One the journey of exploring who we are there are lots of things to consider: why certain things seem to be true about you, why you do those things, if you ever really thought about it or just did them and why you didn’t do other things. When I started four years ago intensively looking at my life and dealing with myself, one of my big question was why I had gotten so big?
At my biggest I weighted around 200lbs. I don’t really know for sure because I never thought about it except to criticize myself. Before I could address the outside, I had to do a lot of work on the inside and by that I mean a year and half of therapy. I had some destructive patterns that were damaging my marriage and making me wonder what the point to my life was.
But I invested in me, I found that when it all seemed over, I still had the strength to say “I deserved to be loved and loved well,” and growth started from there. Not the love of others but love for myself. It was my own lack of this, that allowed me to accept my negative opinions of myself and to be treated in ways that did not say “love” to me.
I started small; what could I do for myself because I loved myself. That was the key; for years I had been “trying” to be lots of things; thin, a good wife, daughter, sister, teacher, friend but it was motivated by pleasing someone else not because it was the nature of who I am or because it made me happy. When I say small, I vividly remember my therapist telling me I had to do three things a day just for myself. It didn’t matter what but I had to tell myself that “this cup of tea, is because I love me.” At that time in my life it was hard to do anything that was “just” for me, it felt selfish and like a waste.
Over time I got healthier, enough that it was time to work on the outside. Not “being” a certain weight was a necessary goal, but I didn’t love myself the way that I was and that was my motivation, to love me. So I began trying to find what kind of exercise was fun for me and I wanted to do.
I thought back over the long list of things I had tried and saw one strange consistency; I was trying to do it somebody’s way and not my own and this always set me up for failure. So then I thought about the few times I had positive experiences being fit or getting in shape. They all had to do with two things: a good friend and yoga.
I started there. I spent the next six months teaching myself the basics with books and DVD’s. I’m not the kind of person who can just jump into a class and be okay with not doing “well” so I started at my own pace. Over time I found I wanted to add more to it. The yoga really addressed my need to slowdown and love myself but it’s not cardiovascular exercise (at least not the way I practice) and so I added weights, elliptical and counting calories over several months.
I tried hard at every juncture to ask myself is this “something you want and are willing” to do. By following this inner knowing and desire I managed to go from 198lbs to 160lbs = 38lbs loss. I’m not going to lie and say that I always wanted to work out, I didn’t but I tried hard to remind myself that I was doing all of this not to look a certain way or be something but because I loved myself and I wanted to be healthy.
Fast forward a bit: I found once my heart and body began to fall into place so did my life. Suddenly I was going after the things that I wanted and no longer making excuses about why I couldn’t/ didn’t deserve them. In the summer of 2010 I quite teaching to become a full-time writer and artist. It was a bold move I never would have been able to make without all the previous work or the support of my sweet husband.
This is where I hit a fork in the road. I was 20lbs from my goal and motivation was waning. I was happy but constantly worried about money (a huge hang up from my past) and this made me second guess my decision. My husband’s job situation-our sole income- was in question. So we turned to our faith, we knew that God would not allow all these changes, changes for good in our lives, to take them away. Sure enough the job came through and we ended up moving to Virgina.
Now I find myself faced with a lot of responsibility, not just work but the commitment to myself that I will continue to care about me without a therapist telling me to do so. I won’t lie it has been hard and I have back slid-den a bit. I currently weight 165-170lbs. I am disappointed in myself but I know that those feelings will not motivate me to change only try to hold me back.
So this morning I am going to commit to a gym. I already have yoga studio that I love and that is what has been staving off a greater gain but I need to really work my body. Not because it burns fat but because I feel better when I know I have really worked at loving my by being healthier.For those of you prone to depression or blue-ness you know what I mean.
I am going to go back to counting calories because my intake is out of control for a “stay at home desk job.” I have to adjust to this new space in my life. So this is me, choosing me once again, knowing that there can only be a positive return when I love myself.