Transforming Your Life, From Weight Loss to Inner Healing
Shelli Johnson shares how she made a commitment to herself to save her health with these healthy living tips.
“IF IT’S NOT ABOUT FOOD, THEN WHAT IS IT?”
A History of Struggle
That single question started my final weight-loss journey at age 39. For over 20 years, I’d been on what I call the diet-go-round, jumping from one diet to the next, hoping this next one would be the answer. It never was. I always lost the weight, sometimes 100 pounds at a time, but then I’d always gain it back again in short order after I stopped following the diet. During those decades, I also struggled with eating disorders, primarily bulimia and binge eating. At my heaviest, I weighed 304 pounds and wore a size 26.
I wrote that question in my journal because, after all those years of dieting and learning about nutrition, memorizing calorie counts, measuring food, and eliminating entire food groups, I still could never keep the weight off.
I knew there had to be something else going on, and I was determined to figure out what it was. I knew I needed to heal my relationship with food and also with myself. I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin so I stayed home a lot, hid away in my room, and didn’t much feel like I was truly living my life.
I didn’t want to be seen, didn’t want to have my picture taken, didn’t want to risk stepping out of my comfort zone to go after what mattered to me. I was also having health problems with pain in my lower joints(ankles, knees, and hips), breathing hard when I went up a single flight of stairs and was dangerously close to becoming diabetic. And so, out of sheer desperation and because I didn’t know what else to do, I made a commitment to myself to save my own life.
Choosing Authenticity and Self-Trust
I decided to stop listening to everyone else (their rules and guidelines and ideas on how I should live my life) and start listening to myself—what I want to do, what works best for me). That was a scary day—all the responsibility for how my life turned out was on me—but also an incredibly empowering and freeing day (for the same reason, because all the choices were mine and mine alone). I also remember feeling like I was at the bottom of a mountain, looking at the summit (my goal weight), and thinking: there’s no way.
But I made a commitment to myself anyway to see my weight-loss journey all the way through to the end. First, it took believing I was worth the commitment, which I hadn’t always believed was true. And second, it was choosing to make that commitment unbreakable, meaning no matter what I was not going to abandon myself and quit. And it was those two things combined—believing in my own worth and value and making an unbreakable commitment to my own health and healing—that made what seemed impossible (a 174-pound weight loss)possible.
To turn your life into what you want it to be, you need to do the same.
1. Know that your worth and value are innate.
You were born with them and nobody can take them away from you. You can choose not to believe in them but that, I say kindly, is your choice. And if you believe you don’t have worth and value, aren’t worthy of good things, and/or are undeserving of the life you most want, then all you have to do is change your mind.
2. Believe you can succeed at anything if you’ll just make an unbreakable commitment to yourself.
And if you don’t think you’re worthy of making that commitment to yourself or capable of seeing it through, then all you have to do is change your mind.
You are worth the:
★ and whatever else you need to reach what matters to you.
I believe that about you. Now you just need to believe it about yourself.
I shed the weight naturally, without pills, surgery, disordered eating, or anything along those lines. I listen to my body and let it be my guide, eating only when I’m hungry and then stopping when I’m comfortably full. I don’t have any restrictions on food except if I’m allergic to it. I eat whatever I want without judgment. That is what I needed to do to heal myself and my relationship with food.
Mindset Healing: Going Beyond Food
I also did some deep introspection as to why I was using food in a way it was never intended to be used. That introspection—the answer to the question, “If it’s not about food, then what is it?”—eventually became a book I wrote called, Start Where You Are Weight Loss. I believe, having lived it, that weight loss has very little to do with food choices and mostly to do with healing your mindset about food. Mindset is what my book aims to help women heal.
The Transformation and Beyond
It took me two years to shed the weight, finishing at age 41. As of this writing, I weigh 128 pounds at age 49, and I’ve kept the weight off for eight years and counting. I have no fear of gaining the weight back and not knowing what to do about it. I no longer have any raging eating disorders. I don’t live in fear, confusion, frustration, and shame about the food. I got free. Your life can be that way too.
I transformed my body by trusting it and listening to it. I transformed my life by trusting myself and listening to my intuition. You can and need to do the same for your own life.
Keep Going: Refusing to Give Up
It doesn’t matter how slowly you go. Truly, it doesn’t. The only thing that matters is that you don’t stop. Keep going and refuse to give up on yourself. If you do that, you’ll get to where you most want to be—in a body that feels like home to you and to a life that makes you excited to be alive.
Photos By CHRISTIAN JOHNSON Follow (@christianjohnson)