Alright, so of course I want to be beautiful; What woman wouldn't? For years I've fretted over how great it would be to be thin and pretty and have a bikini body. Four kids later and tons of stretch marks, that's never going to happen, and the truth is that I'd given up on the idea of becoming beautiful. Age goes forward and not backward and I'm not the woman I used to be.
Most of my life, people have been telling me that I'm fat or that I'm ugly. It's what happens when you start puberty at the tender age of eight years old and grow boobs before all of your classmates do.
I'll save the story of how I gained the weight for later, because this isn't about me so much as it's about why you should, as I have, consider letting go of weight loss as your primary goal and make health your number one priority.
We all have our own reasons for deciding that we want to lose weight, but for me, it took a health scare to get me actually focused on dropping the pounds. I care about what I look like, but over the years have convinced myself that my appearance doesn't matter. Moreover, I convinced myself that I couldn't feel any better because of previous bad choices that I'd made.
I was stuck, and literally eating myself to death. Before March of 2015, I didn't care that my lifestyle was killing me. Wanting to feel pretty wasn't going to fix my problems. Wanting to feel healthy was.
After all, you can be beautiful at any weight.
I've been considering the reasons why, for me, weight loss isn't about beauty, and I wanted to share them with you because I know these are things that some people don't think about when it comes to weight loss.
1. Less Pain
When you're experiencing chronic pain, sometimes it becomes so common to be in pain that you forget that pain is the body's signal that there's something wrong!
For many years -- since shortly after I first entered puberty -- I've had chronic stomach pain. Doctors have diagnosed a variety of problems and given me drugs to treat the symptoms, but I had resigned myself to spending my life feeling slow, sluggish, and generally like crap.
My stomach wasn't the only part of my body that hurt, but it was the part of me that most regularly kept me from engaging in my own life for a long time (now it's my hips and sciatica).
It also turned out to be the easiest fix. I reduced the amount of fat in my diet by more than two thirds and no longer experience nightly heartburn, have drastically reduced gall bladder issues without surgery (not something I'd recommend: Talk to your doctor!) and rarely feel nauseated, gassy, or crampy. Even my menstrual cramps have dissipated!
Thanks to drinking more water, my head and knees hurt less frequently as well. Eating well and working toward a healthier lifestyle will help to reduce the amount of chronic pain that you experience as you become more healthy -- in many cases regardless of what your weight is.
2. Reduced Anxiety
I have post-traumatic stress disorder. Anxiety is a part of everyday life for me, with some triggers setting me off more than others. Since changing my diet (and adding music to my life), I've seen an improvement in my anxiety levels, likely due to hormone balancing.
This will no doubt improve more when I become more active as well and begin to go for daily walks. Exercise releases endorphins, which affect mood.
Diet can have a dramatic effect on the mood. Nutritional health may be closely related to mental health and eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly all contribute to improved mental health.
I cannot, unfortunately, say the same thing for depression, as I continue to struggle with depression on a regular basis.
3. Less Illness
The healthier I become, the healthier I stay.
This sounds obvious, I realize, but you have to think about it. Good nutrition leads to increased benefits to health, including an improved immune system. This season, everybody in my household has been sick at one point or another -- except for me. I don't have as many allergic reactions as I did in the past, I haven't had a cold or the flu, and I feel better in a general sense as well.
As someone who isn't comfortable with the ingredient lists for common vaccines, allow me to assure you that I am not vaccinated against the flu, but since changing my diet, several illnesses have gone around my family which I have not picked up.
In addition, I have fewer allergy symptoms than I did in the past. Good nutrition improves the immune system.
4. The Better I Eat, the Better I Move
I've been having problems with mobility. It's embarrassing to admit to it, because I'm the one who allowed myself to gain this much weight and then stayed on my rear end instead of getting up to move around more than I do, but it's something that I've come to accept.
Weight loss obviously has an effect on how well I move, because there's less strain on my joints. I'm on my way toward 50 pounds of weight loss, and that is significant. My joints are already feeling the benefits.
However, in addition to taking pressure off of the joints, good nutrition has helped to strengthen them.
Better nutrition also translates to more energy thanks to B-Vitamins. Moreover, I go to bed earlier (around 8 in the evening) and get up earlier (around 4:30 in the morning). This pattern has worked wonders on my ability to get up and get moving, where in the past it was difficult to drag me out of my seat.
In the future, I'm going to be committing to more motion -- starting December 1st, I'll be getting up and getting active in new ways. I hope you'll join me!
5. The Better I Eat, the Less Money I Spend
There are those who will disagree with me about this (including my husband!) but the better the quality of the food I eat, the more that I crave the higher quality food, and the less money I want to spend on things like fast food and eating out.
Admittedly, I have a minor addiction to eating out (and I don't use the word "addiction" lightly). I like to think that I have good habits regarding food choices, but that's not always true, either.
Anyway, my point is that the better I eat, the more foods I am willing to try, the more foods that I'm willing to try, the more foods that I like, an the more foods that I like, the better I eat while preparing food simply at home.
(I particularly love fish.)
This is even true when purchasing organic foods, because they still cost less than paying somebody else to cook junk for you!
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