Health, Philosophy

How Personal Growth Changes Relationships

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Losing weight, finding sobriety, and making career changes can all lead to losing friends.  A simple Google search will confirm this and largely paint this as negative.  Former friends will push food and feel left out when you aren’t able to go to pizza night.  Old drinking buddies will pressure you to have “just one more,” and you will never feel comfortable joining them at the bar.

And yet my experience was different.  None of my friends cared what I ate when we got together.  Nobody batted an eye when I brought my own salad dressing and coffee creamer.  When I started ordering Shirley Temples, everyone was very supportive, and even insisted I send my drink back if it had too few cherries.  Nobody pushed food on me.  Nobody pressured me to drink.

But still, I experienced major shifts in all of my relationships, and I ended up letting go of some of my closest friendships.  This is because the changes I had made had less to do with food and alcohol, and more to do with learning to love and value myself.  And as I learned to love and value myself, I began to seek out those who would value me as well.

It began with my closest group of friends.  For two years, we would meet up and support each other through our struggles.  But I noticed a change when I began losing weight.  I found myself downplaying my accomplishments, and when I did share something positive, it was ignored at best.  Nobody was being mean–we were just moving in different directions.  I felt a sense of hope, that I was unable to force anyone else to feel.  We were just at different places.

And then in my other interactions, I began to notice how unkindly I was being treated, and how much energy I was wasting on people who did not care.  Recently, I was writing Christmas notes to acquaintances, in an effort to bring more joy to their day.  I became very jaded when I number of these people threw these notes away, without saying a word to me.  Now, my interactions with these people had been slightly strained, and I realized that my notes were a way of seeking connection with people who were not interested in connecting.  I was wasting energy chasing people and seeking their approval.

Finally, in the midst of this realization of negativity, I brought a case of water to my yoga class.  When I go grocery shopping, I usually pick up a case of water to put in the refrigerator at the studio, since it is easier than storing my own water and cheaper than buying a bottle every night.  Even though I share the water with everyone, I come out ahead.

As I walked through the door, balancing the case of water on one arm, while holding my mat and props in the other, my teacher immediately took the case from me and said, “Bethany that is so sweet of you!  Thank you so much–I really appreciate it.”

At that point I realized that my teacher was not going above and beyond, with that statement.  She was acknowledging my act of kindness in the way that acts of kindness deserve to be acknowledged.  (I am not referring to random acts of kindness here–I had done this deed seeking connection, and I had found it).

After class, I told her that I wanted to create a reality where her response to my kind gestures was the rule and not the exception.  That I wanted to spend time and energy with people who valued me for who I am.  She said, “Look at all you’ve accomplished, Bethany.  You can create any reality you want.”

So, moving forward into the new year, with “Create” as my one word focus, this is my promise to myself, in my relationships:

1.   I will not waste time on groups where I am invisible.

I have lost count of the number of conversations where I have been interrupted as soon as I opened my mouth to speak.  Or where my comments have gone unacknowledged.  I have Googled this and tried tip after tip to make myself more “interesting.”

But here’s the thing.  While I understand that someone might occasionally get excited and talk over someone else (and I know I have done the same thing), even if I am not perfect–even if my social graces might even be lacking at times–I deserve to be around people who value me and value my contribution.  I do not need to try to be good enough to not be interrupted constantly.

Along the same lines, I am done with trying to get into conversations that I am closed out of.  You know the scenario.  Some friends are standing in a circle, having a conversation, and you walk over to join in.  Slowly, the circle closes in, leaving you out.

I used to think this was normal, until a close friend of mine did it a few weeks ago.  This is exclusion.

It is okay if not every group wants me as a member.  I am not for everyone.  But it is not okay for me to keep trying to change who I am, so that the groups will want me to join in.  If I am not accepted for who I am, then they are not my tribe.  I would rather have a smaller tribe, than hustle for approval.

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2.  My vulnerability must be earned.

