Happy Herbivore Blog

February 14, 2012

Self Esteem and Weight Loss

 There is more to me than just my body. My image doesn't convey everything to know about me. Who I am is not how much I weigh or what size jeans I fit in to.  I posted a blog with a friend of mine, JL, several months ago about body image, and not knowing another;s personal journey. I wanted to follow-up on that with some of my sister's experiences as well.

For those unfamiliar with my personal history, I have lost weight, and am maintaining that loss. I weighed about 25 to 30 pounds more than I do now. I struggled with my weight for years, and I let it affect my self-esteem. When I was skinny my self-esteem was high, and when I wasn't my self-esteem was low. I have found that my self-esteem (and self-worth) are not tied to my weight.

My sister was on a diet several years ago, (before going plant-based) and had lost 30 lbs, and had felt great about herself. She worked really hard watching what she ate and excersising 4 times a week. Then she ran into an old friend we hadn't seen since high school who said "Wow, you look just like you did in high school. I wish my metoblism was as good as yours." That last sentence made her feel worthless, like her effort was irrelevant. It didn't matter that she was healthier or happier. No, it only mattered that she was skinny.

Do people really believe that the only way someone can be skinny is if they have a high metoblism or is just natually that way? That there is nothing else a person can do or does? Staying "skinny" is not easy; just like my sister lost 30lbs, she gained it right back after she got off that diet, and then felt bad about her self. Was she less healthy? Maybe, maybe not. Was she worried about a stranger thinking she was lazy or overweight? Unfortunately, yes. She didn't feel bad about not maintaining her success, she felt bad because of what someone else might think of her.

Why should our self esteem be tied to what someone else thinks we should look like or weigh? Shouldn't it be tied to how healthy we are and feel, and be more about what we think and not what a stranger thinks?

People are often quick to size me up too. I get comments along the lines of "we can't all be naturally thin like you!" all the time. But I'm not naturally this size. If I stop eating right, the weight creeps back on. That's how the weight got there in the first place! Just like my sister.

We have found that losing weight is easy, it's not gaining it back that is the hard part. That's why Courtney feels her weight has yo-yo'ed over the years. She would lose it, then get content and stop her 'diet'. That is the problem with diets - what happens when you stop? If it's not a lifestyle change, the weight will likely come back (and bring friends, as they say).

On the other side is my sister's friend, who is overweight, even though she has already lost over 70lbs. She eats just as healthy as us and walks almost 10 miles every day, but someone might look at her and think she is lazy or doesn't eat right becuase she of her current weight. Does it matter that she is trying to lose weight or does it matter how she looks right now?

My friend JL, who co-wrote the previous post with me, had been going on a diet for a New Years for 6 years. After realizing that was not the way she needed to go, she says she stopped chasing skinny (also the name of her blog) and started chasing healthy. She has been 'skinny', but describes herself as looking gaunt, now she is curvier and rounder (her words) and happier. Because she isn't skinner, does that mean she is less healthy? No.

I love her idea of chasing healthy, because that is more important than being skinny. If you are healthy and happy, it shouldn't matter what the number of the scale is.

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