My weight has been an issue for nearly 20 years. I had terrible eating and exercise habits in my 20s and most of my 30s, so the pounds crept, then leapt, up. By the time I turned 40, I was 100 pounds heavier than I was when I graduated college 18 years earlier.
There were a lot of reasons for the weight gain, but it boiled down to one thing: I didn’t know how or what to eat. I had no sense of nutrition, of portion sizes, of balance. As you can imagine, I was miserable. My joints hurt from the weight and my self esteem was at an all time low. I actively hated my body.
Something about turning 40, however, finally spurred me to act. I started learning more about nutrition and fitness and started figuring out what my body needs. Vegetables, fruits, and other plants are very important. Lots of water is necessary. And I’ve learned that added sugars are pretty much poison and should be limited to occasional treats. I mean, DUH. But these were things that I simply didn’t know.
I have also gotten more serious about exercise. I used to think that exercise was going to the gym or to a class. Man, I hate going to the gym and to classes. I thought exercise was about suffering. Oh, how wrong I was.
Throughout my 20s and 30s, I was a walker. For some reason, I never viewed walking as exercise. When I turned 40, I started walking more and faster. Eventually I started running, which I did for a few years until persistent injuries forced me to stop. I also tried cycling. And swimming. And the occasional exercise class. But nothing stuck, except for walking.
These days, I walk nearly every day. Usually 10,000 steps (around five miles) during the week and more so on the weekends. In general, I move around a lot more throughout the day than I used to be. That’s not the extent of it, however. I also practice yoga and work in other exercises, such as planks and pushups, into my days. So it’s not just about cardio — I am more flexible and stronger than my younger self.
As I have progressed through my 40s, I have learned more and more about nutrition and exercise, as well as more about myself. I am working on having not just a healthier lifestyle but also a healthier mindset. I’ve started really and truly taking care of myself. I mentioned this recently, but I’ve finally learned how to eat, how to exercise, and how to practice self care.
Because of all this, slowly and surely, I’ve been losing the weight. I’m not obsessed about it, but my doctor and I set some modest yearly goals that usually see me losing a little more weight and getting a little more fit.
While I truly wish I were the same weight I was back in college, the fact is that I am far healthier, fitter, and stronger than I was back then. Back then I’d eat Doritos and ice cream for dinner. I never exercised, except to walk to classes.
I am making peace with my weight. I am still overweight and will never fit into my wedding dress again. I could — and used to — lament that. But what a waste of time. Instead, I’m focused on eating properly and exercising. My weight will do what it does.
I am finally learning to love my body.