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.