If you want to lose weight to improve your health and change your physical appearance, I commend you and want you to know that losing weight will have a tremendous, positive impact on your life. However, it’s important to keep in mind that losing weight won’t necessarily magically give you the self-confidence you always wanted. Self-confidence comes from loving yourself, at any size and no matter how you look. It comes from loving your mind, body, and heart.
At 26, I was morbidly obese, and I was seriously considering getting bariatric surgery. I wanted so badly to be able to start over as a thin person. I wanted a second chance to eat right, exercise enough, and stay healthy. I talked to my doctor about the risks of the surgery, and I started fantasizing about how great it would be to be thin. Then I called my insurance company and realized they wouldn’t cover bariatric surgery, which they considered to be a “cosmetic” surgery. I was crushed.
After I realized I wasn’t going to be able to get bariatric surgery anytime in the near future, I decided that I would commit myself to losing weight the old-fashioned way. I counted my calories, I spent hours every day on the elliptical machine, I gave up gluten, dairy, and red meat, and I forced myself to eat a salad every night for dinner. I developed healthy eating habits, and I lost weight. It was hard work. I felt like giving up a lot, and I can’t say that I was always able to resist the urge to drive to Jack in the Box in the middle of the night to fill up on some delicious tacos.
The whole time I was putting forth effort to lose weight, I just kept on thinking about how happy I’d be when I was thin. I was fed up with being overweight. I wasn’t going to put up with it anymore. After a year and some months of dieting and exercising as much as I possibly could, I actually got my BMI down to 24, which meant I wasn’t obese or even overweight anymore. I weighed as much as an average woman my age should.
I remember looking in the mirror at my house after I got home from the doctor’s office the day I found out my weight was considered normal. I looked tired, and I distinctly remember feeling depressed. I had reached a healthy weight, but I wasn’t happy. I still didn’t like the way my arms looked, and my nose looked jarringly large on my pulled face.
A few months after I reached a healthy weight, I started eating less healthy foods, and I started exercising less often. I was experiencing some stress at my job, and it made it really difficult to focus on maintaining my weight. Within seven months, I had gained 50 pounds. I remember not really caring when my doctor told me he was worried about my weight gain. I was tired of fighting for something that didn’t even really make me happy.
One night I took a walk with a close friend, and she made a comment about how depressed I’d seemed. She said she was worried about me. That’s when it hit me. I needed to talk to a counselor. So, I set up an appointment, and hoped the counselor would be able to help me overcome my feelings of unhappiness.
When I told her about how I hadn’t felt happier when I was thin and what a big disappointment it was, she interjected with something profound. She asked me the question:
“Susan, have you ever felt like you loved yourself, any part of yourself–your body, your mind, or your heart?”
At that moment, I realized that I hadn’t ever really loved any part of myself. Sure, I’d liked that I was good at my job and good in school. I liked that I had a good sense of humor and was a caring friend and daughter. I’d liked the way my green eyes looked on sunny days. But none of the things I liked ever really made up for the things I didn’t like about myself: my weight, my nose, my shyness, and my lack of spontaneity. What I didn’t like about myself overpowered me sometimes. It made it impossible for me to love myself.
My counselor and I slowly but surely worked on changing how I perceived myself and the rest of the world. I spent more time with friends and doing things I liked and spent less time at work. I started exercising regularly and eating healthier again, and it occurred to me that everyone, even thin, drop-dead gorgeous people, have flaws.
One day, I looked in the mirror. I was twenty pounds overweight but nowhere near obese. I remember thinking that I looked like my mother did in the pictures from her wedding day. I thought I looked radiant, and I was finally happy with myself. From that day on, I’ve continued to do everything I can to stay healthy and keep my BMI under control. However, I’ve also realized that my weight won’t determine my happiness. That’s something I have to determine on my own, by loving myself.
About the Author: Susan Wells is a freelance blogger who enjoys writing about automotive and health news, technology, lifestyle and personal finance. She often researches and writes about automobile, property and health insurance. Susan welcomes comments and questions.