365 Days

One year! It’s been one year since I gave up sugar and starches. I can’t believe it – I’ve done a whole year of weight loss.

The results are… well, fine. I wish it had gone smoother. I definitely wish I had been able to stay away from sugar for the last three months. I wish I had lost much more. But nevertheless, I now weigh 13,6 kilos (30 pounds) less than one year ago, and I think it’s something to be proud of. Something to celebrate.

And celebrate I did. I went to the gym again. That’s another thing – I can’t believe I had not gone to the gym that I loved so much since August! Once again I had to muster all my courage to get into the car and go there. On my way I considered the reason for my fears. I certainly don’t dread exercise – I know all too well how happy movement makes me feel. I don’t fear the exercise equipment, I don’t even worry that I won’t know what to do with it (though I still have no idea what goes on in the weight-lifting room of the gym). It’s the moment when I enter that door that makes me feel so self-conscious and insecure. It’s the moment when the guy by the door looks at me and pulls back in shock, seeing such an out-of-shape person in the sanctity of the gym.

Nothing of the kind happened, of course. There was a tiny little girl at the desk who smiled and was very kind. I thoroughly enjoyed myself there. I swear, this time it won’t take five months to return there.

So – what have I learned this year? This has been the “food year” of my life. I’ve learned to love simple foods. I’ve retrained my taste buds to love vegetables and unsweetened foods. I have also learned what foods make me crave sugar and what foods keep me full for hours. I have learned to listen to my body. It never fails to inform me about the validity of my choices.

I used to reproach myself for “being bad” and having a cheat meal, a cheat day or even a cheat week. No more. For it’s the occasional bingeing that has taught me more than a year of clean eating.

Now I know the psychological effect that bingeing brings with it. I know how fat and ugly I feel if I’ve gone down the road of candy and cake. The weight might not even change after a meal of ice-cream, but the sluggishness sets in that starts a whole new cycle of insecurity and shame. I don’t want that. And I have discovered the psychological triggers to unhealthy eating patterns and I’ve learned how to deal with these triggers.

Basically over the course of this whole year I’ve “mastered” intuitive eating. I don’t have to stick to Atkins, Ducan or any specific diet demanding to eat particular foods that might not even grow in this climate. I can trust my own body to tell me what it needs. It won’t scream “sugar, sugar, sugar” all the time. And when it does, I’ve learned to peel an orange or cut up an apple.

It’s been a marvellous year. I’ve learned to love myself. I’ve made great foundations for the rest of my life. I’ve learned to eat right.

It’s the perfect time to set a new goal for the next year, and it is this. To study the physical aspect of weight-loss. To learn to move more effectively. To incorporate movement in my daily life so that it becomes a habit so ingrained that I can’t even imagine my life without it. Just like I’ve learned to eat right, it’s time to learn to move right! And I hope that in 365 days I will be able to say – I’ve lost all the extra weight and am at my healthiest ever.

Here’s to a year of movement!

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What’s Your Worth?

This simple question is the answer to countless weight loss issues. What’s YOUR value? How highly do you value yourself? How much do you appreciate your body? Is it worth taking care of? Are you worth taking care of?

I have a long history with extra weight – and it happens to be exactly as long as my history with the question about self-worth.

There’s a reason why all these words – self-esteem, self-worth, self-confidence, self-assurance etc. – begin with “self”. To get to the place of self-love you have to peel off the words and thoughts of other people. You have to go deeper than your mom’s concern: “Should you really eat that?” or your dad’s “When I was in the army, we used to make fun of fat people, so don’t you ever get fat”, or your ex’s comments on other women which – you know – are really aimed at you.

But what do YOU think about yourself? How much to you like this person whose skin you’re in? How much do you commiserate? How much is she worth?

I know all those excuses all too well, I’ve been overweight for almost all of my adult life, and it got much worse after the birth of my sons. When the kids are very little and your family is young, it tends to get rocky, and the only thing you can really give up is the time and money you might have otherwise spent on yourself. It’s not like that for everybody, but I do know a lot of women who just don’t feel like they deserve healthy nutrition and time for exercise, and pretty underwear, and clothes that flatter. They are there for their families, and they cook and eat what their families eat – since cooking just for themselves would take up more of that precious commodity that you have so little of – time. Besides, who cares about how you look? You have to be a good mother and a good wife, and oftentimes a good mother/wife constitutes a frumpy, overweight, exhausted woman that sacrifices everything and wants to pull all the weight alone so that her own self-worth would get just a liiitle bit higher. Some of us like the role of a martyr so much that we turn down any help. I know I have done that way too many times in the past.

The book “Knowing Your Value” by Mika Brzezinski is not a weight-loss book. It’s subtitle “Women, Money and Getting What You’re Worth” describes the topic better. But it contains a lot of examples on how women undermine themselves and sacrifice their interests just to be on the good side of other people or just because they feel “lucky” (i.e. undeserving) to be where they are and to do what they do. One might speculate that women, being more accommodating and empathetic, build their idea of self-worth on what other people say, so it’s not really their own evaluation. This might be to some extent the reason why there are more overweight women than men. We devalue ourselves, we put others first. And there may come a moment when we enter a supermarket, the kids are at a camp or somewhere else, and the partner is on a business trip, and we have to pick some food just for ourselves.

This was an exercise I was not ready for. Last November I came home from a group therapy session where I had been called “the good wife” – and before that I had never known that you could say these two words with such slight and contempt. I did a lot of soul-searching that day and on my way home I stopped at a supermarket to buy some food for dinner. I spent almost an hour looking at every food item and asking myself “Do you really want this? Or is it just something you usually buy just because the kids or the hubby eats it?” So after walking along all the isles I bought just peeled baby carrots. Normally I don’t buy those, since it’s so much cheaper to just buy carrots and peel them yourself. But something clicked in my mind, and I thought, what the heck, surely I’m worth buying carrots for myself! They cost less than a cake or a slice of pizza! Who am I saving for? When will I deserve to buy what I want? What has to happen?

And it didn’t happen overnight. It took a lot of changes and soul searching to see I’m worth taking care of. I’m worth spending an hour a day exercising and not just obsessing over money and my family’s well-being.

It all takes time. But it’s worth just asking yourself: “What’s my worth? Why am I not deserving? How come all the others come first?”

And it might not be your particular issue, but it’s a good question. A valid question. So – are you good enough for yourself?

So – when presented with a choice, you might want to say to yourself:

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