. you won’t find happiness in a smaller pair of jeans .

by Amanda @ .running with spoons. on May 20, 2013

Let’s talk about people. Or, more specifically, people’s weight.

When you meet someone, what’s the first thought that pops into your head? There are probably a good handful of them, but I’m willing to bet with a reasonable amount of certainty that none of them are along the lines of: “Ahhh, now there’s a nice 145 [lbs],” or “she’s a size 6 I’d like to be friends with,” and if they are, well then… you’re kind of a jerk. And your estimations are probably way off. Sorry, just being honest…

Hopefully, and more than likely, you’re thinking something along the lines of how sweet or how kind the other person is. How funny. How smart. How fun to be around. Or maybe they’re the complete opposite, and while unfortunate, that still doesn’t change the fact that you’re not thinking about the other person’s numbers, are you? Not how many inches make up their waist or how many calories they ate for lunch. Their shoe size, perhaps? Laughable and unlikely. Why? Because our numbers have nothing to do with who we are. They don’t identify us. They don’t mean anything to anyone. Except us. We allow them to have so much power in our own lives… why?

I came across this quote the other day and I really wanted to share it with you guys in hopes that it’ll hit you like it did me.

Losing Weight

How much of our time do we waste focusing on something that, essentially, doesn’t matter? How much happiness do we [willingly] miss out on by beating ourselves up over a few vanity pounds? How much delicious food do we pass up just to be able to see our abs a little bit more clearly when we’re standing in the bathroom by ourselves? Too much. Far too much. And why? Hoping that we’ll find happiness in the pocket of a smaller pair of jeans? It’s not in there. Believe me, I’ve looked.

Weight and Self Esteem

Let me take you back a few years – back to when I was completely obsessed with numbers. Calories. Macros. Weight. Those things were the center of my life, and everything else got pushed to the side. I’d spend hours planning my meals and workouts, and pass on spending time with friends because I couldn’t fit them in to my carefully crafted schedule. That and I didn’t even want to fit them in. Friends meant I couldn’t eat or work out how I wanted, and that was all that mattered to me at that point.

And what did I have to show for it in the end? I was a whole lot thinner, sure. My pants were way smaller, yup. But was I happier? Not even close. In fact, the irony of it was that the thinner I became, the unhappier I became as well. The more effort I put into looking for happiness in numbers, the more strongly it evaded me. I based my entire life on something that did.not.matter, and slowly lost everything that did. Live and learn.

Just a Number

We spend a lot of time trying to change ourselves, but what if we redirected those efforts into trying to accept ourselves instead? Sure, we may need a slightly bigger pair of pants, but  we may also come to discover that it doesn’t really matter… The happiest people aren’t the ones who are comfortable in a size 0. The happiest people are the ones who are comfortable in their own skins. The problem is that it’s a whole lot easier to lose a few pounds than it is to accept those few pounds, so that’s the route we usually end up taking. Just something to think about.

No questions for today, but I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences concerning weight and happiness.

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{ 97 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Carly @ Snack Therapy May 20, 2013 at 7:52 am

If I say something totally cliche and sappy, will you still be my friend? I hope so. Because I’m gonna.

When I first meet someone, I can see their inner beauty shine through. I can tell if they’re confident, warm, and bright. Those are the things that make me like someone. I rarely judge someone based off of weight/jeans size, other than models in magazines, which sadly, I still do. I try to avoid it, though, so that counts for something!
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2 Tiff @ Love, Sweat, and Beers May 20, 2013 at 7:55 am

Soooo true! I tell ya, gaining weight has been hard for me lately. Don’t get me wrong, it comes on easily enough – it’ the mental aspect. I’m supposed to get bigger, and I’m very happy to do so. However, when you spend most of your life focusing on staying small, it kinda’ hits you funny.
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3 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 20, 2013 at 3:12 pm

I can imagine. I can’t speak from personal experience, but I’ve heard from a lot of women that pregnancy really changed the relationship they had with their bodies in a positive way. And the blessing that comes out of it is more than worth the few pounds :)

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4 Ellie@Fit for the soul May 21, 2013 at 3:53 pm

ahhh yes, I can relate! It’s not always easy to see certain changes in my body, but in the end it’s all good because it’s amazing that it’s the result of giving life to a precious little baby~keep it up and don’t give up, Tiff!
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5 Charlotte @ Commitness to Fitness May 20, 2013 at 7:57 am

Girl this is one beautiful post. I’ve often looked back on my life and thought to myself if I dedicated the kind of time, energy, obsessiveness to ANYTHING else besides weight in high school and my early twenties, i could have been a physicist or an astronaut or, you know, something successful in a field of study that gets you farther in life than counting every calorie. All I learned from those 10 years is when i’m at my thinnest, life sucks. life is about balance, not extremes. i used to get my “confidence” knowing i was the thinnest in the room. yup, that sentence used to make sense to me. now, i just, i cant believe i ever thought that way.
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6 Amanda @runtothefinish May 20, 2013 at 8:05 am

very well said!! I definitely spent too many years when I was younger worrying about the number on scale, it’s unfortunately something I learned at home and it makes me really sad to see how much joy it still takes from my mother. It’s a hard mindset to change, but once you are free of it…oh my the world is just brighter!! Sharing this with everyone today!
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7 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 20, 2013 at 3:15 pm

Thank you, Amanda :)

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8 Rachel @ Undercover Diva: A Sitcom May 20, 2013 at 8:09 am

I am REALLY struggling with not weighing myself this month. It was one of my goals for the month of May to not weigh myself, but I can’t say that I haven’t been thinking about the scale and that I haven’t been thinking “When June 1 comes around, I’ll weigh myself.” I’m not sure why I’m so obsessed with the scale. I’m still “thin”, I still fit in my clothes, and I’m happy and confident in my skin. Because of this, it doesn’t make sense to me why I’m obsessing over not having the scale. I love to eat, I love to run, and I love to be happy. I don’t know if I have this subconscious pressure on me to stay thin? I have a lot of friends and family who look up to me and admire my healthy lifestyle, and I think there just might be a lot of pressure that rides on that that I have to maintain the image that I’ve created in their minds. I’m definitely healthy and do not restrict myself, but I can’t say that weight/body image doesn’t cross my mind at least once a day.
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9 Annie @ my fuel and fitness diaries May 20, 2013 at 8:10 am

