Setting a goal. Breaking it down. Making a plan.
First, I had to set a long-term goal of what my ideal weight was. Initially I had set 175 pounds. The number itself seemed so far off, so crazy low to a person who had never, from the age of 12 been less than 200 pounds and for a really long time, much heavier than that!
And just as the weight had not come on overnight, it was not going to fall off that fast, either. I needed some incremental goals and celebration points along the way to cheer myself on and while I shared a few (like when the leading number on the scale changed) with others…this was mostly a private journey.
Planning how I was going to get there and thinking through some strategies on ‘overcoming objections’ from others were key to my success as well. Here is the bald-faced truth: Not everyone is happy for you. Not everyone is going to really support your desire to improve yourself. Sometimes those very closest to you will try to derail you or make you think you cannot accomplish your goals. Hearing from people that I was too thin when I was still morbidly obese is so laughable now, but it was difficult for me to hear them trying to hold me back instead of celebrating with me and encouraging me. Heck, there are times I would have settled for them just shutting up and being neutral!
For me, it was key that I not still be overweight at my goal weight, but I did not have any illusions of being supermodel thin or slipping into the underweight category. I had to be realistic about my body type and build. This was difficult for me. I have visibly blanched when people have used the phrase ‘big boned’ to excuse their weight or mine. Even at my heaviest I would absolutely not use that excuse. (And it IS an excuse, in my opinion.)
I wear a size 13 shoe. I am 5’ 11” tall. I still do not consider myself big boned. HOWEVER…a person my same height and in a size eight shoe is likely going to have a different structure. So when my doctor, therapist, and nutritionist all weighed in on what a reasonable goal would be and they (independent of one another) had a band from 170 to 180…I simply picked the middle of the range.
My nutritionist said something to me that I found interesting. She said that if I were in my 20s, she would say as low as 155 would be fine, but at my age she felt it was more realistic to be 170ish. It was a ‘super sticky’ post-it note in my brain. As I got close to 180, it was evident to us that 175 was too high and we recalibrated to 165. I ended up getting to 161. I will fluctuate within 5 lbs of that number and so long as that is the span, I am AOK with that. There are people who give themselves an 8- or 10-pound variance. For me, the effort and time to get the final 10 pounds off were almost the same as the first 100 and there was NO WAY I was going to be okay with an extra 10 as my ‘get to it’ number. Five, I can deal with and think that normal life fluctuations play a part in that. But 10 was too much for me. Please note…10 is too much for ME. If it is fine for you, then have that be your span.
Set a reasonable goal
Seeing the reality of different body types and how weight looks on different women was something I did not realize how much I needed until I saw it for myself. I used My Body Gallery and the variances of weight on different body structures (and different ages) helped me be realistic about my goal as well. The age component plays a part. The fact that I was morbidly obese for so long plays a part. I still have a good bit of skin hanging on that I hope to have removed by a skilled plastic surgeon one day, but that’s only a very few pounds of weight. It’s the tightening and sculpting I want from that surgery as much as anything. I’m not going to kid myself that I’ve got 15 pounds of excess skin.
I can’t be honest with myself only part of the time and have positive results all of the time.
Knowing that I had set a reasonable weight MADE IT an attainable goal. If I had set 135 as my goal, I would be so frustrated and discouraged and never get there in a healthy way if I got there at all! On the flip side, if I had set 200 as my goal I would be frustrated and discouraged that the world saw me as fat after all that work. That
I saw myself still too fat after all that work. The goal I set was both attainable and appropriate.
Breaking it down into milestones was harder than I expected. The scale numbers were easy—but what about sizes or moments of YES? I did not account for those initially and when I did, it really helped me to have all sorts of celebrations along the way. I believe that we need to be our own greatest cheerleaders, and while it is wonderful when someone else picks up the pom-poms and wants to be a spirit leader alongside us, I don’t depend on others to arrange a celebration.
Though I can say that some of the more memorable highlights all were shared: The first time I realized I was too small to ever buy anything except socks at Lane Bryant ever again! The first time I sat in a chair of questionable strength and was comfortable enough that if it broke I would not be mortified. The first time I tried on a dress and there wasn’t a W after the size.
My plan was to consistently focus on the near-term goal (a size or weight) and keep the long term goal in perspective. I planned out my menus and shopped carefully. I bought smaller cookware, bakeware and clothes I shrunk out of were removed quickly from my closets and drawers so that I didn’t have anything to ‘grow’ back into. I went from loose to fitted clothing. Having one pair of perfectly fitting, albeit it snug, pants which I can wear once a month to confirm I am staying steady in my size and weight is huge to me. If those pants ever got loose, I’d know I was too thin and if they are tight, it is time to buckle down and work harder on my runs and be extremely conscious of what is going in my mouth and am I being diligent with recording my intake.
My plan was (and is!) to keep the goal of a healthy me at the forefront of my decisions. There is nothing I cannot do or must do; each day I have to make a conscious choice to do the things that are going to have the long term result I want. It was not a ‘set and forget’ thing…it’s every minute of every day making the choice for health and when I slip up, getting right back on it without self-flagellation.
My husband and I love getting in the car and taking an impromptu trip. If we end up headed towards Arkansas when what we intended was to go to Toledo, it’s not as if we’d just keep going to Arkansas. No. We’d pull off, check our navigation and figure out what went wrong. We’d correct it and we’d get back on the path. We would not simply fuss and fume and be upset the entire way to The Natural State. So it is with being a healthy person at a healthy weight. If I choose the doughnut and exceed my calories for the day or skip a healthy protein-based meal because of it, that does NOT mean I’m going to be back at my initial weight or that I can’t make a change for health with the very next thing I put in my mouth. NO…it just means I detoured. The trick is to detour by a few exits, not by a continent. It’s a long longer drive back from Central America than Bill Clinton’s birthplace. Know what I mean?
Stay the course, but if you get turned around, don’t get mad and don’t give up….get right back on the path you’ve laid out and arrive at your glorious destination!
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