This is going to be another tough one to try to determine where to start. If you’re not new here you know I spent years yo-yo dieting only to fail each time. I was one of those people who had tried everything and nothing worked. I had a terrible relationship with food and all the ups and downs had led to a negative mindset towards dieting in general.
There was a time I would have done anything to be skinny. And I did. Diet after diet. Pill after pill. Dollar after dollar. You name it and I probably tried it. I look back now and I wonder why I did all of these things. What was the driving force behind all this time, effort and money I was putting into these failed attempts at what I believed to be health. I can tell you with no hesitation what the driving force was. I was desperate to be skinny. My entire self identity was tied to my weight. This actually started when I was teenager. At that time I believed I was fat and I believed I was bigger than all the other girls. I look back at photos from my teen years now and I’m aware that was the beginning of my body dismorphic disorder. We’re not going to dive down that rabbit hole today though because we already have. If you haven’t read it I encourage you to go read the blog article regarding my binge eating disorder and body dismorphic disorder. Ok so let’s reel this back in. When I began dieting in my teen years it was completely unnecessary. This toxic behavior continued well into my 30’s when I was actually obese. I believe now this behavior absolutely played a role in my obesity.
What was my ultimate goal throughout all of those years? I wanted to be skinny. I wanted to look the way women on magazine covers and the other girls in school looked. I truly believed that if I could be skinny that I would be loved, valued and respected. I truly believed that if I could be skinny I would feel proud of myself. I truly believed that if I could be skinny I would be more successful at things. That’s so sad, isn’t it? Writing it out makes me realize how many years I spent going through life hating myself and my body. I had this goal that I wanted so very badly but anytime I got close to achieving it I couldn’t hold onto it. Why exactly couldn’t I hold onto it? I’m about to tell you.
To be honest with you there were multiple reasons why. The one we’re here to talk about today is the goal itself and the mindset that went with it. Yup. The goal itself was in fact a huge reason I couldn’t sustain my results. Skinny. That was the goal. That’s it. Do you know what the actual dictionary definition of skinny is? Skinny-unattractively or unusually thin. Why would anyone want that? Doesn’t actually sound very appealing or healthy. I, like many others, didn’t realize what it actually meant to be skinny. Our society and the fitness and diet industry have conditioned us to believe that being skinny is a good thing. What they don’t tell you is that being skinny does not always mean being healthy. You can actually appear to be at a healthy weight but have an unhealthy body fat percentage. When it comes to skinny being your goal the reason you will never successfully achieve and maintain it is because this is a surface level goal. This particular goal has no deeper meaning or greater purpose. It’s rare that people achieve goals that don’t serve a deeper purpose. It’s even more rare when achieving the goal requires behavior change. Changing your habits and behaviors is hard and most people will not do it unless there is a strong “why" behind it.This mindset of my value as a human being directly tied to my weight is so distorted but unfortunately it’s the mindset of so many. Because of this mindset I dieted on and off, over and over for more than a decade.
Finally in 2015 I began a weight loss journey that yielded lasting results. Looking back I can tell you that even then I started this journey with that mindset of chasing skinny. However this time there were some deeper driving factors that are the real reason I succeeded. I was 34 and had high cholesterol, high bp, difficulty breathing with any minimal activity, knee pain, and foot pain among other physical limitations due to my weight. As the weight came off the symptoms of these things all started to improve slowly. The noticeable improvement in my health and how I physically felt on a day to day basis was what pushed me to continue.
In 2018 I met Ryan and began training with him. I had already lost about 60lbs on my own. I was feeling physically better in many ways but I was still chasing skinny and chasing a number on the scale. I still had the mindset of wanting to look like another person and my value being tied to my weight. I don’t recall if I shared this mindset with Ryan. I believe he was experienced enough to know exactly what he was dealing with. Ok not exactly what he was dealing with, let’s be honest I’m a lot. He began teaching me about strength training, a form of exercise I had never even considered. I had done HIIT and all forms of cardio but it never occurred to me to pick up some weights.The entire time he was coaching me in the gym he was continually coaching my mindset. I didn’t even realize he was constantly helping me to change my mindset. I’m not exactly sure when it all completely changed. I’m not sure if it happened all at once like a switch or if it happened slowly over time. My guess based on my experience with my own clients is that it happened slowly over time. One little mindset shift at a time.
When I stopped dieting and exercising and started eating and training is when my results really skyrocketed. This was no longer about being someone else. This was no longer about losing weight or being smaller. All of a sudden I was no longer trying to shrink myself into something smaller to fit into places I really didn’t belong. This was now only about being happy, healthy, confident and strong. I was now chasing strength. Chasing strength in the weight room flowed out into all other areas of my life. I learned that if I was strong enough to move the weights I was strong enough to deal with many other challenges life threw at me. As I got physically stronger I continued to get mentally stronger and my health continued to improve. I developed a desire to constantly improve myself in all ways. The funny thing is that now that I was not focused on my weight alone I had transformed into the smallest physical version of myself I have ever been. Weight loss and “skinny” was actually the byproduct of me trying to be the strongest version of me. Now I do look like a different person. A happy, healthy, confident and strong person. Although I now know I didn’t need to change to be loved, valued or respected I finally feel as though I am loved, valued and respected but not for how I look. For my strength.
Something I enjoy the most about coaching my clients is watching these tiny mindset shifts that they often aren’t even aware of. I love seeing them find their confidence and strength and watching the ripple effect it has on their lives and the lives of those around them. Watching people grow into the person they always should have been and knowing that in some small way I was a part of that growth is the most rewarding part of my job.
If any of this hits home for you and you’re done chasing skinny and ready to be healthy, confident and strong, reach out. I understand your journey and I’d love to help you realize that you have always been strong, you just couldn’t see it.