I used to think that losing weight would make me happier; that I would finally be okay with people taking my picture. Or, that I’d be looking forward to dressing up and going to social events because any outfit would do. I used to think that cutting calories would add a permanent smile on my face. I did 30-day food cleanses & 21 days of cutting sugar completely. I lost 10 pounds in 1 month and gained 5 in 1 week. Whatever number was on the scale, I was never satisfied. It was never enough. My mood was a reflection of the struggle between the scale, that pair of jeans, the mirror and myself. Then one day, I laid everything out on my bed and decided only to take half…
It’s a precise number; a standard for everyone. If you exceed the limit, you’ll pay the price. No wonder there are thousands and thousands of websites, articles, tips and stories on the subject. We do research, we make up plans & lists, and we talk amongst ourselves: “What worked for you? How did you do it? WOW! 10 KG/3 months, explain…”
Facebook started showing us daily memories: what happened on this day back in 2007, etc. Some memories made me laugh, while some others made me feel slightly embarrassed. Why in the world would I wear that?! Looking back at some pictures, I felt a mix of emotions. I felt nostalgic & happy; I felt whole yet, empty. I looked at this adolescent; she had the biggest grin on her face, surrounded by friends; only to remember how she felt when those pictures were taken. The number on the scale was so low at the time but she was far from being happy. She wasn’t comfortable in her own skin. She hated what she saw in the mirror. Why was she so hard on herself?
Being hard with ourselves…
I’m an open book. My eyes are the windows to my soul. Whomever is curious enough to get to know me has front row tickets to find out what’s going on in that head of mine. But what happens when the stare is blank. When you feel like your soul decided to take a break and leave you be for a little while. There was a time in my life where I felt completely lost. Wandering around without any clue in which direction I was heading. I couldn’t bear to look at myself in the mirror so I put a blanket over it to hide my reflection. The sun would be shining in all its glory outside, but I would close the curtains. I didn’t laugh. I didn’t cry. I would inhale then exhale. I was breathing. I was alive but barely living. I didn’t know who I was, what I wanted nor where I was going. I was wandering aimlessly.
The ironic thing is that in order to find myself, I had to get lost.
I felt like I had the weight of the world pressing down on my shoulders, on my chest and on my back. A constant pressure pushing on my heart and too many negative thoughts filling up my head made me feel so heavy. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we carry around all of this excessive baggage? The path ahead of us already has its ups and downs. It has difficult stretches just as it has its easy ones. That will never change, it’s life! But when we have the weight of the world pressing down on us, we’re not doing ourselves a favor. The “supposedly” easy parts of the path become excruciating. We make it through because we were taught never to quit…but at what price? All we can think about is giving up. Head down, moving slowly we’re not even appreciating the beauty that surrounds us. All we can think about is reaching the next pit stop. We’re trying to get to the final destination without even enjoying the journey. What a waste!
In 2011 I got lost in the streets of Barcelona. I felt as light as air. It was 2 months of happiness in its purest form. However, upon my return, that weight on my shoulders, in my head and on my heart could be felt again. It wasn’t as heavy as before, but it was still there. It was always there.
In 2013, I got lost while traveling from Ireland to Spain. Once again, light as air. I was floating. And all of a sudden, that feeling faded away. I had my return ticket in hand and I started feeling anxious. Lump in my throat and heartache, I was scared. Scared of falling; dropping right back down to reality. I was scared of facing that sheet on my mirror….
They say that in order to vanquish your fears, you must face them. And so, with both hands, I slowly removed the blanket from the mirror. I saw a young woman, with blue eyes and skin sun kissed by the rays of the sun. Most importantly, I saw a young woman smiling, from ear to ear. I was face to face with myself.
Then, I decided to empty out my backpack. I went through all of the baggage and tidied up my life. Little by little, that weight on my shoulders started decreasing.
”Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves” -Henry David Thoreau
In 2016, I got lost in the hillsides of Laos. I got lost in the chaos of Bangkok and on the shores of the islands in Cambodia. 23 kg is usually the maximum weight allowed for our baggages. Previously, I surpassed the limit and I would pay the price. But with time, with the experiences I went through and the life lessons learnt, I started carrying only the bare minimum. The rest is excess; unnecessary to my survival. My bag doesn’t weigh much – I’m far from the limit. I still have room in my bag for so much more but I’m okay with this weight. I might add more later on in life as some things might become necessities. Or I might remove certain items as they won’t be needed anymore. Life changes. We change. The content of our baggage changes with us.
Losing weight doesn’t happen at the snap of a finger. It takes time, patience but above all perseverance. That’s how I lost weight. Weight I carried on my shoulders. Weight I had on my heart and on my chest. Weight in my head.
That’s my story, at least, a part of…