I used to think that everything would be better if I was skinnier. It was like being thin was the be-all, end-all solution to every single problem I had.
Here is what I thought would happen when I finally achieved "skinniness":
-- I would be able to handle my emotions and not get worked up over things.
-- I would be more relaxed and go with the flow.
-- I would love my job and not feel anxious going to work.
-- I would get more attention from guys.
-- I would have an awesome relationship.
-- I would rock a bikini on the beach and strut down to the water, sans coverup.
-- I would be happy every day.
-- I would feel confident in everything I wore.
And the list goes on.
But then, a crazy thing happened. I did get skinny.
Those dresses that I used to fit into? Squeezed into them with room.
Those super small jeans I was dying to wear? Buttoned them up with no problem.
I bought tiny shorts, smaller pants, and itty-bitty dresses. And guess what?
Nothing changed. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
Yes, I wore a smaller size. And sure, I could fit into clothes I hadn't in years.
I still looked in the mirror and hated my stomach.
I still wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my life.
I still had emotions to deal with.
I still wondered why I didn't feel passionate with my job.
I still didn't accept myself and feel comfortable in my body.
That was a wakeup call for me. I realized that the "thing" I had longed to achieve for years really wasn't what I thought.
I know what you're thinking.
It's different for me. Seriously, if I JUST lost this weight, then I would XYZ (be happy, accept my body, love life, etc)
But really, truly, and seriously:
Life does not get better when you get skinnier.
It sounds preposterous, I know. But hear me out....
When we "just want to lose 15 more pounds", that statement becomes the scapegoat. It becomes the easy target for everything else we don't want to deal with. It becomes how we bundle everything that we don't want to face in our lives.
We think it's the weight that makes us miserable. We convince ourselves that losing weight will give us a magical new life without any of the problems we had before.
But when we arrive there, as the same person with the same problems, disappointment settles in.
Can you think of a time in your life when you reached your ideal weight or close to it? Maybe you lost weight for a wedding, a reunion, or a special event.
Ask yourself honestly: did losing weight make you truly happy? (If the answer is yes, why did you gain it back? If it was no, why do you think it will make you happy now?)
This is a tricky question, because you can easily answer "of course, it did!" But really think about it. I've had clients say "I want to get back to the weight I was at when I got married."
And then I have them pull out photos and really feel what they felt at that time. I tell them to dig deep and go behind the smiling, seemingly happy façade. The truth starts to come out...
"Well, actually I was barely eating anything, I was so concerned about fitting into my dress, I was running like 10 miles a day, and I felt so much pressure trying to maintain my weight loss that I wanted to just give it all up. So, no, I was not happy. I was actually miserable."
Yes, it is true that losing weight can feel good. When you don't have extra weight, you can be more active, fit into smaller clothes, and move around easier.
But you are still you. With or without extra weight.
You are still the same person-with the same personality quirks, the same life problems, the same relationship hang ups, and the same insecurities. These do not magically go away when you lose weight.
I spent years thinking everything would be different when I was thin.
I'd lose weight, still not feel happy, then eat and gain it back, and then think losing weight would make me happy again. A vicious cycle until I realized that truth.
Yes, being thinner can feel great for the first few weeks. But then "life" settles back in and you still have the same things to deal with as before.
It is not, in fact, the be-all, end-all solution I thought it was.
I want you to try this experiment: Instead of waiting to be skinnier to be happy and thinking your life would be better, I want you to close your eyes and tune into the happiness that is already within you in this moment.
You don't need to be thinner to enjoy a sunset, to bask in the warmth of summer nights, to have a good laugh with your best friend, and to take a peaceful walk in nature. See if you can tap into your happiness now. Not 20 pounds from now.