I like to give.  I have come to understand that acts of service is my primary love language, and that giving of my time and energy is simply something that I do in an effort to connect with those around me.

At the same time, I also enjoy doing random acts of kindness.  These are often anonymous, and done in a way that the person will not be able to find me in order to contact me afterward.  This is something that brings me joy and also helps me to feel connect to humanity at large.

The problem comes when I mix up these two “motives.”  When I am giving and expecting nothing in return, giving is its own reward.  However, when I am giving in order to express my love and friendship to someone, I am giving with the expectation of connection.  This is not “wrong.”  Everyone has a way in which they express these things, and everyone is hoping for connection in response to their efforts.

Giving with the expectation of connection, involves vulnerability.  When I wrote the Christmas notes to my acquaintances, I was putting myself out there.  I was very hurt by their reactions, but in the past I would have continued to reach out to them and seek their acceptance.  But now I realize that they have not “earned” my vulnerability.  If it is not a connection, I can simply let it go.

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3.  I will stay away from the co-dependent dynamic.

For so long, I was the friend who struggled, who “needed help.”  I was so convinced that I needed someone to save me, that I often fell into the co-dependent dynamic in my friendships.  I would be clingy at times, and I would immediately contact the other, seemingly stronger, person for advice and support.

Some friends immediately set boundaries with this, but others became addicted to “helping.”  Their role in my journey became their addiction, and this often led to them becoming more involved than what would be appropriate.  This never ended well.

My desire to have equal friendships and avoid falling under the wing of a co-dependent friend, has led me to approach this from both angles.  First, I do tend to stay away from or set boundaries with friends who show signs of co-dependency.  I make my own choices.  I fight my own battles.  I take care of myself.

But I also am mindful in my role in creating and perpetuating this dynamic.  I am learning to stop myself before running to someone else for “help” when I am facing strong emotions or other challenges.  I am learning to use my tools, so that I am not constantly seeking a rescuer.

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4.  I am seeking experiences beyond support groups.

When I was getting started losing weight, Weight Watchers was an excellent source of support.  I went to workshops, I joined Facebook groups, and I was in contact with many people on a similar path.  In the same way, AA was very helpful when I was struggling with my sobriety, both in person and on social media.

And yet, I don’t see myself as a “lifer” in either of these groups.  My struggles are a part of who I am, and overeating and drinking alcohol are two coping mechanisms that I am working to avoid.  But I think there is a danger in defining myself by these struggles.

The focus of my life right now, is not on weight maintenance or sobriety.  It is in using the tools that I have gained through losing weight and becoming sober, to move forward.  So surrounding myself with peers who are still struggling with these issues, is not going to help me accomplish my goals.

It is one thing if I want to do service and help people who are still struggling with these issues.  But for my own growth, I need to look to other places, to new horizons.

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5.  I no longer worry about finding “like minded” friends.

Surprisingly, I have found that I feel more comfortable being myself (and more accepted) by friends who have different political, religious, or lifestyle views than my own.  In fact, I have found that in “like minded” groups, dissenting from the group set of beliefs is strongly frowned upon.

When I am around friends with differing beliefs, we all feel free to share our ideas and learn and grow together.  When we accept that our views are different, we are more respectful of each other’s views.  As I have gone through this evaluating process, I have come to realize that I have four friends whom I trust very strongly.  One of them is my husband.

And yet, my husband and I have different religious beliefs.  And I vote differently than two of my other friends.  What we do have in common is our mutual love and respect, as well as our desire to learn and grow.

And that is more important than any smaller ideologies.

Health

The Skinny Diaries

Last year, the holidays fell conveniently during a major lapse in my weight loss efforts, where I regained half of the weight I had lost over the course of 10 months.

This year, I was .4 pounds over my goal at my Weight Watcher’s meeting, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.  By then, I had been a member of WW for 21 months, and I had worked with a therapist and a dietician for two years prior to that.  I was determined to reach this milestone, holidays or not.

