Every post needs to start out with a picture right? A running picture even though I’m going to jump into a little weight loss history…
I’ve given bits and pieces of my fit journey on the ABOUT page, but I didn’t dive in too deep and maybe that was a mistake. When I was pregnant with our youngest (now 7 years old) my body grew to an uncomfortable size around 200 lbs (I am 5’5”). I’m not exactly sure how big I got, but I remember at my 40 week appointment I hit 197 lbs. He ended up being more than 1 week overdue, so I know I grew from there, but I was so horrified by 197 that I didn’t want to know what my weight actually was.
You might be thinking “so what, it’s pregnancy” no big deal.
False. Gaining over 60 lbs in 9 months is a huge deal, and I was really uncomfortable. Not to mention my self-confidence was completely shot.
Over a month after coming home from the hospital the natural weight loss started to plateau and I was somewhere in the 170’s range. I had never been that size in my life! I was still wearing some of my maternity clothes because I couldn’t bear the thought of buying regular clothes that size. I couldn’t give up, I had to get into my old clothes and get down to the 130’s.
I tried to find some pictures of that time, and I could only find a couple. Clearly I was dodging every camera in sight!
I know for some, breastfeeding melts the extra weight right off, and I’m unfortunately not one of those people. Every time I tried to exercise my milk supply would go down noticeably, with even an easy walk around the neighborhood. My son’s nutrition was more important than my weight, so I focused more on eating healthy instead of exercise.
But can I tell you how hard that was? I was really tempted to give up breastfeeding, which is silly. Like I said, my self-confidence was completely shot, and I felt stuck like there was nothing I could do about it. (Or so I thought).
I’m bringing all this up because I want every mother out there to know that working off “baby weight” takes work, takes effort, takes time and it can be hard.
It took me over a year to get back down to my normal size. There was no quick fix, and I tried just about every diet out there to find what worked for me. It was slowly making the necessary lifestyle changes. After all the reading, dieting, and research I’ve landed here in this place where I have found eating natural foods gives me the best results. AND the benefits go far beyond weight loss and weight control.
But this post isn’t really about food, it’s about self-esteem. 😉
Above food and exercise I have found the way I feel about myself and my body are key. Lacking self-confidence can take you on a vicious cycle that looks something like this:
I dislike my extra body fat >> I’m dissatisfied with my body >> I work out and eat right to lose the fat >> I weigh myself to measure progress >> I disregard small amounts of progress I’m making, and can’t see it on the scale >> I feel my efforts aren’t working >> this makes me stress >> I can’t handle the stress so I give up >> and now back to the beginning.
Sometimes there’s a few more steps in there like after I cause my own stress I try harder >> more work outs, cleaner eating, >> more mental stress >> stress brings on cortisol >> cortisol signals your body that you’re under physical stress >> your body stores fat to protect against stress and famine.
Stress and cortisol are sneaky. Cortisol protects us from the very thing we’re trying to do!
Give yourself a break. Can you imagine if you allowed yourself the freedom from the number on the scale? Toss the scale and base your success on some other metric. This is one tool I learned from Whole30, and I still refuse to step on the scale. Take a picture of you before, then in 4 weeks of working take another picture. Write down your fitness goals like how far you want to run, how much weight you want to lift, how far you want to swim, something you can achieve and work towards. These are the things to measure. Focus on your accomplishments.
You are so much more than what you weigh. I promise.
Think about your best friend. Would you like he/she more or less if their weight changed? Would you consider your friend undeserving of the best things in life because of their size? Would you criticize them about their weight frequently? No, no you wouldn’t. So why do we put that kind of pressure on ourselves?
I’m not perfect at this, and I struggle with loving my body. I carry any extra weight in my legs, and I have wide hips. I’ve hated my legs and hips since the second grade. I can’t tell you the number of diets I’ve quit because even though I lost weight my legs were still large. This is so silly. There are a million different body types, and we tend to look what others have and want exactly what we don’t have ourselves. Why do we do this? Why put that kind of pressure on ourselves. Do I really expect myself to overwrite my own DNA?
It’s destructive to have negative feelings about ourselves, especially over things we’re unable to control. I was overlooking was the fact that I have two perfectly great working legs, and those legs have accomplished so many things over the years. Competitive soccer teams, drill team, snowboarding, hiking and a 50 mile backpacking trip to name a few.
It’s a small thing, but it’s amazing how just trying to be grateful has changed my attitude towards me and my body. Those legs? How can I hate on legs that carried me for an 11 mile run last week? 11 MILES!!
Aside from getting rid of cortisol, finding some self-confidence actually enhances your motivation and can push you closer to your goals.
How do we gain self-confidence? I already mentioned being GRATEFUL, which is an easy place to start. Write it down, make a list, journal it, write it on your mirror, pray and thank God. However you show your gratitude for your body and your abilities, just do it in a way that reminds you often. When I stretch before and after running I thank God every time for my legs. Before, I used to stretch and be made so aware of any extra fat. If I feel those thoughts return, I start mentally listing all experiences those legs have given me. Yes, it’s work and I’m still working, but it’s far less exhausting than the hate.
Focusing on your STRENGTHS and looking at what you’ve already ACHIEVED can boost your self-confidence. This gives you the “proof” of what you’ve already done and what you’re still capable of doing.
Those legs I’ve been hating on, I’ve gone 11 miles. I KNOW I can do a marathon. And that seems like such a bigger and worthy accomplishment than getting down to a certain number on a scale. You are worth so much more than what you weigh. You deserve all the good things in life no matter what your size is. Allowing yourself to love YOU will give you the confidence, motivation, power and good energy to accomplish just about anything.