For years I didn’t own a scale. I remember vividly throwing my old one away. I was moving apartments and tossed it in the dumpster behind my building. The act felt so symbolic and liberating; this thing that once held so much power over my mood and behavior no longer did. I even saw a meme once that said “a scale measures your gravitational pull to the Earth.” I laughed out loud at that one, both at the logic and how I had allowed something so trivial to dictate my feelings of self-worth.
Then I met my husband in 2014. When we first started dating, we had a lot of fun: indulgent dinners and drinking and healthy habits falling by the wayside. The weight crept on, and when we got engaged I bought a scale as a sort of “checks and balances.” I wanted to lose some weight for our wedding day, but I stayed mindful of my mindset around it. I had a healthier headspace and the scale served its purpose.
During pregnancy, I dusted off the scale once again. I used it to ensure I was gaining enough and yet not too much weight. It was probably the first time I didn’t have too many stories around the number that I saw once I stepped on it. It was something objective; more medical even. I gained a healthy 35 pounds while pregnant, and felt really good about it. It is probably the healthiest I have felt about my body. After having the baby, 25 pounds came off pretty quickly. It is the last 10 that have been a bit trickier.
When I stopped breastfeeding at the end of September, I told myself I wouldn’t weigh myself for the whole month of October. I was regularly working out again and I was eating for me, no longer worrying about my milk supply. I wanted to focus on how I felt rather this need to lose the last ten pounds. It had been a long time since I have been in a weight loss state of mind. Even as I type that, I’m noticing some shame around wanting to lose weight. I think the movements of self-love and body positivity – while amazing and very necessary – result in women feeling guilty for wanting weight loss. It’s like I always said as a health coach: there is nothing wrong with someone wanting to feel good, confident, and energized in her body. If weight loss is a part of that goal, then power to her. It is the mindset that matters.
October came and went. I stepped on the scale. I won’t lie and say I wasn’t anxious about it – I was, but again, I was conscious of any old mental patterns. I had lost 0.2 pounds. Zero point two. Immediately I witnessed myself deflate. But instead of (completely) beating myself up, I went downstairs and journaled about it.
What am I doing wrong?
That is the thought that came up. It was such a light bulb moment. I’ve been working with my life coach long enough to realize that I tend to ask myself that question quite often. In relationships, career, and clearly physical health, the belief of “not enough” rears it’s head and wears many hats. Here it was, showing up again. That’s the thing about self-awareness: while it can be very empowering, it doesn’t dissolve old ways of thinking. It simply makes you, well, aware of them, and then you choose how you want to react. Younger Sara in this situation would have reverted back to more destructive behavior: negative self-talk, over-exercise, and restriction with food. Older, much wiser me knew that wasn’t the answer. Instead, I coached myself with compassion. I took a hard look at my habits and hacked them (I teach more about habit hacking in my online courses). I reevaluated my mindset, movement, stress, sleep, and nutrition. Since that day, the weight has started to come off. More importantly, I feel so much better. Feeling better begets feeling better. Here is what I did:
Mindset. In alignment with my Counting Colors philosophy, I knew I needed to embrace a mindset based on how I was wanting to feel first, and make choices from that place. In other words, I wanted to feel lighter and more energized mentally and physically. What did I need to do to get there? What needed to change? Lastly, how would I unfold in my day if I had already achieved my goal? That shift in thinking became the foundation for all of my other choices and behaviors, not to mention made my experience much more positive. Additionally, without the anxiety attached to the goal, my body was able to balance, which is much more conducive to weight loss.
Movement. I wrote about this in my self-care post about movement, but the way I started to incorporate exercise back into my life wasn’t working for me. I have always worked out in the morning before breakfast; that is when I feel the strongest. That meant I had to fit it in before Mason woke up, which hardly ever went according to plan. I didn’t want to sacrifice sleep too much (because it is just as important, and I was very tired), and I still wanted to have some sense of a morning routine. Let’s just say attempting this was doing more harm than good to my mental health, the opposite of the role movement is supposed to play in my life. I decided that if I was able to, I would exercise after breakfast and after the nanny arrived. Whether that was in my home office or attending a class, it meant I would have the freedom and peace of mind to move without interruption. It was an immediate game-changer!
Stress. This is where things got real. I knew this was the slice of the pie affecting me the most. I have never handled stress well. I don’t know that many people do, and “stress management” has always been this shiny term that I can’t seem to fully grasp. My meditation practice had been put on pause, and I could feel the depletion from being a new mom, running a business, and navigating this new chapter. My tendency when feeling this way is to avoid, flee, and numb. This time around, I have tried to stay in the work, carve out moments that allow me to feel like myself, and ask for help. Writing regularly again has helped. It is something that gets me in the flow, and although it can leave me feeling vulnerable and raw, it feeds my soul. When there is alignment and moments of daily joy, it makes the other stuff more manageable.
Sleep. Theoretically, I put sleep on the same playing field as movement and nutrition. Arguably, it’s the most important piece of the holistic health puzzle. Being a new mom has made it more challenging, and if I am being honest, this has more to do with my wine habit and less than stellar evening routine than it does with the baby. Mason sleeps through the night. The glass(es) of wine at the end of the day are something I look forward to, and sometimes we don’t end up eating dinner until after 8PM. I know my sleep is affected by this, and I’m working on it. Technically, I still get eight hours, and every night I’m in bed before 10PM. I’ll pat myself on the back for that. If I was to hack this area further, I would swap wine for seltzer and finish dinner before 7PM. I’ll keep you posted. Everyone needs a vice.
Nutrition. The way that I eat is always evolving, but the foundation of real food stays the same. I’m always tuning in, editing as I receive more information. After doing an extensive food intolerance test (i.e. more information), I realized I might have been consuming foods on a daily basis that weren’t serving me. As I explain in my Beauty of Blood Sugar Balance course, food sensitivities and intolerances add to inflammation and negatively impact digestion, metabolism, and immunity. I have tried to increase my nutritional variety (the meal delivery services I use help with this!) and practice portion control to feel lighter and more energized after eating, which is how we are supposed to feel. Eat to satiety, not lethargy. I’ve also been craving (pun intended) a “back to basics” with my meals. Gratisfied products have me covered when it comes to breakfast and snacks. Green Chef is great for dinner because it takes the guess work out of it for me. I choose the “paleo” and/or “keto” options for plant-forward meals that include a little bit of animal protein (which I need). Lunch also looks the same most days: I keep a rotisserie chicken on hand to throw on salads or in a wrap. I vary the vegetables, and leafy greens always make an appearance. The less I stress about food, the better!