Saturday, November 5, 2016

How do you find your identity after extreme weight loss?

Well it's been a hard month. I hit my major goal of being half my size, I ran 10 miles for the first time, and I have struggled mentally the entire time.

I quit my Whole130 a few days ago on day 112. I went 112 days eating Whole30 compliant - why didn't I go the last few weeks? I felt like in that moment I needed to make a decision that was sustainable and not restrict myself to just being Whole30. I am trying to make a transition of sorts to a place where I have freedom to just live my life. I don't want food guilt, but I have it.

This month Melissa Hartwig released her new book Food Freedom Forever and this is where I am headed- to a place where I can live my life without the guilt and anxiety.

Part of the book talks about a growth mind-set.

"If you have long considered yourself unhealthy - it you've been overweight, sedentary, sick, or hooked on junk food for most of your life - a fixed mindset will tell you that you'll always be an unhealthy person. Even if you do lose the weight or change your deit, your Debbie Downer brain will keep reminding you that you're not REALLY healthy, because you're stuck with the health status you assigned yourself years ago."

YES - so much this. This is where I am. I have to get out of this mind-set and move onto GROWTH.

Melissa goes on to say:

"The best thing you can do is to adopt a growth mind-set and believe traits are malleable; able to develop and improve with commitment and effort. Instead of labeling your behaviors as healthy, committed, or motivated, label YOURSELF as those things."

I think the longer I continued my strict Whole30 the more I felt like I was punishing myself around food. The "I can't eat that" statement just started to wear on me. I know certain things affect my body poorly (gluten and dairy are not my friends) but what about that delicious maca cacao coffee that has a little coconut sugar and monk fruit? It is paleo and yummy and if I want it why can't I have it? I felt like I was at the point where if I was really gonna embrace food freedom I needed to exercise it and have something non compliant. So I stepped off the Whole30 reset and let myself enjoy it.

I have to figure out a sustainable life plan but it is really hard to shift to that place. When I started I had this huge freaking mountain to climb and at the beginning the climb was scary but I had this place to work towards and so in that since it was attainable. I worked really hard to lose 140 pounds and say "I am half my size!" - so now what? I still have my half marathon goals and I am working hard to get faster and run farther. I am working hard to get stronger and have been weight lifting for awhile  and I am starting to actually have visible muscles. These are all things I am very proud of, but inside my brain I am still the fat girl. I am still scared of food. I am still scared that I will binge off a cliff and gain it all back. I am still scared that I will stop running and go back to lazy habits. I have become a healthy fit person but I am terrified about how to sustain it. I finally arrived and now I don't know what to do. I am struggling with my own identity and that is a by-product of extreme weight loss I didn't expect. You work so incredibly hard to get to the top of this mountain and now you are at the top but guess what? You can never stop climbing! All the hard work - it never stops. You don't just arrive and get to live your life - this IS your life. How do I embrace this? I am also left with the baggage of lose skin that makes me incredibly uncomfortable in my new body.  Yes I wear a size 6 and a small and can see my rib and hip bones, but I also have giant bat wing arms, weird deflated balloon thighs, and stomach skin rolls. I need to be nice to my body and focus on the positive things but for some reason lately all I can do is focus on the negative. Mental plateaus and roadblocks are a part of this process and I have definitely come to a big one. I will persevere and come out stronger. I have shown myself I can and will.

Some advice I got from someone else who has lost over hundred pounds going whole30/paleo (my IG buddy @paleobailey) is to look at how far you have come and remember how healthy, strong, and amazing you are now. So for now I will focus on the progress and not perfection and continue to work towards a growth mind-set.


  1. You know, Johanna, several (and I do mean SEVERAL) years ago, I got down to a size I absolutely loved, and I was so proud of myself, and all it took was ONE person telling me "you're too skinny now", and I felt like a failure. That led me back to being overweight, unhealthy, and mad at myself for going "back there". The moral, and my advice - love yourself. Do not let your self-worth be defined by batwings or what someone else says, or even the scale. Just look at yourself, every morning, in the mirror, and say "Hello, beautiful!" - because that is what you are: beautiful. You CAN live your life, Whole30 non-compliant, but healthy. Look at it as a new goal - LIVING, without guilt, but with healthy choices, and finding the balance for a new "normal". I love you!

  2. I am so glad Mandy Jameson told me about your blog!! Having just met you a few months ago, I never would have known that you used to be overweight. Moving like I have, most people don't know my history and that I myself used to be obese. When I freak out about gaining weight some people think I'm a skinny person who is being vain. I have currently gained about 15 pounds back since reaching my goal weight and I am determined not only to not let it get any worse, but to get back to my goal!! I didn't work that hard to ruin it.