I’m fired up today. Why? Because I just read the interview with The Biggest Loser winner. Rachel Frederickson went from a size 22 to a size 0. Her weight dropped from 260lbs to 105lbs. Which is absolutely incredible. Amazing. Inspiring.
But I took issue with one quote posted on USmagazine.com. This one.
“I can’t wait to do everything,” she gushed. “To go out and make friends and take people up on offers to go for coffee or to the movies and just really embrace every moment of life and not hide anymore!”
Well, that’s awesome, isn’t it?
Wait…. What? Let me read that again… she wasn’t making friends or having coffee or going to the movies or embracing every moment of life because she was heavy?
I call bullshit. I do. See, I believe that she was hiding. But not because of the weight. I think she was hiding behind the weight. And I feel like the article was misleading. Pointing the finger at weight instead of self-esteem is what feeds the stigma that you can’t be happy unless you’re a size 2 or a size 6 or a size whatever.
I’m not going pick on Ms. Frederickson, because I believe that her reasons are hers and I can’t be prouder of anyone who finally finds themselves again after being in the darkness of their own soul.
But I will pick on the men and women out there who buy into that bullshit. I’ll say this, quite plainly, so there is no confusion about the message of this post.
You don’t need to be a size anything to be happy.
Weight doesn’t matter. Status doesn’t matter. Money doesn’t matter. Being in a relationship doesn’t matter. Number of Facebook friends or Twitter followers doesn’t matter. Your job doesn’t matter. The car you drive doesn’t matter. Do you feel what I’m saying here? NOTHING outside you matters. Not a single thing. What matters is how you love yourself.
But I can hear what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “But I’m not happy with my weight. I think I’m ugly. I feel fat. I hate how I look. I don’t like how my clothes fit.” Yup…. I got that. I know how that feels. Understand, though, that being happy and loving yourself are quite different from knowing that you can be a better version of you.
If you don’t like how you feel in your clothes, do something about it. Use the discomfort to your benefit. As humans, we run to pleasure and run from pain. What you need to determine is whether or not the pleasure of feeling comfortable in your skin outweighs the pain of continuing what you’re doing now. And if it does, do something about it. Begin it today.
But if you find yourself saying awful things to yourself, if you find that there is a tape that plays in the back of your head that tells you that you’re not good enough or you’ll never succeed or worse (believe me… I know that you tell yourself worse), then it isn’t weight you need to drop. It’s that nonsense.
I’m not hating on weight loss. I’m speaking from a very knowledgeable place. 10 years ago, I started my weight loss journey. At 25 years old, I was a size 22. And in 10 months, I lost 70 lbs and went down to a size 8. I quit the program I was on and in the blink of an eye, I put 50 lbs on. I went back on Weight Watchers and started losing weight again. But it was harder this time. Maybe because I spent a whole lot of time hating myself for putting the weight back on to begin with. Or maybe because I was a little older. Or maybe because it gets harder the second time?
All I know is that I wanted that size “whatever” badly. Size 10 came and went. Then size 8. Then size 6. But that wasn’t enough. I was already well within a healthy weight range and my BMI was great! That wasn’t enough, either. There was a magic number that I wanted. It became an obsession. I took up running. I watched my calorie intake like a hawk. I punished myself for transgressions. At first, it was with more exercise. Then it was with lowered calorie intake. And then, with pills. And then with purging.
Yup. I was a size 4, 135lbs, and purging every day. I took water pills 3x a week. Laxatives 2x a week. I was living off less than 600 calories a day, BEFORE I purged. Who knows how many calories were actually getting absorbed?
Outwardly, I looked healthy. I didn’t have the sunken eyes and sallow skin of the anorexics on TV and in magazines. I looked like a normal girl. Normal…
I was far from normal. My throat burned at night. I spent a lot of time crying when I was alone. And the voice that spoke to me in the quiet darkness was ruthless. I told myself every awful thing that I’d never utter to another human being.
“You’re not good enough.”
“You’re embarrassing yourself.”
“You’ll never be good enough.”
“No one likes you.”
“You’ll never amount to anything.”
“Why are you still trying?”
“No one wants you.”
“Everyone knows you’re a fake.”
“You’re fucked up.”
“I hate you.”
That last one. I said it a lot. And you know what? I was very convincing because the voice that spoke to me in the dark was my own. I had no defense against that. How do I tell myself that I’m wrong? I should be the ultimate truth in my own head.
But that’s just it – I was the ultimate truth in my head. That is actually what I thought. And no amount of weight loss changed that. It seemed that the more I lost, the worse I felt.
So why the rant? Why hate on poor Rachel for her weight loss because *I* was screwed up?
The reason I’m ranting is because I know too many women who are just like I used to be. They lose weight and think that once they get to goal, they’ll think differently about themselves. And once they arrive, they don’t. They might be proud of their accomplishment. And they might enjoy the new clothes and the new attention they get and the compliments from loved ones. After talking to a number of them, though, I found that there is this fear inside them. “What happens if I gain the weight back? How much can I gain back before I’m considered a failure?”
So that is why I’m ranting. I know it’s taken me a long time to get here, but this is why I’m fired up: No matter what, you’re not a failure. No matter what that scale says, you’re amazing. No matter what size the tag on your clothes reads, you’re beautiful. No matter what you used to look like, you’re perfect now.
If you’re beginning any personal transformation, begin with the right frame of mind. Love yourself. First! Quit hiding. Quit waiting for that magic number on the scale or the right size pants to go out and live! Go have coffee. Watch movies. Make friends. I can guarantee that you are more than the number of that tag. I can assure you that what you have to offer the world, someone is looking for RIGHT NOW!
So go out and live. Work on yourself. Do that. Lose weight. But for the love of everything beautiful in the world, please…. love yourself first. Don’t wait for what you think to be perfect before you go out and grab the world by the horns. Spoiler alert: you’re already perfect. Now’s the time.