“What losing 180 pounds really does to your body and your mind”

I found a post on Yahoo! this week about a woman who lost 180 lbs. with the help of weight-loss surgery. She recently wrote a book detailing her struggle with her loss of identity once she developed a slimmer body.

“I lost my sense of self. My sense of proportion. My sense of dignity, of maturity, of control. I was skinny, but my life wasn’t suddenly and magically perfect-and that completely astonished me. It sounds ridiculous, having really fallen for the fairy tale of weight loss. But I had fallen for it completely, and then was blinded by the egregious lack of a happily ever after.

… The problem was that I lost all those pounds, but I didn’t have to change a thing about my self. I didn’t have to address any of the emotional or psychological issues. I didn’t have to figure out why I had been depressed–why I was still so, so depressed, despite the fact that the one thing I thought had been ruining my life was suddenly gone.”

It’s really her second paragraph that struck me. Though I never considered weight-loss surgery, I understand the idea of doing something drastic to lose weight, and how that effected me when I did it. I’ve talked before about my first major weight loss try in 2005–going from 239 lbs. to 202 lbs.–and how I managed to get there in three short months by going to the gym six days a week and eating a very calorie-restricted diet.

Once the reigns were released, I ballooned over time to 267 lbs. and was depressed that I had squandered my gains.

Aside from those with major health problems, I hardly think surgery is the right answer for weight loss. Weight loss is simple actually: Consistently burn more than you intake. No pills, no shakes, no gym needed. Make healthy choices and good things will happen. Weight loss and nutrition are complicated because we’ve made it so. In her case, the surgery was what helped her shed the weight, and because she didn’t have to earn it, she didn’t learn anything from the process.

I’ve done a lot of introspection and I understand that I didn’t keep the weight off because I simply went through the weight-loss motions. Through the food blog motions. I really believe that those who struggle with long-term weight loss have underlying issues that compel them to eat what they eat or avoid physical activity.

I believe it because I did that. And felt that. And know it to be true.

I’ve always wanted to be thin and athletic because I thought it would make me happy. What I’m learning is that healthy is happy; being thin and athletic are the side effects of a healthy lifestyle. It took me so long to come to terms with that, but I’m better for it.

The author faces those same worries and imagines how she would treat herself in a perfect world:

“I want this: I want to say, don’t love yourself even though you’re not perfect–love yourself because you have a body and it’s worth loving and it is perfect. Be healthy, which is perfect at whatever size healthy is and at whatever size happy is. And of course that’s totally easy and I have just caused a revolution in body image. Let’s all go home now.”

Sarcasm aside, she’s right, hard as it is to do.

“Be healthy, which is perfect at whatever size healthy is and at whatever size happy is.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about goals lately. Where do I want to end up by the end of this year? What would make me happy and healthy?

Instead of a gut, I’d like to see my toes when I look down. And I still want shoulder blades. After 40-something pounds, I’ve only recently developed a collarbone and I’m glad I have one now because I like drumming music on it. (Weird, I know.)

It’s not about the weight. That’s just a number. A marker. A progress report.

It’s going to be about the way I feel inside. How it feels to do this for the millionth time, to finally fail upward high enough that I’ve reached my goals. No shortcuts. I’m in it for the ups and downs of this roller coaster.

I want to know that I’ve fully tackled my “emotional.” The “physical” will be my reward.

That’s my goal. And I’ll have found happiness in weight loss.


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