I rolled over 4 weekly points everyday, and brought fruit trays to both of the Thanksgiving gatherings I attended on Thursday.  I happily enjoyed reasonable portions of all of my favorite foods, and ended the day having eaten a respectable 45 points, while enjoying fun, stress-free times with my friends and family.

If this were my final exam, I passed with flying colors!  On December 3, 2019, after 3 decades of restricting, then binge eating, I reached my weight goal.

I knew this was a huge personal victory, but what surprised me was to learn how rare of a victory it was.  My heaviest weight had put me in the category of “obesity,” and I now have a BMI of 20, which puts me close to the lower end of my healthy weight range.  I lost 60 pounds and went from a size 14 to a size 0.

My research showed me that .8% of women with obesity, ever reach a healthy weight.  Of those who do, the statistics for maintaining that weight are significantly better, with only 78% regaining the weight they lost.

So I did, in fact, do the nearly-impossible.

My journey and eventual success have provided me with some unique observations on the obesity epidemic and our cultural attitudes toward weight loss and diet.

Here are some of my thoughts:

1.  We need to separate “weight” from “worth.”

Weight is a weighty topic.  We all assume that somewhere out there, everyone else is thin and staying that way effortlessly, while we are the lone fat kid in the corner of the room.  This is not the case.  Most Americans are overweight, and this is the case in most other western nations as well.  It is a societal issue, not a deficit in one person’s willpower or character.

For me, one of the biggest turning points was when I could weigh myself without judging that number.  Weight is a data point.  Being overweight causes healthy problems and shortens life expectancy.  It is a health issue.

However, that does not mean that a person can not be beautiful at any size.  It does not mean that a person is not worthy at every size.  We need to stop judging ourselves and everyone else and band together to get to the root of this problem that is affecting our society as a whole.

I was pretty in this picture too!

2.  We need to ditch the thinking that a quick fix even exists.

Everyone wants to lose weight.  But here’s the catch: They want to lose is FAST.  Like now.  In time for Christmas.  In time for the class reunion or wedding.  We don’t want to diet forever.

But it isn’t about temporarily depriving ourselves, using willpower, then going back to our old patterns.  The way we eat now, has made us gain weight.  Going back to the way we eat now, will make us gain more weight.  Trying a quick fix might lead to some water weight loss initially, but sustaining such a way of eating is really not possible over the long term.

Losing weight meant changing my habits permanently.  It meant making changes I could live with, which meant that the weight came off slowly.  It meant getting back on track the multitude of times I slid back into my old habits.  It meant dealing with my tendency to emotionally eat.  It meant changing the situations that led me to have those emotions in the first place.

I quit my job and found another.  I left my closest friends and chose to spend my time with different people.  I quit drinking.  I changed my patterns of communication and interaction.  This wasn’t done overnight.

3.  We need to remember what a healthy weight looks like.

At my WW meeting tonight, I learned that most people quit either in their second week, or 10 pounds from their goal.  The latter might surprise some people, but I did not find it surprising at all.

As soon as I approached my healthy weight range, I began getting “concerned” comments, that I had “lost enough weight.”  The comments only increased in their frequency and intensity as I approached my goal.  Strangers and barely-known acquaintances began to voice their concern that I was losing too much weight.

But here is the thing.  I am not underweight at all.  In fact, I could lose 7 more pounds and still be at a healthy weight.  Because everyone around us is overweight or obese, we have forgotten what a healthy weight looks like.

Not actually fat. Not underweight either.

4.  We need to change our negative attitude toward weight loss.

Yes, you know I am not a fan of memes.  But the ones about weight loss are the worst.

While it is true that we all have a collective frustration at the difficulty of losing weight, simply reinforcing that negativity does nothing to change anything.  The truth is that we can do hard things.  We can do seemingly impossible things.  But we don’t get there by constantly repeating that we can not do it, even if our repetition is under the guise of humor.

No. Just no.

