I was talking to a group of women from my parish the other night that I had never met before. We were talking about self-esteem and when it came my time to talk I couldn't help but share how my current self-esteem was tied to my weight loss.
I told them that just a few years ago my self-esteem was at a "3" on the scale we were looking at. I had a real problem with how I felt about my appearance.
I went on to share that I had a breakthrough and decided I wanted to do something about it. I had such little self-confidence that I was afraid to tell Jim, my husband, that I wanted to try and lose weight and start going to the gym. It took a lot of courage for me to admit to him that I needed to do this (at the time I thought that meant I was admitting I was a failure) and I was scared that he wouldn't be supportive of me leaving him with the kids at night so I could go to the gym (because that's how I would have felt if the roles were reversed). I was so relieved when I realized that Jim was my biggest cheerleader and he told me to do it!
So, back to the group ... I shared with them how I began to build my self-esteem by deciding that I was worth it. That I was worth putting in the time and effort to get healthy. I took a huge leap of faith believing in myself that I could do it. And as the weight came off, my self-esteem went up. As I gained confidence in the workout room, I gained the guts to talk to people in my class and not submit to the shy girl that I really am inside.
And finally I told the group that I'm at a "7" on the self-esteem scale today because I've taken the next step by putting myself out there with being vulnerable and sharing my experiences with other people - here on my blog and with friends and strangers that I meet every day.
As I was reflecting on all this I had an "ah ha moment." As you know, I've been struggling to get the last 20 lbs. off for over a year. I realize now it is because I'm not the same person I was when I started.
It's because I have higher self-esteem than I did when I began.
I want to share a photo with you:
I don't know, maybe you don't see much difference in these photos, but for me the difference is significant.
The photo on the left was taken in 2008 and the one on the right last week (2012). I'm pretty much standing in the exact same spot in both photos, just four years apart.
I've written about it before (here and here), but last week I was at an annual training I go to in Arizona. It's where the spark to lose weight first started.
The girl on the left was 32. She liked to have fun and was nice and all, but her head was constantly filled with thoughts of "I wish I was thinner" "I wish I could lose weight" "I wish I was in a size 14 jeans" "I wish I didn't have a double chin" and on and on. The girl on the left hated having her photo taken and hated when she caught glimpses in the mirror and realized how big she had gotten.
The girl on the left wished every day that she could be like the girl on the right.
The girl on the right, at age 36, represented everything the girl on the left would never have. The girl on the right had confidence, pride in her appearance, and was social.
How many nights did I lay in bed as the girl on the left and pray to God that I would wake up and be the girl on the right? Wishing, praying, setting New Years resolutions and writing in her journal that this year would be the year. Only to look back on Dec. 31 and be so disappointed that nothing had changed.
I was desperate. I had to do something. And that desperation paired with a little glimmer of hope is what made me take off the weight.
But now I'm not desperate. I'm happy and confident. And yes, I do want so much to get this last 20 pounds off, but not the way I did in the beginning. Now the desire to eat a delicious looking cookie is more powerful to me than the desire to get down another pant size. The thoughts of "oh, I can get back on it Monday" are louder than the urgency I once had to get the weight off as fast as I could.
While I was at the training last week I didn't once have that negative self-talk I did four years ago. I enjoyed getting ready every day, picking out which outfit to wear, doing my hair and make up, picking out the right jewelry and cute shoes. I was happy to have my photo taken and didn't avoid mirrors or windows that would show my reflection.
I don't know what it's going to take to get me to lose the last 20 pounds, but at least I know now that it's not going to be the same things that it was when I started. At least now I don't have to beat myself up every time I start and stop with the same plan and end up failing. No, now I need to look inside myself and figure out what it's going to take to make this happen. And maybe it starts with figuring out why I want to lose the rest of the weight. If I truly am happier with how I feel and look now, than why do I feel the need to lose more? I feel like there is a spark inside of me that's just waiting to be lit.
I wish I had the answer to share with you. I'm hopeful that I'll find it soon.