Skinny=Happy?

I have said before that if I am expecting weight loss to make me deliriously happy, I am setting myself up for failure. Most days I am fully aware of and accept that fact, but some days I fall into the trap of thinking, “If I could just be a size 10 everything would be perfect.” Of course that kind of thinking is a total lie because losing weight doesn’t make all of life’s problems go away, and yet how can we escape that kind of thinking when the world around us constantly lauds people for their beautiful physical appearance?

I have thought about this a lot recently as I have looked back to where I was before I started trying to lose weight last January. I have read many weight loss stories in which the people telling them say varying versions of “My life was miserable, I was miserable, and I just wanted to be thin!” They paint a picture of their “fat” life as being one of unhappiness and despair and their new “skinny” life as one of rainbows and sunshine. And while I definitely think that losing weight has made me feel more confident and happier to a certain extent, I also can’t say that my “fat” life was one of misery and unhappiness. Yes, I had my difficulties, especially during grad school, but those difficulties weren’t caused by my obesity; they were caused by my insecurities about my intelligence and personality. To look back on my life before I started losing weight and just see a miserable fat person is to see the past incorrectly. You see, while some things about my life have changed, like the fact that I now love cardio (who knew??) and eat better foods and focus more on my physical health, a lot of things about my life have not changed, like my faith in Jesus, my love for my husband, my relationships with dear friends, my love of books. Yes, losing weight has made it easier to find clothes and has allowed me to feel better about my outward appearance and I do get a little thrill when I see a lower number on the scale, but if I am neglecting my relationships or neglecting the cultivation of my inward appearance, what am I really gaining?

However, just because I know I am the same person now in a lot of ways doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with how I used to look then. The hardest thing is looking at pictures of my wedding. I see myself in those pictures and have thought more than once, “Why didn’t I lose the weight then? Then I could be proud of how I look!” But then I stop myself because I realize that the person in those pictures is glowing with happiness, with love. The person in those pictures is thrilled to be marrying the love of her life. And that person is still here today. Sure, it would have been wonderful if I could have worn a size 10 or 12 wedding gown, but just because I didn’t doesn’t mean I should look on that day with regret. So I choose the alternative. I choose gratitude. I am grateful for the life I have lived, both past and present, for I know that all of it has made me who I am, and at the end of the day, the number on the scale or on the waistband of a pair of pants means little when compared to a life lived to the fullest.

9 thoughts on “Skinny=Happy?

  1. Being thin will not necessarily make you happier. Whatever feelings and insecurities people were harboring with they were bigger won't go away unless they choose to address them head on. Masking them with weight loss is not the right approach. I have this notion that people think, “If I'm thinner, more people will love me.” Ultimately, you're still the same person, and , as you were saying, maybe a bit more confident. People who truly love you will not judge you based on weight. They will love you for who you are.

    Thinking from the other extreme, if you're too thin, your life is consumed with staying there. It's not a fun road to travel down.

    I just want to say that I'm glad you're approaching things with a healthy attitude, and not viewing your past as something to be ashamed of. It's definitely not! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. Well.. I felt I should post something on this because I have struggled with my weight my entire life. I finally lost the weight I needed to my senior yr in high school and it was really hard, but I did it and it felt GREAT! It seems like it is a lot harder for me to lose weight and keep it off than it is for most people and that just stinks! haha but anyways… about my junior year in college I noticed myself start slipping back into the fast food and doughnut ways (they're so good!) and before you knew it, I was fat again! It was so depressing, but pictures don't lie! I had worked so hard to lose all that weight, and there I was heavier than I had ever been before. And I tried not to let it affect my self esteem and confidence but it nevertheless did. So January of 2008, I decided to lose it again and have so far lost 30 lbs. I have kind of hit a plateau, but am determined to keep losing till I am where I need to be. It is just really hard, because it is not always convenient to eat healthy and I hate being hungry- and there's not always time to exercise either- BUT that's enough of my whining! It is a personal struggle and I am determined to get my weight under control once and for all! It helps to lean on God and my wonderful husband is so supportive! I wouldn't say that skinny = happy in a total comprehensive way, but I will say that man! it sure does feel good to fit into those pants that I couldn't wear a year ago and look sideways in the mirror and feel good about my body. I was embarrassed of my weight- the roll under my chin- my huge arms. I didn't feel good about myself, and that would at some times make me unhappy- but not truly unhappy- more like a bird pooped on my shoulder unhappy- because being truly happy is dependant on so many other things, like a great marriage, a close relationship with God, your family, your outlook on life, etc. And it is so important to never lose focus on those things- the things that REALLY matter. I personally think that if someone were to say that being skinny equalled their total happiness, that would be a bit vain.. you know? However, having said that, I sure would like to weight about 150! That would make me pretty darn happy! haha! If I just didn't like doughnuts and chocolate so much…. haha!

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  3. Being thinner definitely will not make you happier. I struggle daily with body image even more that I did when I was larger. I keep thinking that I need to wear bigger sizes or that someone of my size shouldn't wear shorts. I am ashamed that I let myself go and I wish I would have lost the weight sooner, but I too am grateful for the life I have lived and the one I am living. I am glad I am not the only person that has issues with losing weight. It's a great accomplishment and definitely something to be proud of. You're beautiful no matter what the little tag or scale says!

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  4. I am often amused at others and yes, even myself because I thought once I got to my goal weight, the clouds would part, angels would sing and I would live happily ever after in la-la-land.

    So now, I'm here, at a place others consider “healthy” or “skinny” and I'm stuck looking around wondering what happened! I still have the same mental struggles as before, same issues to deal with, just in a different body. Isn't it funny how the grass is always greener on the other side?

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  5. Oh Erin, I feel ya. Please don't ever look back on happy times like your wedding and feel any regret. Being a bigger size or whatever is no reason to feel like it wasn't the best it could have been.

    I am fully of the belief that if you can't manage being happy at all when you are overweight then being skinny won't make you happy.

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  6. What a wonderful message to carry with you. It's so true–we paint the future with rainbows and look back on the past as a dark cloud. Thanks for putting this all in perspective.

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  7. Erin, I am always so amazed by your wisdom. And that you share it when I need to hear it!

    I dont know how much I weighed on my wedding day. I didnt care at all. But I would be willing to bet it is somewhere similar to where I am now or more. I was looking at some of those pictures the other day and thinking how fat I looked. I was so diappointed because I remember loving so many of them at the time.

    I need to remember that they are still great pictures. We still looked great in them because of how much we were both glowing. How much I weighed at the time doesnt matter. There is nothing I could possibly do to change that now.

    It is amazing how hard I can be on myself for things that are passed and no longer really matter!

    Thanks for sharing this.

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