This is a guest post by Shanna Rochon; read About the Author below to learn more about her work.
Like so many others, I have not escaped falling victim to thinking my life would suddenly become rainbows and butterflies as soon as I reached my “goal” weight. I thought that my happiness and fulfillment was directly related to the size of jeans I could fit into.
So I made it my mission to do whatever it took to get down to that magic number.
I was already a vegan for a year at this time, but I decided to switch over to a completely raw vegan diet because I thought that would be the quickest way to the weight loss I desired. What went from an innocent thought of changing my diet, quickly turned into a life consuming obsession. I spent every waking hour worried about what I was going to eat, what it was going to do to my body, and how long I was going to have to workout in order to burn it all off.
Eventually this progressed into being completely terrified of any food at all, even foods that would fall under the raw vegan category. I was so worried about consuming more calories than I would burn off in the day, so I then began to eat only 2 meals a day, which were both in the form of a smoothie. These smoothies were about 300 calories each, for a total of 600 calories a day, all while I was burning about 1500 calories a day, if not more.
The weight was falling off very quickly, and before I knew it I had reached my goal weight. The weight that was supposed to present me with an entirely new life, the one where all my problems would suddenly disappear. But that isn’t what happened at all, when I reached this goal weight and nothing in my life had improved, I decided I wanted to reach an even lower number. So I continued on the path that I was on, eating as little as possible, and exercising as much as possible and the addiction grew bigger and bigger.
During this time I had lost my period, my face was covered in cystic acne, I was suffering from insomnia, avoiding social situations in fear of having to deny food, and everything that I thought would happen when I reached my goal weight, still hadn’t happened. I didn’t have some prince charming come sweep my off my feet and I still couldn’t stand looking at my reflection in the mirror. So on top of the original problems I had that I was trying to fix, I also had major symptoms of hormonal imbalance and adrenal fatigue. Although I felt like my life was falling apart and my body was not alert and functioning, I kept on going. It had become a full on addiction, despite being unable to stop, I felt like I was finally in control something.
Friends and family began showing their concern and asking questions. At one point my mother had actually asked me to go to the doctor and get checked for cancer, because she wanted an answer for my rapid weight loss. She had every reason to be worried, just a year prior to this I had been admitted to the psychiatric ward for a suicide attempt. An attempt that was made because for as long as I could remember, I was uncomfortable in my skin and was on a never ending climb up the ladder to perfection.
After about a year of this lifestyle of underrating and overexercising I broke down and couldn’t take it anymore. Despite being the smallest I had ever been, my life was exactly the same as it had always been. I was still plagued with the feelings of never being good enough and I came to realize no matter how hard I tried, I was never going to be the idea of perfection that I was desperately striving for. I realized that the way I was living, was a clear indication that I had never fully recovered from what had lead me into the hospital.
Once I had reached my goal weight, I didn’t get to proudly post a before and after picture, and I didn’t get praise from my family and closest friends; I was still holding myself back because of my insecurities.
Instead, when I reached my goal weight I was able to discover I had a wound deep within that needed my attention. I had been ignoring my emotions and feelings of unworthiness for so long, that they had no choice but to manifest into something extreme so that I would finally pay attention to them. So that’s exactly what I did, I began listening to my body and soul, and was able to slowly dig myself out of the mess that I had created for myself. This included mediation, journaling, opening up, and allowing myself to be seen and heard by those closest to me and allowing them to help.
At first the mediation and journaling was extremely difficult for me, it was bringing up all the issues I had with myself, that I had tried to ignore and numb for so long. I didn’t want to believe that the reason for my behaviour was because of my inability to be the idea of perfection, that I had conjured up in my head. It felt shallow and vain to base my entire life around that, but it had become very clear to me, that is exactly what I had been doing.
Once I accepted that fact, I knew that I had to begin to understand why all I wanted to be was a made up idea of perfection, and then the answer came to me – I wanted to be accepted and loved. I thought the only way for me to gain acceptance and love from everyone in the world was to be perfect. I had this notion in my head that if I could be everything, to everyone then I would finally be happy with myself. Since I had clearly miscalculated the end result of that pursuit (which in fact resulted in me hating myself even more) I decided I would make my new mission to love myself.
Even saying that to myself in the beginning felt so daunting that I wanted to laugh in my own face.
How could I ever learn to love myself?
For as long as I could remember I had been fighting a war against myself. I knew that I had to at least give it a shot, I knew that one day I wanted to help and give hope to people, who were in the same position as I was, and the only way to do that was to get to myself the other side.
I made a commitment to continue with journaling and meditation despite the blocks and the beliefs that I was up against. Over time, layers upon layers of surface stuff would fall away and I had finally gotten to a place of understanding, that the only acceptance and approval I needed was my own. I needed to live for my own values and my own beliefs. So that is exactly what I did; I made a page in my journal (that I still reflect on to this day) that lists my values, and my life’s mission, and I began acting in a way that aligned with my core beliefs. This lead to radical changes where the more I based my actions on what I truly desired for myself and for my life, the more I felt at peace with myself. This was not an overnight process, it is a journey that I am still on to this day, and will be for my entire life. I always changing, learning and growing, and so my needs, desires and core beliefs are changing too. As long as I align my life with them, I am in a place of unconditional love and acceptance for myself, and the world around me.
I wish there was a visible before and after picture for the transformation of the mind and soul. The kind that could show the strength, hope and courage in a person before and after their journey of healing and self discovery. The kind that could give hope to others struggling, and that could serve as a reminder of what you’re truly made of.
About the Author of What Happened When I Reached My Goal Weight
Shanna Rochon is a Certified Culinary Nutrition Expert and Women’s Empowerment Coach. After overcoming her own struggles with disordered eating, depression and anxiety, she has made it her mission to create a revolution of self love. She helps women stop playing small in their lives, by teaching them how to embrace themselves and live in alignment with their true desires. Shanna works with women both privately and in group workshops. You can find out more about her at shannarochon.com and follow her on instagram.