My fitness and wellness journey has taken a lot of twists and turns. It’s important for me to reflect on where I’ve been so I can remember how far I’ve come.
For the longest time all I wanted was for someone to say to me “Lauren, you’re skinny.” I cringe as I write that because there are two things so very wrong with that sentence:
First and foremost, skinny does not equal beautiful. Yes, skinny can be beautiful. Just as curvy, full-figured, fit, strong, lean, and voluptuous can also be beautiful. But in my head, I thought SKINNY equated to beauty. But what does being beautiful matter if I’m not healthy? In my head, I know that looking a certain way is completely irrelevant, yet I used to care about it A LOT. Like, too much.
And second, I was looking for validation from other people!! I literally wanted other people to see me as skinny… and then tell me I was skinny. Eeeek, not only did I care what other people thought, I wanted to hear them say it. Jeez, if that isn’t low self-esteem I don’t what is. And I’m sure I’m not alone in that. It always feels nice when someone tells you look good, but it shouldn’t be that important to you. At the end of the day, you’re on the only one seeing your reflection in the mirror every day, so you better find a way to be OK with that!
Now back to my journey…
Like most young girls, I became aware of my body sometime in middle school. By 12 or 13 years old I was already very conscious of the number on the scale. I was always an active kid—I played tennis and ran track throughout middle school and high school. I was always on the move. Buuuut, the sweet tooth that I had growing up quickly became a whole set of teeth that craved SUGAR! I started putting on weight in my senior year of high school… but the weight really started to come on the first year or so of college. And I wish I could say it was the typical freshman 15 that most college-aged kids put on from guzzling beer on the weekend, but it wasn’t. I was just going through “stuff” and I unknowingly (at the time) was using food as a coping mechanism.
By 2010, I was 23 years old and my heaviest at 158 lbs. It didn’t matter what I looked like, I felt crappy. And the crazy part was that I was going to the gym, working out, and trying to eat healthy. Obviously whatever I was doing wasn’t working because at 23 years old I was pushing 160lbs and felt like garbage.
That year I joined Weight Watchers… with my grandma. I don’t think I told anyone until years later because I was so incredibly embarrassed that not only did I need Weight Watchers to help me lose weight, but I was doing it with my grandma. Have you ever been to a Weight Watchers meeting? At 24/25 I was the youngest one there by at least a couple of decades. It felt weird and uncomfortable but I was willing to try anything. And I did it. I lost about 25 lbs… gained back 5 and fluctuated between 138-141 lbs for the next 5 years. But I still didn’t feel my best.
After giving birth to Ethan in 2015, I decided to give Beachbody coaching a try. And as I’ve mentioned in an earlier blog post, it was one of the best decisions of my life. The fact that I lost weight and kept it off, has been a bonus to all the other amazing things that came from it.
But truth be told, I started because I wanted a way to hold myself accountable to get fitter, get stronger, and make better food choices. And I did. It took time because I needed to work on my relationship with food. And this part is still a big challenge for me. It goes in ebbs and flows. There are days, weeks and months I feel great about food and then I’ll go through a phase where I’m not feeling so hot. But I’ve learned that changing one or two small things can result in BIG changes over time. For instance, I would often have a muffin and hot chocolate for breakfast at work. Now, I don’t leave my house without making my protein shake (protein powder, kale/spinach, berries and a banana). And yes, I sometimes have a muffin too. (Yes, I said “too”… don’t judge, I can eat more than you think 😉 ). But my normal breakfast is a shake. And anything outside of that is a treat.
Maybe for you it’s eating four cookies every night after dinner. Don’t cut them out entirely. Make that four a two… you still get to enjoy the cookies but do you need four of them? Or can two keep you satisfied?
I’ve also learned that you don’t need to do everything right 100% of the time in order to see results. An all-or-nothing mentality is what makes people binge, right? If you deprive yourself of something for long enough you’re going to go CRAZY when you finally cave in. This has happened to me SO. MANY. TIMES. It’s like telling a kid not to touch a hot stove… because they shouldn’t they want to even more. So if you tell yourself I’m not going to eat Oreos until I lose 20 lbs, you are probably going to dream about Oreos until you cave and eat a whole box of them. Then you’re going to feel like crap and throw in the towel for the rest of that day, and hell, maybe even the week because why not? And then all of a sudden it’s just too late and you’ll just start again on January 1st. Sound familiar? Again, I can write the story because I lived it. I know what it feels like.
Don’t beat yourself up over poor food choices. This right here is probably the one that I struggled with the most. And only over the past couple of months have I learned to not do this. I don’t always make the right choices. If I did I’d probably be rockin’ a 6-pack and be about 120 lbs with all the movement I do. But I want to enjoy my life. I want to go out to dinner and not think about whether or not I should have a piece of bread (that absolutely shouldn’t even be a question, kids. ALWAYS eat the bread). But I used to get angry at myself when I would overeat or make bad choices. I’d call myself fat and begin that downward spiral yet again. Now I say to myself, “I ate that because I wanted to, it was delicious, now move on with your day, lady.” And this helps me SO much. Instead of harping on it, I allow myself to enjoy it and move on. And if later on in the day I feel lethargic or bloated or whatever, I remind myself that maybe what I ate caused it. And maybe I should choose something different or eat less of it next time around.
Lastly, you might be unhappy with the way you look because you’re unhappy with something else–maybe something a little deeper than the size of your waist? Figuring out what that is and how you can overcome it is what you need to focus on. Because taking care of yourself physically is much easier to do when you’re taking care of yourself mentally and emotionally, as well. Believe me! I know because I’ve been there. Once I started dealing with the deeper “stuff,” my mindset shifted. I was more concerned with making healthy choices than I was with anything else.
My journey started off with a goal of seeing a stupid number on a stupid scale, and has turned into a strong desire to just always feel good. I am so grateful that I get to wake up every day and workout, fuel my body and choose to love my body regardless of a number.