August 27, 2015

Happy is the New Skinny.

vegetables mushrooms knofe chop happy face

I’ve been thinking a lot about weight lately.

It’s amazing how 10 pounds either way can make or break a woman’s self-esteem.

I’ve been thinking about where this comes from. The media? Possibly. Although it’s a popular scapegoat, I have always believed I am immune to its effects because I can see who is pulling the strings. Friends? Well most of my friends and I talk about weight, but as we age, it’s more of the “Oh well, I’m bigger than I think I should be, but I’m happy” variety rather than ‘I’m desperate to lose this 10 pounds and I am on “X” diet.”

In a conversation with a friend of mine a year ago, she said not to worry about it, our bodies naturally reset to their optimal weight.

I am beginning to think it is an inside job.

I have been sporting an extra 10-15 pounds for about a year and a half. It crept on while I wasn’t paying attention. Believe me, I’ve tried to lose it. Last winter, I participated in a 6-week diet and exercise program and the only thing I lost were six weeks. And a paltry five pounds. At the starting weigh-in, I learned that I was heavier than I believed. This was psychologically crushing—I could handle having to lose 10 or 15 pounds but 20?! I became a slave to the scale, gave up and the few pounds lost, returned.

I’ve recently started a modified Paleo (Paleo-lite) program, and today, I feel thinner. I started while on vacation, but did not deprive myself of an afternoon sorbet or homemade oh-my-God-to-die-for chocolates. Looking in the mirror the other day, it looked like my muffin top was smaller.  Maybe it was the jeans, but it’s how I feel right now that matters to me.

I feel like I am coming back to myself.

Since I forgot to weigh myself at the start, I am going solely by how I feel. I like this approach. Knowing the number was too stressful.

I may not weigh myself at all.

So this got me thinking—why is it coming off now, and why not last winter? Did I psyche myself out with the scale? Yes, but I don’t think that was it.

I think the weight was my own personal armor. Subconsciously I was protecting myself—filling voids inside of me with food while simultaneously berating myself for being overweight. It was something I could control when I didn’t feel control elsewhere.

Why do we do this? Why do we look outside to fill our internal voids?

Looking at my adult life, I see that my weight has risen and fallen with my level of happiness in romantic relationships. For many years, I allowed my happiness to be dictated by whether or not I was in a relationship and then, when in one, whether or not it was working.

The cycle was the same: “Happy fat” at the start. When it was working, I maintained. When it was not working, I gained weight.  When it was really really not working, I lost. A lot.

My body was a place I could put my frustration and confusion; it was something I could control. If I was angry with myself—for being heavier than I felt I should be—I didn’t have time to be mad at anyone else.

And then recently it occurred to me that I am happy. It came on slowly, so I barely noticed it was happening.

On my own. No outside influence/relationship/man required. Just filling my own empty places with love for myself and for my life.

I feel like me again.

I have been single for almost a year. I am no longer looking for someone to fill my empty spaces. I am no longer looking outside of me for anything that I am not providing for myself. I am no longer attracted to men who add drama to my life or who blame me for whatever is ailing them. I am no longer willing to settle for ambiguity. Thankfully, I am done with all of that.

And the weight is coming off.

I am resetting back to me.

Will I lose all the weight I want to lose? I don’t have a goal so I can’t answer that. Right now, I am sitting in shorts that I haven’t worn in two years. They are still a little snug, but not to the point where they are inappropriate to wear out of the house. Which is nice, but really, that doesn’t matter either.

I am happy, just as I am. And that is enough.


Author: Kendra Hackett

Editor: Katarina Tavčar

Photo: Pamlovespie/Flickr 

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