I’ve been really putting off posting this blog. I know this won’t be the typical “Day 24” blog post that some of you were expecting, and I hate the idea that I’m letting anyone down. A normal “Day 24” blog post includes pictures, the final weigh in, and before/after in measurements (which I didn’t take to begin with). But this blog isn’t going to be like that.
For a long time, I have obsessed over my weight. For 14 months I have woke up every day, brushed my teeth, washed my face, and weighed myself. Literally, at any point over the past year, you could have said “Chaney, how much do you weigh today?” and I would have proudly told you the number I saw on the scale that morning. At one point, my weight was even a part of my Instagram bio! I don’t know if it was a habit, or a ritual, or just an important part of my daily routine; but I do know that for a long time, I avoided staying anywhere besides my house because my morning weigh-ins were such a huge part of my day. If I was unable to weigh myself in the morning, I would stress about it all day literally to the point of being nauseous. I would literally obsess over my weight! And then, I would try to decide what I would consider an ‘acceptable’ weight for my weigh in the next day. I would throw myself into the next possible opportunity to weigh myself because the anxiety of not being able to quantify my success would have me in tears.
Around Christmas, when I spent a few days/weeks at my boyfriend’s house, I was a total wreck. I’m sure Justin will back me up on this – I was downright unpleasant to be around. As it turns out, I was a part of a “stay fit for the holidays” Facebook group hosted by my trainer friend, Mary, where you were supposed to post your weigh ins every week or every few days, I don’t remember the details. Anyway, the first weigh-in day came around (since I had been staying with Justin) and I told Mary I couldn’t submit mine that day. He didn’t have a scale! Being a good trainer, she assumed I was avoiding the scale, the very thing we were trying to prevent over the holidays by joining the group. She made some sort of comment about “Just go to the local gym, or Bath and Body works, and use their scale!” and I came UN – FREAKING – GLUED on her. That night, reflecting on my day, was the first time it occurred to me that my behavior was a bit… Disordered. I didn’t see the serious need to change my behavior, so I didn’t.
When I started the 24 Day Challenge, my main goal was to reduce my cravings and increase my energy. I didn’t set out to lose weight or “lean out”. In addition to my goal to reduce my cravings and increase my energy level, I made one other goal. I didn’t tell anyone about this goal accept for Justin, who had no idea how disordered I was about my weigh-ins, and consequently how big of a deal it was to me. I remember trying to casually slip it to him, “I’m going to try to not weigh myself until Friday.” It meant nothing to him, but I can remember the way my heart raced when I pushed ‘send’. I started my challenge on Wednesday, and Friday was 48 hours away. Why would that mean anything to anybody? But to me, it was agony. I had to take the batteries out of my scale and hide them in my grandparents’ room, where I couldn’t get to them while my grandparents were sleeping, in order to keep myself from weighing in on that Thursday morning. (This is after several months of declaring to Krista “I’m not going to weigh myself this week” and hiding my scale, just to go get it the next morning. One morning I walked to my car in a bath towel because that’s where I had put my scale in an attempt to keep myself from weighing in.)
Anyway. I made it to Day 3 and allowed myself to weigh in. I stayed away from the scale until the following Monday, Day 6, without too much anxiety over the matter (probably because I was away for the weekend). I was able to wait until Day 8, and then Day 10, a little easier. Day 10 was my final weigh in until Day 16. 6 whole days without stepping on the scale! 6 days without obsessing over my relationship with gravity! 6 days without dissecting every single thing I put in my mouth, and feeling guilty if I didn’t break a sweat. Revolutionary.
It took the 24 Day Challenge to remind me what this fitness journey is all about. It’s not about losing weight. It’s not about how fast you can run. It’s not about posting colorful meals on Instagram. It’s about BALANCE. For a very long time, I didn’t have balance in my life. I ate like a bird, or like a whale. There was no in between. One cheat meal could derail my entire week, maybe even my entire month. For a long time, I would go to the gym as a way to counter the food I’d eaten that day. I knew exactly how many calories I ate that day compared to how many I burned during my workout.
The whole “weigh-in” thing was my way of creating the illusion of control over this process. Yes, I was in control of my health, and what I ate, and how I exercised; but my weight was how I was able to quantify those things. I couldn’t see myself getting healthier. I couldn't see my body changing (or, not changing) from one day to the next. But I could see the scale change. And that’s why, even if I felt great and looked lean, I would be unhappy with my progress if the scale hadn’t moved. Being on a fitness journey is about balance. It’s about going to McDonalds, but not spending $30 and eating everything by yourself. It’s about allowing yourself to have FroYo, without also having a hamburger and 2 orders of French fries because hey, your diet is already ruined. It’s about being able to run and play with your cousins without having to beat your best time on the treadmill. And for a very long time, I have not known balance. There was no middle ground. It was either very healthy habits, or very unhealthy habits. If you’re familiar with the concept of the ying yang symbol, it means there is equal good and bad and you cannot have one without the other. But also, in the middle of the light side, there is a speck of dark. And in the middle of the dark side, there is a speck of light. For a long time, there was no speck. I was either all dark, or all light. I was craving wings after the gym? I’d have wings, and whatever else I wanted for the next week. I was either one extreme or the other. And I am so glad to have broken away from that state of mind.
As someone fairly big and involved in the world of fitness (on Instagram and through blogs), I always see fitness people talk about “finding balance”. I never understood it. In fact, at one point, I went so far as to say that balance is an illusion that people chase without ever catching. I remember saying that balance was a way for people to make weight loss harder than it needed to be. And I could not have been more wrong. I was the one making fitness hard. I was the one acting disordered for weeks at a time, eating clean and running until I threw up, just to throw it away for another period of time because I ate an oreo. Looking back, I can’t believe I was so nuts about it. I don’t know how I got to that point, but I cringe when I imagine the immeasurable damage I did to my metabolism by binging and then being restrictive, in cycles over and over and over again.
Anyway, back to the reason I’m here today, pouring my heart out to you all. The 24 Day Challenge. I accomplished what I set out to accomplish. I got rid of my cravings completely (and I do mean completely), and I have more energy than all the 6 year olds in a Pre-K class combined. I know on Day 10 of the challenge I was at my lowest weight of 179.6, and on Day 16 I was at 180.6. I did not weigh myself on Day 24 of the challenge. In fact, I haven’t weighed myself since Day 16. I feel amazing. I look amazing. I am running for the hell of it. I am still pushing myself in the gym. I am allowing myself to eat when I’m hungry (aka dinner), and I don’t feel bad about it. Not one little bit.
The 24 Day Challenge helped me lose over 14 pounds, eliminate my cravings, and gave me tons of energy. Health wise, the results are worth every penny of the $200 I paid. Emotionally, though, is where I have seen the most improvement. I am proud of myself. I feel accomplished. I feel like a well-rounded member of the fitness community. I understand the term ‘moderation’ and I have slayed the demons that once plagued me. And that, my friends, is worth way more than $200. I no longer feel anxiety when someone asks me to have dinner. I no longer feel the need to race the person on the treadmill next to me. I am refocused, I am confident, and that doesn’t come in a box. (:
I already know what happens when I give up. I want to see what will happen if I don't.