I've been working in the health and fitness industry for about 5 years now. And over the course of those 5 years if I had a dollar for every time I've had someone tell me they want to "lose weight" I'd fill a swimming pool with dollar bills and sit poolside with my Gucci sunglasses and Versace bikini while being fed grapes and fanned with palm leaves. Ok, no I wouldn't but you get the point. I've heard it a lot. But why when someone wants to be healthy or fit is the focus always on their weight?
Because we've been fed a stream of information that has taught us to hate our bodies. That's the only reason. They tell us that "excess weight" is ugly and bad for our health. Well how much weight is "excess" weight? Can you really plot my body on a bar graph along with everyone else's and then call me overweight based on whether I fall over, on, or under a curve? So our health can be measured with mathematical equations? Oh, wow, that's so easy! I'm so glad someone figured that out. It's doing us so much good! So useful. They tell us that we need to drop weight fast with low calorie diets. Because the body just loves to be in starvation mode all day everyday. And that will for sure make you feel really good and energized. Oh, and you'll definitely lose a lot of weight without a chance of ever regaining it because it's very healthy and normal for the body to drop a lot of weight so suddenly and be deprived of nutrients for so long. Very healthy. They tell us that we need meal replacements because a shake or bar is a healthier alternative to food. I don't even have a sarcastic response to this. NOTHING is better for you to eat than real food. Nothing.
Ok, so what if you just genuinely want to lose weight and you don't care about all that stuff. Great. First you need to figure out WHY you want to lose weight. If it's:
- to please someone else....WRONG answer
- to be healthier...WRONG answer
- to be a certain size....WRONG answer
- to weigh a certain weight....WRONG answer
- to enhance your career...potentially WRONG answer
Why are these not good reasons to lose weight? Well firstly, you need to make this decision BY yourself and FOR yourself. 100%. You can only do it for you, no one else. Secondly, weight has no direct correlation to health. Thirdly, the number on the tag of your pants has no direct correlation to health, happiness, prosperity, etc. Fourthly, the number on the scale has no direct correlation to health, happiness, prosperity, etc. And fifthly, if you need to be a certain size to excel in the career of your choice, make sure you are extremely passionate about what it is you're doing, then figure out a way to be the best at it JUST AS YOU ARE. I guarantee you will be happier and therefore more successful staying true to yourself and embracing your uniqueness in ANY field out there.
Now you may be thinking, well you lost weight, a whole bunch of it, so why did you do it and what makes your situation any different? Well, it wasn't different in the beginning at all. I wanted to lose weight so I could wear the same clothes as my friends. So I would get asked out at school. So I could be the same weight as my peers. So I could make my mom happy. So I could prove a point to anyone who ever teased me about my weight. And what happened with all of those reasons and all of my efforts? Nothing changed. I continued to gain weight and spiral deeper and deeper into a self-loathing world of depression, anxiety, and food addiction. A world where my sense of humor was my only friend and helped me shield others from seeing the real pain inside. Because a funny, laughing person is a happy person. But I was far from happy. And THAT is what prompted me to change.
Change is the key word. Not numerical figures or measurements. But change. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, over 33% of Americans are obese. This is the highest that percentage has ever been and it continues to grow. We spend more money on diet foods and programs than any other country. Which just adds to the problem, really. We want fast results, and quick answers. We have no patience with ourselves, and no time to waste. So, we drop a bunch of weight, very quickly, and then slowly gain it all back because no CHANGE was implemented. We remain inactive. We maintain high stress levels, inadequate sleep, and toxic relationships. We consume the same foods. We continue on the exact same path and yet we expect results. Well at some point, you have to make a sharp turn because success does not come along a straight line.
When you decide that change is what you're really after for the betterment of your life, everything you always wanted and dreamed of for yourself is suddenly knocking at your door. We are meant to live happy lives. We are supposed to be thriving and doing what we love. No one deserves to be miserable. I decided that I needed to make drastic changes in my life because my lifestyle perpetuated unhealthy habits. I felt trapped in a vicious cycle of sadness and bad choices and I needed to break the cycle. So I told myself I was ready to do whatever it takes to live my dream life. I was going to put myself first even if it meant I would lose friendships, disappoint family members, or go against the advice of my counselor. I was ready to sacrifice everything because I knew that's the only way I was going to make lasting change. So, I moved. I changed my environment so I could focus on ME. Living in Australia for a year was my "sharp turn." It was the first step of many that would lead me to my ultimate dreams and goals.
Once I made the commitment to myself, everything else seemed to come naturally. But what was different this time was that I was serious and I took action. I didn't just say "I want to change and I'm ready and willing." I CREATED change. It's easy to say it, and very difficult to mean it and do it. I had to prove to myself that I could take a chance on myself. I came home after a year with no money. But I had a new sense of self-love and I wasn't going to let anyone or anything take that from me. I changed schools leaving all my friends and architecture program behind. I changed career paths. I worked two jobs to make back some money and then picked up and moved again just 5 months later. This time, to the bay area because I had wanted to live in San Francisco ever since I was young. I was no longer a thinker and dreamer. I was a do-er! And you succeed by doing. I lost weight because it was a natural pitstop along my new path towards happiness. I started taking care of myself by educating myself about nutrition and exercise because I wanted to FEEL better. I wanted to be energized and radiant. The way I was eating and living before was not allowing for that so I needed to change it. Changing my diet and activity level allowed me to find that energy. It made me feel amazing...confident, strong, beautiful, capable, secure.
The weight loss was just a side effect.
Focus on what you want to GAIN in your life, not what you want to LOSE. Be ready, willing, and open to change. Then shut up about it and DO IT. Take a chance on yourself. Take risks. Make sacrifices that have the potential to turn your world upside down. Do it even though you're scared. Do it even though you don't know the outcome. Do it because you believe that your life is worth something. Do it because you are sick and tired of being sick and tired.
Do it for you.