Ok, so you are about to start your weight loss journey, or at least I am, and you are full of all the bright ambition that you need to kick it off with gusto.
I’m talking, you have everything ready and lined up.
You know what workout you are going to do, you probably bought some new workout gear, maybe a new fancy water bottle (PS – I love my Contigo 20oz bottle) and you are ready to get started … tomorrow.
But what do you need to do to prepare for this journey, to switch from this being a quick fix, “diet”, get in shape before swimsuit season, to this being something that you will stick with for LIFE, for when the scale stops moving *or, Heaven forbid, GOES UP* and for when you feel like nothing is working or that plate of nachos followed by the brownie covered in a cookie is a better choice than all this red tape?
How do you prepare for a JOURNEY?
Can I tell you, it makes me physically ill to look at my before pictures, to see this body (especially from a profile perspective).
Like I want to vomit in my mouth, I would like to tear up the pictures (if it were old school and we physically printed anything out), want to run away and never look back.
I shudder because I look at these before photos and I am flooded with guilt for feeling the way I do about my body, about the vessel that brought five amazing little people into the world, about a body that feeds, and has fed, my children for over a year each *that’s a LOT of milk y’all*. This BODY, that works tirelessly to learn and grow in the season of motherhood I find myself in.
I feel conceited when I am disgusted with this body, this before photo, because I know that where I am standing, the figure I have when I am starting this journey, is what someone else would die for.
Someone else is out there less healthy than I am, more overweight, more unhappy, desperate to get to where I am today, wondering if it is possible to look the way I do based on THEIR own before photo.
And I feel ill because this body is – to me – repulsive and still, there is a woman out there, unknown to me, who is more fit, slimmer, more healthy than myself, she sits at home WISHING she had the same problems if it meant that she could carry a child, let alone five.
But this body, THIS body, makes me want to cry. And I am well aware that CHANGING this body, well … that’s going to take time, discipline, perspective, and a whole lot of WORK.
So, how do you prepare for a weight loss JOURNEY?
The first step is understanding where you are.
Where you are at the start of your journey.
It means looking in the mirror and asking yourself the hard questions. What do you feel when you look at yourself like this? What has your body done to get to where you are? What are you willing to do to change how you feel when you look in the mirror?
For me, when I considered where I am today, when my husband asked me how I feel when I look in the mirror, I started to cry. I feel for my husband, he probably thought he had done or said something wrong, he was probably recounting the conversation we had up to that point and wondered if maybe he was TOO interested in my weight loss journey and that had somehow offended me. But the truth is, when he asked me what I felt when I looked in the mirror I was taken back. It hit me that I had stopped looking in the mirror.
I had stopped checking to see if my outfit matched, if it flattered my better features, if I felt GOOD in what I was wearing. I stopped looking in the mirror when I would walk past in my underwear (or heaven forbid, NAKED). I stopped looking.
And the deeper pain set in when I recalled the last time I looked in the mirror.
I had just given birth to my daughter in our bedroom. I was tired from a week of hard, early labour and a very fast and intense delivery from my knees on the floor, I was overwhelmed with the thought that I had just brought a little lady into this world and I looked up as I was getting settled onto the side of my bed, baby in arms, and I was disgusted with what I saw.
It wasn’t the blood, the sweat or the fluids, it wasn’t the mess of the birth. No, none of that upset me. What upset me was the reflection of myself.
I looked into the mirror of a millisecond, it was all I could take in without spoiling the excitement of birth, and I was disgusted. I didn’t look cute pregnant, I didn’t look like the strong and capable woman who just caught her own baby after labouring through the night without disturbing so much as our dog. I looked weak, defeated, hated … by myself.
So today, when my husband was helping me to inventory my motivation and my position at the beginning of this journey, I broke under the weight of all that hate. And it hurt.
I don’t like feeling this way, I can’t believe that the deep seated loathing for my body in this condition threatened – so gravely – the perfect memory of giving birth to our precious little girl, I didn’t want to admit that understanding where I was beginning would mean looking at myself where I am.
As much as it hurts to admit where you are, to take it all in – rolls, stretch marks, failed expectations and utter humility – understanding where you are at the start of the journey will help you to build the courage to push through to get to where you need to be.
The next step is “inventorying” the journey, so far.
Guys, I just laid it all out there. Put all that self loathing out on the inter webs because that is the day in and day out struggle and it is something that we, as women and mothers, need to identify and address if we are going to start changing the inner dialogue, if we are going to start this journey with any HOPE of success.
It is kind of like going to an alcoholics anonymous meeting and stating, for all there to hear, that you are an alcoholic.
