My weight loss goal is to lose track of my weight.

scaleI had an epiphany this weekend that was mind blowing.  Paradigm shifting.  Maybe life altering. And so. fucking. simple.

Weight is just a number.

Yeah, I thought I already knew that, too.  In fact, I’ve spent most of my adult life reminding other people that weight and size does not define who we are.  I’ve talked about my self-confidence.  Earlier this month, I blogged about a new approach I was taking to getting healthy, and I didn’t focus on the number.  But all along, I’ve been stepping on the scale and letting it control how I feel about myself.

I mean-girled myself.

Last week I “heard” some pretty nasty things being said by my subconscious.  It was the first time that I allowed myself to hear it – and …  I’m still processing what it means to know that I have that kind of self-hate language in my head.  That’s probably a post for another time when I’m better able to talk about it.  But having heard those terrible things that – on some level – my subconscious mind believes, I actually listened as my conscious mind started to fight back.

Health and Weight are not synonymous

For years, I’ve been reluctant to join in the chorus of people who already know and understand that weight and health are not synonymous.  Health At Any Size, Regan Chastain’s Dances With Fat, and a slew of other popular sites have been promoting this idea for years.  My own dear friends have talked about it and reblogged it – so why wasn’t I listening?

The problem is that I have not been healthy.  I equated my own lack of health to my excess weight.  I’m not denying even now that those things are related.  They are *related* in my case – but they are not the *same*.  And that is so. fucking. important.

Almost every one of my doctors has encouraged me to lose weight.  Let me be clear – they have not necessarily encouraged me to “be healthier”, but to “lose weight”.  My last doctor bullied me into agreeing to look into gastric bypass surgery because I would “never lose the weight” on my own.  I don’t think I can even convey how devastating that kind of comment is to hear from your doctor.  (I left her practice and will not return.)


I honestly do not know what possessed me to strike this particular pose on Christmas Day, but it seems so appropriate that I had to use it here.

Why does it matter?

I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life.  I’m grateful to be able to say that I haven’t really gotten caught up in extreme fad diets–my efforts have always been relatively rational–but the “goal” was always a number.  Even when it was about health, it was about a healthy weight.

All that focusing on my weight is tiring.  Trying to control my weight just meant that my weight was in control.  Stepping on the scale weekly and rationalizing the number – I just drank a glass of water,  are these pants heavier than the clothes I had on last week?  – is tiring.  Constantly fighting a battle inside to remind myself that I’m awesome in spite of that number is demeaning, demoralizing and fucking exhausting.  Why am I fighting that battle? What am I even fighting with?  A number?  Fuck that number.

My weight loss goal is to lose track of my weight.

I weigh 300 pounds.  Give or take a few pounds on any given day.  And I don’t care.  My “weight loss goal” right now is to completely lose track of my weight – and focus (for real) on living my life.  Walking and working out because it makes me feel good.  Avoiding fast food because it makes me queasy.  Getting 8 hours of sleep because my brain can focus better.

Next time you see me, tell me that I look amazing, but please don’t ask me if I’ve lost weight; if I’m successful at reaching my goal, I will have no idea.

Cite your resources.

Here are some of the things that I read and watched before I had my own “A ha!” moment.

  1. Golda Poretsky explains how fat is beautiful, too.  I think the thing I got from this was that it doesn’t matter if YOU think I’m beautiful.  YOU don’t have to find “fat” attractive.  This isn’t about YOU.
  2. Isabel Foxen Duke talks about Radical Forgiveness.  Everything about her site is amazing.  I’m not even sure that this specific post is the most powerful, but there was a line about forgiving yourself for not “getting it” until now – and I needed to hear that.
  3. I made travel plans for The Body Love Conference.  I made travel arrangements for the BLC late last week, and since then, I’ve realized that I’ve been anxious about going.  Is anyone going to like me?  Am I cool enough? Do I actually love myself enough to fit in among these powerful, badass women who are changing the world?
  4. Jes Baker gets anxious about a dance class.  My favorite powerful, bad ass woman who is out there changing the world (and the founder of the BLC) has posted about her own struggles with body image and freaking out about attending a dance class.  I needed to hear that it was okay to not always be so damn confident.

I’m awesome. And here’s why.

I got mean-girl’d at the grocery store today.  While I was taking a look at dry roasted edamame, some chick in yoga pants and a pony tail rolled her eyes and made a comment about me to her friend.  I don’t know what the comment was, but it was clearly about me.  It’s possible that people say mean or snarky things about me wherever I go and they are just usually better at hiding it from me, but I can’t remember ever being insulted like that in my adult life.

It might have been about my faux ripped jeans that are throw back to the 80s.  Maybe it was about my black All Star sneakers that have seen better days.  They could have been commenting on my super short spiky hair.  Maybe they didn’t like the shade of red in my sweater.  I might have had a booger on my face.  It was probably because I’m fat.

I’ll admit that when I noticed the derision coming from the pair, I was immediately transported to junior high school gym class, listening to a mean girl talk about how fat and uncoordinated I was behind my back.  (We were playing dodge ball and my fat, uncoordinated ass was apparently being used a human shield.)  The funny thing, though?  A.) I can’t even remember that mean girl’s name, B.) that sinking feeling lasted about 3 seconds before I remembered that I’m fucking awesome, and C.) I have never felt more comfortable in my own skin than right now at this moment in my life.

awesomeIt obviously stung a little bit or I wouldn’t feel the need to blog about it, but it stung only because it was a reminder that people can suck.  It also prompted me to think about why I have high self-esteem, when society seems to think that I shouldn’t.  Here are the things that seem to work for me:

  • Role models.  There are a lot of really amazing women (and men) in my family who taught me to love myself, craziness and all.  They skipped in public places.  Danced as though no one was watching, even when everyone was.  Went to the store in curlers.  Encouraged me to be a raving beauty OR a raging lunatic – whatever made me happy.
  • Sense of humor.  Nothing is more important to self-esteem than being able to laugh at yourself.
  • Early and unconditional friendships.  When I was in elementary school, I had best friends who stuck with me through high school.  (And one bestest friend was more like a sister.  And a sister who was like a best friend.)  We were silly together.  We liked to eat.  We were loud.  We were always just there.  And we still are.
  • Lifelong friends.  I have made great friends (men and women) throughout my life, including a select few who I know will continue to be there no matter what.
  • The internet.  It’s crazy how destructive the internet can be for some people, when for me it may have literally saved my life.  A small group of online friends got me through some tough years, and it may surprise you how many of them continue to fall into that “lifelong friends” bucket above.  Instant message chats, message boards, Livejournal – and now Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr – kept me going when my “real life” was falling apart.

I am so far from perfect – and so far from the person I want to be.  I want to be healthier.  I wish I was better about returning phone calls.  I wish my anxiety made me clean or work out instead of eat or shop.  I am a work in progress.  Self-esteem isn’t about feeling like you are perfect.  It’s about recognizing that you are awesome despite your imperfections.  And I am awesome.