Focus on your strengths

For those of you who may be new to my blog, you may not know that from 2007-2008, I lost 70 pounds through my own hard work and lifestyle changes. When I was getting ready to turn 25, I found that I just wasn’t happy. Sure, I was married to a great guy, had a good job and managed to have a social life with my wonderful friends. But I did not like myself. The way I looked, the way I felt, nothing. So I worked hard and I changed.

But, ever since I reached a certain point on the scale, I’ve been obsessing (off and on) about how to get past it. I never really reached my original “goal” weight but I got to a comfortable point and never made it any further. When the number doesn’t go down, I get frustrated and think I’ve failed somehow. Then there are some times when that number starts to creep up and I get worried, especially when my clothes start to get tighter. So I refocus, get those few pesky pounds off and I’m back to where I was. This especially happens in the summer, I’ve come to refer to it as my “summer fluff.”

I know a lot of people think maintenance is easy but I do not. I feel like it has been a much harder struggle than weight loss ever was for me. Maybe that is because it’s been so long ago now that maintenance mode has just taken over. But I feel like every choice I make is important and if I don’t want to end up back where I was in pre-2007, I have to always be working hard at it. Partially, that is true. But I also need to stop putting so much pressure on myself. Because I know me and when I’m under pressure, it’s no good. It doesn’t motivate me, it breaks me down.

So, recently I have ceased weighing myself. I think it’s been well over a month since I’ve stepped on any scale. While I’ve given up weighing before, this time I feel like I really don’t care what I weigh anymore. Not in a “I’m giving up” way but in a “I’m breaking free from this torture” way. If I’m still wearing the same clothes I was after my initial weight loss, if I feel good and if I can be comfortable where I am, then why does it matter if I weigh one number or another? Why am I always trying to improve when I’m perfectly fine where I am?

I have also realized that by always being focused on calories, weight, exercise, that I am missing so much of the rest of my life. Did I mention I’m turning 30 next year? ;-)

If I’m being real with myself, I have to remember that I originally sought to lose weight for health reasons. I was sick, borderline everything and only 25 — a scary situation. These days, I am very healthy, all of my numbers are in the optimal ranges and my doctors are always impressed with my diet and workout regimen. So why do I care that I don’t have a flat stomach? Why do I care that I never got out of a certain “decade” in weight numbers? None of those things are health-related anymore.

I think some of it is comparing myself to others, seeing people my same age and height that weigh a lot less than I do. Some of it is the media I’m sure, even though I like to deny that one a lot. Some of it is my natural perfectionism. I am my own worst critic sometimes. But I’m making some great progress!

I hope she doesn’t mind me saying this but I had a real breakthrough when my friend Stephanie posted the following statement on her blog: “in my head, i’ve always admired very lean women, with their flat stomachs, small chests, and perfect pencil legs. but in my heart, i realize that’s not me, and i’m better learning to love what i do have than longing for what i don’t have.”

It was like the light shone down from above and the chorus sang “Hallelujah!” I had a major revelation about myself thanks to some thoughts from a friend about her own situation. This is why blogging is great and why we need to communicate with each other through this medium.

Little by little, I am learning to embrace who I am, my life, the body that I have and you know what? It’s great! Instead of wanting to be the next size down, I love my size. I also love that I have to buy one size at one store and a different one at another because clothes are made differently and I am not shaped like anyone else but me. It’s okay that I can’t wear low rise jeans, really. It’s better to wear what is flattering than to try to hide what is not in order to be trendy.

So if you’ve ever felt this way too, my advice would be this: instead of focusing on the things we don’t have or what we do have that we don’t like, we need to start focusing on our strengths. I’ll go first.

I may not have a flat stomach but I have incredible arms! Stuff may jiggle in places I don’t like but darn it, I have completed 5 half marathons, I still work out 5 days a week and I feel incredible! I am also feeding my body the healthiest diet I know and still allowing myself the occasional splurges (I heart french fries). I may never wear a two-piece but my doctors say I am very healthy!

Does it get any better than that? I think not :)

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About Sarah Frankel

I am 29 years old and a resident of Louisville, Kentucky. I've been married to my husband Josh for 6 years and we have a 5 year old beagle named Suzie. Four years ago, I changed my eating and exercise habits, dropping 70 pounds and gaining an entirely new life. I took up running in September 2007 and became vegan in October 2009. I am constantly striving to improve my life so that I can live it to the fullest! I hope you will join me on my life journey.

Posted on June 24, 2011, in accomplishments and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. This is such an inspiring post! It’s definitely something I think about often – I get in those moods where I don’t like my body and wish I had more. But you’re right – we need to focus on what we do have, and build on that. And Stephanie’s quote doesn’t put it any better! Love it!

  2. Sarah, good post. I’ve been in the gym 3 days a week for over a year now. I’ve lost a little weight, but haven’t conquered portion control or sweets control yet. I go back and forth between feeling like I’m constantly working on it (failing), or just saying forget it, I’m doing OK (peace). I can always do better, but I am exercising regularly and (usually) trying to eat healthy. If I’m honest, I think it’s mostly about image, but of course, I’m glad for the health/strength benefit too. I think you are right about not obsessing, it’s counter-productive. Enjoy it.

    • Thanks Rob, I really appreciate your perspective! I hope that you are feeling good about yourself for making it to the gym three days a week, that is great! We’re human, it’s so easy to get caught up in the image aspect. But if we just keep reminding ourselves what the right reasons are (health, strength, sanity, etc.) we’ll be okay.

  3. Oh my goodness, you sound so much like me! The maintenance is the hardest part. It’s a daily struggle for me! But last week, I decided to throw away the scale! I figure if I still fit in my clothes, I’m doing good :) If I continue to make healthy food choices and exercise, then my body will respond!

  4. Great post. You are looking after your health the best way you can. It doesn’t seem like there is much more you can do!

  1. Pingback: MyFitnessPal rocks « See Sarah Eat

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