Do you ever watch Oprah? I have it set to DVR, but rarely watch a full episode because I don't usually take the time. But the other day, I was folding laundry and didn't have anything else to do so I decided to watch the episode that was recorded. And boy am I glad I did! The show was on past guests and following up on their stories. The first story was of a lady who lost 175 lbs back in 2002 and then gained almost all of it back! She kept if off for almost 7 years and then through various circumstances, gained 150 lbs back (and has since lost 100 of those lbs). Oprah asked her why she thought she gained the weight back and the lady said that she realized that all that time she was trying to earn people's love and affection by her outward appearance because she didn't feel worthy of being loved if she was fat. She said that she realized that she didn't love herself and she projected those feelings of worthlessness and being unlovable onto other people. That's when I had it…my Ah-Ha moment...I HAVE THE SAME PROBLEM!! My BFF, Jada, has been telling me this for years, but until Monday, I never understood that! What really hit home for me was when that lady said that she thought her husband would leave her when she gained all the weight. I totally related to that because I share the same fear. But her husband didn’t leave because he loves her for who she is on the inside, not how she looks on the outside...the same thing is true for Ron…he loves me for who I AM not what I look like. I've always been insecure that Ron would leave me (or cheat on me) because I'm not thin enough or pretty enough or whatever. When the fact of the matter is, he loves me because of what I have to offer as a person, not for my physical appearances (or the lack there of).
Through various circumstances growing up, I felt that I didn't measure up and that I was not worthy of so many things. I felt like I wasn't good enough no matter what I did and I translated that in my head as "you don't deserve X, Y and Z". I've lived my life since then always doing for others in the hopes of doing enough to earn their love or friendship, etc…hoping that if I do enough STUFF that they’ll accept ME. But what I've realized is that I'M the one that doesn't love ME! I feel unworthy of love, success, friendship, etc. and the physical manifestation of that is in my weight.
Before I got pregnant with Amy, I had lost 70 lbs and was only 23 lbs from my goal weight. (In fact, the weight loss was the reason I conceived Amy in the first place!) At that time, I thought I had it all figured out. But much to my dismay, I gained 60 lbs while I was pregnant! I felt all those emotions of failure resurfacing and found myself feeling quite unlovable. Since Amy has been born (3 months ago), I’ve managed to lose 43 lbs, but hit a mental plateau in the process and couldn’t seem to get my head back in the game. As I’ve done some soul searching, I’ve found that I the reason I've had such a hard time getting my head back in the game since Amy was born is because I saw myself as the failure I projected myself to be. And I felt like I had to "earn" Ron's love and affection by losing the weight again. I started to resent the process and felt rebellious in my spirit. I resented having do "stuff" to earn Ron's love and approval. The reality is, though, Ron already loves and approves of me and I don't have to do anything to keep him in my life except just be me. “I” am the one who does not approve of “me”!
For the longest time, I have allowed the number on the scale to determine my self worth. I need to focus on learning to love ME and taking care of my body because that’s what’s right for me…not because that number defines me (because it doesn’t!). I was talking to a friend of mine about this realization (that I don't love myself) and she shared that she feels the same way, but hers is manifested in a different way. She asked me "Now that we know what the problem is, how do we go about learning to love ourselves?". I haven't quite figured that out yet, but she suggested if we could some how step outside ourselves and see ourselves the way others see us that it might make it easier to learn to love the core of who we are. And you know what? I think she’s right!
I would never in a million years think of mistreating or being so negative to anyone the way I am with myself! If it's not OK for me to treat others that way, why in the world would it be OK to treat myself with such disregard? People don't love me (or hang out with me) because of how I look (or don't look)...nor do I love or hang out with them because of how they look. So I should not project on them my own feelings of inadequacy! I am always very good at pointing out and praising other people's positive attributes. I need to do the same in myself. I need to stop allowing the negative talk in my brain to take root and acknowledge in my own mind that I AM worthy, I DO deserve love and success and I CAN have the things in life I desire! I need to love ME!!
It's a work in progress, and I don’t have all the answers yet. I know the “why” now, but I still don’t know the “how” in fixing the problem. But I can say that already I feel like I can breathe again for the first time in I don't know how long! I feel like a burden has been lifted from my shoulders. That I can be myself with myself and not judge myself. (Does that make sense?!) I've realized that people around me aren't expecting perfection from me and I need to stop expecting perfection from myself as well. People just want me to be ME! I've got to stop beating myself up for the little things and I've got to start saying "No" to the things I don't want and "Yes" to the things I do want. If I learn to love myself, I will treat myself, and therefore my body, with respect. The result will be a more natural, long-lasting weight loss. The last time I had an Ah-Ha moment (before Amy was born), the weight just started falling off because I was no longer sweating the loss iteslf, but was just focusing on ME. I lost sight of that with my pregnancy but now I feel like I've to it back. The last two days, I've actually found myself WANTING to eat the right things, instead of just making myself do it! I'll tell you what, it's been quite liberating!
I have also realized that this journey of losing weight is as much about discovering who I am as it is about getting the weight off. Because the more weight I lose, the more I uncover the hidden layers of who I am and why I hid behind the fat in the first place. (Think Shreck – onions – layers!) I've also realized that there will be many more Ah-Ha moments as I journey to discover the real me. I will be constantly learning, growing, and changing and the minute I think I've got it all figured out is the minute I'll gain it all back and lose sight of myself again. But along the way, I've got to remember those very important Ah-Ha moments...I have the power to choose to do the right thing…I deserve to make the right choices for ME…I deserve to be loved my others and most importantly by ME!!
Whew! That's a mouth full! I'm still learning how do all this, but just the knowledge of understanding what's going on inside of me has been so freeing! I've been on this soul searching journey for a few years now. It's surprised me at how long it's take for me to truly SEE the things that seem so obviously laid out before me. I know I've got a lot of issues and even more that will likely surface, but I'm taking it one Ah-Ha at a time! This has been huge for me and I know that it will help others as well. As soon as I figure out how to really love ME (heck, I'd settle for just LIKING me right now!), I'll let you know! And if you figure it out (or already have) you let me know too!