Spryliving.com editor Lisa Delaney is one of the rare souls who know what it’s like to be an “after.” This journalist and author of Secrets of a Former Fat Girl shed 70 pounds—and six dress sizes—and has kept it off for 20 years.
DEAR FFG: I have been petite my whole life. But in the past two years my life was turned upside down and I didn't take care of myself. It seemed like the weight hit me all in one day. I am 25 pounds overweight, and on my 5-foot frame, it has made a clear difference. I feel like I’ve lost myself. My family and others treat me like I'm a whole different person. All I think about is my weight. I feel like if I don't slim back down to what I thought was normal, then I won't be happy. Help! —Brandi
DEAR BRANDI: Sometimes I think it’s harder for women who have never struggled with their weight to deal with the extra pounds. I’ve often talked to women like you who say the weight just “snuck up” on them. That’s a completely foreign notion to women (like I once was) who have those “am I fat?” moments several times a day. It’s a real revelation to find out just how focused the people around you can be on your weight and what you’re eating, something that can breed such resentment that it makes it difficult to stick to a healthy plan. What you need right now, though, is some perspective. No—the weight didn’t “hit” you overnight. Even you acknowledge that you hadn’t been taking care of yourself for two years. As difficult as it is, you need to give yourself time to lose the weight again. You also hint that you’ve had a major trauma of some kind in the past two years. Chances are, your unhappiness isn’t just about your weight. I don’t know what you’ve been through, but I suspect that you haven’t completely dealt with it. Those 25 pounds aren’t just a hunk of adipose tissue: They may be the real, concrete baggage from a failed relationship, a death, a bankruptcy, an abusive experience—whatever it is that got you off track in the first place. In that way, yes—your happiness and your weight are inextricably linked. But you won’t be able to achieve happiness through cardio workouts and a get-slim-quick diet. You have to address whatever turned your life “upside down” as you reclaim the healthy habits you put on the back burner. That might mean counseling, confrontation, meditation—or some combination of the three. Make a commitment—now—to attacking the root issue instead of trying to diet your way to happiness.