A Brand New Journey

106 lbs lostMost of you know my health backstory already: After eleven years of illness that caused a myriad of symptoms, including gigantic weight fluctuations, I was finally healed and ready to embark on a weight loss journey to lose 100+ lbs. And I did. From late 2009 to early 2013, I lost 105 lbs and maintained that loss for over a year. Cool, right? Yay! Except…no. Physically, I was thin, fit, healthy, and strong. I’d lost the weight slowly, in a steady, sustainable fashion. Mentally, however, I’d ripped myself to shreds.

Shame is a sneaky, devilish thing. It was a great tool, in terms of motivation. Not only did it help me to keep going on my weight loss journey, it helped me to make changes in a slow, permanent kind of way, so there would be no back-sliding. Fads and get-thin-quick gimmicks didn’t appeal to me. I was getting healthy! I was changing my life for good! Except, um, someone forgot to explain to me that when you allow shame to be your primarily – or only – motivation, you are sacrificing your mental and emotional well-being to your body. And in the end, that is going to bite you in the ass.

I got bitten. I wasn’t happy with the weight I’d lost because I couldn’t lose the last 10-15 lbs. I wasn’t happy with my body, hating my arms and stomach and thighs and back-fat. I felt like a failure and a fraud every time someone applauded my weight-loss success. Eventually, despite losing slow and steady, despite maintaining for a long time, despite enjoying how I felt when I ate well and exercised regularly, my deeply-ingrained body-animosity snowballed into disordered eating, self-harm via food, and massive (mostly-intentional) regain. Lesson learned.

08 swimsuitDo I love my body today? Got to be truthful here: No. Not at all. But I’m trying. I refuse to go on another shame-based weight loss journey. I refuse to set aside the mental and emotional aspects of my health for the physical. Do I want to get thinner, healthier, fitter? Hell. Yes. More importantly, though, I’d like to learn to love myself regardless of my size and perceived success/failure. I want to stop judging myself so harshly. I want to learn to be kind to myself. I want to heal from my trauma-based mental health issues, and heal my relationship with my body and with food. I want better relationships with friends and family. I want to actually be happy and confident, not just pretend to be. I want to celebrate the journey, not just the goals achieved.

To be honest, I thought about keeping this journey elsewhere, someplace private. In the end, though, I decided I’d rather be open about it. Body positivity is something I struggle with, and keeping my struggles private won’t help me. I need to face them, force myself out into the open, in order to retrain my brain. If my meandering struggles can help fellow sufferers, I’d like that, and if there are others who can help me, I’d like that, too. I won’t be posting about this all the time – as I said yesterday, The Zen Leaf will remain primarily book-based – but I’ll probably be fairly regular about it in the months to come.

Wish me luck on this new wellness journey!


About Amanda

Writing. Family. Books. Crochet. Fitness. Fashion. Fun. Not necessarily in that order. Note: agender (she/her).
This entry was posted in Wellness and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to A Brand New Journey

  1. Beth F says:

    You’ve got it! You know I’ve been inspired by you over the years. Sorry to hear about the self-image struggles.


  2. Meg says:

    The best of wishes to you! Weight loss is tough, but focusing on your emotional well being is such an important component of getting healthy . . . physically and mentally. I had a big weight loss in 2013, prior to getting pregnant, and am now back at that original pre-loss weight after giving birth to my son. I’m trying to go easy on myself and lose again gradually so that I can maintain those habits, but it’s much harder this time around because I can’t just focus on me anymore. All things in time!


    • Amanda says:

      Having gone through that up and down through three pregnancies, I hear you. Take your time. In ten years, you’ll want to remember the time you spent with Oliver, rather than the time you spent ignoring him to get healthy, right? That’s not to say you shouldn’t take ANY you-time, because you most definitely should. Just strive for balance. I realize saying that is much easier than doing it, and those early infancy years are TOUGH. Just keep trying. *hugs*


  3. Jeanne says:

    Lots of luck. I read Fat Girl Walking yesterday, and applauded her efforts to appear in a swimsuit in public, as I applaud yours.


  4. I think you are gorgeous. I’m so proud of you! I’ve watched your journey and I’m impressed. More importantly, however, I want you to know you aren’t alone!

