I was recently going through a box of pictures (back when I used to get pics printed) and came across a picture from my senior year of high school. I looked great, had a smile on my face and seemed happy, but I can actually remember every detail. I was going to a school athletic awards banquet. I was 17 and the captain of my volleyball and softball teams (not the most popular sports at my prep school in Greenwich, Connecticut). I even remember what I was thinking, “Why am I so fat? … If only I was 5-pounds lighter, I’d be so happy.”
And that was high school!
I wish I could say those negative thoughts were something I left behind in high school, but the truth is they’ve followed me into adulthood. I still think the “if I just lost another 5 pounds …” thoughts, but they are fewer and further between.
Have you ever looked at an old photo of yourself and laughed (or cried) because you remember thinking or telling yourself you were fat or not good enough and now you would do anything just to get back to that point?
Thanks to spending more time with myself and learning to better love the entirety of myself, I’ve finally realized I need to stop trying to chase the past and instead focus on being healthy, happy and feeling good. You can certainly be overweight and healthy, but you need to take care of yourself inside and out.
If you’re stuck wishing you could turn back the hands of time, here are five tips to readjust your perspective and mindset moving forward:
1. FOCUS ON HOW YOU FEEL
Your weight can be affected by so many things: salt intake, sleep, water intake, bathroom habits, your cycle (for women) just to name a few. For this reason, you should treat weight as an indicator and not the end all be all.
As mentioned above, you can be overweight and happy, but think about the many other indicators of health. Ask yourself: How do I actually feel? Am I run down? Am I unhappy with how I look? Does my body ache? If so, it’s time for a change. And I don’t just mean weight loss, I mean taking care of yourself. Eating well, exercising, sleeping and taking care of your mental health are all key components of health. Take the time to regularly think about how you are doing on all fronts, not just the scale.
2. FOCUS ON SELF LOVE
Knock negative thoughts out by overloading on positive ones. Think about how phenomenal you are! What do you like about you? What do those in your inner circle like about you? Write down your positive thoughts and read them back on the days when all you can think of are the downers. Write about what makes you happy, the things you want to accomplish and how you plan to achieve them. You may want to play a little Nina Simone to boost those feel good vibes.
3. CELEBRATE YOUR SUCCESSES
Write your goals down. Better yet, log them in the MyFitnessPal app so you can literally watch your journey on a chart. Think about how far you’ve come and where you want to go. If you are having trouble getting rid of the destructive negative thoughts, it’s time to talk to a professional.
I’ve currently got a 22-day streak on MyFitnessPal … I know that’s not a huge number compared to people like Carla (who’s logged more than 1K days in a row!), but for me it’s rewarding to log in and see that reminder. I find it even more motivating because people who consistently track their nutrition and physical activity are more likely be be successful. One study showed people who logged their meals for six months lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t.
Please pass me my phone, immediately … I need to log now!
4. RESPECT THE CHALLENGE OF WEIGHT-MAINTENANCE
If I calculated it, I’ve probably gained and lost the equivalent weight of the starting lineup for a team in the NBA. Sigh.
The truth is, preventing weight gain once you’ve hit your goal can sometimes be the hardest part. Studies show only about 20% of overweight people who accomplish their weight-loss goals maintain that loss for at least one year. Set yourself up for success, but stay focused and don’t beat yourself up if you gain, because you are not alone in striving to accomplish your goals.
READ MORE > ARE YOU AN ATHLETE?
5. REMEMBER YOUR BODY IS INCREDIBLE
Whether you’ve had a baby, recovered from surgery or just got over a cold, use those as reminders your body is capable of awe-inspiring things: Your body is an extraordinary machine and you sit in the driver’s seat. You are, to a large extent, in control of what your body looks like and how it performs based on how you treat it. Make the decision to hop on the elliptical, run around the block or increase your intake of fruits and veggies because those choices have a direct effect on your health.
Keep flipping through the photo albums, but remember you only have one body. As you age your body will, too. Adjust your goals accordingly. Stop trying to chase your high school, pre-wedding or pre-baby weight. Instead focus on the weight that’s right for you at this point in your life.
I want to hear from you! Have you ever looked at an old picture of yourself and wished you would have just appreciated and loved yourself and your body? How do you keep things in perspective? Share your story in the comments below, I look forward to reading what you have to say!
Better Than Ever
We all strive for wellness and to live better! Every month, this column will bring you advice on how to feel and perform Better Than Ever. Check out tips to improve various aspects of your health: Everything from fitness, nutrition, sleep and recovery. Have a topic you want to hear about? Feel free to reach out here (I’ll be checking the comments!) or on Twitter or Instagram. I look forward to hearing from you!