The first step is ADMITTING you have a problem.
And, in this case, that problem isn’t your body so much as it is how you FEEL about your body, that inner voice that TALKS to you about your body.
Honestly though, you can’t build success, you can’t establish a firm foundation if you are building on negativity. If you are doing this just because you hate how you feel when you are looking in the mirror (or, in my case, when you are avoiding the mirror at all costs).
You have to start this journey with an appreciation for everything that your body has done up to this point, you need to remind yourself that it took a lot of work *be it good or bad* to get to this point, and your body has been serving you faithfully thus far.
I mean, if you consider how you have been treating your body, how you have been fuelling it or filling it to this point … regardless of whether you have run a daily half marathon or if the only marathon you’ve partaken in over the last couple years was a Netflix binge of the latest season of Greys … your body is still serving you.
I mean honestly, I don’t know much about cars – like next to NOTHING – but I know that you need to put gas in them to fuel them.
I know that you can’t add water, orange juice, or pop to the tank and hope that it will give you a couple hundred miles.
And I know the same is true of my body, but my BODY … now that is easier to neglect because – unlike my car – if I fuel it wrong, my body will continue to run and serve me because God is amazing and knows that we are dumb beyond belief, and He gives us LOADS of second chances.
If I filled my car with pop, juice and the myriad of garbage I put in my mouth … I would expect it to crap out on me.
And yet my body has kept trucking. Has maintained it’s ridiculous pace of baby making and milk production, and is only lacking in it’s ability to run like a well oiled machine.
You have to admit that your body, no matter how uncomfortable it may feel, has served you well and worked hard for you. And that what you are asking next … well it’s going to take a lot of work too.
The only difference is, THIS work is worth it.
So, Marie Kondo your fat cells, your stretch marks, those extra rolls that you carry on your back just incase you ever need to test how long a human can run from the zombie apocalypse without getting food …
Thank it all for everything that has gone into making those memories and prepare to release it.
That no longer sparks joy.
The third and final tip for preparing for this journey is this;
Understand that it is a JOURNEY.
This is not a quick fix, you didn’t get to this place of self hate, of being tired before you start your day, of feeling like everything besides lounging with a bowl of chips is too much effort … you didn’t get here overnight.
As much “effort” or therefore lack of as it took to get to this place, it will take the same (if not more) effort and time to get to a place where you are fit, healthy, CONFIDENT in your skin, and PROUD of the journey.
It will take time for the inner B!+C# to shut her noise and for you to love yourself, to appreciate the strength that you have and the improvement you are working toward.
It will take time for all the hokum and positive self talk to germinate and take root as your primary inner voice.
Losing the weight, learning to love the healthy and REAL food, understanding that this is a lifestyle and that it is not one of deprivation but one of development and discipline, that will take TIME.
Your body, as inefficient as it is, has learned to run on pop and chips, on beer and popped corn. Over sugared, extra salty, and highly processed, it has taken time to train your expectations to crave these things, and it will take time to undo that. To start enjoying the natural flavour of foods, to appreciating how well your body runs when fuelled properly.
This is about more than losing weight or looking good in a swim suit (if that were the only thing you wanted to achieve than you could go to a well trained physician and get the fat sucked out, the breasts lifted and that tummy tucked and call it a day), this is about learning to love your body and starting to understand that this journey is about more than you and the life you live.
This journey is about how you teach and model health, fitness, confidence, and appropriate inner dialogue to your children.
This JOURNEY is about them as much – if not more – than you girlfriend.
So you can decide, you can backtrack to the reason you are starting this whole thing … all that shame and hatred, all that disgust and repulsion you feel as you skirt by the mirror, and you can choose to make this YOUR battle, not theirs.
You can choose to bear this burden of learning to make good foods, learning to love exercise and to make that a part of your day, and mastering that inner voice so it champions you, so that it reminds you that you are a valuable daughter of The King as opposed to distracting you with petty outward struggles.
You can choose, momma, to make this JOURNEY one that you take, the path that you tread so that *hopefully* the path of those who follow you won’t be filled with so much hurt.
It’s your journey, and it’s not about which diet you follow today or which workout routine you aspire to complete. It’s not even about whether you get a little nip or tuck, this journey is about learning to silence the inner monster, to live abundantly in a way that demonstrates your firm understanding that you are the daughter of The King and you are made for so much more than THIS.
You matter, you are beautiful, you have it in you to do the hard things, and that inner B!+C#, well she can go to … H E double hockey sticks. This journey is not one you do alone, you will walk it in faith with the strength of the one who calls you to greatness, because He loves you, even when you can’t love yourself.