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Give yourself some context

I’ve talked about this idea a few times, but I don’t think it ever hurts to revisit it.

“I could tell you my adventures – beginning from this morning,” Alice said a little timidly; “but it’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”

I love this quote so much, I have it tattooed on my side.

Last week I shared a transformation from 18 to 22 to 30. There are many who haven’t seen photos of me prior to the weight gain I had in college and I think it can be helpful to see more context than just the weight loss. This photo also gives more perspective about what we know to be traditional methods for monitoring progress like weight and size.

At 18, I thought I was fat. I had been told I was. I did what many do in their freshmen year – gain a little weight, but going to college I was a pretty normal size and weight for age and height. It wasn’t until I was morbidly obese that I could actually see that body for what it was.

It also wasn’t until this year – almost 3 years of  maintaining that I could clearly see my obese body for what it was – a security blanket from all the problems I didn’t want to or know how to deal with in a healthy way.

The past few weeks I’ve done a lot of writing for myself, a lot of reading for myself, some more emotional digging and I’m feeling really free.

While it’s a topic that comes up often with clients regardless of their goals, it’s one that is very fresh the past eight days – you can’t want something from the past without looking at it with context. Well, of course you, but it doesn’t do you any good.

So with the post from last week – it’s easy to say I want to be 125 pounds again, but at a weight higher than that now, I’m smaller, stronger and much older. This body has done a lot of things that it didn’t do then like lift and run and eat a variety of foods. This brain knows more now than it did then too, like immediate weight loss is usually just water and it doesn’t last or that our emotional brain can take over if we let it and my emotional brain really likes pizza and cupcakes.

This morning I did my check in for the fashion prep – it’s day 61. I looked at all tools for progress today: weight, measurements, biofeedback, strength, emotional connection, how my clothes are fitting and how my suit is fitting.

First – I’m excited about the progress I can see in my photos and videos. Second – I’m excited about the progress I can feel when I get dressed. Third – I’m most excited about how I’m feeling in the gym related to my energy and strength. I’ve hit new PRs in the gym for deadlifts and squats.

I’ve been lifting since June 2014. I remember box squatting a pre-weighted 30 pounds barbell – that’s far away from the 205 I hit yesterday. From that June to June 2016 a lot had changed. I did increase the weights I was using, I changed up my workouts, I went from macro counting with a clean focus to macro counting with no foods off limits, but still moderating alcohol while in competition prep.

I had skin removal surgery at the end of May 2016 and I learned later that summer that while in recovery I was undereating. I also realized that when I had gotten back to the gym, I was over exercising and still undereating even though the calories were high – I wasn’t really at maintenance.

I fluctuated between 125 and 127 pounds a few weeks after the swelling went down post-surgery. This is the most comparative to a normal body because we know that competitor lean is an extreme.

However, knowing what I know having been removed from that time in my life –  it’s not a realistic body for me because this body has done a lot in three years since then.

I can acknowledge some fat gain because that most definitely did happen, but my natural waist is actually the same exact size now and as it was then. My low waist in the photos from 2016 actually is a little swollen because it was only a few weeks post surgery, but even if the swelling wasn’t there, you can see a slight change in fat distribution in my middle and lower body.

My hips are only an inch bigger now than they were then, but my glutes, hamstrings and quads are fuller and stronger.

My upper back is more full – yes, even without the fat and so are my arms.

Both bodies are great, but looking at context. I know more now than I did then. I lift more now than I did then. I live more balanced now (exercise, nutrition, mental health, work) than I did then.

Other things I need to remember – I’m not on birth control and that plays a role in how our bodies respond to different stimuli.

I know looking at transformation photos can be tough because it does remind us of what we don’t have any more like my deflated glutes…it’s ok, you can laugh – I did. I think more important than looking at the photos at face value, you need to think about their context.

What did the rest of life look like?

How did everything either work together or work against each other?

How have you grown since?

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