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The Handprint List: Two Huge Accomplishments

Today I finally checked two MAJOR items off my Handprint List:

Reach my natural ideal weight through intuitive eating and enjoyable movement.

Conquer my depression and anxiety

I’ve been working at these for years, struggling and learning all I could about myself and the causes of these issues so I could somehow solve the mystery of my mind and body.

I knew that these two were connected, that my eating habits and body were a reflection of what was going on in the inside. I put a ton of work into overcoming these obstacles, but eventually I realized that these issues had something to teach me, and they weren’t there to destroy me. They had to teach me about self-love and care, trust, gratitude, and courage.  I just had to let go and not try so hard to control everything around me.

Once I learned this, the demon fled.

I stopped eating  compulsively. I didn’t feel the dark shadow inside me anymore and I started writing and making art again. I felt grateful for what I had and for the lessons my struggles taught me. I didn’t think about food all the time. I felt like being social. The past few months have been amazing because I feel alive again and I can honestly say that I’m not depressed or anxious anymore even though my life is far from perfect.

The root of my disordered eating dissolved and I reached my natural weight in just a few months. I won’t post a picture of how I look now because A) I don’t have one at the moment, and B) I don’t think it’s necessary. I feel good and I think I look good too. I’ve defined my happy weight before, and my eating and activity level feels perfect to me right now.

Eating and emotional states aren’t static though. This doesn’t mean that I’ll never have the urge to overeat again or that I won’t have days or weeks when I struggle with my emotions. This means that I feel like I have the tools to handle things right now, that I’m comfortable enough to examine my emotions so they don’t harm me. I know that I tend to turn to food when I feel off on a deep level, and I can use that tendency as my personal alarm bell.

I could be jumping up and down excited. I’ve had those moments. I used to get super excited whenever I lost weight, and I know I was the last time I had reached this weight, but I actually feel calm. Peaceful. Grateful. I imagined fireworks and choirs of angels when I reached this point, but it’s more like waking up from a really nice nap and just relishing the delicious feeling of knowing that you have the rest of the day to lay there in the sunny room if you want, or you can meet friends for dinner, or go for a walk if you want. Anything is possible now.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Why I Decided to Weigh Again

So a few months ago, I decided to do something I haven’t done in years.

I got on a scale.

Now in the intuitive eating community, weighing is generally a no-no because it’s reinforces the dieting mindset. It encourages us focus on numbers instead of health and generally just causes us to take a very impersonal approach to our bodies with isn’t helpful to physical or emotional well-being.

I knew I’d gained some weight because some of my pants didn’t fit and well, I felt completely awful and uncomfortable, and I could see it too. My face had filled out, my hips were getting wider and for the first time in a long time, I felt like I had a belly, which makes me think that stress was a huge factor because I’m usually pretty pear-shaped and my stomach is the last place to carry extra weight.

I hadn’t weighed in awhile, but I found that I was avoiding the scale out of fear of that number rather than indifference, so I decided that I’d face it and love myself anyway.

I got on the scale at the doctor’s office. I saw the number. I didn’t panic at all. It was definitely higher than it was the last time I weighed; in fact, I’d gained thirty pounds since I got married three years ago, but I’m wasn’t upset at all. I was sad, not because I’d disappointed myself by having no willpower or for being weak. I knew I was in a rough place emotionally and that my body was suffering. The extra weight confirmed that I’d been using food to get through a hard time.

It’s incredible; a few years ago, gaining that much weight was one of the worst things that could have happened to me, but it was no big deal. I know that the state of my body is a result of the state of my emotions, so if my body isn’t happy, my emotions need work. Once I’m emotionally well, my body will follow.

After that doctor visit, I didn’t start a diet. I didn’t go to my stash of workouts I’d been tearing out of Fitness magazine (which I finally threw away the other day after ten years of collecting them), and I didn’t set down any rules for myself in hopes of losing the weight. Instead, I decided to take care of myself emotionally and trust my body to adjust itself.

So that’s what I’ve been doing, just working on my emotions because I know that’s what works for me. In my life, happy=healthy. I once lost 55 pounds over a couple years before I’d even heard of intuitive eating because I was just happy, so food didn’t seem that important. For the first time in years, I’ve felt that happy again. Just for a few months so far, but I haven’t lost that feeling of peace and love that I did on that dumb little scale at the doctor’s office.

I eat junk food sometimes. I still overeat sometimes, but I don’t beat myself up. Actually, I barely think about it at all and I’ve finally gotten to the point where one episode of overeating, one big dinner doesn’t throw me off listening to my hunger cues. I can actually let myself get hungry now. I feel hungry at least once a day and usually two or three times, which is a miracle because before I might have felt hungry once every couple of weeks. I go for at least one walk every day because I love it.

Though I’m sure to get some comments about how I’m still stuck in the dieting mindset, I weighed again yesterday, once again to acknowledge my unconditional love for myself. That number happened to be17 pounds less that the number I saw at the doctor’s office in March, that didn’t surprise me.  My body may choose to release more weight, but I finally feel that I’m at a place that I could call my “happy weight”, because I feel completely comfortable and free in my body. The other day, I went to a water park in my brand new turquoise tankini and coral toenail polish, and I didn’t feel one bit self-conscious. I even felt beautiful and carefree, which is the feeling I always wanted in my dieting days, and I had no idea what I weighed. For the first time in my life, the scale isn’t my enemy, or even my friend. It’s just gives me a trivial number.

Freedom feels amazing.

Note: I’m really sorry if this post is triggering to anyone; I am just being honest about my own experience. Weighing is not the best thing for everyone, and happy weights are completely unique to each individual.

Lots of love!

McKella

What’s a Happy Weight?

Around the lifestyle blogosphere, especially in the circles of healthy living and intuitive eating, we hear a lot about “Happy weight” or “healthy natural weight” or even “ideal weight”. Everyone defines it differently, whether it’s your current weight that you should just accept, no questions asked, or a carefully calculated number. It’s confusing, and I think it drives a lot of people crazy. The idea of a happy weight might have us chasing a number that we’re not ready for, or that’s no longer appropriate for us.

I’m not writing this to add fuel to the fire, but to throw in my two cents on what might be a confusing topic. I’ve been thinking about “happy weights” lately, because I feel that I’ve finally gotten a handle on intuitive eating and I notice I’ve lost a few pounds. I can fit into a pair of jeans that I couldn’t even zip up in January, and I just feel lighter. I’m listening to my hunger and fullness signals, paying attention to what foods make me feel amazing and which ones mess with my system. I can tell when my blood sugar starts getting low and I usually know what to eat when that happens, and I’m learning to synchronize the rise and fall of my glucose levels with my hunger cycle because it’s annoying when I start feeling lightheaded but my stomach’s not hungry.

Now that I’ve got all this down, I should be well on my way to my happy weight, right?

Right, but what does that mean? Does this mean losing five pounds, or twenty? Does this mean staying at my current size 10-12 or shrinking back to the 6 I was a couple years ago?

I honestly don’t know, and it doesn’t bother me.

Here’s my definition of my Happy Weight:

The weight my body maintains when I feel healthy and comfortable with my lifestyle. 

I honestly have no idea what that specific number is. At the moment, my lifestyle’s working out really well for me. I usually eat just when I’m hungry or when my glucose gets low and rarely for emotional reasons; I mostly choose healthy foods that make me feel good and I minimize the ones that don’t. I walk or run most days, I do yoga sometimes and I walk to my work ten minutes away. I get enough sleep, my stress is under control, and I don’t obsess over food anymore. Quite an improvement from a few months ago.

If my body decides it’s comfortable here, that’s fine. I don’t think it will, but that’s ok.

I’ve spent most of my life obsessing over food one way or the other and my weight never stayed the same for long, so I really have no idea what my ideal weight is. The few teenage years when I didn’t obsess, I was always either losing weight or maintaining a low weight of about 135, which was totally comfortable at the time. I currently eat a bit more than I did then, but I get a lot more exercise. Unfortunately, that period didn’t last and I started eating emotionally again.

So who knows? The bottom line is, I’ve arrived at a place where my happy weight is more a mindset than a number. That number could always change. What if I fall in love with mountain biking and lose a few pounds, or what if I take up French cooking and gain a few? What if my body changes after I have a baby? What if my metabolism changes as I get older, even if I maintain my muscle mass with strength training? As long as my happy weight mindset is in place, who cares about the number? As long as I feel healthy and I take care of myself, whatever my body decides to do is fine.

Sometimes, our body may be happy where it is, but we don’t always accept it because we’re still chasing a number set by someone else, whether it’s the size we were in high school or some number in a diet book or fitness magazine. Most of us have a specific number in mind. Think, where did you get that number? Have you ever been at that weight, and was it easy to maintain, or did you constantly have to police your food intake and exercise habits?

Spend some time thinking about your lifestyle and how you feel about it. Do you feel energetic and healthy? Do you listen to your body? What would make you feel healthier? What can you maintain?

I’m excited to see what my body does, and I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!