Girl, I hear ya on this. But sometimes I feel like I just cant freaking win. I lost 20 pounds when getting my PhD (on purpose, not because of stress although there was plenty of that) but put about 10 back on this year in my first year teaching. So I can say I am able to go out and have more fun with my friends, but now Im constantly thinking about how my butt jiggles more. Ugh. And sometimes I cant decide which is worse…but hopefully over time I will figure out the weight that I can maintain with the least amount of stress in terms of what I am eating and how I feel. Im so proud of you for getting there already!
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10 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 20, 2013 at 3:20 pm

It definitely takes time, and it’s not 100% foolproof – I still have my days – but it’s nice to be able to realize that those days pass and not get too affected by them. You’ll get there, girl! Be patient and forgiving with yourself.

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11 Carrie H May 20, 2013 at 8:11 am

Thank you for this post. I struggle daily with worrying about gaining that pound or two and have always let the scale be my happiness indicator. I’ve been trying to only weight myself once a week and it’s hard!!
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12 Ashley @ OurPersonalRecords May 20, 2013 at 8:14 am

I’ve never thought about these things in this way. I continually struggle with body image and it’s nice to have a new perspective suggesting that our relationships are not based on these things, even though my rational self knows this. And really, what’s more important than the relationships we build? Aside from being healthy, nothing is more important. Thank you for sharing!
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13 dixya@food, pleasure, and health May 20, 2013 at 8:20 am

could not agree more – there is a very very very fine line between finding happiness in numbers vs. being obsessed with numbers. Recently I have been trying to shed few pounds and I tried myfitness pal and first couple weeks were trying to fit between the numbers but now I have in tuned my body and I am happy with whatever number it is because even though I did not lose much weight I am eating better and exercising more regularly :)
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14 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 20, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Being healthy is really the most important thing :)

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15 Sarah @PickyRunner May 20, 2013 at 8:30 am

Another refreshing post. I love your insight into these topics- they’re all the things I wish I could put into words but I just don’t know how. I remember loving being a smaller size. I actually felt pretty good about the way I looked, I was proud of the fact that I could wear jeans from middle school. But the thing is, it wasn’t healthy. I wasn’t happy. I’m more social now (sometimes). Being obsessed with the numbers and the calories is not worth wearing a size that’s meant for a child, not a 21-year old girl. I don’t weigh myself and I can’t remember the last time I counted calories. Clothes are the only indicator of size that I have anymore, and I choose to focus on the number of minutes I’m spending with friends and family over how small of a number I can fit myself into.
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16 Melissa May 20, 2013 at 8:33 am

Great post, I completely agree, but I will admit, I get caught up in numbers.
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17 Laura @ beanstalk May 20, 2013 at 8:35 am

I agree – people shouldn’t be hypercritical of themselves and their numbers. It is just a number. With that said, it’s important to be a healthy weight… not underweight and not overweight. We need to respect our bodies, be active & fuel them with nutrient rich foods so that we can live long, healthy lives.

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18 Khushboo May 20, 2013 at 8:36 am

A-freakin’-men! There is more to life than those last few lbs…at the end of the day, you’re not going to remember those salads you meticulously made and workouts you ticked off! Nope, you’re going to remember the times you shared with loved ones and memories created! This is the best sentence I’ve read all day, Amanda: “The happiest people aren’t the ones who are comfortable in a size 0. The happiest people are the ones who are comfortable in their own skins.”! Happiness should come from within, not from some electronic piece of machinery or a clothing label…and if it does, that’s kinda shallow!
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19 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 20, 2013 at 5:30 pm

I dunno, girl… some of the salads that I’ve made have been pretty epic ;) But I completely agree – it’s all about the moments, and I’d rather mine be filled with happiness than bad memories of saying no to delicious food.

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20 Alex @ therunwithin May 20, 2013 at 8:50 am

Hm, it is like you read my mind. What I needed to hear this morning. It is something I know but it is not something I have yet to internalize and fully embrace. Acceptance is still so tough.
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21 Ashley @ Life and Fitness May 20, 2013 at 8:51 am

Sometimes I think reading blogs affects the way I feel about myself. Some bloggers eat clean 24/7 and never cheat. Their life, workouts, and their bodies look perfect. But it’s unrealistic to look up to those insane standards. I’m sure their life is far from perfect since perfection doesn’t exist. I don’t read those blogs anymore because I don’t like comparing myself to them. I’m happy doing what works for me and if that means eating a piece of chocolate, then I will do it :)
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22 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 20, 2013 at 5:33 pm

The one quote that comes to mind is: “Don’t compare your behind-the-scenes to someone else’s highlight reel.” Remember that you never see everything on blogs – only the good stuff.

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23 Ashley @ Eat Run Live Happy May 20, 2013 at 8:52 am

Very true. I look back at how much smaller I was at one time and I don’t think, “oh I looked so good.” I think, “Oh wow, I remember how miserable I was. I remember how weak I felt. I remember how depressed I was.” Most of the time I suffered from a ED I was actually over weight but that doesn’t matter. It’s amazing how truly “FREE” you feel once you throw all that out the window, once your life isn’t just calories and worrying. You can actually have good times, have dreams and put them into motion, you can look at how beautiful life and everyone in it really is. It really is a feeling that you want to scream at the top of a mountain. That you’re HAPPY, FREE, and LIVING! That’s the only way I can explain it.

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24 Kate May 20, 2013 at 9:05 am

Beautifully written as usual, Amanda! If we put even half the effort into embracing and loving ourselves for who we are rather than trying to fit into a mold that ISN’T YOU, life is so much more worthwhile. Life shouldn’t be about abusing ourselves with food or exercise or deprecating thoughts. And life throws enough curveballs at us already – no need to pelt em at ourselves for no good reason! Thank you for the reminder.

