Recently I took you through my journey to greater health and wellness and what prompted the changes in my lifestyle that I am working towards today, and I thought it would be beneficial to also go through the things I wish I knew when I was getting started, because it would have saved me not only money, but headache and heartache as I struggled and struggled just to get the engine started.
I don’t know if you recall the first time you ever felt fat (and if you’ve never felt that way, do I ever envy you!) but I do.
I was young, only 9 or 10 years old. My mom came home with a new pair of jeans for me and wanted me to try them on to see if they fit. I love new clothes, and I love my jeans now but back then…. I was nervous. I took the jeans from her and went into the bathroom to change. A few minutes passed and I heard a knock on the door – it was my mom of course, wondering what the hold up was. On the other side of the door I was already crying. They didn’t fit! I opened the door, unable to connect the button at the waist, bawling my eyes out because I had just realized… I was fat. And that’s a horrifying realization when you’re in the fourth grade.
Was I though? Back then I was still growing, and quite quickly at that (I think I reached my peak height only a year or two after that.) and my mom, in all the ways that we think mothers are wonder women who just know everything about their kids, well, how could she know for sure what my size would be when she came across those jeans?
Let’s dive into #1.
The first thing I wish I knew then was that when you’re out shopping for clothes, you should always be focused on finding well fitting items that suit you body and make you feel good. You absolutely should not try to jam your body into the clothes! We’ve all been there, desperately trying to get into the Small instead of the Medium because somehow that makes us more than – but it doesn’t, right? It just makes you self conscious every time you put on that too-tight sweater and you spend the entire evening uncomfortable and eagerly anticipating taking it off and replacing it with your go-to ratty old tee.
And sizes are so arbitrary, aren’t they? Even now, comfortable with shopping and trying on new things, I know that I might be a size 6 at one store, a size 8 at another, and a size 10 somewhere else, all in the same day, and I still find myself gravitating towards the stores where I’m a 6 or an 8. To an impressionable pre-teen, seeing those numbers is gut wrenching, particularly when you’re already at the larger side of the body size scale from most of your petite classmates who haven’t hit their own growth spurts yet.
When I got a little older, I started becoming more aware of all the advertising that is aimed at vulnerable women like myself. Dare I admit I once fell for one of those scams a la Hydroxycut, Lipozene, (insert the current flavour of the week here.) – and those not only don’t work but they’re downright dangerous.
That brings me to #2.
The second thing I wish I knew then was that I didn’t need to spend money on some fancy promoted pill/tablet/laxative to get my weight down and those over the counter supplements are incredibly harmful to our bodies and our wallets.
A box of 72 Pro Clinical Hydroxycut Weight Management Capsules claiming to “significantly reduce your bmi” runs for $39.90 online today. That’s only $0.50/capsule which might seem great to you as a consumer until you remind yourself it’s not actually doing anything good for you. In fact, in 2009, “the FDA issued a consumer warning on all Hydroxycut supplements, and the company voluntarily recalled its products. The agency pointed to 23 cases of liver-related problems associated with the use of Hydroxycut. These included jaundice, brown urine, fatigue, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.” (Source: Healthline.) Sounds great, doesn’t it?
A box of 28 SkinnyTea “Detox” Tea runs $69.90 online today – that’s $2.50 per tea bag. And it doesn’t detox anything. You’re paying $2.50 for flavored water. Feel free to read more on this in my breakdown of Detox Teas in case you missed it.
When I got a little older still, I understood that eating too much was bad, so if I limited to junk intake to a smaller portion or skipped a meal to fit in in, theoretically, I would lose weight. Which, while not wrong and something I have utilized to some degree while following a simple CI < CO diet plan via MyFitnessPal, what I failed to recognize is how unbelievably unsustainable this would be.
I found myself exhausted in high school, had a difficult time keeping my head up in class and fought hard to maintain my level of activity and love of sports throughout. I crashed – hard and often. And when I was exhausted, do you know what my body craved? Carbs and fat; that sweet, sweet, comfort food. Which I’m sure I don’t need to explain to you always ended up with me feeling regretful and disappointed in myself.
Which brings me to point #3.
The third thing I wish I knew then was that there is no easy way about this. Weight loss isn’t a hit it and quit it project, it is truly a life long commitment, especially if you have a lifetime of bad habits to pull yourself out of first.
Even now, I know I have a ways to go. I‘m constantly amazed both at the resilience of my body and my will as I am it’s ability to drive me completely off track into a fiery ditch. I am fascinated by the mental gymnastics I find myself playing day in and day out. Do I go to the gym or sit at home and drink beers while watching the game? Do I get up early for a run or sleep in? Do I make a nice salad for dinner or order a pizza? Often times I know that if the thing I really want to do (read: sleep in, order pizza, drink beers, watch the game.) are not the things that are going to help me achieve my goals.
Back in highschool when I was first experimenting with methods to lose weight, as I mentioned, I found myself doing it in secret. Yeah, my parents might have been aware I was hopping on the treadmill in the basement because I would blast my favourite punk rock bands while I did it, but they didn’t know the mental struggle that was going on inside my head. At it’s surface, it probably looked great that I was taking an interest in my health, but I was going about it in all the wrong ways. I wasn’t eating enough nutrients, I was over-exerting myself and burning out, and I was in a seemingly endless cycle of binging and regret.
This is where #4 comes in.
Your support team is everything.
Did you know that the number one thing Weight Watchers members say they love about the program is the weekly meetings and accountability check-ins? That speaks volumes to me.
I didn’t actually fully start to understand what actions I needed to take until I started actively engaging with members of the MyFitnessPal community, both on the forums and in my own personal profile (which functions a lot like Facebook, in that you can share posts, photos, and your progress with your friends.) Today I find myself regularly contributing, engaging, researching and learning from others who are on the same path as me (in their own unique way.) and I couldn’t imagine not having an army of health & fitness friends to talk to when I’m having a rough day and feeling bad about my choices. The encouragement and reminders from them to keep my eyes on my goals are priceless to me, and I thank my lucky stars for having found them.
Now finally, my last little tidbit that I wish I knew then… roll out #5.
I am enough.
As I am now, and as I will be in the future, and as I was in the past. I am enough. I don’t owe anything to anybody. I don’t need to fit into an ideal set by a designer in a foreign country that has a completely different view of what is “healthy.” My focus should be me, my comfort, and my goals. And so should yours.
I’m reminded now by a quote by Katie Couric that appeared in the documentary “Miss Representation” (which I highly recommend to women of all ages, and men, too!) where she said, “If women spent a tenth of the time thinking about how to solve the world’s problems as they think about their weight… we could solve them in a matter of months.”
I really believe that to be true and the question I want to leave you with is… do you?
*If you are embarking on a weight loss journey or simply looking to improve your health, and are looking for an accountability buddy, by all means feel free to reach out to me on any social media, e-mail me, or whatever you’d like. I’m happy to lend an ear and encourage your movement with positivity and kindness. If you really want to dive in and do a 30 day health cleanse (it’s not really a cleanse in the sense that you might think, as I have outwardly spoken up about why “cleanses” in the way they are marketed to us are bunk.) with me – even better! Message me to learn how to get started.