body image, mental health, MHM, weight loss

mental health monday: the 85 lb onion

It’s time for another Mental Health Monday post and I’m warning y’all right now, this one is gonna be a bit of a doozy.

Now, it’s been a few years since I’ve watched an episode, let alone a season, of The Biggest Loser, but I always remember there was inevitably a part at least somewhere along the way when Jillian Michaels would be yelling at some contestant in the gym (granted, that’s pretty much every episode, but go with me on this one) and the contestant would get so fed up they’d quit their workout early and storm out of the gym in a mess of tears and a flurry of curse words.

When Jillian finally caught up to the contestant they have this long, drawn out conversation trying to parse together what caused the contestant’s initial weight gain and what causes them to continue to gain weight. What causes the binge eating and late night snacking?

The contestant becomes an onion as Jillian slowly peels each layer back to find the root cause.

But what happens when you’re not an onion?

Looking back on photos from my recent trip to Florida, it’s impossible to ignore my weight gain over the past 2 1/2 years. Back in February 2013, I weighed 175. At my weigh in last Thursday I was at 259.8.

This, ladies and gents is what an 85 pound weight gain looks like.

Obviously I’m aware I’ve gained weight. I mean, I’m not an idiot.  I’ve even blogged about it along the way of the past couple years. But, oof. It wasn’t until I did the math in my head after weighing in that the gravity, the big picture of it all set in.

So Thursday night, I’m in bed, and I’m journaling and I’m trying to figure out the why. I’m peeling back my own layers to find the root cause of it and….I came up empty.

And I’m not just saying that out of denial or something, although I have no doubt there will be some who don’t believe me and that’s okay. But, honestly, I just….

My life? Pretty damn awesome. I am a published author and I finally have a job where I feel like a valued and necessary member of a team. And, to be fair, back in February 2013? When this whole regain started? My professional life completely upended and I spent the past 2 1/2 years in a mentally and emotionally draining and stifling work environment that left me miserable and crying more often than not, so if there was a catalyst I could pinpoint along the time spectrum, that would be it.

That being said, my life has always been pretty awesome. I come from a loving home. I have a super supportive family. There’s really nothing in my past for Jillian Michaels to find as a smoking gun.

We are often programmed to believe that weight gain is a symptom of a much larger problem. That there is something about us that needs fixed. Something that requires hours of therapy and cryfests with professional help. Yes, I have a history of disordered eating issues and yes, I had self-esteem issues growing up which probably caused said disordered eating way back when. And yes, sometimes I still have bad body image days but, really, who doesn’t?

But, if I’m being totally honest, I’ve done therapy before. Multiple times. I don’t want to sit on a couch and spend an hour of my life each week unpacking my baggage. Not to discount that therapy can be beneficial for some, but for me I’m not sure I find it particularly productive. Approaching my weight from a place saying that I’m broken or damaged doesn’t feel very productive either. I’ve spent far too long viewing myself through a negative lens, I’d rather not do that anymore.

For years I’ve always believed the message that if you love yourself enough you’ll want to lose weight. That the only way to successfully lose weight is to love yourself. But why is that the end all be all of proof that one loves oneself? Self esteem is an internal mechanism so why is an external change expected?

You know who loves herself and showed it in an external way? This gal here, who wore a bikini to the beach in Florida.

Back fat and all, I said fuck it. (Also, somehow there is no full length photo of me in the suit, but c’est la vie.)

I look at those photos above, the progression of my weigh gain, and I’m not mad or sad or upset. I don’t feel guilt or shame. It is what it is. Getting emotional over it won’t change anything.

Do I want to lose weight? Sure. Do I want to lose it because I think it will make me happy? No, because 1) that’s not how this works and 2) I’m already happy. Do I want to lose weight because I love myself enough to want to be thin? No, because I love myself already despite the fact that I’m not already thin. I want to lose weight because I’m vain and I miss wearing that sparkling vintage silver and teal dress in the photo up top.

At one point along this road, this slow runner would have said I’d like to be thinner so it will make me faster but then, see, I ran my half back in May and for the majority of it I was totally on target to PR despite weighing more than I did when I ran my first half marathon, so, see, I can’t even use that as motivation.

Truth is, I think my real problem is I just really really like food and it’s not something I’m willing to sacrifice. I also live in a city with a phenomenal food scene. And, I have learned how to navigate it while still balancing a healthy lifestyle. Like, last week BC and I went out to dinner after work to Melt Bar and Grilled. They have ginormous sandwiches and often we split one but this time he wanted their super spicy burger which I so did not want, so I ordered my own and only ate half the sandwich and half the fries.

See. Balance.

Could I give Melt and other favorite restaurants up? Sure. I mean, I love to cook and can make my own bad ass grilled cheese sandwiches at home. But do I want to? Ummmm, yeah, no. Some random scientist somewhere could find that magic bullet of weight loss and offer it to me and I could wake up 100 lbs thinner tomorrow, all I have to do is give up all of my favorite local restaurants. And to that, all I can say is fuck that noise.

So here’s where I’m at. And, to be honest, I’m not entirely sure where “here” is, but I do know changes need to be made. I’m not going to make any big proclamations or “watch out world” promises because I’ve done that before and it thus far hasn’t worked. Instead, I’m going to make small changes when and where I can and see where it takes me.

The first big change is a new blog series I’ll be starting this Friday:

Since resigning up for Weight Watchers almost a year ago, I’ve been going to meetings and weighing in, but somewhere along the way I stopped blogging about it. Now that life has settled, the truth is that I do want to make my weight a priority again and in order to do that I need to readopt some of the habits I had the first time around. This includes holding myself accountable through this blog. I weigh in on Thursdays, usually in the afternoon, so Friday mornings are the perfect time to come here and recap how my week went, good or bad.

I actually got the idea from my (Half) Marathon Monday series — I’d blogged about half training before, but somehow having that weekly post that focused on that held me more accountable to my training schedule and I’m hoping it will do the same for the scale.

Be sure to check out the other Mental Health Monday posts as part of this week’s linkup! 

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

5 thoughts on “mental health monday: the 85 lb onion”

  1. This right here is why I love reading your blog! I too struggle with weight and was about 25 pounds less 2 years ago. Then I got comfortable with life, with my new husband and I love food. So here I am wanting to figure out how to cut back on food yet still enjoy it so I can see the scale move down again.


  2. It is funny, sometimes weight gain is a function of everything feeling wrong (as it has been for me in the past 6 months) and sometimes it is a function of being happy and confident and just not caring too much either way. Weight is tricky and I am more and more convinced it has nothing to do with happiness. Health perhaps yes, but happiness no.


  3. I'm feeling kind of cut off in that last picture! 😉 I thought you looked fab- happy and confident– when I saw you. So there's that. As a fellow appreciator of food, I'm also always trying to find the balance between enjoying life (by which I mean “food”) and a healthy lifestyle and weight for me. It's trickier the older I get. It sounds like you're already having all those important mental conversations and I'm sure you'll get wherever you need to be. But thanks for putting this out there publicly. I was trying to articulate this to someone I know trying to lose weight after having a baby, and instead I was able to just send her this link.


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