I teach an Adult Basic Education (ABE) class. The students who come to me plan on obtaining their high school equivalency diploma, AKA the GED. When they come to my class, their reading level is quite low and my job is to provide a foundation in reading skills. As adults, these skills don’t always come easily or quickly and it can be discouraging. However, I remind them often that they are all making small but necessary steps that will eventually get them to where they want to be.They are like a rosebush. Each flower on the bush has its own unique timetable in blooming – we can’t hurry it along. All we can do is nurture it and then slowly watch it unfold.
For months now I have been working out regularly. Since the end of October, I have also been watching my food intake and eating pretty darn healthy. Guess what? I haven’t lost one single pound. I feel like my students – trying..trying..trying..and not getting anywhere.
But that isn’t exactly true. Like my students, I am making progress, even if it is sometimes challenging to see. I needed to start practicing what I preach and throw out the goal of a certain weight I wanted to achieve by a unrealistic date and instead focus on all the small changes my body is making that a scale will never show me.
Nature always has a way of teaching me lessons. I started thinking of my weight-loss journey as three seasons of a tree.
Spring: Just like little buds start to pop up slowly and almost unnoticed on a tree, the weight started piling on with a few pounds here and there. When I look back over the years of weight gain, several things happened: new medications, my dad died, my in-laws died, perimenopause, crazy work hours, teenagers, poor food choices, etc, etc.
Summer: The leaves on a tree are full just as my body is with the weight. In the summer, the leaves hang on tightly to the tree limbs and are difficult to shake. My weight has been the same. Despite trying different things, it seems like it is holding on for dear life.
Fall: Without even noticing it, the leaves slowly start to change color and fall off. This is where my weight is now. The scale isn’t showing changes, but they are there and when I focus on these small, and at first glance almost unnoticeable changes, my goals change from a number on the scale to things that make me feel accomplished:
- Flexibility: when I first took up working out again, my body was unstable and inflexible. That is changing day by day.
- Control: it feels good to go to bed feeling I had control over what I ate or didn’t eat. I am less bloated, my face is less puffy. As I walk around during the day, I feel more control over my physical and emotional body.
- Strength: early work-outs included me saying, “You can do this.” Now, I say, “I am doing this.” I feel my body getting stronger and even though the scale isn’t budging, the amount of weight I use in my workouts is.
- Comfort: when I don’t exercise and don’t watch what I eat, I don’t feel comfortable walking around, sitting, or even sleeping. That is changing – my bra is loser, my pants fit more comfortably, and I feel more secure in my own skin.
- Health: living with an autoimmune disease, I know that my organs are constantly under attack. It is my job to treat each and every one of them the best that I can. At the end of the day, I feel proud of myself for the care I am giving my body.
I like thinking of my body as a beautiful tree constantly changing rather than a number on the scale. Each stage has its own uniqueness and it is my responsibility to encourage and tend to those changes in a positive loving way. Perspective is so important.