Have you ever felt like you start something really good only to fail yourself and end up in an even worse situation than when you started? I know I have. Multiple times.
My experience with this is primarily with weight loss goals. As I’ve stated in previous posts, I’ve been over weight for most of my life. I also come from a family who is not afraid to comment on someone else’s weight. There’s one person in particular who has struggled with her own body image issues for seemingly her whole life and goes to extremely unhealthy lengths to remain a certain weight and size. I remember being 6 years old and she bought me a hoola hoop as a gift “so she can lose some weight,” she said. Yeah. Thankfully I was oblivious to her intentions at the time. Two years later, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism.
After I was a few years older and started realizing my own body image issues, it really sank in. Every summer we would go to visit this person and it gave me anxiety. When I was a teenager, I would crash diet and eat very few calories to lose an unrealistic amount of weight before the trip. I wanted approval. I wanted to be validated. Of course, because of my lack of understanding of how sustainable weight loss works, my efforts failed me every time. I would be really into it for two weeks at the most, then start resenting the whole idea and give up. I would binge on the foods that I had deprived myself of. Another reason I failed was because the weight loss wasn’t for me. It was for her. I wanted to hear from her how great I looked. I wanted to go there and feel like I was finally accepted.
When I finally understood that this person has deeper psychological issues than just body image, I stopped putting her on the pedestal that I had done for many years. I stopped letting her be the driving force to bettering my physical appearance. I stopped feeling anxious around her and giving myself grace to understand that my worth is not based on her approval. This realization is what made me open a new page to my health. I needed to focus on myself.
When I switched gears and started making my own wellness and happiness a priority, that’s when I finally saw the light at the end of a long dark tunnel. Instead of focusing on weight loss, I started focusing on my health from the inside out. I wrote myself a list of goals that I wanted to achieve. I wrote down how I felt physically, starting with symptoms and discomforts that were all related to hypothyroidism. I also wrote down how I felt emotionally and things I would like to improve. Doing this was like lifting a heavy weight off of my shoulders. I had short-term and long-term goals written down in front of me and I needed a game plan.
Knowing that my hypothyroidism was the primary hinderance of my own wellness, along with a history of no self-worth, I decided to learn everything I could about my illness. I researched all over the internet. I joined groups on Facebook. Just by doing this, and seeing that there are other people who have similar symptoms as me, I started to feel validated.
By this point, I was more miserable because of my symptoms more than my body image. I was needing naps daily. It felt like no amount of sleep was enough. I had no patience with anyone, especially my husband and kids. I was not nice to be around. I alienated myself because everything stressed me out. That was not me. I felt guilty feeling the way I did because I love my family. I wanted to have energy and enthusiasm. I wanted to be available as a mother and a wife.
This is now my driving force to stay on the track that has worked for me: The Paleo Lifestyle. Living this way has improved my quality of life and self-worth immensely. Along with the minimizing of my hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s symptoms, weight loss has been a great side effect. I’m no longer focusing on weight loss, even though it is a nice perk. I feel more confident because I have validated myself and I’m not searching for anyone else’s approval.