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25 Heather @fitncookies May 20, 2013 at 9:10 am

This was so empowering. I have been having a lot of negative thoughts lately about my size and why can’t I just lose weight, etc. This really hit it in the head when that isn’t our calling. Spending time doing that will make me miss out on other important things. I don’t look at others and try to guess their size, or weight, or anything like that. I look at them and listen to them for what they are and what they are saying! I’m hoping people do that to me, too. We are our own worst critic, afterall. It’s sad to think that, but it’s true.
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26 Maddy May 20, 2013 at 9:13 am

Great post. The best (and hardest) thing that I’ve done was stopping correlating my happiness with how skinny I am. It’s a false relation, but still one that was very present in my mind and hard to get rid of.
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27 Chelsea May 20, 2013 at 9:19 am

Amen, girl. I really love that quote, actually, because it made me think about that phrase “exquisitely happy” and, instead of fostering all that self-abuse the comes with the number obsession, what kind of activities could I engage in instead to foster that sense of being “exquisitely happy” and what exactly that means to me…hmmm…very interesting thoughts for a Monday!
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28 Caitlin May 20, 2013 at 9:22 am

I found the same to be true for myself girl. The smaller I became the unhappier i was, I’ve really started to notice over the past few months as I began to put on and keep the weight I should have a long time ago that i am so much happier these days AND able to do things i never thought possible. Sure, I still have my days where things are rough mentally, but i’m able to push through those knowing that it will get better and I have a lot more confidence in myself and my abilities than ever before. Life is a lot better when I’m eating what i want without worrying about it, and I plan to continue to remember that and act on it!
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29 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 20, 2013 at 5:35 pm

I’ve definitely noticed those changes in you, girl, and I couldn’t be happier for you <3

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30 Caitlin May 20, 2013 at 5:40 pm

you just made my day with that, love :)
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31 Lauren May 20, 2013 at 9:32 am

I am completely drawn to people who are laid back and smile. People with smiles are the people I love to be around and hang it with during the day. It sounds weird but I love having a person with me who makes me WANT to smile because his/her smile is contagious. Maybe it’s my obsession with teeth or maybe it’s just the fact inner confidence/beauty is the ultimate first impression.

I’ve lost myself so much over the years. I remember the high school days where people would love to be around me and would say nice things about me. Of course, some people didn’t like me but the majority of people did because I was a HAPPY person. Then, about 70 lbs later… I’m alone, broken (literally), and so just…. gone. I love food but when food became my enemy… Things just… changed a lot. And what the hell? Why is food the “bad guy”? It just is so much of a mind game. Looking back, my best times were about 20 pounds heavier than I am now.
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32 Sam @ Better With Sprinkles May 20, 2013 at 9:39 am

So I want to print off a million copies of that first image, frame a copy for myself and hand it out to every female (and male) that I know. Honestly, I believe that every moment I spend worrying about my body/weight/measurements in my ED, in recovery, and in the fleeting thoughts of a recovered lady are a waste of space in my mind. It’s sad to think of what I could have done with all the time in my life I’ve spent worrying about my weight.

Because that’s what it comes down to, isn’t it? The people that love us don’t love us for the size we are or how we eat…it’s all about personality and who we are as a person. Sure, I’ve been skinnier in my life and I could be smaller now, if I really wanted to be. But there are so many more important things I’d rather focus on. Having fun with friends instead of worrying about how many calories I’m consuming in our drinks/late night food run. Cuddling with the boyfriend instead of rushing off to the gym. In the end, Eric, my parents, my family, my friends…they all love me for who I am, not what size pants I wear. And frankly, the time period when I was at my skinniest was the saddest part in my life. I would never consider myself to have been suicidal at the time, but I plain did.not.care. what happened to me. Now that I focus on so much more than my body and the food I eat, I can honestly say that I love life and what happens in it…something that would have been a complete lie 3-4 years ago. Society and the media tries to push the idea that skinnier you are, the happier you will be…and it’s complete bullshit.
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33 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 20, 2013 at 5:57 pm

I think about that too, sometimes. It’s like yes… I could be skinnier… but is it really worth everything that I’d have to give up? Having to watch everything I eat. Having to follow a rigorous workout schedule. I mean, I know there are a lot of people that do it and claim to love it, but it’s just not for me. There are way too many other things I’d rather do… and eat ;)

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34 Lisa May 20, 2013 at 9:58 am

This is such a fantastic post! My answer may be a bit wonky because I’m on painkillers ;) but I’ll do my best.
It’s so so sad all the moments, minutes, days, and even weeks I spend over worrying how much weight I gained or how “fat” I was especially during the days of early recovery. Well, even all the minutes before recovery when I still thought I was “fat”. Ick.
It’s so sad what a disease and illness like this can do to us. And it’s so true. Every size smaller I became or pound lighter I was, the more sad I was inside. Being skinny never made me happy like I thought it was “supposed to”. Life is much more than the calories and measurements of food. And abusing our body with improper calorie intake and harsh exercise. It’s about the people we meet, who we are as a person, and the way we treat others. And also making experiences.
Such a great post, per usual.
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35 Beth @ Mangoes and Miles May 20, 2013 at 10:06 am

Ahhh I think you said it perfectly! I do think taking into account our weight is important in terms of the obesity epidemic we’re facing today, but I don’t think that it should be taken so far as to become unhealthy. I completely understand when you say that calories were the #1 thing in your life–I’ve skipped so many opportunities to hang out and just be with friends because I didn’t know the calorie counts of restaurant food.