Another theme in our memes and in our conversations, centers around the notion that eating healthy means deprivation.  Yet through most of my weight loss journey, I ate ice cream everyday at lunch time.  Whenever there is cake in the lounge at work, I help myself to a small portion.  I eat tacos.  I eat pizza.  But I do not overeat these things.  There is nothing luxurious or self-care related about overeating.  It is an addiction and a coping mechanism.  True self-care will make overeating seem ridiculous.

So those are some observations I have made on my journey so far.  I am sure that as I continue into maintenance and work on other aspects of my personal growth and development, I will have more lessons to share with all of you.

 

 

Health, Minimalism, Philosophy

Create

Good morning, friends, and happy black Friday.

I know that I have taken a break from blogging, but I have most certainly not been idle.  It has been a time of change and re-invention.

As of yesterday, I am now 8 months sober.  It’s not even a big deal anymore, in my daily life.  I have learned that diet Coke is often free at bars, but Pellegrino is not.  And that the best bars put lots of cherries in their diet Cokes.

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This fall, I started a new job doing behavior intervention at a small charter school.  Working full time again has taken some adjustment, and I have had some triggers from the past that I have had to confront.  But I love what I do, and I love my co-workers and students.

A surprising change in this arena, has been that Iliana is also attending the school where I work!  The program she had been in, in the traditional public school she had been attending, was only available at a junior high that was 30 minutes away by car.  The bus ride got to be too much, and I did not like the difficulty I had being involved and communicating with her teachers, due to the distance.  So after two weeks, we transferred her to the school where I work!

 

Charter schools are simply independently run public schools, that are not part of an ISD or school district.  They are 100% school of choice, so they tend to be smaller.  Iliana has thrived with the individual attention she is getting!  She is in pre-AP math and has tested out of speech (which is HUGE, because the language delay/disorder was the most significant part of her disability).  She works with a special ed teacher and counselor on her social-emotonal issues and is doing very well.  (And what could be better for a minimalist wardrobe, than adorable school uniforms!)

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The biggest change for me is not I am not as big as I used to be!  On Tuesday, I will most likely reach my weight goal at Weight Watchers.  But that is just a formality.  The hard work is finished!

I have read from multiple sources that only .8% of obese women ever reach a healthy weight.  Most people would consider a probability like that to be impossible.  And yet here I am.  I have lost 60 pounds and plan to never need to lose 60 pounds again!

So I have done the impossible.  Now what?  While I will be focusing on maintenance and still attending Weight Watcher meetings and using their tools, I know it is time to move forward and work on new goals.  (Here are before and after pictures!)

 

And thinking of those goals, brings me to my one-word theme for 2020.  Do people still do one word themes?  I am not sure, but I definitely will be!  And my one-word theme for 2020 is, “Create.”

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I have already survived.  I have already faced my inner demons and completely changed my life.  All that remains now is to work on the, “so what?”  It is time to create the reality that I want to experience.

I know a one-word theme is open-ended, but I do have some specific goals I would like to start with.  Maybe these will be my goals for the year, or maybe they will grow and change.  My immediate goals are:

  1.  Reconnect with the blogging community and write a blog post at least once a week.  I will set aside a specific time to write, when no one is allowed to interrupt me.  Not being firm on this has led to my lapses in blogging in the past.
  2. Work on my stretching and flexibility on a regular basis.  Do stretching exercises at least 5 days a week.
  3. Run a half marathon.  Run at least 3 days a week for now, because the stretching will help more than anything.
  4. Declutter and fix up the boat to the point where it is everything I want it to be.  Do the budgeting to make this happen and make it a priority.
  5. Connect with positive people, rather than letting negativity suck me in.  Be kind, but stop personalizing people’s bad moods.

So this is what I will be working on in the next year!  I look forward to sharing it with all of you!

 

 

Health, Uncategorized

The Skinny of It All

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I have been skinny most of my life.

When I was a teenager, I was too skinny.  But around the time I got married, I settled in at a healthy, happy weight, near the middle but slightly on the lower end of my healthy range.  This is what I weighed in the picture above, taken early in our marriage, before that lovely green car behind us died tragically in 2003.  I’ll call this happy, healthy weight “X.”