    Since hitting my mid-thirties, I’ve gained weight. It’s harder to lose weight now than it was when I was younger. I don’t drink soda, I cut out all the junk food in my diet, only rewarding myself once a week with something special (Chipotle!).

    All that said, my journey to loving and appreciating my body wasn’t an easy one. Now? I do love it. Do I get frustrated when I can’t wear certain things, sure. But I love the body that gave me two amazing young boys. I may never get back to the original weight I was before them, but I’m happier now than I’ve ever been about who I am and what I look like.

    So, the journey won’t be easy, but know there are those of us here to support you!


    • Amanda says:

      It’s so inspirational to know people who have already undertaken this journey toward loving your body and who have succeeded! It gives me a lot of hope. I really just want to be comfortable with myself, and how I look, and not down on myself all the time for the way clothes fit or for being too this or too that or not enough this/that.

      The other day, that first picture came up in the rotation of pictures on my screensaver, and my oldest son saw it and said, “Whoa. Mom, when was this?” When I told him it was February 2014, he was surprised and said, “I don’t remember you ever looking like this, that thin.” God I was mortified at first – I was that thin for nearly 18 months, and it was very recently, and my almost-15-year-old doesn’t even remember it! Then it struck me – he said those words without any judgement. Just surprise. He didn’t care about my size. That really opened my eyes.


  5. I really wish we were neighbors. I’ve been struggling with “fat acceptance.” I’ve often thought that was a way to excuse unhealthy lifestyles and I prided myself on being a big girl who knew I should be “thin.” Then I went to the doctor and learned that I am the healthiest i have ever been in my life… at 315 pounds. Yes. I feel better when I don’t binge eat and exercise, but that is separate from losing weight. I need to love my body (how it looks) and give it what it needs (rest, exercise, emotional support, creativity, healthy food AND delightful indulgences) and know that I may never lose a single damn pound. My health is different from my size and it is really hard separating that out. I have then friends who are “unhealthy” and they make health goals that have nothing to do with size. I’m focusing on sleeping and my mental health right now and not worrying about my weight. (okay, I’m trying to now think about my weight… my lack of confidence is crippling at times).


    • Amanda says:

      You know, when I read in Fat Girl Walking about the body-positivity-buddies, you were the first person I thought of. I have a lot of friends on a weight loss journey in town, and even friends who, despite wanting to lose weight, are very comfortable with themselves and love themselves. But immediately when I thought about needing someone to reach to when I felt myself crashing, I thought of you.

      It’s hard not to think about the weight, even when you don’t want that to be the focus. I’m trying to learn not to step on the scale. That’s HARD.


  6. You are simply amazing and you look great! Trust me, I know all about these struggles too, so at least know you aren’t alone. I am working on losing the excess weight I put back on during the pregnancy and still have a long way to go. I’m really looking forward to following along with your journey! I love documenting mine on my blog so I can’t wait to read all about yours too. 🙂


    • Amanda says:

      I’ve loved watching your journey – you’re doing so good with balancing it with new-motherhood! Pregnancy really changes our bodies in so many ways, hormonally and our skin elasticity and bone shape and all the rest. I’ve been reading a lot of studies lately about health of post-pregnancy women, and how a healthy BMI is different for them. What’s considered healthier for a post-pregnancy woman is what’s considered overweight for pre-pregnant women. When a post-pregnant woman gets down into the normal “healthy” BMI, she tends to have a lot of health problems. The research into this is developing, but I’ve found it fascinating.


  7. Pingback: List Love: Blog Posts by Fierce Women | Fig and Thistle

  8. Wow! You are amazing. I lost 15 kilo around 10 years ago (we use metric here in New Zealand) and have kept it off up until a year ago I still felt “fat”. Somehow one day a button/switch in my head turned and I am now around 95% happy with my shape. For a 61 year old that ain’t half bad although I’m still not Elle Macpherson!!


  9. Shaina says:

    All of the luck! I’m so excited to ride along with you on this adventure. 🙂


  10. Pingback: Wellness Wednesday #5: Deferred | The Zen Leaf

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.