I also used to weigh myself every single day (sometimes multiple times a day), and let that number define me. I love the fact though that now, I can step on a scale (usually once a week-ish?) just to make sure I haven’t severely gained or lost any weight, and even if the number’s a little higher than it normally is, I don’t beat myself up about it. It is what it is, and the only thing I can do is to nourish and care for my body and let it do the rest!
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36 Sarah @ feeeding the brain and body May 20, 2013 at 10:20 am

Posts like these are always a great reminder about the true pursuit of happiness. Our weight and body is not what we should focus on which is so hard to believe in the culture we live in. I loved reading this post as it was the perfect reminder to let go of the things that hold me back.
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37 Lisa @ Live and Be Awesome May 20, 2013 at 10:30 am

Love this post, and that first quote really resonates with me (though the disordered part of my brain fights against it). I’m a healthy weight. I’m active. I eat relatively well. What does the rest of it matter? Thanks for sharing.
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38 Becky @ Olives n Wine May 20, 2013 at 10:31 am

This is so well-written and perfectly said! We think that everyone judges us or decides that they want to be our friends by how we look which is completely inaccurate!
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39 Danielle @ Clean Food Creative Fitness May 20, 2013 at 10:32 am

I love this! The title alone got me excited to read it. This was a huge concept for me to grasp when I was recovering. For a very long time it was all about my size and my weight. Once I was able to get past all those numbers I found so much more happiness.
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40 Missy May 20, 2013 at 10:45 am

Gosh, ALL I have ever wanted is to feel comfortable in my own skin.
Thick or thin. Fat or skinny.
Numbers be damned.
I feel like I have nerve damage or something because I am LITERALLY uncomfortable…. but you know what? Kind of like you wrote here…. I am trying to focus on ANYTHING but the discomfort because the fact of the matter is when I am most comfortable in my skin I am so much less comfortable with my level of happiness and health and sanity.
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41 Alyssa @ Road to RD May 20, 2013 at 11:20 am

Boy you said it! I don’t know what else to say other than I completely agree and I couldn’t say any of this better myself.
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42 Hollie May 20, 2013 at 11:35 am

I wrote a post like this a while back. People get so caught up in the exact number and this is just a great post. No one notices whether you have gained or lost a few pounds…it takes time and a lot of time at that. Great post per usual. :-)
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43 Alex @ Cookie Dough Katzen May 20, 2013 at 11:37 am

Gosh, I’ve never thought about weight like this. All the time we spend obsessing over 5 lbs and skinny jeans are just a waste. It really is crazy to think how much more we could do with our lives if we replaced these negative thoughts with positive ones. Good post!
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44 Nicole May 20, 2013 at 11:39 am

“I based my entire life on something that did.not.matter, and slowly lost everything that did. Live and learn.” <–THIS. Yes. And now that we've learned, we are LIVING.

My story reflects that so well. I had graduated from college and moved to the city I always wanted to live in so that I could pursue my dreams, and….. I lost everything. Because I let my ED take control of me more than ever. I had the opportunity of a lifetime, but I chose to count the dismal amount of calories I consumed each day via fruits and salad and took sleeping pills to knock me out by 8pm. In the end, I lost more weight than I ever had but I also had to lose my job and move back home to recover.

As much as I feel awful that I put myself and my family through that whole experience, I'm at least thankful that I did learn from it and am ready to embark on a very similar journey…. except this time, ED is truly not a part of me but a mere memory.

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45 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 20, 2013 at 6:25 pm

I’m definitely thankful for my experience as well, because as difficult as it was to get through, I feel like I’ve come out of it a better and stronger person. Just gotta believe that everything happens for a reason.

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46 Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl May 20, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Thank you for sharing that quote. I can really connect with that :).
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47 Miss Polkadot May 20, 2013 at 1:04 pm

“The happiest people are the ones who are comfortable in their own skins.” -> This is SO true! Actually, for me, I can’t think of a single skinny person I’ve gotten to know who was comfortable with the way she looked like yet quite a few society would call “chubbier” that are. And then obviously a lot who are just “normal”: neither skinny nor overweight. Of course that doesn’t mean I can be sure they never have any negative thoughts about themselves but overall they’re happy. I enjoy being around people who are in tune with themselves the most. Just recently when I met a friend for some ice cream it was such a lot easier to enjoy the food seeing how easy it was for her.
Right now I can’t say I was at a point where my own weight didn’t matter to me anymore. Yet, more often then not I find myself thinking that I’d really rather meet a friend, eat some more and relax than stress about possibly gaining a bit of weight. Happiness isn’t measured in the size of jeans we wear or amount of calories we eat but the experiences we make.
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48 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 20, 2013 at 6:34 pm

I’ve definitely noticed the same thing – generally, the skinnier girls always seem to be the ones who are a lot more insecure, and I’ve watched a lot of documentaries where models admit to being the most insecure of all. Just more proof that the belief that gaining self-esteem by losing weight isn’t all that accurate.

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49 Ari @ The Pace of it All May 20, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Really well said, friend! I think a while back I was bordering on getting a bit obsessed over what I ate and how it was affecting what I looked like and it’s too much. Now I weigh a little bit more and while I’m not thrilled with how I look, it’s not awful. I don’t need to rearrange my life just so I can fit in a workout, I don’t need to turn down every unhealthy food item.

That said, I don’t have to say yes to everything either. Lol, it’s a delicate balance.
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50 lindsay May 20, 2013 at 1:19 pm

You are so wise friend. Sometimes, okay a lot of times, I think God uses our trials to grow us and then use us. Like he is doing here. You encourage others to see the true beauty in their bodies. Not a number. When i weighed less, i worried more and had low self confidence. To be happy in your skin and in our body can do wonders! But boy oh boy we have to give up A LOT of control to get there. AMEN!
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51 Megan @ runningonjava May 20, 2013 at 1:25 pm

This reminded me so much of Ellen DeGeneres’ monologue a couple days ago where she addressed the Abercrombie & Fitch CEO. You’re both so right – and I think it’s something that every one needs to be reminded of…especially here. There is SO SO much more to life.
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52 Molly@This Life Is Sparkling May 20, 2013 at 1:39 pm

