Why Losing Weight Is a Mindset Workout more than a Body Workout
Most people, not only women, struggle with weight. For most of us, the struggle is about losing weight or keeping it off.
After a lifetime of dealing with body-shame issues and going through almost every eating disorder, I finally reached a point in my life where I no longer need to worry about it. I never have to put myself through strict diets or rigorous training sessions in the gym. My BMI is low to average and my weight is good for my age and height. Sure, I might feel better in a bathing suit if I dropped 5 pounds, but I feel good about the way I currently look so I don't stress about it.
My journey to get here hasn't been easy. What I didn't know was that all that struggle wasn't serving me much, it was when I discovered self love that everything changed.
I'm going to break down my journey in a few steps so you, whomever you are, you wonderful being, can see if you identify yourself in any of these stages.
***Disclaimer: I am neither a dietitian nor a psychiatrist so only take these steps as advice. These are a compilation of moments in my journey and they intend only to work as general advice.
Phase One: You are feeling stuck and can't even stand to look at yourself in the mirror
I don't remember ever feeling great about the way I looked. As a kid, I noticed being bigger than the average girls I went to school with. I wasn't overweight but I also wasn't a skinny girl that could wear the dresses the real-size barbie dolls had.
When puberty came along, I lost that "extra weight" and it all went to my height. I remember a girl from school telling me that I was "just in the middle". She said something like I wasn't fat but I also wasn't super skinny and that was "OK". I took that as a compliment because I realized other people didn't see me as fat, though, I still wanted to look like the super skinny girls.
I made this my new identity. I felt normal, but I still was insecure about my body. It wasn't until I was 15 that I realized my "heaviness" was just having the body of a Latina woman. I had curves and the other girls didn't. This made me start embracing my body, though I still wished I was smaller so I could look the way they looked in the newest fashion.
To make a long story short, I got in my school's track team because my mom thought it would be a way to stay fit and she had the hope that I would get taller- I didn't, I'm 5'-1"- and when I got tired of it I sort of fell into depression and started gaining weight. I put on 15 pounds, and for someone as small as me, that looked like a lot. I was so disgusted with myself I couldn't ever face the mirror. I tried diets but I bounced back and got even worse as soon as I stopped them.
This is my conclusion for this phase: nothing works.
There's no diet that will give you a permanent result or any magic training. This was the time that I got so desperate to lose weight that I stopped eating altogether, and if I ate, I would get rid of whatever I ate with whatever method I could. Guess what? That didn't make me lose weight either. I was in an unhealthy cycle of not eating, eating too much and feeling guilty.
And this is what I have to say to you: you will never lose weight as long as you are in this cycle. No matter how much you work out, no matter what new diet you are trying out. Losing weight from a state of frustration and desperation will always bring you back to stage one. You need to stop and step back.
Phase Two: There's gotta be another way
Going to dinner parties was painful because I had to pretend everything was alright and eat whatever was put in front of me. That was usually followed by me running to the bathroom to get rid of whatever had just entered my system.
At this time in my life, I had just signed up for an internship-like program abroad. This would be the first time in my life that I would have absolute control of my everyday life, the first time in my life I would have to budget my food and prepare it for myself.
I gained a bunch of weight while being abroad. My priority was to make money, not lose weight so much, so I took whatever free food I could (mostly pizza), I bought hyper-processed food that was cheap (lot's of empty calories) and I got little to no exercise. In three months, I became 20 pounds bigger. This is the heaviest I've ever been.
Something changed in this time, though, I met a guy. This person was so attracted to me that I could not believe it was real. I mean, I looked my worst. Yet, here comes this guy who finds my extra skin super sexy. This was mind blowing. I got into this relationship with a skeptic heart, but the more time I spent with him, the more I realized he was truthful about his feelings. This is when things started changing for me.
This is my conclusion for this phase: you have got to face the mirror
When I came back home, I continued to talk to this guy and I started believing him. Then, I just started eating normal: not too much junk food, just normal homemade food. In a couple of months I was able to drop at least half the weight I had put on in that trip.
This is what I have to say to you: I started facing the mirror. The more I talked to him, the more I believed I was attractive. Out of curiosity, at first, I started looking at myself in the mirror trying to find what he was so attracted to. It took me a little while to understand it, but the more I did it the more I got comfortable with the way I looked. My mind changed from thinking the only way I would ever be skinny was if I didn't eat to "what if I'm not skinny and that is OK?" or "what if I'm actually as attractive or more than a skinny girl?".