Losing weight is hard.
For almost three months, I’ve been focusing on losing weight, eating healthier, and being happier. I’ve struggled with my weight since my teens, but it’s steadily gotten worse since my diagnosis of idiopathic intercranial hypertension three years ago. For those unfamiliar with the disease, IIH is the buildup of cerebral spinal fluid in the head. When the spinal fluid builds, it has nowhere to go and backs up into the eyes, causing the optic nerves to swell. Not only does this condition cause migraine like headaches, but can impact vision and cause blindness.
Imagine the worst headache you have ever had in your entire life. Remember that pain? Now, imagine trying to function on a daily basis under those same conditions.
Needless to say, as my activity level decreased and my comfort eating increased, so did my weight.
At first, I didn’t care. Then, I started to care but shrugged it off and continued to eat in the same manner. Slowly I gained more weight and as a result my already fragile body image decreased as my weight increased. As I contemplated weight loss, I took a mental inventory of how I felt about myself. Pretty damn shitty, let me tell you.
About three and a half months ago, I decided to end the cycle. With trepidation, I started on a diet – no, a lifestyle change – and embarked on a new journey. I’m not just trying to lose weight, but work on my body image and self worth. When you struggle with daily chronic pain, there is a disconnect between yourself and your body. Instead of your body being a tool that you can use at will, it is a broken down car that you have no control over and have to constantly put in the shop.
As I set small milestones for myself and my weight loss, I turned the focus not only to my physical self but mental self as well. With each pound lost, I’ve had to force myself to recognize the success in that, instead of agonizing over not reaching my end goal – yet. I’ve stopped engaging in actions that bring me no joy, and have been fervently working on removing stress from my life.
I’ve lost 23 lbs so far, and gained a very important realization: I am worth it. In my last blog post I mentioned cashing in some self given IOU’s. These IOU’s have stemmed from many years of sacrificing personal happiness, temporarily, to achieve a stable state of being. Working extra hours when I’m exhausted; pulling late work nights to make ends meet; taking on a second, or third job; not buying that one item I really wanted because the money could be spent on something else; you get the picture.
While making these sacrifices is necessary for everyone at some point in their lives, it feels like this is all that has happened in my life for the past four years. In the process of all of this, I developed different habits. It makes me physically ill to spend large quantities of money, for example. I’ll put my wants so far on the bottom of the list, that when my time finally comes around, I can barely remember what was so important in the first place. While this is fine in theory, in practice when you continually put yourself last you start neglecting your own needs.
When you don’t even value yourself as much as others value you, there is a problem.
Three months ago I started losing weight. I also started allowing myself previously denied pleasures and really analyzed my feelings of self worth. I’ve gone through my possessions and gotten rid of anything that no longer brings me joy. I’ve booked a European trip. I’ve started valuing myself enough to have a day off, read a good book, or turn down a proposed new project. Despite still fighting against feelings of guilt and insecurity, I am continuing to push myself out of this comfort zone I have been cocooned in for the last four years.
It’s mentally draining.
It’s uncomfortable, and sometimes painful.
It’s life changing.