I think that quote is perfect. Life is so much more about numbers.
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53 Jess May 20, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Well, I seem to be the only one here who was happier when she was smaller. I always end up being the voice of dissent, but I have to disagree that no-one notices our weight except us. Humans are, by nature, appearance-orientated, and there have been numerous studies which show that first impressions are, by a huge margin, dictated by appearance. Weight is but one facet or aspect of that appearance, but it is significant nonetheless. I do notice if people have lost or gained weight. People with EDs really notice if others have lost or gained weight and that does not make someone a horrible person. We make judgements about others on the basis of looks every day, and anyone who does not must be up for sainthood. Does that mean that weight influences the content of a person’s character or their worth as a friend? Hell, no. But it does make a difference to the way a person is treated, and to pretend otherwise is to live in that world of unicorns and candyfloss that most bloggers are, thankfully, now trying to avoid. The issue is not to live in denial and feign the idea that weight has no role or importance in life – it is to acknowledge its role but to stand up and give the finger to anyone who treats someone badly due to their weight, and to refuse to let said judgements rule our lives. Will I ever be able to do that? Probably not.

Also, I’m afraid I just can’t be told that weight does not matter by someone who is, by cultural standards, both thin and beautiful. You might not be as thin as you were, but you’re still very thin and very pretty. Your body is easier to love than mine. I respect those of the same weight as me, or heavier, or those who are not conventionally beautiful (and no-one sees ‘inner beauty’ first – we don’t walk around with a rainbow aura around us, seriously), who write posts like this one, but it isn’t fair to tell someone who knows first hand the cruelty that being normal weight or overweight can provoke in a thin-is-in world.

Take make-up, for example. You clearly have an interest in that, ergo you take pride in your appearance and you know it has an impact on the way others perceive you. This directly contradicts the idea that looks do not matter. Unless you know what it’s like to be a) fat and b) plain at best, ugly at worst, you can’t present a message such as this one with any integrity.

This response is meant to be neither rude nor snarky, but most bloggers operate on a sliding scale of thin, thinner, thinnest, walking corpse (as photos from Blend demonstrate….) Most of them probably don’t need to worry about their weight because they will never reach more than 110lb anyway.

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54 TJ May 20, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Jess,

Your comment made me think and I felt a need to respond. After having read this post I thought the same thing too…we are judged for our weight, people DO notice our looks. BUT in my opinion, the people who matter, the ones who can look past “conventional beauty” and find your inner beauty are the ones whose opinions matter.

I also thought the same thing you did in regards to Amanda and how pretty she is. I was thinking “but would you have as much confidence and ease saying all these things if you WEREN’T so conventionally gorgeous?”

My thoughts are, maybe she wouldn’t have as much belief in the things she believes now (we should just love ourselves for who we are, not how we look etc.) but even if SHE didn’t feel this way I bet all the people that matter to her, her friends, her family, would still love her just as much. AND I was also thinking, if she had the same amount of confidence at a larger weight or in a different body I bet we as her readers would still find her gorgeous. Honestly, I truly feel like beauty comes from within and shines out to the rest of the world. If you TRULY believe you are beautiful a lot of others will as well (maybe not everyone, but who cares about the insipid shells of human beings that base everything SOLELY on looks? I don’t want them around me anyway).

Beauty fades, it’s inevitable. Those insipid shells of humans I mentioned earlier? They will eventually crack or shatter. My youth and looks (though I am not beautiful by society’s standards…I was overweight, I was tormented like you, I’m probably still judged for other parts of my looks that don’t meet certain standards…it sucks) will fade, but my personality, my soul, all the things I have done and will do won’t…and its those ephemeral aspects of myself that my loved ones will see in me until the day I die and forever more.

I am not arguing with you, I’m just trying to tell you that people CAN and WILL be cruel about looks sometimes but what they are focusing on and what they are judging/teasing you for isn’t your TRUE self, it’s not the imprint you are leaving on the world.

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55 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 20, 2013 at 6:53 pm

The voice of dissent or not, you always write such well thought out comments, Jess, and I thank you for shedding light on a different perspective. I can’t speak from any experience except my own, and while it’s true that I’ve never had to deal with any type of cruelty because of my appearance, I can tell you that not everyone out there is cruel, judgmental, and petty. I don’t mean it to come across as all sunshine and rainbows, but I have to say that even though I notice physical attributes of other people, they honestly never influence what I think of that person. Judging someone based on their weight is as stupid to me as judging someone based on the color of their skin. Yes it happens, but just because some people do it doesn’t mean everyone does.

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56 Lauren May 20, 2013 at 10:06 pm

I understand both points of view to this comment. First of all, I understand that you look at Amanda and see that she is beautiful and thin so you think she doesn’t understand. However, I think in some cases or even most cases a persons perception of reality matters more then reality its self. I might not make any sense but let me explain. From the outside I grew up in a great home and had a good family life. My parents loved and cared for me. I didn’t have an alcoholic mom or an abusive dad. I would say that others may consider me lucky. However, through therapy I have realized that I even though my parents did love and care for me due to complex issues with having a really needy and demanding sibling I didn’t feel that they did. In reality they did, but I didn’t perceive it that way. Thus, I experienced the all of the feelings and emotions that came with that perception. I feel like I am rambling but what I am getting at is that even if by society’s standards you are thin, pretty and smart if you don’t perceive yourself that way you can be the thinnest of them all and the negative feelings, emotions and agony remain because your perception is off. This explains why people can grow up in terrible environments and come out relatively emotionally unscathed while others grow up in a seemingly “perfect” environment and develop emotional trauma. I don’t know for sure but my guess would be that the person who is thin by societies standards yet believes they are fat is able to experience just as many painful emotions as the person who is fat by societies standards and believes they are fat. Maybe I am way off but it is just another perspective.

