More than a Number: the Story of How I Lost ??? Amount of Pounds

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When people ask me how much I weigh (and some do ask), I prefer not to answer. When people ask me how much weight I’ve lost (and they ask this as well), I prefer not to answer. Why? Assigning a number to my progress on this path to healing and wellness on all levels (mental, physical and spiritual) places my efforts in a box. Suddenly, all my hard work (and it is hard work) becomes reduced to a number.

The intense work on my emotional healing becomes less significant. My inner growth, which can’t be measured by a number, ceases to matter to the masses. It’s true, mind you, that I’m doing this work for me, but I’d like people to see, through my journey, that when it comes to losing weight, the number on the scale, in so many ways, needs not to have the biggest impact.

When it boils down to it, when it boils down to weight loss, the problem is that all most people want to see is a number. The number overshadows the person, the effort, the time it takes. People see a number, they don’t see a person, and I’ve been invisible long enough. While it may seem an oxymoronic statement, I have indeed been invisible by virtue of my visibility. I’ve lived this for most of my life.

At my heaviest, all most people saw was the outer shell, the fat. They didn’t see me. They saw fat. They felt superior to me.

How do I know this? I’ve had so many verbally abusive encounters it would take volumes of books to detail all of them. As a teenager, I clearly remember walking around the mall and being taunted by children, teenagers, and adults. I can still hear their voices: “You need to do something. You need Richard Simmons.” On one occasion, they followed me around the mall, continuously taunting me. Children teased me all the time. Parents did nothing. Well, okay, sometimes the parents joined in.

Some people would try to help me with my weight, but their lack of sensitivity created more damage, such as when in high school, one of my gym teachers wanted me to walk/run laps during P.E. while the other kids had fun playing tennis and other sports.

Did that help me lose weight? NO! I felt completely ostracized. Being obese, morbidly obese, in high school felt bad enough, but to have an adult set me further apart from my peers made my life much more painful.

Becoming an adult, growing up, didn’t bring much relief from the chronic verbal abuse society felt it had every right to throw at me. People would tell me all the time “You need to do something.” Well, duh! Actually, they were the ones who needed to do something.

Every person who has ever said to an overweight/obese individual that they need help needs to ask themselves if they’re saying something because they legitimately love the person or if they’re saying it because they feel more virtuous because they’re not fat themselves. In the majority of the cases, people feel superior to or better than fat people.

Given the personal history I’ve just revealed, why then am I considering telling you how much weight I’ve lost?

People ask me all the time how much weight I’ve lost, and maybe it’s time I stop hiding behind the question, stop giving it power over me. “A life lived in fear is no life at all.” I have no room in my heart for fear anymore. And I have feared that when people hear the number, they will no longer see me, see my efforts, see that the number doesn’t represent the most important kind of progress.

I also believe that the story I tell you here might help you and others. I have that hope.
People may not realize how they can help, really help, someone struggling with weight loss/food addiction.

Let me tell you by sharing part of my journey. I had to want it first. No matter what others may have said, I had to want it. I had to want to eat healthier, to work out, to look at all the emotional triggers that made me want to overindulge to begin with—that’s where the real work begins. I needed to find that piece of me that desired real change and would work for it.

From the start of my journey three years ago, I knew it had to be an inside job—for this to last it had to come from the inside out. Sure, I wanted a quick fix. I dreamed of instant fixes like we see on television shows like The Biggest Loser.

But more than anything, more than that overnight pill, I wanted permanent, lasting change—I still do. I started walking outside and on the treadmill. I started keeping a regular hatha yoga practice. I started taking a closer look at my food. I worked at counting calories. That worked for me slowly. I introduced healthier foods into my days. I journaled about how I felt on days I ate unhealthy foods. I looked at people, places, situations that made me want to eat emotionally, and I slowly (well not so slowly) changed some of those situations.

It felt like hell sometimes; some days it still feels like hell. Some people supported me. Others didn’t. I’ve changed a lot.

I became my own person. Actually, I still am becoming that woman, maybe for the first time in my life.

I’m learning to sculpt the essence of who I am by incorporating more meditation into my life and learning to appreciate the sheer beauty of silence, my silence.

I lifted weights. I worked my buns at becoming more fit. Then, last April, during a rough spot in my life, I discovered Bikram Yoga and fell in love, really fell in love with sweat and discovered the real meaning of sweating away emotional toxins. I’m finding my inner strength, learning to rely on self, learning to see I’m beautiful just the way I am. And I’m learning to love my body in this moment. I’m making peace with my physical self.

That’s how I came to lose 168 pounds in three years. There I said it.

But that number in no way defines me, defines who I am, defines my soul. My journey will always be defined by more than a number. I’m more than a number. Whatever your number is, you have value just the way you are. What you weigh, how much you want to lose, how much you want to gain—those are numbers. They are not now, nor will they ever be, you.

I know that with continued intense internal and external work, that I’ll achieve my goals: a healthier spirit, mind, and, yes, body. I hope that by sharing this sensitive piece of my journey, you’ll see that you, too, can have the life you want, if you work for it.

Here’s one of my favorite transformational pics:

One of my favorite transformation pics.

One of my favorite transformation pics.

Here’s the link to a Bob Seger song that reflects my thoughts on numbers:

Follow more of my journey on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/ConfessionsofaYogaPrincess

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Random Musings on Food, Yoga, Weight Loss, Grief, and Other (Un)related Things

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about food, grief, my relationship with food, and all sorts of other life issues. Food has always been a comfort to me, even more so now. I’m not sure exactly what my intentions are with this entry other than to share random thoughts.

