was much longer and more difficult than I expected. It felt a lot like taking a long hike with far too many breaks, plateaus, and not enough stunning views to make it worth it.

Happy because I’m still alive in the middle of a pandemic.

Happy Any Time

I’ve never liked those stories where someone starts off saying, “I was fat and miserable, then I got skinny, and now my life is perfect!”

Life has always been imperfect. Some of my most unhappy days were also “skinnier” ones for me. Reaching my goal this time was no different. (To be truthful, it was a bit underwhelming.) I’d much rather have those pounds back if it meant we didn’t have to be in the middle of a pandemic.

I feel good about myself because I choose to. God approves of me, so it doesn’t really matter if anyone else does.

I also deserve clothes that fit, no matter what size I am. I bought myself new things along the way as I changed sizes. Every day, I looked in the mirror and told myself, “I’ll be happy at this size, even if I never lose another pound.” It was true, too. At the time, I had no idea how things would progress or how close I’d be able to get to my original goal. I learned to be committed to the process of being healthy and not set on a certain number for my outcome. It’s a good thing, because I didn’t reach my original goal. I could let the last 5 pounds consume my life, or I can move on.

Tough Lessons Learned

I didn’t get to my current state of health overnight. It took many months of diligence to regain my strength and reestablish healthy habits that I’d been unable to keep during pregnancy. I’m glad I started with those baby steps as soon as I could.

Staying healthy will always take effort and mindfulness. I’m still learning how to best define what healthy means for me. Right now, it means coping with twice at much work at home (thanks to homeschooling) and a ton of uncertainty. As with trying times before, I’m working to take care of myself not just physically, but mentally. I’m still learning all of these tough lessons every day, but I’m grateful for them.

See my other posts about physical health here. More will be coming soon!

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