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57 Sabrina @ Nutritiously Sweet May 20, 2013 at 1:59 pm

Thanks for this post! It took me a while to ignore the scale after I lost weight. I felt like I was over doing it and not really enjoying life/ food as I should have been. Now I feel fit, energized, better and enjoy life and food way more. Even though I’ve gained 20lbs, I feel like I got my life back. I don’t know… perhaps it sounds weird? But I feel it so :)
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58 Hayley May 20, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Beautiful post! I’ve always had a hard time accepting the number staring back at me from the scale. Sadly I don’t think that number could ever be small enough. My solution, I just don’t look. Instead I focus on feeling healthy and strong and ignore the number. It’s not always easy but I prefer to feed my mind, body and soul with uplifting and energizing foods, activities and instead of letting myself get bogged down in negative thoughts about myself just because of a number.
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59 Sophia May 20, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Here, here! Imagine what could be achieved if people stopped calorie and weight watching (obsessing)! If you are remembered for your weight, fitness regime or diet then I don’t think you LIVED enough! I don’t know my weight, or how many calories I consume a day- I just go by the way I feel (a method much older then the numbers game ;) !) I do know my shoe size ;) lol but would never in my life judge a person on such trivial information. I for one am not interested in how a person looks, I am interested in what a person thinks! I am very passionate about world politics, human rights and social justice (my aim is to become a qualified human-rights lawyer) and when you view the larger world so many of life’s trivialities Become quickly Unimportant. Women deserve to feel free and happy in there skin no matter what there weight- live life, have passion and empathy and beauty shines through no matter what “number” you are :) You are beautiful Amanda! Grazie and Love Sophia

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60 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 20, 2013 at 6:57 pm

YOU are beautiful, Sophia, and your comments and e-mails always leave me with a huge smile on my face. It’s so easy to see the passion and kindness in you, and I think you’re going to make such an amazing human rights lawyer.

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61 Sophia May 21, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Grazie Amanda! You have left me gushing with your kind words and confidence- I return it fully and believe you already Achieve great things :) Much love Sophia

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62 Katie @ KatieEnPursuit May 20, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Perfect for a Monday when I’m sure after a weekend of indulgences has many folks contemplating things. I had an interesting discussion a few years ago with a friend, we both acknowledged we had hit our “goal weight”, the weight we always said we wanted to be at, the weight we always thought things would be “perfect at”. Well guess what, the heavens never opened up, nothing magical happened & we sure didn’t feel much different than we had in the past. Numbers are numbers, there are SO many more important things in life! Great post lady!
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63 Rebecca May 20, 2013 at 2:53 pm

This has been the common theme I’ve been reading on multiple blogs today and, let me tell you, it is a message I need to hear. Through all of my struggles, I’ve decided that I don’t want to be smaller. Yeah, it would be nice and all. But if my two choices are being thinner or being HAPPY, I choose happy. I choose to love myself just the way I am. And I will keep reminding myself of that every time that awful voice sneaks up on me to try and make me feel bad because I can’t wear my jeans from last year. WHO CARES?! I’m still me, and me is pretty awesome.

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64 Kate May 20, 2013 at 3:04 pm

yep, the classic ED struggle. Lose everything that really matters in life in favor of your weight/clothing size/workouts/food intake. I’ve been there too, to a smaller extent, and it’s definitely not worth it. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to look a certain way, but when it comes at the expense of your own goals, and your social life? Not okay. There’s too big a focus in this country on weight and size and it’s sad – it’s so INGRAINED! ANd I think it’s important to change that perspective, both on an individual basis and the broader cultural perspective.

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65 Aimée @Cinnamon Castle May 20, 2013 at 3:30 pm

This comes at a perfect time for me. I’m just starting to get too big for my jeans that I wore all throughout my most recent relapse (which was actually 2.5 years ago now!) I’ve held onto these jeans for so long because I knew the next time I would need more is when I had to go up a size. I was actually going to look for some today, so it must be fate!
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66 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 20, 2013 at 7:00 pm

I definitely know how hard those transitional phases can be, but throw those jeans away, girl. We should buy clothes that fit us, not try to make ourselves fit into a certain size of clothes.

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67 Kat May 20, 2013 at 4:16 pm

1st looks do matter to me, because they help me to decide if the person is conceited or not. Does that make sense? Like if you are too concerned with checking your makeup to look me in the eye when you talk or you are texting when I’m telling you a story. Those kind of things. Pant size however? Definitely not an issue. Because I totally agree with the statement that the happiest and most joy filled people Ive ever met aren’t a size 0. They don’t even care about their weight, and yet they have this joy that permeates from their body. That was hard for me to understand for a while. I couldn’t grasp how they could be so joyful when they weren’t thin, but that was all the ED talking!!
Id definitely rather be a quality person who has inner peace and joy shine through than a skinny toothpick who is never happy with herself.
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68 Christina @ the athletarian May 20, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Yes yes yes. I think every time you write a post, I tell you it’s my favourite. Hah!

Thank you for this. You are totally right on all accounts. I never judge any person I meet based on their appearance but rather their energy and the way I connect with them. Heck, I don’t know the weight, shoe size, pant size, etc. of ANY of my friends. And I don’t care! So why do people care so much about their size? I used to. Not so much anymore. Being the smallest I could be was my focus a few years ago but I don’t remember it making me any happier. I had no social life and went to bed so hungry every night. I don’t think that equates to happy. I’m honestly not even that much bigger now but I am WAY more lax with food (I’ve had three drumsticks over the last three days haha) and that makes me happy. I can go out to eat and go to bed satisfied. Food is delicious and stretchy pants are the best invention. I don’t even notice if I get bigger! Baha.

Hope you had a great weekend!
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69 Aimee May 20, 2013 at 5:47 pm

Wow- amazing post Amanda! I totally agree – as I speak from experience. I too remember thinking that if I only lost one or two more pounds then I would be happy – the sad truth – the more weight I lost the more unhappy I became. I lost almost everything – including my life – but somehow I pulled throu and can happily say I’m am recovered. No more counting, no more food obsessions and now finally I can say I’m happy!

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70 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 20, 2013 at 10:24 pm

That’s so great to hear, Aimee! <3

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71 Ja @ Ja on the RUN May 20, 2013 at 5:55 pm

A lot of time, I tend to compare myself with others which is not right. It’s just making me feel bad about myself. I have to learn to be confident of who I am.
Thanks for this post Amanda.
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72 Holly @ EatGreatBEGreat May 20, 2013 at 7:03 pm

This was a really great post and an important one to get out there. I think a lot of times we are caught up in the numbers (I know I am sometimes), but you’re totally right, instead of being obsessed with the number on the scale, you should be comfortable in your own skin. As long as your happy and confident in yourself, that’s all that matters. Life is too short to constantly worry about calories, weight, etc. We only live once, so it’s important to enjoy it.
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73 Elise May 20, 2013 at 7:59 pm

I am always so moved by what you blog. I often find the words you say, so deep and soul-searching and so very meaningful to me. I often read the words you type and just sit and think about how true all your words are. You more often than not always find a way to make me sit and think about my life and current situation, and what I can change (positively) in my life. Thank you for always being an inspiration!
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74 Emily May 20, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Is it weird that this post actually had me in tears?
I spent so many days, months, and years obsessing over my body. I was convinced that being “skinny” would make me happy. I thought that my control over food and exercise proved that I was stronger-willed than those around me. My worth was determined by my outward appearance and how I thought others viewed me. Horrible, simply horrible.
I’ve gained at least 15-20 pounds since I was at my lowest weight (I’m not sure of the exact amount since I stopped weighing myself) but I know it’s quite a bit. Am I fat? Um, no. Not in the slightest. Would it matter if I was? Nope. I’m happier now than I have been in years which is my own personal proof that skinny does NOT equal happy.
It’s so amazing to have someone else that can relate to what I’ve been through and how amazing it is to escape those thoughts. Proud of you, lady. And thank you for another amazing post.
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75 Gloria May 20, 2013 at 8:15 pm

Great post. Thank you :)

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76 Victoria @ Reluctantly Skinny May 20, 2013 at 8:20 pm

there are so many more important things that a number won’t tell us. it’s hard to get to a place where the number on the scale is meaningless, if we check it at all, but it’s so much better to be there. surround yourself with people who love you for you – that’s what’s made all of the difference in the world for me.
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77 Sky @ The Blonde In Black May 20, 2013 at 9:31 pm

This was the perfect post to read for the beginning of this week :) My sister graduated from high school this weekend, so basically I’ve probably eaten an entire cake by now and have not eaten that great this weekend at all. The food was soooo good and I didn’t restrict myself at all, but the whole time I was thinking how I’m going to have to clean up a lot next week! I am one of those who thinks that if my stomach was just flatter, if it didn’t have that little bump after I ate I would be happy. That’s not the truth though. If I finally got that flat stomach I’d find something else to focus on that wasn’t perfect. Thank you for the reminder to do what makes me happy and not to obsess about things no one else cares about. Working out and trying to live healthy does make me happy so I will keep working towards it, but I need to stop being so hard on myself.
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78 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 21, 2013 at 3:43 pm

That’s the thing, isn’t it? No matter what we do, it’s never quite good enough and we always find something new to obsess about. But doing something to make yourself feel happy and healthy is a great approach :)

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79 Albizia May 21, 2013 at 1:42 am

Where is the “Like” button? Yes, I spend too much time on facebook… But I really like this post. No, happiness is not a number. Neither your weight, nor your bank account balance or another pointless thing you can compare to everybody else and feel good only if your numbers are better. We’d better start counting smiles, moments we shared with our loved ones, sights that made us stop and just watch with delight because the world around us is beautiful. Life would be much better if we could focus on the things that actually matter.
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80 Jessie May 21, 2013 at 2:42 am

As much as I love your posts with beautiful pictures of your cereal & yogurt bowl messes, these posts are just so empowering & inspirational, Amanda! You truly do nail it to the T on whichever topic you are discussing. Thank you for just taking the time to continuously write these type of posts & share with them all of us. <3
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81 Meghan @ After the Ivy League May 21, 2013 at 5:20 am

I absolutely love that quote. It’s so incredibly true. That’s the journey I started late last summer/early fall. To stop obsessing over food, weight, and calories, and start focusing on what’s actually important in life. I’m a much happier person for it! And I still look the same. And probably weigh the same (although I don’t weigh myself so who knows really)
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82 Sara @ fitcupcaker May 21, 2013 at 8:20 am

I love the picture of the scale, so true..I really need to throw my scale out!! I hate it lol. I think it consumes to many of our lives and if we could focus on the things that were really important like being kind, smart, and funny we would all appreciate each other more!
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83 Brittany May 21, 2013 at 10:42 am

Sadly everything in this post is so true. I admit to falling victim to this way of life, and it’s awful. I love that quote about directing your view inward and have been striving to live like that lately. I went shopping yesterday for new work clothes and nothing fit right and I got really disheartened and had to realize, this is for work..not for the club (not that I go there haha.) NO one is going to notice my outfit, so I need to stop worrying about it!! I love when I read posts like this RIGHT when I need them! Thank you my beautiful friend! With that said, I’m off to find a cookie.
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84 Ksenija @ Health Ninja May 21, 2013 at 2:19 pm

L.O.V.E. IT!

