The best part of dramatic weight loss is seeing the before and after shots, right? I love to check out fellow bloggers’ About pages to see the stunning photographic proof. And every time I get frustrated about a setback or need a reminder of how far I’ve come, I look back through my own pre-weight loss shots in 2006 and 2007 and compare them to more recent shots.
But I have a secret to share…I hope you won’t think of me as a fraud. I tell everyone I lost 40 pounds, and it’s true. I did it by following the Weight Watchers program, and slowly watched the scale document my journey over the course of more than 12 months. I got to my goal weight and felt amazing. I wore the size of my dreams, felt “skinny” and never thought I’d be happy if I gained even 5 pounds back.
Then I tried running — and was shocked at how skinny fat I really was. I was not fit, particularly healthy or proud. I set new goals that had nothing to do with weight loss or maintenance. Running, cycling, lifting weights…they led to triathlons and half marathons.
And they led to weight gain. The weight came from trading fat-free coffee creamer for soy milk, using whole grain bread instead of lettuce for sandwiches and totally swearing off “diet” foods. I got healthy. And I got heavier. About 15 pounds heavier. That 40 pound weight loss that I tell people about, in honesty, has crept up to only 25 pounds of loss.
But guess what? Weight really is just a number. My weight has leveled off to something I’m pretty happy with. Sure, I would like to lose 5-8 pounds, but not at the expense of my new happy and healthy body. And if you don’t believe that the scale does NOT give you a measure of self-worth, check this out.
Exhibit A: In this before/after shot, I’m the same weight on the scale. On the left is a picture from my 2006 bachelorette party in Las Vegas. I was working an overnight shift, eating peanut butter and Pringles sandwiches and sleeping 5 hours a night. On the right, a picture from my 30th birthday in 2010. Look at the difference in my face!
Exhibit B: Again, I’m the same weight (give or take 2-3 pounds) here — but I look totally different. On the left, the week of my college graduation in 2002. I was cramming for finals, job hunting, wondering if my relationship would last (it did) and stressing about money. Eating, not sleeping, not working out. On the right, a shot of me just before starting my very first 5K in 2009. Same weight. Different posture. Different outlook.
Exhibit C: Same weight, same pose…different girl. On the left, a picture of me as bridesmaid in my friend’s 2006 wedding. On the right, one of the pictures I took a few weeks before completing my WW program.
Exhibit D: Same weight. Me at my wedding; me after a long bike ride. One of the things I regret most about my wedding is that I didn’t take more time for myself, taking care of my body. Not so that I could look good in pictures — but so that I felt good about myself when looking back. I loved my wedding and love my marriage, but wedding planning was pretty rough.
You be the judge. Which girl would you rather be? Remember — when I step on the scale today, I’m the same weight that I was in each of the before pictures (except the one at the very top — there, I’m about 25 pounds heavier than I am in the after shots).
Now, tell me how YOU define yourself. Are you just your weight? Or are you something more?