Prioritizing Health Over Weight

Like most people, I have experienced weight gain since leaving high school, and again since leaving college. In attempts to combat the weight gain, I’d go through spurts of exercising and eating well, then give up when I didn’t see results soon enough. After dozens of these cycles, and only quite recently, I learned I was approaching my weight and health from the wrong angle.

I just want to lose three pounds…

Ever since putting on the “Freshman 15” I thought I was bound to be unhappy until I could undo the damage I had done with an endless meal pass during college. I’d lose a few pounds, gain a few pounds, feel defeated and decide I was never meant to be happy with my body. I’ve avoided putting on a swimsuit for two years. I refuse to wear shorts and spaghetti strap shirts in the summer because I’m self-conscious of my legs and arms. I’ll wear jackets in 80-degree weather because I’d rather be covered up than comfortably dressed. I thought if I could lose those pesky pounds I could wear what I wanted to wear, be more confident and comfortable in my own skin, do away with insecurities and be genuinely happy.

But that’s bullshit. I shouldn’t let an insecurity keep me from wearing what I want to wear or doing what I want to do. I was making the choice to be unhappy and to put life on hold until I reached some arbitrary goal. No one was constraining my life but me. It wasn’t a matter of changing my weight, but my mindset.

Putting bodily health over body mass

Throughout the process of trying to lose weight, I discovered I was setting myself up for failure. I was only looking at one aspect of my life, not my overall health. On top of putting on weight, I was struggling to keep my AD symptoms under control with medication, I wasn’t sleeping well and didn’t have the energy or motivation to put in time at the gym. Moving into 2018, I decided the way I felt should be a higher priority than the way I looked.

I set goals unrelated to weight such as how many fruits and veggies I eat a day, how much water I drink, how many hours of sleep I get, the number of days I work out in a week, how often I up my weights in the gym, and slowly increasing my cardio endurance.

Two weeks ago I decided a good place to start listening to my body was completing a Whole30 challenge. I am on day 6 of 30 and finally feeling normal again after a few days of fatigue, bloating and irregularity. Doing an elimination diet such as Whole30 isn’t for everyone, and I am not advocating for or against it. I am trying it in order to understand what foods my body needs, what foods my body doesn’t, how food affects my energy levels, and if this type of diet will help reduce inflammation related to my autoimmune disorder. Losing any weight is a small cherry on top.

Prioritizing how I feel over how I look

The most freeing decision I’ve made since entering 2018 was prioritizing the way I feel over the way I look. Don’t get me wrong, I still focus on the way I look more than I would like, but I am making a conscious effort to push those feelings aside. The idea that pure bliss and happiness waits for you 5 pounds down the road is a myth. It’s rare that we ever let go of our insecurities entirely. Everybody deals with insecurities no matter the shape, size, or walk of life. But we don’t have to feed those insecurities. We don’t have to give them power over our happiness. Do the best you can to feel the best you can and everything else will fall into place.

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