Health is not dependent on a number. It’s not the number sewn into your pants. It’s not the number on the scale. It’s about how you feel. Though I am about to drop LOTS of numbers on you, I never thought I was highly concerned with “my number”. I don’t lose sleep. I don’t own a scale at home. I just remember a bunch of numbers. When looking at your own health, I strongly urge you to toss your scale and your notions of “If I am XXX lbs, I can call myself ‘healthy'”.
Growing up, I was ALWAYS skinny. People thought I had an eating disorder. Maybe I did. I didn’t eat breakfast. Ever. I had a Sprite and a bag of Ruffles for lunch. Always. Sometimes, a bag of Skittles for “dessert”. And though I remember family dinners during my early years, they aren’t a mainstay of my teen-year memories. I was always babysitting, going to Youth Group, hanging out with friends, or working at Baskin Robbins. Not a whole lot of time for eating a well-rounded, nutritious and healthy meal! I weighed around 110 lbs.
When I was a young adult, I started working in restaurants. I’d only eat breakfast if I went out for it (about 2-3 times a week) and usually, it was more like brunch because I slept in until 10am. I’d start my shift at work between 4-5:30pm and cram dinner (typically a burger and fries) down my throat before I was on the clock. I weighed around 120 lbs (I’m 5’9″).
Then I met The Hubby. We enjoy each other’s company, so I started to cook. He’s a “breakfast guy, so we’d either go out or we’d make something like french toast and bacon. “Our Dinner” would typically consist of filet mignon (seriously), Pasta Roni, and either a caesar salad or asparagus. I lived by the “protein, starch, veggie” model, and would pretty much have a meltdown if everything on our plate was the same color. The Hubby never understood that.
I went from a size 5-8 (I’d fluctuate greatly) to a solid size 10. I was 150 lbs, but I was happy in my personal life. I felt healthier than I ever had, probably because I was *actually* eating food again! And though I had never been that heavy, I would often say “I think my body is made to be at 150 lbs”, but I wonder if that wasn’t just an excuse to eat high on the hog.
I was 150 lbs when I got pregnant with Big, and I was 175 lbs when I delivered her. My goal, before getting pregnant again, was to be back at pre-pregnancy weight. I was eating well, exercising regularly, and was at 147 lbs when I got pregnant with Middle two years later. I was 180 lbs when I delivered her. Again, my goal was to be back to pre-pregnancy weight before getting pregnant again, and I was hitting the gym HARD. I was down to 143 lbs when I got pregnant for the last time and was 185 lbs when I delivered.
I was a solid Size 12 at Christmas time (I had gotten a pair of skinny jeans as a gift. It’s how I remember), and there was a part of me that resigned myself to being “bigger”. Though my energy was in the dumps, I blamed it on the whole 3-kids thing. I gave away all of my smaller-than-size-10 clothes, because I figured I would never ever fit in them again after having had 3 kids. Ain’t gonna happen. Size 10 was my goal. Size 10 was always my goal. Size 10 was my wedding dress size. Size 10 was my “happy size”.
In March 2012, I cut out liquid cow’s milk, more for financial reasons (we were plowing through milk! 4 gallons a week!!) than for health reasons, but I lost a quick pant-size and 10 lbs! I was in my “happy size”, but my energy was still limited. I was exercising sporadically because of the limited energy, and huffing and puffing, for 6 months, through a single mile on the treadmill. (**sidenote** I know some of you are thinking “I always go further when I’m not on the treadmill”, but I was a weird one. I liked the
ratwheel treadmill. I got hyper-focused instead of having to be on high alert for cars, sketchy people, or pushing a stroller). I saw very little improvement over a number of months. I was frustrated, to say the least, which really isn’t a motivator for me!
And then my journey to health went into high-speed in late September 2012, when the hubby watched Forks Over Knives. Two days later, we cut out all animal protein for health reasons, not for financial, moral, or political reasons. The Hubby said to me “I’m not going to like it, but I really don’t want cancer”.
One month later, in mid-October 2012, I was running 3-4 miles with little effort. It felt like my blood was flowing easier. It felt like my legs were stronger. It felt like I was more clearheaded and that taking care of myself was worth the effort because I felt better, and was therefore, better able to care for my family. I buttoned a size 6 for the first time in a decade. We quit the gym because I had surpassed all of my gym goals with my stroller and determination better than I had with a $114.99/month automatic debit. Because I don’t own a scale, and we not longer belong to the gym, where I would weigh myself, I have no idea how much I eigh. Part of me loves not knowing. Just seeing my toned legs swimming in pants 2 sizes too big, or my belt clicked at the tightest notch tells me I’m doing the right things for my body.
But more than that, I feel good. I feel strong. I feel energized. I feel healthy. Because I am.