How My Biggest Challenge Helped Me Grow In 2017

One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced this year, besides my dad dying, was with my body. On my vision board this year instead of claiming I wanted to simply lose weight I put “have a better relationship with food and my body.” I had no idea all the things that would come from that statement.

As a receptionist it gives me A LOT of access to food, especially free food- pizza, pastries, bagels, sandwiches, salad, cookies, and the list goes on. Besides the free food are all the restaurants, bakeries, and drug stores in the surrounding area to fuel my other cravings. I gained roughly 20-30 lbs since I started the job in 2016. My indulgence in all of the above at work plus my off work eating and drinking habits have played a part in my weight gain.

Throughout this year of trying several things to lose weight I came face to face with myself and my shit! I realized it had less to do with the food and everything to do with me choosing myself over the bull shit.

Crazy enough I thought I was already focusing on me, but really I was just distracting myself with more shit. I filled my life with so many things that I had no time for me, let alone cooking and exercising. When I did have time for me it quickly involved sleep. Every time I turned on Hulu or Netflix I would be sleep less than 10 minutes into it. I would go to great events, but couldn’t enjoy it because I just wanted to be home. I got a lot of things done, but a lot of things also fell through the cracks.

My weight has become less about my physical appearance, and more about a lifestyle of neglecting myself by putting food inside me that at times I didn’t enjoy (as much as I thought), not being as active as I would like to be, and overall not choosing myself. I know what is healthy and what’s not, but I would choose the latter anyway.  

After a long summer and fall I’ve come to realize a few things about my life, body, and trying to lose weight.

You Gotta Put In The Time

Over the years I’ve made my career more important than my life, and still don’t feel significantly closer to success than I did the year before. I thought if I hankered down and focused on my writing it would yield quick results.  

I began to work my day job 8:00 a.m.- 5:30 p.m., and then work from 6 p.m.- 8, 9 or even 10 p.m. on any given weekday. I thought I was hustling, focusing, and doing what needed to be done to considered successful. Mind you I wasn’t making that much more money and found myself spending half a month’s rent on food- including eating out with friends for brunch, dinner, and happy hour.

I used to walk home sometimes from work. That stopped.

I even realized I hadn’t cooked in my apartment from June until mid October, unless making smoothies count. It really hit me when I signed up for Weight Watchers in the spring that after three months I never went to a meeting. I never made the time to go. In three months I couldn’t find one hour to go to a meeting anywhere in Manhattan. That was ridiculous.

Looking at my life I saw where not taking the time applied to a lot of other areas I was struggling with. “I don’t have time for that” had literally become my motto since college. Not making time came with a huge cost to my health, finances, career, friendships and overall well-being. Needless to say it was also a cop-out so I didn’t have to deal with difficult things in my life. I see now that it’s best to remove things from my life, prioritize, and take the time to be thorough instead of running, hiding, and avoiding my reality.

I Need To Deal With My Emotions

If I’m honest food is my friend, my protector, my comforter, my everything. I didn’t realize how bad it was until this year after trying to diet time after time. Food allows me to not have to feel the feelings that can overcome me sometimes. Adulting is real. Bills are real. When I find myself unable to shop for clothes, attend that cool class, or buy that ticket out the country I know I can afford a slice of cake, almond croissant, burger, or popcorn to make me feel better.

With everything I had taken on with freelance writing and editing, my actual job, volunteering, and beginning to identify my feelings, it was too much to deal with so I ate more. I noticed after an uncomfortable or difficult session with my therapist I would always eat something even though I wasn’t hungry.

The discomfort was too much. Its still something I’m working through, but at least I can recognize the symptoms. I’m slowly making better choices to not only handle my emotions, but to also treat myself when I want to celebrate or be sad. Finding fun, exciting, and inexpensive ways to add more pleasure and happiness to my life is becoming invaluable to me on this journey.

