The biggest difference in my weight loss this time was all the processing, the reflection, the connections made. This happened largely in a COMMUNITY called "weigh in wednesday". A dear friend from college who I haven't seen in twelve years started courageously posting her weight on her blog every Wednesday. Her actual numbers. And she invited others to join her. Women would post their thoughts and experiences with eating, exercising, and surrender to Christ and their weight each week. I decided to join a few months after I had my baby boy. I didn't think anything would be different in my weight loss song and dance, I would lose 15, maybe even 25 pounds and then quit and start gaining them back, but I thought this was a good place to begin the dance. One would think the transparency of having your actual weight out there for all to see would create some kind of accountability and motivation, but I felt so much love and grace that this was not the case. And I learned over time that I don't think "accountability" really changes lasting behavior all that much. After months of participation in this community I was able to put my finger on why it was so helpful. It was weekly. It was consistent and frequent enough to keep me engaged and it encouraged me to WEIGH MYSELF ONCE A WEEK. Any more or any less amount of times on the scale seems to be counterproductive for people. It also gave me a place to VERBALLY PROCESS. I knew there would be a group of women to "listen" to what I had to say about my struggle and pain and even better than talking to them, I was forced to write which limited my "rambling" and caused more concise and profound reflections. I so looked forward to Wednesdays. I knew if I hadn't lost an ounce or if I had lost four pounds, I was going to check in, post my weight, and talk. I had tried doing something similar in a journaling setting before, but for me it made all the difference to know someone would actually read and perhaps respond to my thoughts. These women provided a space for me to do my hard work. They were there every week. They encouraged and lifted me up. They were the catalyst God used to heal me.
Another difference in my "approach" this time was STARTING WITH MAINTENANCE. I thought "what if I start with a regiment I could live with the rest of my life?" instead of starting with intense exercise, great calorie reduction, and avoidance of certain foods. This mindset really took so much pressure off as I never had a "last chance workout" where I wanted to die; I never "craved" something that I wasn't "allowed" to have; I ate m&ms every day. I just measured them. I decided to COUNT CALORIES as this seemed the simplest way to go. At first I just kept track on a slip of paper, but later I loaded my fitness pal onto my phone and keeping track was even easier. I chose a calorie amount that would maintain a healthy BMI for my height and gender and I kept it at that the entire year. I found that if I fed my body more nourishing foods I would actually feel better and when I slacked in that my body would actually dislike it. I started each morning with a green smoothie and still do. This ROUTINE helped set up my day and it made me feel clean on the inside and I wasn't as quick to want to mess that up. (Of course when I was eating to quiet voices of pain it didn't matter how my body felt). I worked to make things easy. If it wasn't convenient I wouldn't do it. If it didn't fit with the flow of my day, no matter how great of an idea, it wasn't going to happen. So, I made containers with all the ingredients for one morning's smoothie so I merely dumped and blended it. I applied this principle to exercise as well. I started walking with a friend. Although exercising with her made it much more enjoyable and I knew she was counting on me, just her presence wasn't enough to keep me showing up (I really hate exercise). But because we set it up to be so "easy" I never missed a day. Actually it wasn't "easy" as much as it was "mindless". I would get up, get everyone ready, drop older children off at school and pull into the mall parking lot. I would unload the stroller, strap in my infant, grab my water bottle and start walking. There wasn't an opportunity to decide whether I would do it or not. I gave myself no choice. I also got cute yoga pants and matching jacket so that I could go grocery shopping or meet a friend for coffee afterward. I took out every excuse I had made and gave myself no option to "bail." I found that the walking not only helped with my weight loss but it improved my mental health and attitude so much that it actually contributed to my emotional healing. It wasn't about "the burn", but more about fueling my body and my mind as I changed my view on eating, exercise, everything. Finally, being more PRESENT in my life and not numbing myself with food caused me to see that I could act apart from my circumstances. The number on the scale or the day I had with the kids or the phone call that triggered my fears did not have to control my behavior. In this new discovery I was able to keep making the thousands of small changes it takes to add up to one new life. I could still exercise even though my baby hadn't slept more than two hours at a time for months. I could stop eating the m&ms at one serving even though the shocking diagnosis I had just learned of in our family and I "deserved" to eat more. Even when the scale showed no loss and I had worked hard that week I didn't derail. I knew that I had stayed the course that week and if I stayed the course the next week and the next the scale would have to move. I would often chant, "JUST KEEP SWIMMING" to myself. I would do it in Dorie's clueless and chipper voice too because that's part of the beauty of it. Even though circumstances around her were dire, she just kept swimming, la, la, la. And sometimes you have to do that until things do make sense. You just keep doing the right thing until it becomes habit, until it starts to change you, until it is who you are and you don't even have to think about it anymore.