Once upon a time I lost 100 pounds.
I worked hard to get there. Was mindful of everything I put in my mouth. Worked out with a vigorous schedule. Ran miles and miles and miles. I was absolutely proud of what I accomplished because I worked my tail off to get there. I had let go of any requirements on what my body looked like and was hooked on movement. I was showing my daughter how to show up for herself, in her body, for herself. I stopped blaming my life on my weight and started living my life, trying new things and knocking out physical accomplishments.
What you don’t see here are the parts of my life that were falling apart. My legs looked damn good in a photograph but my stress level was so high that I struggled with IBS for the first time in my life. I physically shook with anxiety about stressors at work. I was struggling with a toddler at home most days alone. My marriage was on life support. In those years- exercise was sustaining me. Those were the only hours I felt ok.
My body was the most physically fit it had ever been and it showed. And my nerves were still so shot my bowels weren’t having it.
Then we turned everything upside down, starting the long road to where we wanted to be. I quit working odd hours and my wee one started preschool. My husband went back to school and we moved into my parent’s garage. I quit teaching bootcamp and taking personal training clients to focus on writing. The stress didn’t stop but I slowed down the ways I was taxing myself. I did a lot more of this:
I never stopped moving. Never changed my dedication to caring for myself daily. I never looked at my changing body and wondered if I was worthy of good things. But the stressors of my life piled higher. I had a job that I grew so much from but often left me in tears. Very little privacy anywhere. It felt like I went from place to place to hear how horribly I was doing. No solace or calm but what I found in the trees.
So here’s some basic science. My body looked one way when I was teaching bootcamps, running distances, carefully portioning my food and training hard on a schedule. My body looked a different way when I lifted with no plan but finding some power in my meekness, spent more time walking than sprinting, and quit prioritizing measuring food. I fully accept my body however it comes and appreciate so much that it has continued to sustain me.
Things have changed again. Things are always changing. I like to think of these as seasons in my life. And I respect the season and what it asks of me. I am more interested in doing whatever is required of me to live well than I am in maintaining a physique. I know people who have different values choices about that. That decision is up to you. You don’t owe anyone an explanation of your own priorities, but it’s worth while to make sure you are living your own.
Once I got my head above water I still chose not to prioritize fitness in the way I had before. Generally speaking I lift 3 days a week and walk/yoga/dance/whatever movement I choose 2 days a week. But I haven’t put any real effort into “results” for several years. Choosing instead to put my focus elsewhere.
I wrote two books:
I teamed up with some powerhouses and put on a retreat:
I’ve been traveling with new friends and speaking all over saying exactly what I want to say:
My marriage has become one of the brightest parts of my life. 10 years together this year.
I learned to fight which transformed my relationship to feeling safe in my body:
I’ve followed my heart and curiosity to some strange and magical places:
I have changed, I have grown, I have continued to take great care of myself. And I have gained weight. My legs don’t look today like they do in the first photo but neither does my life. I have agonized about these changes for a rough estimate of about 20 minutes in the last several years.
When I made the decision to not live as though the appearance of my body was my value, I stuck to it. When I made the shift in believing I deserved great care, I kept it up. When I decided to take ownership of all of my life, I meant it. And I’m incredibly pleased with how I have chosen to prioritize my time and energy.
I pay attention to my weight. Again, personal boundaries and needs are yours to decide. But I have a neutral relationship with that number so I just keep loose track of it. And for the first time in years I’m seeing weight loss again. The number is decreasing. My clothes are getting looser.
I have my footing again. With a slew of things behind me, a grasp on the process of how I work and having established healthier emotional boundaries in my life- I have time and energy again to devote to specific training. Movement and trying new things makes the top of my list of priorities consistently, but focused planning of it has not for sometime. However recently I have chosen to free up some space for that. I’ve made some different choices about how I train, the intensity with which I train, I’m interested again. I’m “in the sport” instead of primarily for the emotional aspect of movement and strength.
So here’s some science again: Regular sprint drills, maximal effort in planned strength sessions and making more conscious efforts in how I’m fueling that training is changing my body. And to be honest, while I’m excited to feel myself getting faster, I’m pretty middle of the road with regard to how I feel about the physical change. I’ve been loving my bigger hips and softness. But I know (having been so many different sizes) that wherever I end up will come with it’s own fun attributes. I will always primarily appreciate my body’s sustaining me.
What lead to my weight gain? Changes in my choices around eating and training. What is leading to my current weight loss? Changes in my choices around eating and training. That’s it. For me it’s super objective. You see results where you put your energy. I am accountable for and happy with all the choices that lead to both outcomes.
The nuanced pieces in there about what I chose to give energy to and why, what challenges I was dealing with emotionally and what I felt lead to do with that- that’s my life. My life that is sometimes uphill and sometimes doesn’t slow down. My life that is beautiful and messy and at times even numb. My life that I take full responsibility for in which I am striving to live by my own values every single day.
Perhaps this weight loss that I’m seeing now is fleeting. Maybe I lose weight and it never comes back again. I’m already bored actually thinking about the possibilities for my aesthetic. Which doesn’t mean you have to feel the same way, this is a values statement not a values judgement.
Living my priorities means I move everyday. I care about being strong and in the kind of shape that means I could race to help my kid if she were in danger. I take care of all the parts of who I am and take special care to let my body lead on when to rest and when to push. I deal with my emotions directly and always seek growth. I nurture my meaningful relationships. I stand for and create what I believe in no matter what. If I’m doing all of that, I’m living the way I truly want for myself.
Those are the only measurements with which I concern myself.
For your own thinking:
What are you dealing with/going through/creating right now? What’s the focus?
Are you healthy? Taking care of yourself? How best can you care for yourself now?
What are your priorities and values? Does the way you expend your energy reflect that?
There are no wrong answers to those questions, they are just worth thinking through. I believe, regularly and often.