From time to time, I bounced above X, but I always found my way back.  One summer, I made it up to X+15, which horrified me.  My doctor recommended the South Beach Diet, so I gave it a try and was back to X within a month.  So that is how I continued.  I didn’t worry about my diet until I got to X+10, then I would do South Beach and get back down.

Then this happened:

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This, my friends, is X+45.

Fortunately, I was one of those disgustingly annoying mothers who had a very easy time breastfeeding.  Couple that with the fact that I was a tightwad, and that Iliana had serious stomach issues and wasn’t keen of eating solid food, and you get 22 months of calorie-burning breastfeeding goodness!  It didn’t take me long to get down to X+10, and for the next few years, I hovered between X+5 and X+10.

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I was embarrassed that I had to buy a size 8 for my brother-in-law’s wedding…  Iliana (she was 3 in this picture!) wore her dress on special occasions for the next 4 years.

I kept losing, slowly, even after Rob’s mom died unexpectedly in 2011.  I was looking pretty good by the time we set sail the summer of 2011, and I was between X and X+10 during the summer of 2012.

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Meanwhile, my work situation was becoming less and less wonderful.  It was getting more cut-throat, while the pay and benefits were decreasing.  The hours were increasing, taking me away from Iliana.  I began to see work as the price I had to pay, for 3 months of cruising.

And in 2013, I began to question that price.

That year, I was moved from the middle school to the high school.  At first I was on my guard and gained weight from emotional eating.  I wrote my first blog post about the topic, at this time.  I started a small support group, which was helpful for a couple of weeks.

Then it hit the fan at work, and I was thrown into insecurity.  I began to eat a pizza everyday for lunch.  First, one from Subway, but eventually that evolved into a Hot ‘N Ready.  As I made plans to make changes in my life, it only got worse.  I felt unsafe, and food grounded me.

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Here I am with my sister-in-law on my first visit to Texas.  I was between X+15 and X+20.

I thought moving to Texas would bring relief, but I found myself caught up in the same drama at work.  I gained a lot of weight that first year, getting up to X+43.

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We had a “greatest loser challenge” at work, and I took fourth place, getting down to X+30, which is where I remained for the next 3 years.  I was not excited about this weight, but I started working out and practicing yoga, which taught me a great deal about accepting where I am in any given moment, physically and emotionally.  (More about yoga in a future post!).

I began to notice that I was emotionally eating, and that I was unable to detect my hunger cues, so I started working with a dietician.  This was incredibly valuable, as she helped me to see my patterns and to brainstorm alternatives.  My dietician introduced me to the book, “Intuitive Eating,” which gave me many tools that I had been previously lacking and helped me to stop demonizing certain foods.  Through working with her, I was able to weigh myself regularily, without attaching so much emotion to the number on the scale.  It is just a data point.

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Then came the 2017-18 school year.  This period of time brought more significant challenges than I had ever faced before in my life before then.  I began to use food as a coping mechanism more than ever.  It started out with a candy bar here and there, especially after work.

I stopped weighing myself during this time, but my weight was definitely creeping up.

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By Christmas, I was grabbing fast food after work, because the feeling of a full belly was so comforting.

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In the end, I was ordering a pizza for lunch–a whole pizza, delivered.  I would munch on it all day, to soothe myself at work.  Then I would still grab fast food on the way home, before eating dinner.

Then, on March 1, I went on leave from my job, permanently.  I wasn’t losing weight yet, but the pattern was broken.

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The above picture is a selfie that Iliana and I took the first day I got to walk her to the bus stop!

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My second week on leave, we took this picture of me at my “happy place,” Elijah’s retreat in Jacksonville, Texas.  When I got home, I finally stepped on the scale.  X+50.  I was 5 pounds heavier than my pregnancy weight!

