Progress Is Not Linear

Progress is not linear. I need to be reminded of this often. It’s ok to have a bad day. It’s ok to have a bad week. Hell, it’s ok to have a bad several months. Diet culture tells us that when we mess up and break our diet, or workout plan, we have failed. We have to start over. We should feel guilty, and shameful. Diet culture tells us that if we aren’t losing weight, or making progress in the gym, we aren’t doing it right. These lies have crowded my mind for years. They have become my truth. In the midst of a challenging season, I truly believed that I was worthless because I wasn’t hitting my macros or working out. I believed that I had ruined all of my progress, because I had let myself slip. Every time I ate something that didn’t quite fit, and every day that I didn’t workout, I let myself feel shame for not living up to the standards of diet culture.

I completed my very first Whole30 in 2015, and this is really what kick-started my journey towards health. I learned so much about my body, and how to truly take care of it. For the first time, probably in my whole life, I saw my priorities shift from just wanting to lose weight to actually being healthy. Later that year, I joined CrossFit. Besides being on the swim team in high school, I had never really been athletic. But CrossFit is a great place for people like me.  I found that every workout can be scaled and altered to fit each person’s unique skills and needs. I found an amazing community, and continued learning about my body and how to fuel it. However, despite all of the new knowledge, the lies of being skinny were never far away. No matter how much progress I made, or how much weight I lost, I still had this nagging feeling in the back of my head that it wasn’t enough. I had more work to do. This mindset can quickly become so exhausting.

In May of 2016, I joined The Life Nutrition. The Life is the nutrition coaching that originated from my CrossFit box. My coach taught me how to count macros, and I immediately started seeing results. I was losing weight, and performing really well during workouts at the gym. I would have moments of really striving to be healthy, and then I would switch back to believing I wasn’t thin enough, or strong enough. It was a constant struggle to fight those lies and search for truth. I loved working out.  I had so many friends at the gym, and I was starting to get really good. It was fun, and a challenge.

By the beginning of summer in 2018 I had reached my goal weight.  I honestly couldn’t believe it. After years of trying to lose weight, and never being successful, I didn’t think I would ever get there. I was smaller than I had been in years, I felt great, and I was still crushing the daily workouts. Everything I had ever wanted. And yet, I still wasn’t satisfied.  When I looked in the mirror I often told myself that I was “fat.” I need to lose more weight. All I saw were my imperfections. I hated every picture that was taken of me. Despite my past performance in the gym I didn’t feel like I was good at CrossFit. I believed every lie that I was hearing. On the outside I’m sure I seemed fine, but I was still dying on the inside. I felt like an impostor.

Later that summer, the lies finally began to catch up to me.  I began to self-destruct. It started with a vacation, in which I treated myself a little too much. When I got home, and realized I had gained weight back, I let myself be so harsh. I had failed. I had reached my goal weight, and then gave it all away. Why couldn’t I just say no to cake? I got back on track, but it wasn’t long before something else had me off the rails again. Each time I let myself stray, I believed that I was ruined. I believed that those failures defined me. Once again, I became a slave to food and to the scale.  It’s like I completely forgot all of the things that I had learned about my body, and taking care of it.

I coached my first Whole30 in January of 2019.  I also joined in the fun, in order to better relate to the 3 people I was coaching. In all honesty, I was looking for a way to lose weight fast.  I was very unhappy with the weight I had gained back, and was trying to avoid the hard work that I know it takes to lose weight and keep it off. I love counting macros, and there is a lot of freedom in that, but it is a slower process. At this point, I was so unhappy with myself I needed instant gratification. I needed to see the scale going way down, and I needed it right now. I hit several PRs in the gym, but I didn’t lose as much weight as I wanted. This made me view the month as a failure. I wasn’t even trying to fight the lies anymore. I’m not even sure if I realized they were lies.  I was believing so many crazy things. I had let a number on the scale define my worth and significance. I had set crazy, impossible standards for myself, and when I failed to meet them I was so mean to myself.

Three months ago my family moved to Fort Worth. We left our family and friends. We left our jobs. We left our church family, and our CrossFit community. In ways this has been such an amazing transition. We love our new home, and are settling in to a new routine here.  But in other ways, this has been so hard. I was already being so inconsistent with my eating, and I had almost completely stopped working out. Once we moved, it was hard to find a gym that I liked. It wasn’t the same. I missed my friends. I missed the familiarity I had with my old gym and coaches. I continued gaining weight, and hating myself for it. I felt like I was too far gone. I would never get back to where I was just a year ago. I had ruined everything.

It wasn’t long before I was very clearly depressed, and having the worst anxiety. I said horrible things to myself all day. I had no desire to eat healthy. I had no desire to workout. All I wanted to do was sit in my room and feel sorry for myself. Apathy became my new normal. All I wanted was to be skinny, and that felt so far away. I was in such a dark place, and I didn’t know if I would ever get out.

Last week, I was laying on a beach in California, and for the first time in MONTHS I felt at peace.  I didn’t feel anxiety. I didn’t feel sorry for myself. I felt calm. The only explanation I have is that God woke me up. I suddenly saw, so clearly, all of the lies I had been believing. They all sounded ridiculous. I had been idolizing being skinny, and when that let me down I crumbled. I felt as though my eyes had finally been opened.

I am enough. I am worthy, no matter what number is on the scale. Progress is not linear. This journey will have ups and downs, and each step along the way will help me grow. I am beautiful, always. I’m sure, at some point, I will fall prey to the lies again. Nothing worth doing comes easy. But I hope in those moments, I remember that day on the beach.  I hope I am reminded to fight for the truth, and not let the lies define me. My journey to health isn’t over. My journey to love and accept myself, just as I am, has only just begun. 

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