Being Mindful in Life

My last attempt at losing weight involved me going to see a specialized doctor (results still to be determined). Part of his recommendations to me were to stop watching tv when I’m eating, to take a minute to smell my food and look at it before I eat, and to ask myself two question when deciding to eat something.

This routine brought to my attention just how mindless I am when I eat. Every time I watch tv I’m eating or want to eat. Following the doctor’s order has been very difficult, but I’m so much more aware of my eating habits. Not only do I eat when I’m emotional, but also when I’m bored or avoiding something. Its been difficult watching tv and eating slowly in silence.

When I think back to how long I’ve had the habit of watching tv while eating its been practically my whole life. Breaking old habits are never fun, but necessary. This has allowed me to be mindful about a lot of other things in my life like my social media use, and how I can be more productive. Most importantly I see how I engage with myself when I’m not forcing myself to do something to fill the time, and it too is a very uncomfortable space for me to be in.

Also, my finances were getting out of control. I was just swiping away thoughtlessly trying to keep up with the crowd and feed my cravings. I’m more mindful of where I am financially without being ashamed. A lot of times I just ain’t got it after paying bills and investing in myself. I will be there one day, but for now I have to chill. And that’s okay.

It all boils down to really taking care of myself and no longer waiting unconsciously for something to save me from my life- no book, class, job, man, or trip is going to change the mess that is sometimes my life. Being mindful makes me be accountable for everything going on in my life including my weight. I can no longer blame anything on being fat, but myself.

Keep Trying Even When I Fail

It was embarrassing to fail at Weight Watchers after hearing and seeing all the success stories. It’s always embarrassing telling your friends about a new diet or way of eating you’re trying only for them to see you order dessert after stuffing your face with pizza. Even if I didn’t tell them I was ashamed of myself for myself, but I kept trying to find something that worked.

The constant digging and trying helped me to see my unhealthy patterns clearer. It also helped me recognize that my weight is deeper than eating healthy and exercising regularly. I have some deep rooted shit going on in my being. I’m still trying to get to the root of it all and dig it up, but at least I haven’t given up on myself even if a couple of dress sizes have given up on me.

I see just how resilient I am in the face of adversity. It takes courage to try again and fail, especially when people can see your failure.

What Success Looks Like To Me

All this time spent trying to be successful I “didn’t have time” to call my family, spend time with friends, exercise, and etc. I didn’t have time to take care of myself. Or should I say didn’t make time. I was doing what I thought success was not realizing that I needed to define success for myself.

Yes, I want to have a career I love and be great at it, but I also want to be healthy with my body, relationships, and my money. All the things I’ve been putting on the back burner for “work.” When I had to drop everything to go see my dad in the hospital, put him in hospice, and then plan his funeral, work didn’t matter anymore. I still can’t help but think about all the times I said I was going to call, but forgot because I was working or too busy. Now I can never get that time back with him.

Sadly enough, I jumped right back into the bull shit when I got back to New York. After two months I had to take a step back and reevaluate my life- body, mind and spirit. I’ve decided to make my weight loss a journey, not a destination. Investing the time and money to make sure I’m making healthy decisions for myself is what’s important to me.

Taking the time to go eat instead on being on the go or eating at my desk has become important to me. Making cooking a priority for my body and bank account too. Really thinking about what I’m eating and how it will make me feel. Success is nothing if I feel overwhelmed, and my personal business isn’t properly handled.

My new level of commitment to myself and a life that I love is bigger than my weight, but my weight loss journey has led me to ask myself the tough questions. It has helped me to see what taking care of myself really looks like. I’m still a work in progress. I can’t promise you’ll see me at the gym just yet or passing up a cookie, but I will be reclaiming my time and energy moving forward.

I’m so grateful to my body for being a major catalyst in my life changing from the inside out. I never imagined learning so much about myself during this process. Losing weight became less about the weight and more about what’s going on inside of me.

What have you learned about yourself in 2017? Do you struggle with some of the same things?

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