After leaving my job, I did find that I was emotionally eating a lot less. I started going to yoga daily, which helped me to better process my experiences over the past year.  And I decided that I was ready to start actively working on weight loss.  I began with my old standby–low carb–and lost 7 pounds in 2 weeks.

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After this initial success, I went out for smoothies with one of my closest friends, who had gotten me through my challenging year with near-weekly smoothie dates on Saturday mornings.  I mentioned that I was eating low-carb, and she said, “I always had a lot of success with Weight Watchers.  I am a lifetime member now, which means I don’t have to pay to go to meetings.”

The seed was planted, so of course I had to check it out.

I browsed Weight Watchers’ website, and I really liked the simplicity and flexibility of the eating plan, and I knew that the emotional support at the meetings would be beneficial for me.  So I took advantage of an offer where I paid for 3 months upfront, and got 50% off.

My first meeting was an extremely positive experience.  I found that the positive atmosphere stood in contrast to the typically punitive attitude toward “dieting” that is pervasive in our culture.  It felt good, and it fit very well with what I had been learning in yoga and with my dietician.

Yes, we had to weigh in first, but it wasn’t the daunting experience I thought it would be.  People talked about weight and numbers very matter-of-factly.  It was one indicator of progress, and for me, it was a starting point.  I set my goal for X, and enjoyed hearing all the practical ideas people shared in the meeting.  I felt immediately accepted, and I loved our leader.  She was one of those people who instantly lights up a room.

In Weight Watchers, you earn charms for meeting milestones, and it did not take me long to earn my 5 pound charm.  And right after I earned it, I spent the weekend downtown at a moped rally.  I had asked for ideas about this upcoming rally, in the meeting.  Some people recommended choosing healthier choices at restaurants, carrying my own snacks, or even just not tracking and getting back on track after the weekend!  As much as I prepared, when it came down to it, I chose the latter.  And had a great time!

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At this point, I was X+38!

After the rally, I got right back on program.  I found that I felt better when I was more active.  Not exercising, per se, but just incorporating more activity into my day.  Weight Watchers has “fitpoints” that you track, so I wore a pedometer and started walking whenever I could.  A day’s worth of laundry could earn me nearly 9000 steps!  As my fitpoints goal increased, I noticed that I was hungry a lot more.  I started allowing my weekly points to go into the negative, by 20-40, and I kept losing 1-2 pounds a week.  If I was not as active, I gained weight.

And before I knew it, I earned my 10 pound charm!  By this point, I was getting comments about my weight loss, and I had to retire some of my clothing.  My yoga pants were falling down in class!  But the flowered dress still fit…

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Things slowed a bit after that, but with consistency (and a few ups and downs), I found myself at X+31 the first week of June.

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What you don’t know is that Iliana was showing the earliest signs of heat stroke in that picture, and her temperature spiked to 102.5 that night…it was terrifying…

With consistency, as well as taking a break during the occasional week, I made slow and steady progress.  I found that working through emotional eating required diligence.  I had to make more changes to my life, and make sure that I was spending time with people who were supportive.

And so here I am, currently at X+27!

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So….In the spirit of the many guest posts I wrote when I was a “serious” blogger, I am going to end this story with a take-away!

Here are some lessons I have learned in my weight loss journey:

  1.  Start with the groundwork.

    I worked with my dietician for over a year before I lost a pound.  At my first appointment, I had expected her to give me a meal plan that I could follow, so that I could lose weight quickly.  Instead, she helped me to see that I already knew a lot about nutrition.  And you likely do, too.  The information is readily available, and following any diet/food plan will result in weight loss.  Low-carb and low-fat are equally as effective.  So the important question is, why aren’t we eating the way that we know to eat?  I was unhappy, and food was my addiction that helped me cope with being unhappy.  Finding peace and happiness required a MAJOR life change that had nothing to do with food.  I don’t think weight loss would have happened if I had not quit my job.  Weight gain is a part of a larger picture, and a lot has to be unraveled before the pattern can be permanently changed.

