I’ve made a concentrated effort to not talk about healthy living on my blog as much as I used to. Mainly because my attempts to write about this topic never seemed to have much use, other than to complain about how hard it is. And to make excuses for why I’m not losing weight. I could write an entire post doing both right now, if I wanted to.
But I don’t want to. Because I’m tired of complaining and making excuses. I’m tired of feeling that I’m just not good enough because I can’t seem to get it. I’m tired of feeling sad when I look in the mirror, discontent about who I am as a person because there’s too much of me in my reflection.
I think the crux of any healthy living journey is not so much about the physical. It’s not about exercising more, drinking more water, eating more fruits and veggies, eating less processed food, calorie counting, or portion control.
The crux of a healthy living journey begins when we start taking a good, long, hard look at ourselves and discover that the way we treat ourselves, the way we talk about ourselves, and the way we believe our worth has more to do with the number on the scale than who we are inside is where it all begins.
I’m not very kind to myself. I berate myself when I mess up and don’t work out on a day I said I would. I whisper lies to myself when I’m standing in the bathroom, looking at my naked reflection and hating every single inch of my skin. I tell myself that I am not worthy to be loved. That I am useless because I’m not following a healthy lifestyle. I wonder on a daily basis why people even like me – because I am fat. And fat equals unlikeable somehow, at least in my mind.
The truth of the matter is that I know these are lies. I know I am a wonderful person. I am smart and funny and kind to others. I make people laugh, I lift their spirits. I’m a hard worker and a go-getter. I’m understanding and trustworthy. My weight has no bearing on the person I am inside. If I lost 50 lbs and really embraced a healthy lifestyle like I keep saying I want to, my worth would not change. Skinny people are no more worthy of love, attention, and affection than overweight people. We are all worthy. We are all deserving.
For the longest time, my attempts at losing weight have been less about being healthier and more about finding my worth on the scale. I thought that if I was skinnier, if I didn’t have weight problems, my life would magically be better. As if the only thing holding me back from living a life I loved was my weight.
It’s probably because I’ve been told this, time and time again, in the media and on reality TV shows (The Biggest Loser is such a dangerous show to watch when you struggle with weight-related self-image problems). I’ve been told that being overweight holds us back from so much – love, friendship, travel, happiness – and that once we lose the weight, everything will fall into place! Like magic.
Now, in a sense, that’s true. Because you develop more self-confidence and a greater appreciation for your life and yourself by going through a tough weight loss journey. I’m not denying that. But I also think the true weight loss journey begins when we begin to unpack the lies we tell ourselves about who we are. And realize that healthy living is a form of self-care, not a form of self-torture.
Healthy living is not about denying ourselves what we want. Or pushing our bodies to the absolute limit in our workouts, yet feeling incredibly guilty for missing one day of exercise. Or following a restrictive diet (a diet that seems all too prevalent in the healthy living blogger community, if I must be honest.)
Healthy living is about choosing to take care of ourselves. It’s one of the greatest acts of self-care. That’s the point of health living. And when healthy living becomes more about feeling better inside than it does about looking better outside, that’s when change happens. That’s when we begin to restructure the way we talk about ourselves and our bodies. And, in turn, begin to choose whole foods and find exercise routines that fulfill us because we want to, not because we feel we have to in order to live up to some skinny ideal.
I do want to lose weight. But more than that, I want to be kinder to myself. Because I deserve that. Because my worth doesn’t change, no matter what the scale says. Because good god can we stop being so damned obsessed with our bodies and our weight and how we look? Does it really matter in the long run? Is this what people on their death beds worry about? No. Not at all. Not even a little bit. What matters is how we lived, how we treated others and ourselves.
The point of healthy living is about so much more than the calories we consume and the workouts we accomplish. I don’t need to lose weight because it means I’ll be a better human being if I do so. It’s not about checking off a goal on the list. The point of healthy living is feeding my body good, whole foods because I appreciate my body and all it does for me, and because I want to treat it well. It’s about exercising in a way that makes me feel good – not because I feel I have to, but because I want to, because I know I am improving my heart health and overall well-being.
And the point of healthy living is also about how we treat ourselves. The words we say to ourselves, in the quiet of a bathroom as we stare at our reflection. And the berating? The whispered lies? That is something I’m no longer going to accept. I wouldn’t be friends with someone who called me fat or lazy or worthless or dumb. So why do I not hold myself to the same standards? We have to hold ourselves to the same standards.
Healthy living? It’s something I don’t have a complete grasp on. But I’m continually working towards it. And I’m working towards it because I want to treat my body – and myself – well, not because I have to in order to prove my worth.