Life Lesson 8: Weight Loss is Not Just Calories In and Out

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I have struggled with my weight for most of my life.  According to Louise Hay, weight is about protection…needing to feel safe and secure.  I agree with this.  My whole life has been about feeling secure and most of my decisions are based on how secure I feel in that moment.

About 9 or 10 years ago, I decided to join Weight Watchers.  I was in a different place in my life then.  I was truly living in the moment, enjoying life, experiencing new things and doing a lot of, what Julia Cameron calls, Artists Dates.  Artists Dates are where you do something that is just about you and, typically, you do it alone so the experience is yours alone.  I was taking classes, going places…truly living my life.  It was freeing and joyful.  Over the course of a year, I lost just under 100 pounds.  I maintained that weight loss for a while but began to gain it back when I had a stressful experience at work with an employee of mine.  I stopped everything positive. It was as if someone had flipped a switch.  I reverted back to every bad habit I’d ever had.

Here’s what’s interesting, though.  In Weight Watchers, I had one free day a week where I would choose to eat whatever I wanted.  Sometimes I really pigged out.  Yes, I was religious about tracking my points on the other six days and, yes, I worked out a lot but I allowed myself the freedom to do whatever I wanted that one day a week.  There wasn’t a single weigh in, over the course of that year, that I didn’t lose weight.  And I don’t think it was just about burning calories based on food and exercise.

I believe that enjoying life and feeling free also burns calories. 

I can’t explain it but I definitely know that stress can impact your ability to lose weight in a negative way so is it so far fetched to believe that enjoying your life can affect it in a positive way? 

I am not trying to lose weight now but I’ve lost 46 pounds in four months.  I bought a bike about half way through that and have ridden it about once a week.  I started doing yoga once a week a few weeks ago.  Other than that…not much exercise.  I do not track my food or “watch” what I eat.  I go out to restaurants, including fast food.  I enjoy food.  I have recently noticed that my portions have decreased in size as far as what I’m able to consume in a meal but nothing I’ve done has been about losing weight and I’m not doing enough, from a physiological perspective, to experience this level of weight loss.  I would need to be either burning or eating fewer calories than I need to maintain my weight to the tune of 7,000 a week to lose at the rate I’ve been losing and, I assure you, I don’t believe that’s the case.  I have also been to the doctor to rule out any medical issues and, other than a very low potassium level (now resolved), I am in really good health.

The big difference in my life is enjoying it fully.  Yes, there is stress present and my life isn’t perfect – I would never want to imply that it was anything else – but I am showing up in my life…doing things that appeal to me…trying new things and loving every minute of it.

And that has more value in my health than calories in or calories out.   The difference this time is knowing this is truly who I am and knowing I will never hide behind bad habits again.  I don’t need to be protected because I am safe and secure…just because I am.  The walls…the weight…they only create a false sense of safety and security.  True security comes from within.  From showing up.  From being present.  From living in the moment.

And I’m looking forward to a lifetime of that.

food fight

Covered in tomatoes at the Midwest Tomato Fest, July 2013
And, yes, I’ve shared this photo in a few places – me, looking like total crap, covered in tomatoes – I would have never let someone take a picture like this, let alone shared it in the past.

How present are you in your life?  Are you showing up every day and making it delicious?  You’d be amazed at the difference it makes.

30 day challenge

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