Weight loss is important to me.  It is. So is being healthy. But I’ve been on this road long enough to know that my journey just can’t be about weight loss. You see I want to be healthy physically, mentally, and spiritually.

I have struggled with clean eating since my dad died and if I’m honest since a couple of months before he died. I haven’t been eating horribly by any means, but not clean either. But I want to, and I’m working on it.

Sometime last week I really decided to renew my efforts at looking at my current eating habits, and the results were inevitable. I watched my emotional self rise up. I could feel myself becoming needy. I felt a huge weight on my chest. I didn’t feel like going to yoga on Friday. I didn’t feel like going to yoga today (Monday). I didn’t feel like going to spinning on Sunday.

I could feel the oppressive sadness of my mood. I’ve made so many strides with food, but I need to make more, and I know that requires looking at how I assuage my pain with my eating.

I KNOW I have to do this because this is the only way I’ll succeed on this path. Have you seen the statistics on how many people are NOT successful at losing weight? How many people regain their weight after weight loss surgery? The stats are not good. And I know why they’re not good. If people don’t face their demons, the reasons why they gained weight in the first place, they’ll always go back to the behavior. I know that. I’ve lived that.

Continuing to work at losing weight, continuing to work at being healthy in every way means I have to look at some painful truths. It’s hard for me without my dad. I miss him more today than I imagined. My only other family really is my mom. It’s not that I don’t have other relatives, but I don’t see them. Yes, I’m blessed to have some awesome friends and a wonderful online community, but I still feel a certain loneliness that it’s just my mom and me.

I’ve felt so needy this weekend. But I didn’t really share that with anyone because I knew I needed to feel it. And as bad as I felt, and as much as I wanted to wallow in that state I still got up and went to yoga, went to spinning because I KNEW and I KNOW that to succeed I have to work through it. I can’t go around it, or I’ll never see the other side.

Food, as I’ve expressed before, represents a certain love, a certain escape. Yes, those are certain falsehoods, BUT it’s helped me through some rough times. It’s helping me now. But I’m ready to find a better way.

What does that look like? When I’m really successful at having a healthier relationship with the food I put in my body, it’s so simple. I keep a notebook and write down what I eat every day. No judgment.  Just observations. If I eat this for breakfast, then maybe I won’t eat that for lunch. I’m looking more now at eating whole foods and not processed foods. My body feels so much better when I’m eating natural foods.  Bathroom habits go much more easily, if you know what I mean.

And if I have an emotional reaction I write that down too because I have those ALL THE TIME.  I am an emotional eater. I am a reactor.  Not like I used to be though.

That’s why yoga will always be a part of my life. Even on days when I’d rather wallow in self-pity, throw a temper tantrum, cry huge tears, I’ll always go to yoga because it helps me find a way through the cr*p. And you wanna know a secret? My body is soooo much more toned for doing yoga as much as I do.  You should see how much I can hold in my core now!! It’s kinda cool! Being physically active helps me feel better.  That’s why I went to the spin class on Sunday. That’s why I went for a walk in the rain on Saturday. Any weight loss is a side effect. I LOVE feeling the clarity that comes with being physically active.

I made it through this weekend. In the words of the philosopher Barry Manilow “I made it through the rain / and found myself respected / By the others / who got rained on too”. I’ll make it through this. I am making it through this. One yogic breath at a time. You’ll make it through the rain too. All you have to do is ask. All you have to do is make the effort. There’s an awesome world out there just waiting.  And it’s only one thought away!!!  Choose that thought! I am!!!  Actually, I don’t know any other way to be…….

I meant to end the entry there. Then I started thinking about Ralph Waldo Emerson and his thoughts on self-reliance. I’ve spent most of my life living for others, wanting and needing their approval. I’m learning to trust myself and that’s no easy feat, but it’s worth it. “Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind” — the genius of Emerson speaks loud and clear.  Trust myself. Trust my heart. It’s the only way.

IF you’d like, please feel free to follow my daily journey on facebook via my community fitness page:

https://www.facebook.com/ConfessionsofaHawaiianPrincess

and my personal facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/IggieSue

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The Path Less Traveled

Just steps from my apartment I have access to miles of trails, some of which lie on Native-American land.  There’s one trail I’ve always had a hankering to explore but haven’t had the time, the energy, or the physical stamina.  But I decided today would be different.

Buoyed by a jolt of energy from having started my blog yesterday, I set out on my mini-adventure.  As I approached the bottom of THE trail, another path started to mesmerize me, so, without hesitation, I changed course.  After all, isn’t that what life is all about–living in the moment and not staying stuck or fixated on a particular destination?

This new path, the one less traveled, wound around a hill, and, if I made it all the way to the top a hidden treasure would no doubt be revealed. I climbed the path with giddy anticipation and when I reached the other side the vista did not disappoint, for I could see much of Simi Valley: homes, hills, a water reservoir and so much more.

But all of that paled in comparison to the real gift: for in making it to the top I strengthened my fortitude and determination to keep making my life happen my way, and I know when I return to this same area and take the other path, I’ll uncover another piece of myself when I reach that peak.

Photo # 1: partway to the path

Photo #2: partway up the path

Photo #3: me at the top of the path with Thousand Oaks in the background

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