There is a misconception out there that if you hit your perfect weight your life will be perfect. I believed that for a while. I had a number in my head (that was completely arbitrarily made up) that I thought would make me happy. If I hit this perfect weight then I'd be happy. I'd be confident. Everything would be - perfect.
I spent a significant portion of my early 20's obese. Yes, technically I fell into that category with a BMI of 30.5 (it's now 20.5.) This photo is terrible but I believe it's one of two pictures taken of me at my heaviest - I avoided the camera almost as much as the scale.
Being overweight obviously came with a lot of negative side effects.
I hated being ignored.
I hated being winded from just walking to class when I was a student. One of my 'ah ha' moments came I realized I made a habit of going to the bathroom before class just to catch my breath before walking into the classroom.
I hated being self-conscious 24/7. Pulling my shirt down, hiking my pants up, feeling like if I ate out in public people would judge me for clearly eating too much.
I hated making the same resolution every year that this would be the year. I would lose weight. I would go to the beach every weekend in the summer and not have to wear a cover up the entire time. I could walk around the mall without judging myself against every thin woman who walked by. I could stop using food as a way to cope with my emotions and feel full and satisfied from healthy foods. My life would be so much better when I lost weight!
Then - this happened.
It took two years but I finally reached goals I never even thought imaginable. I went from a size 16 in women to a size 16 in kids (hey, buying jeans from the Old Navy kids department is significantly cheaper!).
It felt amazing! Everyone would comment on how great I looked, friends wanted to know how I lost it all (eat less, move more) and I felt really, really happy.
For a while.
The problem about making your happiness contingent on some future event is (1) that event may never happen and (2) if it does you may find the happiness wears off after a while and then what?
[Tweet "What if Your Perfect Weight Doesn't Make You Happy?"]
I spent years being able to blame my unhappiness, stress, anxiety and self-esteem issues on my obesity. Once I reached my 'perfect weight' I had to face the reality; I still had a lot of shit I needed to work through in my personal life (still working through it.)
When I work with clients I try to really emphasize that mental health is just as important as physical. I take the same approach to psychotropic medications. I've dealt with anxiety for years and I've been so tempted to get on medication for it, but I know if I don't address the underlying issues then I'll either have to be on the medication the rest of my life, or eventually figure out how to manage my anxiety naturally.
For many women becoming overweight doesn't happen just because they eat too much. There are underlying factors. They eat out of depression, loneliness or stress. They might eat too little and inadvertently shut down their metabolism causing them to store every gram of food they eat as fat. They might workout too much trying to punish themselves for eating more than they think they should.
Even if you hit your perfect weight if you struggle with any of those thoughts they will still be there when the scale shows your magic number. If you are working on losing weight please take some time to think about what caused you to gain the weight in the first place. Losing weight can be relatively easy. I help women lose about 10 pounds in six weeks. I've seen some women gain the weight back though as they go right back to the same old patterns they were in before. If you want lasting lifelong weight loss you have to be prepared for a radical lifestyle shift.
[Tweet "The ONE Secret to Keeping Weight Off For Good"]
What roadblocks have you faced trying to lose weight, and keep it off?