“I’ve gained weight.”
A statement that is uttered internally by almost every woman at some point in their lives and most likely more than once. ‘Weight’… we are so focused on that one word which essentially, as my geeky husband who studied physics and astronomy in college would say, is our gravitational pull to the Earth’s core. Fairly interesting when you realize how heavy you are on Jupiter (for me 321 lbs) and how light you are on Pluto (8.5 lbs). Now if I thought my weight on Jupiter was huge, using the site https://www.exploratorium.edu/ronh/weight/ I can see that my weight on Earth is nothing compared to my weight on a Neutron Star (17780000000000 lbs).
Enough about the solar system. My goal here is to shatter the high standards we as women place on ourselves when it comes to how much we weigh. I have covered Body Shaming prior to this, but I believe there needs to be more as even since that post, I haven’t stopped shaming myself 100% until a few months ago.
I have spent my life so focused on the number that the scale would spit up at me. I dwelled on it. I would see my ‘thunder thighs’ and cry. I yo-yo dieted in college, eating crap during the semester and then following Weight Watchers during summer break. Up 10lbs, down 10lbs. Up 15lbs, down 15lbs. Up 15lbs… uh oh! By the time I got married, I was heavy but would not admit it until at age 25, when my resting blood pressure was 150/90 and my cholesterol was elevated. Now I had to pay attention. Still focused on that stupid number on the scale, I dove right in to following Weight Watchers day and night. And it worked. The number on the scale went down. At one point, even after having my daughter, I was down to 112lbs. I thought I would finally be happy with my figure.
But I wasn’t.
It wasn’t until I hit my mid to late thirties where I said to myself, “Steph, is it really the weight? Is it really the number on the scale?!” At first, due to my latest episode of Depression I was suffering from (where I dropped to 104lbs and then proceeded to gain way more back), I answered with a “Hell yes!” It was hard to do anything during this time. I had no motivation. Exercise, ha! That was never going to happen. Food, if I thought something would make me happy, I ate it. This went on for 2 years.
And then I had had enough.
Nothing I was doing was making me feel better. I sat back and really thought about when I was happy, when I felt… strong. Whoa, where did that word come from?! Strong?! Ah, Stephanie, now you are on to something. Maybe instead of focusing on my weight so much, I should focus on my strength. I had mostly accomplished this with working on my mental and emotional strength in therapy, now was the time to remedy my physical strength.
I stopped aiming for my previous weight of 115 lbs. and started to focus on what I could do to be healthy and get strong. I wanted to teach my daughter that weight was just a number. I watched what I was eating and joined a gym. My first personal trainer listened to my goals but chose to ignore the ‘lose weight’ aspect. He heard ‘strong’ and went with it. I started barbell squatting, sumo squatting and front squatting. I was doing bicep curls, tricep kick-backs and chest presses. I was beginning to feel strong again.
The number on the scale didn’t budge. And then my trainer up and fell of the face of the planet (really no one has heard from him in over 6 months). What was I going to do? I continued with this circuit but knew I was slacking in eating healthy.
Then the gym offered a program guided by a different personal trainer. I was skeptical at first but knew my focus was on strength. No way was I going to ‘Lose Big’ (as the program is titled). This trainer provided us with nutrition basics, info on Macros, insightful tips and, frankly, kick-ass workouts! After the 10 weeks were over, I had lost only 3lbs, but other things occurred. I dropped several inches and lowered my body fat percentage. This was working. When this trainer decided to run this program again, I said “Sign me up!”
And… I haven’t lost any weight so far. I am 127lbs at my 5’-0 ¾” stature. I am a bit proud of this. Why?! Because my smaller clothes fit. Because this means I am building muscle. And because my body fat percentage is in the Fitness Level. I can now barbell squat over 150lbs and feel energized. I sleep better. My mental health is better. I feel stronger.
And to me, strength equals happiness, not some stupid number on the scale.