Today marks six months since I reached my goal weight and maintained it. I realize that is a somewhat underwhelming statement—but then, this is the first time I have maintained my weight in sixty-three years. I set my goal weight as the top of a five-pound range. In these past months, I have exceeded it once, by half a pound, and for one day. I have maintained my five-day a week commitment to exercise. I continue to advance my exercise and switch it up so that it remains challenging. I have flexed frequently in what I eat, but rarely in how much, and never, ever out of control.
When I read that first paragraph back to myself, I think it sounds a bit rigid. In truth, my lifestyle is not rigid at all, and I am basically a very happy person. I think that’s because I didn’t approach my weight loss/fitness journey as a bunch of rules. I approached it by working to understand my poor self-image, my history of being fat, my physical limitations and pain, and my loathing of exercise. No, I didn’t think my way to fitness—no self-hypnosis here—but I couldn’t get to improved health without really understanding myself. After all, I had a lifetime of beliefs and attitudes that had shaped me. Yes, pun intended (and good for you if you got it!)
So, I journaled. Not daily, but frequently. For the first four weeks, I wrote down everything I ate along with the amounts. I sent that to my doctor’s dietitian, Betty, and she gave me feedback. After awhile, I felt like I had moved past the need for a daily food log, but I still emailed Betty every few weeks, and then monthly, telling her my progress, what was working, what wasn’t, how I felt overall, what I was going to work on next. I wasn’t getting into my emotions at that point, but I had definitely broadened my approach to my updates.
The more traditional journaling started when I realized I had emotional beliefs and barriers inside myself that were keeping me from being successful—and were keeping me from believing I could be successful. That was the start of my “Hidden Truths” work, and I started really delving into that invisible, internal network of caustic beliefs about myself.
I suppose in this day and age, you would expect all of this to get explored in a blog, or on Facebook. I wasn’t remotely ready for that. I couldn’t talk to anyone about my guilt and my shame. That shame undermined me far more broadly than my weight and poor health alone, but my weight was certainly manifested by it.
So, I couldn’t talk with anyone, but I wrote my HT’s down, and I started working on why those truths were buried inside me. Were they just false? Did I believe things that were simply untrue? If so, how could I “un-believe” them? If I did believe they were true, what could I do to change them? I wrote through all of this, sometimes for hours.
I also wrote about the hurtful stories of my past. I wrote them so I could see them through a decades-later lens and normalize them. I could take away the self-blame and guilt and provide some perspective and nuance. I wrote a lot about my hatred of exercise and I wrote down why I knew I finally had to start an exercise regime.
Writing is my way of thinking things through, of exploring. It is certainly not everybody’s way. However, I do not believe I can overstate the intellectual process I went through to rewire my brain. If writing isn’t your thing, think about—well, how you think things through. Complex things. Those of us who have been on this earth awhile all have a process. Perhaps yours is meditation, or taking a long walk alone. Whatever it is, it is a secret weapon, every bit as powerful and every bit as essential as a physical workout in that road to fitness. In the end, it helps you live without a rigid set of daily rules, but in a new place where your body, mind and spirit can flourish.