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85 Michelle @ Mishfish13 May 21, 2013 at 4:10 pm

Yes. This post. I’ve struggled with weight in my past (and still am struggling with it daily) and I’ve come to realize that, although I would feel more comfortable at a lower weight, I’m ok with how I am right at this moment. From my struggle, I realize that I can’t change anything right now—I can cut down daily within reason—but the moment right before entering a large event, party, or whatever, I can’t do anything about it except OWN IT. And so I do :)

Your posts are always awesome and so relevant!
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86 Ashley @ AlmostVegGirlie May 21, 2013 at 5:21 pm

This post comes at such a perfect time for me! I had a routine doctor’s appointment today and I was dreading getting weighed (among other things). I’ve been trying to avoid the scale as much as possible over the last few months after getting obsessive about it last year. I was up a few pounds from the last time I weighed, and it made me a little upset at first, but honestly, I know no one can see the difference but me. One thing that bothers me a lot about the numbers thing is a lot of women say they don’t care about the number on the scale as long as they can still wear the same size. But that still plays into the numbers obsession, and who really cares what size anyone wears? It varies so much from store to store anyway that it really doesn’t say anything about who a person is on the outside, let alone the inside. And weight is such a variable thing too that I don’t think it should be such a focus in eating disorder recovery. My treatment team established a set number that they wanted me to reach as a minimum but I interpreted that as the highest weight I should ever be, which is why I felt disappointment earlier today after seeing that I had slightly surpassed that number. But no one is seeing me any differently and they aren’t judging me based on my weight or size, so why should I care so much?
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87 Amanda @ .running with spoons. May 22, 2013 at 7:21 am

I think that’s one of the hardest things to overcome in recovery – the idea that you can’t go above a certain point. I’ve known a lot of girls (myself included) who have had to go above the weight they were comfortable with for a while in order to heal their bodies, and while it’s definitely not an easy thing to handle, health is really the most important thing. Our bodies have to last us for our whole lives, so it’s a good idea to take care of them now so that we don’t run into problems later on.

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88 Sara @ Nourish and Flourish May 21, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Every sentence of this post resonates with me, and brings back painful memories of the days when my life revolved food, exercise, scales, and food, exercise, and scales. I shut out everyone in my life so that I could work out when I wanted, the way I wanted, for as long as I wanted; I’d be an hour late to a friend’s party, or even worse—wedding—because it conflicted with MY schedule. It actually makes me teary thinking about it now, because even though it pained me to no end that I was hurting my friends and family members, I knew no way out of it.

Exercise and food obsession is clearly far more dangerous amongst girls with eating disorders, but it affects most all women in western societies in some way or another. Every other commercial or social media message is about getting in better shape, losing “10 pounds in two weeks!”, cutting calories, burning calories, etc. etc. It’s nearly impossible–especially in our digital world–to avoid these messages, let alone not let them influence our thoughts and behaviors.

I think the healthy living blog community perpetuates and fights these messages simultaneously, which is so ironic. It seems like the majority of HLBers have either struggled or are struggling with an ED, exercise addiction, etc., and are striving to find “balance” and “moderation” all while “pushing the limits” in the gym or eating clean 100% of the time. The two don’t really match up. I firmly believe that rigid lifestyles never bring joy or happiness. I tried that approach for years, and like you, only found myself miserable.

Beautiful and thought-provoking post, Amanda! Hugs! <3
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89 Sunnie@ModernGirlNutrition May 21, 2013 at 10:21 pm

That self esteem picture of the girl is so sad- but it’s true that so many girls are in this mindset :( I know I’ve struggled with it before, but like you said, a smaller pair of jeans does NOT bring you true happiness! Thanks for sharing girl! :)
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90 Hayley @ Running on Pumpkin May 22, 2013 at 10:12 am

LOVE this. Amen girl.
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91 Brittany @ Delights and Delectables May 22, 2013 at 3:45 pm

This is so beautifully written. YOu have me in tears. It is so true… we women think that if we are a size X or weigh Xlbs that we will feel better about ourselves. It just isn’t true. Oh how I wish that I could sit and chat with you for hours about this!
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92 Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli May 26, 2013 at 12:15 am

Oh my gosh…I swear, you and Kat (Katalyst Health) are trying to kill me tonight! I figured I’d use tonight to catch up on some blog reading since the man-friend is out of town and I’ve had the day to myself and here I am in tears after this post! I just finished reading Kat’s post on this same topic and was already hit hard by some of what she had to say, but then you just had to go and post that quote! Talk about a kick in the chest! I’ve been having SUCH a hard time with my body image lately…and my eating has been totally out of control…it’s really an endless cycle. But as I sit here and think about all the ways I’ve berated myself in the last week for not being “good” and not being “skinny”, now I just feel like an idiot because it DOESN’T matter! It really doesn’t. How many minutes, hours, days, etc have I wasted? How much longer will it go on? When will I find my balance…my happy place? I would NEVER judge another woman based on her size so why do I do it to myself?! Thank you for the reminder that I need to refocus and be more forgiving with myself. Now if only I could start practicing it!
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93 Lillian @ Seize the Latte May 28, 2013 at 9:35 am

I love, love, love this post. It’s so true, and I’m incredibly glad I read it when I did — I needed it this morning. :) Thank you for writing this!
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94 Clare @ Fitting It All In May 28, 2013 at 12:17 pm

INCREDIBLE post and a lesson that I learned (and still work on) all the time.

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95 Kammie @ Sensual Appeal May 28, 2013 at 1:51 pm

You don’t even know how much I can relate to this especially recently. I always tell myself AND OTHERS that the number on the scale is the number ONLY YOU know! No one else! And NO ONE ELSE CARES!

“Friends meant I couldn’t eat or work out how I wanted, and that was all that mattered to me at that point.” – I can relate to this so much. So many of my friendships and relationships have suffered because I was obsessed with my scheduled eating. My workouts. My eats. I couldn’t go out because I had to eat every 3 hours. I made myself hungry even if I wasn’t. I told myself I was. I ate and I ate. I worked out all the time. My self esteem was shit. Now I’m on the road to rebuilding everything and the realization that weight loss IS NOT THE WAY TO GO is the hardest one to realize but the more we believe it, the more we see how TRUE it is. Weight loss is like a drug. It drains us. It keeps us wanting more. We become obsessed with it. And in the end, we still end up the same – with problems that are bigger than the problem we thought our weight was.
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96 Mabelle @ Dance, Love, Dine June 1, 2013 at 3:33 pm

All I have to say is that this is awesome and I cannot wait to post the quote somewhere in my apartment as a reminder that “loosing weight and counting calories is not my life purpose”. Amazing eye opener.
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97 Sadie September 1, 2013 at 7:02 am

This is a great post, but for me, losing weight HAS made me happier. So much happier. And I’m not even to my goal yet!
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