2.  Consider professional help to get you started.

I worked with a dietician and a therapist.  Emotional eating is an addiction.  It is a very socially accepted addiction, but it is an addiction nonetheless.  I was overeating because I was unhappy.  If I hadn’t worked with professionals to learn tools and to gain the clarity to make changes in my life, I may have replaced my overeating with a different addiction.  It would have been the same scenario as the AA members smoking outside, before their meeting.  Ending the cycle is hard, and having  access to professional support can be very valuable.  I paid out of my pocket to see my dietician, and I will likely do it again after I reach my goal, to help me maintain.

3.  Actually read the book “Intuitive Eating.”

It’s not what most people think it is.  It is not about eating whatever you want and forgetting the consequences.  It is about honoring your hunger and respecting your fullness.  And about allowing all foods into your life.  In the end, the focus  turns to nutrition and making informed choices.  This book and the workbook have helped me tremendously in Weight Watchers.  While a lot of people in my meeting are strict about what they eat and avoid, I have indulged in poutine and lost weight!  Rob and I go out to a bar and split a burger and fries, and I order a beer.  A lot of people on Weight Watchers avoid pancakes, but I eat them (in smaller portions) most mornings.

4.  Approach it with a truly body positive attitude.

Like intuitive eating, the phrase “body positive” has been distorted in popular culture.  Notice how many “before” pictures I have, and how I am smiling in all of  them.  I enjoyed seeing and posting the selfie and Iliana and me, on my first day on  leave from my job, because I could see how happy I was.  I was beautiful in that  picture,  because that was such a powerfully life-changing day.  And in the  picture when I was my heaviest, I was sitting in my happiest place, having made it  through an unbelievably awful school year.  I did not hate myself for being obese, and I do not hate myself for being overweight.  However, I love myself too much to remain a slave to an addiction.  I love myself enough to find peace and happiness.  Overeating was a poor substitute.  I love myself enough to be healthy.  I feel more energetic when I eat balanced meals and am active.  My moods improve when I take care of myself.  Yes, I feel prettier when I weigh X.  But that does not mean I  am ugly when I do not.  Being body positive means getting to know your body.  I  weigh myself daily, so I can see my patterns.  I fluctuate by 1-2 pounds, then I dump down when it is close to a week.  One time I dumped the day after a weigh-in!

5.  Find movement that you love!

I have never forced myself to go to yoga.  It makes me happy, it makes me feel good,  and it is a community where I belong, am valued, and am connected.  I modify, based on what I can do each day, so it never “kicks my butt.”  My practice has become such a joyful part of my life, that I happily get up and go to class at 6am twice a week!  Sometimes I do extra side planks during sun salutations, and sometimes I spend most of the class in child’s pose.  But showing up is never a problem.  Find your version of that, and you will never struggle to be active again.

6.  Find supportive friends.

Enlist your tribe!  I found supportive friends in my yoga class, and one of them actually joined Weight Watchers with me.  I have connected with a number of people from my meetings as well.  The reality is that not everyone will be supportive when you are making changes.  Weight loss is about so much more than weight loss, and it will lead to changes in your relationships.  Make sure that you are around people who are positive and supportive.

7.  And LAST…find a flexible food plan (or two).

The food plan really does come last!  Because if you don’t do the groundwork, you  will not stick to it.  But when you do it, remember that any diet will cause you to lose weight, if you can follow it.  So pick something that is easy to follow, for you! The best advice I read, was to have two food plans.  Start with a food-list plan (such as low carb or low fat), then have a counting plan (such as calorie counting) as a backup.  That way, if you eat bread or a doughnut, you are not off the hook.  You can count calories and stay on track.  Weight Watchers is primarily a counting plan,  but it also has a food list component.  I use it as my framework, then vary how I eat within it.  Sometimes I do vegan, sometimes I do low-carb, on and sometimes  I just eat small portions of my American favorites!

What has helped you on your weight loss journey?  Please share in the comments!