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July 23, 2020

Weight loss ≠ Happiness

I feel like there is a VERY large misconception in the “diet” industry…

That weight loss = happiness.

But it does not. Not even close.

Happiness is defined as feeling or showing pleasure; it is having a sense of confidence or satisfaction. The definition of happiness does not mention one’s weight or body size no matter where you look it up. So, where did this belief that people who weigh less are some how happier? Because depression and sadness know no weight classes.

What I’ve learned in recent years is that happiness is a choice that I can make at any size. My happiness and self-acceptance are not tied to a number on the scale or the size of my pants. Happiness truly does come from within. Seeking external validation to feel happy with myself was a losing battle. A battle that almost cost me my life.

I was more depressed than I ever had been after losing 130 pounds. It is difficult to magically feel happy and love the body that you’ve been hating on for years. For years after my dramatic weight loss I spent the majority of the time hating my body, criticizing my body and hiding my body just as much as I did at 295 pounds. My weight changed but my mentality stayed the same. Actually, truth be told it worsened….

When you lose over 100 pounds, you have excess skin. I felt cheated and wronged for not getting the bikini body that I so badly longed for. For not ever truly reaching the arbitrary number that I aimed for on the scale. I also felt like a fraud because of my excess skin. In 2013, I lost 90 pounds in 7 months. That’s enough for people to stop and go “Woah, Jenna is that you???” At that point, I hadn’t even fully appreciated what I had accomplished. My first thought was “Uh.. yeah, I know my hair is way longer than I used to be.” I couldn’t see the change when I looked in the mirror. What I saw was the 295-pound girl that I used to be and not the woman I had become. I was far from happy and prior to the moment I held this notion that “I will be happy when… I lose weight.” This hard truth that it doesn’t exist hit me hard.

My depression deepened and I came very close to ending my own life; despite of the weight loss and exercise. If you are seeking happiness from the number on the scale – you won’t find it. There is no – I’m happy now weight. Because there will always be something else – a new number, a smaller size, a flatter stomach – if you don’t choose happiness now.

After years of obsessing and weighing myself daily (and sometimes twice a day) I just let it go. I let go of thinking that the number staring back at me defined me. I let go of thinking my worth was determined by how small that number could be. I let go of believing that my weight was the only thing that mattered. I let go of the belief that I would be healthier at a much smaller size (because that isn’t necessarily true). I let go of the deeply ingrained belief that weight loss = happiness.

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