My weight and negative self-perception was an issue for me almost my entire life. I became self-conscious of my body when I was 5 years old after my father told me I needed to learn how to suck in my stomach.
Now at age 5, I wasn’t fat. And I don’t think my father meant anything more than he wanted to teach me good posture. But how I interpreted his comment was that he was telling me I was fat. That there was something wrong with my body.
I was a tomboy who always had scabs on my knees from falls and crashes on my bike. Shortly after that conversation with my father I remember for the first time being embarrassed at how my banged up knees looked and trying to pull my knee socks up as high as they would go to cover them up.
I began hating my body. I focused almost exclusively on its flaws, and what was wrong with me.
My negative self-perception—and my resulting struggle with my weight—raged for more than 35 years. Those negative thoughts bled over into all areas of my life. I was often depressed. I shied away from taking leadership roles at work. I had a hard time making close friends.
And my struggle with my weight wasn’t because I didn’t know what to do. I taught myself about nutrition and exercise, and several times I got into incredible shape. I ran—finishing one half-marathon and doing all the training for another. I lifted weights. Several times I got down to a size 6. I knew what to do.
Even though I would lose weight, emotionally I was like a rubber band being pulled back tighter and tighter. Each time I met my goal, it didn’t take much to have that rubber band spring back with me regaining not only the weight I had just lost, but then some.
The last time this happened—and I do mean the last time—I got down to a size 8 when I had the emotional spring-back and I put on 40 pounds and for various reasons I went from a runner to a walker to not doing any exercise at all. Here I was busting out of my size 14 pants, and starting over with exercise and losing weight—again.
Something had to change.
What had to change was what was going on the inside. What had to change were my thoughts, emotions and beliefs about myself, what I was capable of, what I deserved.
So in addition to consistently moving my body and eating healthy foods, I began looking for inaccurate thinking and practicing new thoughts of appreciation, praise, and support for my body—and myself.
Successfully making those internal changes helped me not only get down to where I am today—between a size 4 and 6—but to keep the weight off now for more than a year.
But more importantly, those same internal changes have given me the confidence and self-empowerment to go after the life of my dreams.
What are your internal beliefs about yourself? What life do you think you deserve? Where are you holding yourself back because you’re afraid you won’t succeed? Or worse, you’re afraid you will?
There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of diet and exercise programs out there that can help you lose weight. But to truly make the change to being someone who is strong, fit, and lean—and making it stick—you may first need to change on the inside.
Together we can do it!