As I was falling asleep last night, I was smacked in the face with a realization—I’m a pathological weight loss liar.
One of the things I claim as a qualification for writing this blog and doing my freelance gigs is that I lost 50 pounds. Somehow that number is big enough for me to feel confident in my method and big enough for people to feel like they can trust me. 50 pounds is a lot of weight and it took a lot of work to get it off. And along the journey of losing that weight, I learned a lot about myself and who I am and who I want to be. I figured it out, didn’t I? Awesome for me!
If I could take off that weight and have those kinds of emotional breakthroughs, I must be qualified to write about this stuff. I must be doing something right. I’m totes legit.
I so identify with the fact that I lost 50 pounds, that it pops up almost every time I write something. It’s part of my persona as a health and wellness writer. And even beyond that, part of my life offline, too. I define myself by the fact that I tackled that 50 pounds. Sure, I know I’ve gained some weight, but I still lost 50 pounds before! It’s like I’m some washed up middle-aged guy who keeps retelling the stories from his high school football glory days. I must be something, because I lost 50 pounds that one time! Please ignore the fact that my pants don’t fit. I promise they used to! 50 POUNDS.
I’ve never previously understood how people put weight back on after they lose it. I always thought that there was no way I’d slip back into my bad habits after putting in so much work to see the scale go down. I always thought that re-gaining weight must be a sudden and terrible fall from grace. Like a switch is flipped and overnight, you go from running marathons and slamming kale smoothies to laying on a bed of hot dogs and ho-hos and being lifted out of your house by a crane.
But now, what I realize is, it’s not sudden at all. It’s so incredibly gradual that it’s almost undetectable. Until one day, you are falling asleep and you realize you haven’t lost 50 pounds. You may have lost 50 pounds a few years ago, but now, your new identity is that none of your pants fit and you’ve gained 20 pounds.
That’s right. I’ve gained 20 pounds. Not 3 or 4 maintenance pounds. Not 10 vacation pounds. 20. Which means I’m only 30 pounds away from my highest weight ever. If I’m really being honest with myself, I was only 50 pounds down for about a week before the gaining started. And yet I latched onto that number so solidly that it’s stuck with me for years. And even beyond that, I had a lot more weight to lose than just 50 pounds. My original weight loss goal was 100 pounds. Super crazy honesty? Taking my 20 pound gain into account, I’m only 30% done with my goal and I’ve been selling myself as this awesome rockstar weight loss fitness healthy life expert.
The epitome of truth in advertising, I am not.
There are a lot of excuses for the gain. I trained for a half marathon and did a terrible job with my nutrition during it—add five pounds. I busted both my ankles and stopped working out—add five pounds. I stopped tracking my food intake and found a love for cooking good food—add five pounds. I just got lazy—add five pounds. But all those excuses are meaningless, because the true problem is that I’ve been identifying so strongly with something that isn’t true. I’ve painted myself into this beautiful, but totally inaccurate portrait. I can have this extra dessert and skip my workout, you know why? Because I lost 50 pounds. I lost 50 pounds! That must mean that I poop rainbows and metabolize calories at warp speed!
But it doesn’t. What a silly girl I’ve been.
The biggest lie of all? I’ve been telling myself I’m fine with it. Fine with gaining. Fine with my “healthy” lifestyle. Fine with feeling the way I feel. The truth is, I’m not. And I don’t think I really realized it until this past week.
Why this past week? Well…Babyface and I had a moment. A moment where we thought I might be pregnant. There were a lot of mixed emotions about it. A pregnancy now would be unplanned, but not unexpected or unwanted. When I started thinking about my life as a Mom, everything seemed to fall in place. We have a happy, strong marriage. We are financially sound. We are emotionally and spiritually ready to have kids. So why did the thought of being pregnant send me into a near panic attack?
It took me a few days and a few negative pregnancy tests to figure it out—it’s because I don’t feel like I am physically ready. Everything had fallen into place to start a family except for me. I hadn’t put in the work to have the kind of healthy pregnancy I would want and to be the kind of Mom I’d want to be. At one point, I actually sent an email to Babyface telling him I couldn’t do this because I was going to “ruin” our kids with this body. Of course, that’s totally dramatic, and there are plenty of women of all different shapes, sizes and fitness levels who have perfectly healthy pregnancies and are amazing mothers (and vice versa). But the fact is, I didn’t feel comfortable. And that lack of comfort brought to light the lies I’ve been telling myself for the past year. There is no hiding behind old claims-to-fame when you are staring down the barrel of bringing a human into this world. There is no hiding behind anything, actually.
Obviously, since I’m writing this, I’m not with child and, honestly, I am completely relieved. Because I can now solidly bring the focus back to me and becoming the person I want to be. That starts with being honest with myself. Because the lying, the deception, the rose-colored glasses—it all has to stop. Deceiving myself is not doing me (or my future family) any favors. And living in a past world where I lost 50 pounds isn’t making me any stronger or healthier.
So here is the truth: sometimes life gets in the way and you have to hit the reset button. This isn’t the first time and it certainly will not be the last. Yes, I lost 50 pounds. Yes, I gained 20 of that back. And yes, I’ve been lying to myself about it for way over a year. But, I’m forgiving myself for it all. It doesn’t matter. What matters is what I’m going to do next. And next, I’m going to get the strong, fit, healthy body I always wanted. I have a lot of weight to lose and I’m going to do it. And then, maybe then, we’ll talk about making a little Johnston. Maybe.
Have you ever had a “a ha!” moment when it comes to health, weight loss or fitness?