When I first started losing weight, I made a list of reasons to lose weight that I kept on my phone and looked at frequently when I got tempted, so that I could remember WHY I was saying no to the doughnut. This list included things like getting off blood pressure medication and fitting into tall boots. It was hugely helpful during that first year of serious weight loss.
As I transitioned into weight maintenance, I made another list, because I recognized that maintenance was a whole different ball game. That list is certainly still all true, but my perspective continues to evolve the longer I’m in “maintenance” (or really, regaining and relosing the same 15 pounds over and over). Truthfully, maintenance is harder for me than losing weight was. The farther I go in the process, the more I realize that it is really is never going to be “done.” This is really about never giving up, not about my clothes size or the number on the scale (179 today).
Some days, I’ll be honest, it is depressing to realize that this is probably always going to be somewhere in my mind. Yes, it gets better and every day I get better at learning balance in terms of my relationship with food and with my body, but it will likely always be somewhere on my back burner mentally. Truthfully, that’s not a bad thing because I’ll probably always be a binge eater, I’ll always have diabetes and hypertension risks thanks to my personal and family history and I’ll always remember how easy it is to gain 100 pounds. It’s scary easy and it didn’t take me long back when I gained this weight in college. The important thing is that I never give up – never give up on myself, on my striving for a healthy relationship with food and on my commitment to my health.
With all that said, it’s time for a new list. I love lists, don’t you?
- Those little eyes are going to be watching even closer as Oliver gets older and smarter. The questions he asks now are already amazing and interesting for me to answer, like why do I have to take medicine every day. We try to teach him to take care of his body without going overboard and projecting our own issues onto him, which is surprisingly difficult some days! It’s worth it, though. Right now I have a kiddo who talks about how important it is to exercise to keep our muscles strong and why we eat certain foods (there’s nothing like a 4 year old who talks about fiber!). No matter how hard it is some days to keep making the best choices I can, seeing that little face watching me and learning from me reminds how important I am as a role model right now.
- I’m hopefully done with high blood pressure and diabetes (knock on wood), but now I have lupus in the picture. Yes, I got angry that I still got sick with something after all the work I did to improve my health, but I know that continuing to eat well and exercise will help keep me on the “annoying” end of the lupus spectrum (as my oh-so-tactful rheumatologist phrased it). A healthy diet and regular exercise are good for my lupus and every other aspect of my health, not just for cosmetic reasons and I need to embrace that as the norm, not some restriction I’m placing on myself.
- I’ve got 30+ years of bad habits to reframe, from my thoughts on food to my view of my body. Even though I lost 100 pounds, I’m not done yet. The hardest work is still ahead of me, as I learn to see food as something other than my salvation or my enemy and my body as something other than loose skin and cellulite. I always work best with a goal ahead of me and even though I’m the only one who can see my progress on this one, it’s the most important one yet.
- Why would I give up? I’d be giving on myself and I’m worth more than that.
I’m realizing more and more these days that soon, I’ll be the only one who remembers where I was before all of this. I meet students all the time who have no idea what I used to look like or how much my lifestyle has changed. I meet parents and teachers at school who don’t know and even the people who do know will forget over time, as all memories fade. I won’t forget, not all of it, and that’s okay because I need to remember enough to keep trying every day.
What’s on your list of reasons not to give up today?