I don't even really know how it happened. It was like I woke up one day and all of a sudden the jeans I used to be able to wear so comfortably became suffocating torture devices. I found myself going head-to-head with the stubborn zippers on my favorite dresses, the ones that used to glide right up so easily. I'm taking all the right steps—eating less, exercising more—but it's been an agonizingly unfruitful process and the pounds aren't melting away as quickly as they implanted themselves.
This isn't going to be an article about how I lost the weight or about my valiant efforts to get back to where I was. I was inspired to write this because I realized that this slight change on the outside caused some major changes on the inside. In the past month, I've barely been able to recognize myself—and not just in the mirror.
All of a sudden I was insecure, introverted, and riddled with self-doubt. I also became someone who constantly berated herself, which was disappointing because that is something I always speak out against. I was traveling down a very detrimental path, one that would have caused the Sabrina who started A New Mode a year ago to smack me right across the head, and justly so: I let myself get caught up in the idea that my weight meant everything.
So what happened exactly? I lost perspective and veered off course. Now I'm back. And while I'm still working to get myself back to where I was, I've learned to accept where I am now and to feel great, even though I've put on some weight. I've also learned the following things that have helped me shift my mindset.
1. No one notices it like you do.
First and foremost, it's important to acknowledge the fact that you are, and always will be, your harshest critic. No one is scrutinizing you but YOU. When you look through photos, who is the first person you look at? That's right, yourself. Sure, a significant weight gain might be a little noticeable, but chances are if you don't point it out, no one else will even realize. And if they do, it will appear so slight that they won't even know why you think it matters. We all know this, yet somehow we disregard this knowledge in favor of the completely erroneous belief that all eyes are on us. This may be true for celebrities, but it is not the case at all for anyone else.
2. It doesn't make you any less attractive.
I truly believed that my weight gain rendered me wholly undesirable and unattractive. However, oddly enough, I think I've been getting hit on even more these past few months! And not by guys who just wanna get laid, but by genuine guys who actually want to take me out and get to know me.
At first I was perplexed beyond belief (How can he be interested in me? I am SO fat right now.). I haven't figured out if it's a coincidence or ties directly to my more reserved demeanor and conservative wardrobe (I've definitely been covering up a lot more when I go out), but either way it proves that my weight is a non-issue, in this sense anyway, and didn't somehow transform me into a lesser version of myself. Keep your confidence in check. To continue from where I left off on my last point, getting attention from guys is great and all, but you really need to work hard to keep your confidence firmly in check, no matter what the scale says.
When you really love yourself and love the way you look, it shows. It radiates and draws people to you.
There are girls who I see all the time that aren't "thin" in the conventional sense, but they dress to flatter, embrace their figures, and carry themselves with infectious confidence. Even when I was at my skinniest, I would look at these girls and feel pangs of envy. When you really love yourself and love the way you look, it shows. It radiates and draws people to you.
Thoughts are real forces, but they are also controllable. If you allow yourself to think that you're fat and unattractive, this will become your own personal reality, even if it's incongruous with what the rest of the world thinks. I went from being confident and self-assured to an insecure mess. And over what? A few extra pounds? That's just so silly it makes me cringe to even write it out. Fine, you've put on some weight, but that does not define who you are—you're still just as beautiful, fun, smart, and intelligent as you were before. Don't let a few extra pounds take away from any of that.
3. Don't get discouraged by a bump in the road.
It has never been as difficult for me to lose weight as it is right now. Maybe it has to do with getting older, with not having enough time to exercise, with winter-induced hibernation... who knows? After about a week of putting in the effort to lose weight and not seeing results, I just gave up and retreated to a place of despair and frustration. Why even bother working out if it's not working? Why not just eat what I want? Obviously this healthy eating thing isn't getting me anywhere. Right?
I have since adjusted those misguided thoughts and tell myself daily that yes, I have put on weight. However it's only temporary, and it will come off if I continue on with my healthy ways, which I'm committed to not only for weight-loss, but also because I really enjoy the benefits of healthy living.
4. Don't lash out against yourself and beat yourself up over it.
In truth, once you let go and stop thinking about it so much, those pounds will just just fall away (I've experienced this phenomenon before). Now, not thinking about it doesn't mean you can sit on the couch gorging on burgers and fries and just wait for the weight to come off. Keep going with your healthy lifestyle, forgive yourself for slipping up here and there, and stop scrutinizing every inch of yourself. Do this, and I promise you'll get back to where you were. Stop talking about it. When you constantly think about how much weight you've gained, you will inevitably talk about it. This is something I started doing for reassurance—I wanted to hear "oh those pounds will fly right off" or "you look great, I can't even tell!"
You don't need reassurance from other people. You know what you need to do, and you know you look great right now, right? Constantly thinking and talking about it will only frustrate and discourage you. It will define you as that poor girl who gained weight and can't get rid of it, and other people will just be thankful they're not in your shoes. And who wants that?
5. Enjoy the benefits.
My wardrobe has been virtually cut in half thanks to my extra fluff. However, if there's a silver lining, it's that I have been forced to become a lot more creative with what I have. I've discovered unworn pieces, I've become the master of layering, and I've learned how to show off my assets and hide my problem areas (mainly the mid-section), without hiding behind huge bulky layers. I also have way more curves, especially in the boob department, which is something I've never had the pleasure of experiencing before.
It took me a long time to figure out how to feel great even though I'd put on weight. Now I've accepted it, and while it would be nice to fit back into my old clothes again, like, tomorrow, I'm OK with the fact that it might take some time. Because I know I still look good, and more importantly, I finally feel good about myself as well.
This article was written by Sabrina Alexis, co-founder and editorial director of A New Mode and author of the book "10 Things Every Woman Needs to Know About Men." It originally appeared on A New Mode and was reposted with the author's permission. To learn more about Sabrina, follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram.