Thursday, November 3, 2011

Taking Care of YOU

It’s Day #5 of me giving up soda. When I tell people that I have given up soda, they assume I have done so to lose weight. Actually, that’s not why. I have a heart murmur and I noticed that when I drank soda heavily, it started making me have heart palpitations. I lost my dad six months ago because of a sudden heart attack so those palpitations scared me straight.

I miss soda but I love myself more and am not trying to go into cardiac arrest. It’s just not worth it. I just get annoyed when people assume it’s for diet reasons. Just because I am a big girl does not mean I am spending my waking moments dieting. I just want to live healthier. If I lose weight (which I know I will since my calorie intake will be less minus the soda), it will be an added bonus. But that is not my main focus here.

What I have learned in my life, as a big girl, is that before you can make any lasting permanent changes to yourself on the outside, you have to be happy with you from the start. I know it sounds like an oxymoron because if you’re happy with you, why would you want to change? But honestly, change is good for the soul and even when you are happy with you, you’re not perfect. There is always room for improvement and we are all works in progress. So I have the attitude that while I think I am fabulous, I know I can always better myself.

No one is born with confidence, just as no one sets out to be fat. Confidence is built over time just as weight is gained. Confidence and being big are not factors that easily go hand in hand. It takes hard work, being honest with yourself and truly coming to terms with who you are in the present moment. Easier said than done. But if you can learn to be comfortable in your own skin, life becomes such a different experience.

Sometimes we’re too hard on ourselves. We’re our own worst critics. We nitpick and scrutinize little flaws and we begin to loathe those parts of us. The thing is when you loathe yourself in any way, even if it’s a small part of you, no matter how much you change that part of you, you will always find something else to loathe. It is a vicious never-ending cycle. This is why so many of us yo-yo diet. We diet for the wrong reasons. Many times it’s for reasons that are not truly for our well-being. Until you can be comfortable in your skin as you are right this minute and make the decision to not diet but live a healthy lifestyle, you will continue to yo-yo diet.

Dieting is something all of us can relate to. We have all dieted at least once in our lives. My dieting history started at the age of 10. When the doctor told my parents that I was 20 pounds overweight for my height and age, I was shipped off to live with my aunt. My aunt promised that she would put me on a strict diet and I would be 20 pounds lighter in no time. That was when my yo-yo dieting began. I came home 20 pounds lighter but ended up gaining it all back.

As strange as it sounds, for me, dieting was not about vanity back then. I always knew of my beauty and never felt ugly. I really think that was because of my dad, who taught me so much in terms of being your own person and knowing your worth. That allowed my confidence to build. So I never truly hit rock bottom when it came to dieting or food. It was just that constant yo-yo because all I knew was that being fat was something I was not supposed to be.

There is a huge difference between dieting and living a healthy lifestyle. Dieting is something we do for immediate results but they are not lasting results. Can you really live on microwaveable dinners or shakes for the rest of your life? Let’s be honest here…no you can’t. Eventually, you will get hungry for some real food and will fall off the dieting wagon. That’s what got us into this yo-yo dieting mess in the first place.

A healthy lifestyle is not something that just thin people have. Big people can live healthy too. We are all not meant to be a size 2. We all come in different shapes and sizes. It’s all about being comfortable in your skin and then making a commitment to eat right and exercise…to make that a lifestyle and not just some temporary kick-start type of diet to lose weight quickly. Trust me, once you start your healthy lifestyle, the weight will come off. You might not become a size 2 nor will the weight come off overnight but I promise you, you will feel better about yourself.

My dad, the wonderful man he was, always told me that what counts is what’s in your heart. And your size does not define how big or great your heart is. But you also have to take care of that heart. We get so focused on changing our outer selves that we forget that we need to make sure our inner selves are healthy too. The first step is to look in the mirror right now and tell yourself “I love you”. If you can do that, you’re halfway there. If you can’t, it’s time to be real with yourself and start working on that. Because if you don’t love yourself, how are you going to be the best you can be inside and out?

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