I hope you and the family are well. […]
I need a neutral sounding board and I haven’t been able to discuss this topic openly becz, well, judgement.
Currently, I am BELOW my weight goal, and I’m not sure how it happened. I keep standing on the scale because I think the number is wrong. I’ve been in the 160 range FOREVER since my initial weight loss and today the scale reads 145, which puts me in the neighborhood of 50 lbs lost since 2009. I thought I’d be really excited but I feel…underwhelmed. I’ve been struggling to get here for so long, years, and now I’m under. What do I focus on now? A lower number?
I don’t know how it happened, but obviously something changed and as a result, I’m not sure how to maintain it. I finally can see/recognize the change in my body and other ppl have also noticed but I don’t want the attention: “skinny”, ” lean”, “fit” makes me uncomfortable because I don’t FEEL like any of those adjectives.
What is my deal?!
Firstly, congratulations! I hope you’ve achieved your goal in a healthy and sustainable fashion!
Now, let’s talk about accidentally getting below your goal. Your first step, here, should be ensuring that everything is totally healthy and on the up and up, and that likely requires a doctor’s assistance. If there are no hormonal issues, no kidney or liver issues, then we can talk basics… but only after you’re certain that your body is not fighting off an unseen illness that you might not’ve considered.
About those basics. The first of which includes stress. Is there something intense going on in your life that is impacting the way you eat, how often or how much you eat, or how much you fidget around (ultimately burning calories?) Sometimes, in the midst of intense stress, we have habits that either will encourage weight gain, or weight loss. Binge eating during a stressful time obviously promotes gain; if you recoil from food, or exercise your way through stress, however, that might result in loss.
Here’s the things about weight loss journeys. Sometimes, people erroneously go hard core, cutting out any-and-every remotely enjoyable thing in their lives in order to ensure laser-sharp focus on their goal. No parties, no after-work shindigs, no restaurants, no sweets, no bread, no carbs, no, no, no. Or, sometimes, that’s not the case at all, and you could just be a dedicated and effective exerciser, out here burning up all the calories. No social life. No dating. No nothing. Three (or four or five) square meals a day and a killer workout seven days a week.
If you’ve found yourself below your goal, the focus now simply becomes maintaining it. Ask yourself if you are truly happy and fulfilled with how you live your life at your new weight. Are you sociable? Are you enjoyable to be around? Is an inordinate amount of your time spent fretting over food? There might be opportunities for fulfillment and exploration there, where you can discover a lifestyle that allows you to maintain a healthy weight and a healthy social life as well.
You seem to be saddened by the way you’ve surpassed your goal over time, but not so much that you actually want to gain the weight back. If anything, it seems as if your only fear about being so much lower than your goal weight is that you’re afraid you’ll be unable to maintain it. This is part of why it’s important to ensure that you lose the weight in a healthy and sustainable fashion to begin with—not only because it ensures you’ll commit to the activity and continue to evolve with and because of it, but because this already answers the question of “how to keep it off.”
Don’t stress over this. When we say losing weight—and maintaining what you’ve lost—is a lifestyle change, this is what we mean. It means getting used to a modified social life. It means building a social calendar full of active events that you enjoy and that hold meaning to you both personally and physically. And, yes, it means getting used to the out-sized amount of attention it feels like people are paying to you and your body all of a sudden.
You’ll realize how people bring up weight—your weight—at the most inappropriate times. You’ll find that people mock you, poke fun at you for not eating like them, ask you about every little choice you make and why you make it, tell you about their friends’ and family members’ weight…or even theirs, and they’ll tell you they must know what you’re using to stay so slender. For those of us who were once on the other side of the conversation, it feels overwhelming. You might even feel a sense of latent embarrassment—”was I this bad? did people think of me the same way I’m thinking of these people?”
I think we all know what it’s like to desperately want to lose weight, and be in dire need of some perspective. Most people are looking for someone to give them some punishing protocol to suffer through, and earn their absolution through suffering through it. They want to know you suffered through it; they want to hear you reinforce everything they know they should do, so that it might finally give them the push to do it. Alas, motivation doesn’t work that way. Neither does commitment.
To me, the best thing you can do in these instances is be gracious, and remember to be empathetic. Smile, listen and, if you feel so inclined, tell them straight up—I changed the way I eat, and I make sure I get in some kind of workout every day (if that’s in fact how you did it.) If they make you uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to set firm boundaries. “I’m sorry, but I can’t.” or “I’m sorry, you’ll have to excuse me” are both effective and clear in maintaining your boundaries without rudeness that immediately offends, and if you’re consistent with how you use them, will effectively establish boundaries in just about any situation.
There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re human, and this is a very humane reaction to living in what feels very much like a different world. Take your time exploring it, and be gentle with yourself. Your body—and your mind, for that matter—will thank you for it!