This week I finally hit the 50-pound mark! I’d been hovering right above it for a long time, but this week – success!
I was listening to a podcast I really like, The Life Coach School with Brooke Castillo where she talks about the false belief that losing weight will make you happier. I understand what she means: it won’t solve all of your problems, it won’t fix broken relationships, or crippled self-esteem, all that jazz, and I, of course, agree.
But I’ve lost 50 pounds, and I gotta tell ya: I. Am. So. Much. Happier.
And here’s the crazy thing: I still have 50 or more to lose. I’m only halfway there. By any measure, I am still fat.
But, I am happier. Why on earth, you might ask? What has made me happier is a sense of empowerment. Setting goals, following through, and achieving an objective.
Small goals, hit them out of the park, feel proud. Repeat.
Heather at Half Size Me talks extensively about the value of keeping your word to yourself. I learned the concept of self-efficacy from Heather: that feeling that you can trust yourself, you know you can make things happen.
In the past, when I made great grandiose plans, like: I’m going to lose 50 pounds in 3 months! I couldn’t keep my word to myself. I suppose there are people that can, but I couldn’t. Or worse: I lost a bit of weight, then gained it back quickly. Promise broken.
I felt so defeated and ashamed.
And that chips away at your soul.
It chips away at your self-esteem, it makes you unhappy. I realized it wasn’t just the weight that made me unhappy, it was the failure. I mean, I would wake up every single day, full of plans and optimism, and fall asleep every night feeling defeated. I would say: I’m gonna lose weight today! I’m gonna exercise A LOT! I’m not going to eat sugar! I’m going to eat tiny portions and eschew carbs or fat or whatever was being demonized at the time, by the end of the day I hadn’t exercised, I had eaten so much more than I planned, I felt defeated, I had no idea, really, how to make my goals happen.
My goals were too diffuse, too big, I couldn’t achieve them, and I felt like shit. When I started working with Heather she had me break the BIG goal into smaller, achievable steps. At first, I didn’t quite get how this was EVER going to get me anywhere. How in the world is this going to pay off, if all I am doing today is going on a 20-minute walk, or addressing my negative thinking, or tracking my food? But with time, and a bit of success, I saw the wisdom of this strategy.
At the end of the day I could say to my sweet little self–that self I had lied to and failed over and over again–I could say: I made a plan, and I stuck to it. I picked something out that was achievable to me, and I stuck to it. How kind is that to yourself? Most of us, who have been truly obese for a lifetime, when it comes to weight loss are so beaten down, defeated, demoralized.
So, I improved my ability to keep my promises to myself, and when I pulled it off I would celebrate, and then I would do it again the next day. And then, slowly I added goals that were more challenging, building on those little habit changes over time.
So what made me happy, long before losing the weight? Feeling competent. Feeling like I had my back, feeling successful. Feeling less anxious, too, because I didn’t expect the impossible of myself. Keeping my word to myself.
There’s also this: I just didn’t give up.