A few weeks ago, while reorganizing my closet for fall, I tried on my favorite winter mini skirt from last year. And it fit looser than I remembered–which is one of those magical unexpected moments in life, like first kisses. 🙂 Without putting any effort or thinking about it, I’ve lost some weight over the last year. I don’t know how much since I don’t weigh or measure myself, and I’ve been wearing the same size for the past five years or so. No one has commented on it except my boyfriend and his mom and I doubt anyone besides me pays that much attention. But there is a big difference between forcing yourself into your jeans because it’s the size you’ve always worn–and by god, you refuse to wear wide-leg pants (or flats) to office on a Monday–and slipping into your skinnies and feeling great, which is where I’m at now.
I haven’t changed my eating habits, and if anything I’ve become even more laissez-faire with food. I think that the biggest change that happened over the past year that brought about this is quitting my job to do Peaceful Dumpling full-time. I was going through some old photos to see how my weight has fluctuated, and found these few pictures from April 2013 when I was at my heaviest point since college.
These pictures, both from our friends’ wedding in Hong Kong, brought back a lot of the memories of that time. That spring was one of the most stressful times I’ve ever gone through in my life. I’d discovered an author who had never been published in English before, and was spending all my own time to work with him on the manuscript and lobbying my ass off to acquire the book. So even flying out to Hong Kong, I was feeling edgy and stressed out of my mind about being absent during the negotiations. Then the following month, while I was attending my sister’s wedding in California, the editor-in-chief passed on the project. In other words, I had worked my butt off for a passion project that was conveniently killed while I was away for a week. The author, who was extremely committed and trusting of me as a person/editor, couldn’t believe what had happened. And I felt so down about it all–for letting him down, and for myself. (The book eventually was bought by one of our competitors and far exceeded sales numbers that I would have needed).
That’s just the broad outlining of what happened, with the benefit of hindsight, but at that time all I could know was how deeply unhappy I felt. I didn’t feel appreciated for the insane amount of work I was doing. I literally lost my appetite at work and would eat almost the entire day’s worth of food after coming home. I did my best to workout regularly, just as I’d always done no matter what; but even during my runs I was thinking obsessively about work, manuscripts, and office politics. Because I didn’t feel appreciated in other ways, my body also felt unappreciated, and it manifested exactly the kind of internal state I was in: exhausted, unbalanced, frustrated, and heavy. Before Hong Kong, I was determined to shed a few pounds so I look good in the floor-length navy dress bought specially for the wedding, but nothing changed. If anything, I ate way too much hotel brunch over the course of the week and ended up barely zipping into the dress on that day.
When I quit and started working on PD full-time in February of this year, I was still in that unhappy stage physically, though I wasn’t even aware of it at the time. I began exercising more immediately, but I think the most significant difference was my happiness. It’s not that I’m free from stress–I still stress about work at least 6 days a week, from waking to falling asleep. And in general I work 10-12 hour days–less than some people I know, but still not little. It’s more that I feel appreciated for my hard work in life, which makes everything seem worthwhile and even enjoyable. These are the discoveries I’ve made:
1. If you’re happy, your body will look and feel happy, whatever that means for you. If you feel appreciated, your body will feel appreciated…which leads to your body feeling its best.
2. This doesn’t mean that if you’re going through a difficult phase, you’ve been wasting your time / not managing your body well / not soul searching enough. We are where we are supposed to be, and no time is ever lost in your life. (This is very important for me to remember, personally).
3. Some months, weeks, or days you’ll be rounder, softer, heavier, and have zero energy, and other times you’ll be leaner, incredibly athletic, and look awesome in a sleeveless dress. Love yourself both ways and every shade in between–because really, you’re still the same person.
4. It’s equally fine to wear drape-y things if you feel a bit like hiding, or showing off with a mini body con dress if you feel like a lean mean machine. I don’t agree with this whole vendetta against using your clothes strategically. Here are some things I’ve seen on Pinterest: “Work it out so you don’t have to suck it in,” “fat girls look good in clothes, skinny girls look good naked”–I mean, yikes, give a girl a break!! We work hard at our jobs, cook amazing food and take care of our loved ones while nurturing other interests and being a good friend / sister, and still get called out if we don’t have the confidence of a lingerie model. I sure as heck will wear layers if I feel like hiding anything that day or that week. And no shame.
5. Losing and gaining weight happens too often in life to worry about. This doesn’t mean that I think you should just completely let go of any planning in terms of diet and exercise, of course, but it’s so much easier/less stressful to just make healthy living a part of your deal and worry about your happiness in other ways that doesn’t require a scale or a measuring tape.
Have you ever noticed a connection between your happiness and “happy weight”?
Photo: Peaceful Dumpling