Hello Dear Readers, welcome to Ginger & Zimt!
Today I’m kicking off a new series here on the blog, focusing on Weight Loss and Self Improvement Projects. And to start things off I will share with you My 100 lb Weight Loss & Self Improvement Story! This is a hard story for me to share but I’m hoping many of you will be able to relate and that by sharing my story it will help others who may be going through something similar.
About 6 years ago, in my mid 30’s, my midlife crisis set in. It was truly an Ah-Ha Moment. I realized that I had been doing it all wrong…. I had spent the decade leading up to this moment, trying in vain to be the best version of what I thought I should be as an adult person. Specifically at this point in time that meant a responsible Wife, Mother and Homemaker Extraordinaire (June Cleaver meets Martha Stuart with an Attachment Parenting twist). And I wasn’t very good at it. In fact, much of that time I felt like quite the failure. Which was ironic, really, since in the big picture I was trying so hard to BE a person who wasn’t perceived as a “failure”. I wanted desperately to be seen as someone who had their shit together because so much of my younger life I received the feedback that I was a screwed up, flaky mess. In my mid 20’s I made sure to take all the aspects of my self that came across as screwed up and flaky, chopped them off and shoved them in a closet, never to be seen again. I then tried to adopt traits that were the opposite of my true self, in order to assure success. Because that’s what responsible adults DO, right? They ignore their true selves and adopt personas reflective of what they think society wants them to be? I laugh at that, now. What it really did was made me toxic and sick with undiagnosable mystery illness. I gained a huge amount of weight which affected every aspect of my life physically and emotionally. I was never truly happy. And in that Ah-ha moment at the age of 34, it all came tumbling out of the closet!
What a mess, this pool of Self that came avalanching down upon me! What had I done?!?!? This was surely my downfall, my time when I would lose everything I had worked so hard to create. So I sat and I simmered in it, clinging to the edges of my constructed reality in fear I would float off into the abyss of self demise. Over time (months and months) I started swimming in it, and eventually I dove down to the deepest depth. It was terrifying. Shocking, what I found. I was NEVER really a screwed up flaky mess. I was NEVER a failure. Those chopped up closeted pieces of me were extraordinarily beautiful, integral parts of my soul. They were my most unique traits which made me truly ME. Without them, I was the dying shell of a human.
It was time for me to become reacquainted with who I really am and integrate that with the incredible life I had created while living in disguise. I finally understood the concept of striving towards the best version of myself and not the best version of what I thought I should be. Thus, my Self Improvement Projects were born, and I had a lot of work to do!
First things first, I had to deal with the fact that I was living in the wrong body and it was a direct symptom of all of the above. I want to be clear that I am all for body positivity and embracing ALL body types so I don’t mean to say that I needed a new body because mine was flawed in some way. But the fact was, I had spent 26 years living without effort in a slim athletic body and my present body was morbidly obese and riddled with chronic mystery illness because I had been binge eating (I estimate 3000-5000 calories a day) and NOT MOVING for about 10 years!!! I had hit bottom. I could not take another day feeling the way I had been feeling physically or emotionally. So, I made a decision to take back control of my life. I had to remind myself that I had control over my choices in food and my ability to move. As a binge eater, I felt as though the food held the power and I was a slave to it. I did not make a weight loss goal, but I did make a goal to eat less and move more. Every. Day. The result is I lost a total of 100 lbs! And 6 years later I’m still living that goal (Eat Less, Move More) because it doesn’t have an end point. In fact, I’m at a phase right now where I feel like I’m struggling with food again and could benefit by some degree of tracked accountability. Maintaining is more difficult for me than losing was. I’ve learned that I can cheat a lot (over eat on occasion and skip workouts) without a negative result, but unfortunately over the past 6 months those little cheats have grown into regularly occurring bad habits, which over time will lead to that negative result and undo all the hard work I have done. I feel as though I’m playing Russian-Roulette with that threshold right now and I don’t actually know where the line IS. So, in an effort to regain my focus, I’m presently working on a Weight Loss Journey series for this blog where I will share with you all the details of how I lost the weight and how I have maintained it in the years since. I hope to motivate and inspire those of you who are also tackling a Weight Loss Journey and I’m hoping to connect with others who are on the road of maintenance. You can check out my video on how I lost the weight, here:
Shortly after taking on Eat Less, Move More, I started the project of BE AUTHENTIC. It’s odd how difficult it can be to BE ones authentic self, especially when one has been camouflaging and trying to be someone other than their authentic self for so long! It means living and reacting to life, without fear of rejection guiding you. It means expressing your truest thoughts, feelings and desires without editing it for public appearance. It means being uniquely YOU! All the things which came so easily to me in my teens but got buried in my 20’s.
After tackling those HUGE foundational projects, I started others of less intensity… Sometimes it’s to swear less (that project never seems to last). Maybe to get out and do more. Learn new hobbies. Get over shyness. Learn to assert myself. Focus on positive thoughts. Complain less. Connect with others and not flake, because I like to be introverted. I tried to learn meditation last year, but ended up learning that meditation, in it’s most recognized form of completely clearing the head, really isn’t for everybody. But I also learned that many things are their own version of meditation and that is perfectly wonderful, too!
Presently, I’m working on Abolishing Perfectionist Expectations and Fears of Failure. This is yet another HUGE, foundational project for me. I keep hitting my head against this wall. I have life long perfectionist/failure issues that I’m usually in denial of because I’m so far from perfect. If I were a perfectionist, wouldn’t I seem more Perfect? =o) But it doesn’t work that way. For me, it comes into play through self-imposing ridiculously high expectations for how something that I’m doing should be done (so that I won’t disappoint anybody) and then feeling tremendous failure and frustration when I do achieve things but not on the level that meets those unrealistic expectations (because what will people think if I give less than perfect quality?). Repeat cycle. That really does a number on the brain. So, by creating a Self Improvement Project, it places my focus on particular struggles so I am more likely to see when they occur, I can call myself out on them and I can create a game plan to overcome them. Writing this blog is a prime example. I have had a really hard time with feeling like I am failing because I have a fully developed vision of what I want my blog to be like and I expected myself to produce that type of content right away. That. Is. Crazy! I mean, I actually feel anxiety and guilt over the fact that I can’t meet my own deadline of posting once a day on a different topic each day of the week! The world will think my blog sucks if I can’t do THAT! And don’t get me started on the humiliation I suffer each and every time I post a picture… not good enough. So, I choose to ignore or combat that negative internal dialogue and I proceed with my blog and all the learning curves that go with it. True Failure isn’t the act of trying and missing your goals. That’s called LEARNING, and learning is a good thing. Failure only happens when you give up and stop trying to reach the goal altogether.
Which leads me to the concept of this new blogging segment: The Self Improvement Project & Wellness Journal! A way to track and stay on top of my many, simultaneous, Self Improvement Projects. And I want to do it here on my blog because as I’ve already said, I am SURE there are many other people out there who struggle in similar ways. Posting my journey may help or inspire others along their own path, and vice versa. So, each week (or, whenever I am able to work in the time…) I will post an update of my current progress. For Wellness I will post a log of my daily workouts, food cheats (hopefully I will stop those), water, etc, and for Self Improvement I will post updates and developments on all the other projects. I plan to do most of this in video form because I think seeing a person talking about their journey is far more personal.
What are your Self Improvement Projects for this year?