If you've been following me for a while, you know that this blog can take on many forms, at times lighthearted and other times you receive a glimpse into thoughts that are heavier/darker/bolder. As an author and public speaker, I appreciate having an avenue to share with you stories that help you understand who I am as a whole person, flaws and all. Go back and read the first post in this iteration of the blog and you'll see I'm willing to dive in!
In the past, I've shared with you my journey to bariatric surgery and beyond, including an overview of my relationship with Ed; today I come to you to tell you about N.S.V.s and why it is so crucial to celebrate them when you can.
First, let's define the term at hand. N=Non, S=Scale, & V=Victory; non-scale victory. In the body-positive world, this acronym is used as a reminder that health and contentment are found outside of the number on the scale, and that one cannot live by the scale. It simply isn't healthy.
For years, I did live by the scale, either obsessively on it or obsessively avoiding it. That's Ed. As I prepared for my surgery, my counselor brain wouldn't shut up (sorry, Mom) about the work I needed to do so that I wouldn't be plagued by the same old thoughts and obsessions after surgery. After all, even my surgeon agreed, he can't make my stomach small enough to beat my brain.
Well, I did what I could before surgery and that was helpful. But there was only so much I could do until I had reason to believe this time truly was different. Once I saw that it was, once I realized this really changed my life, then I could begin unpacking the deeper and more strongly rooted remnants of Ed. One such root is tied to exercise.
Let me paint a picture of life pre-surgery. Get motivated. Follow a diet plan. See progress. Start a new exercise regimen. Fully engage in the exercise regimen. Lose progress. Exercise more. Lose more progress. Give up on the food plan. See progress. Restart the food plan. Progress continues. Keep up with the exercise plan. Lose progress.
That was the cycle. I can recall several times of "perfect" eating and exercise weeks that resulted in weight gains. And the more it happened, the less motivated I became to try. Add into that the way exercise messed with my hunger levels and I repeatedly just lost motivation. Eventually I lost hope.
This pattern, and the emotions tied to it, are deep in my brain, so after surgery I struggled to want to exercise beyond walking. As I saw the weight drop and my body change, I engaged in an epic battle of hope and fear. On the one hand, a part of me thought 'well, my body has never behaved like this, so maybe exercise will finally have the intended result'; on the other hand, the only evidence I had showed that once I introduced exercise, all progress would be lost. It took a long time to push through that fear. Months and months. Of course, for the first several months I was only ingesting about 700 calories daily, so I didn't have bunches of energy, but that didn't last. Eventually, I knew it was time to try.
And I am so glad I did! I felt great, and my body continued to change. Finally!
A part of Ed I had to learn to release was perfectionism, so I need to be careful how I phrase to myself what kind of schedule I'll keep. So, though there has certainly been inconsistency, overall, I've been increasingly more active as time marches on. During those workouts, I began to notice I wanted more. What I was doing at home was good, but I just felt like I could do more. More than that, I felt like I wanted and needed to do more.
So, just a few weeks ago, I started on my journey of more and began Couch-2-5k. For those who don't know, this is an 8 week program that slowly builds a non-runner to the point of being able to run for 30 consecutive minutes through run/walk intervals. I've done this program in the past (at least 50 pounds heavier) and did succeed. At the end I was able to run for 30 minutes. But those 30 minutes didn't get me anywhere near a 5k and I did not feel good enough to keep me going.
Anyway, I just knew this time was going to be different. And you know what? It has been. First, I invested in good shoes AND good socks. Second, I got my brain in the right place. It wasn't about competing with anyone else or a desperate thought of 'if I can just do this my body will fix itself', instead, I went into that first workout thinking how strong my body felt and how good I believed it would be for me both emotionally and mentally.
It's also been filled with countless N.S.V.s, and those mean more than anything else. Why? Because it proves my thinking truly is changing. Here's how I know. NSV1: week 1/day 2 was a hot, humid day. I allowed myself to sleep in and missed my morning workout. Pre-surgery me would have talked myself out of working out and that would eventually have snowballed into just starting over the next week (miss one, miss them all derailment thinking). Post-surgery me instead talked myself into doing the run during my lunch break. And I did it. NSV2: I planned the next run after completing one. NSV3: I gave honest reactions to each experience. I let myself give attention to what didn't go well, but I also ended on the positives. NSV4: When I started to have knee pain, I kept working out. I didn't let it derail my progress. NSV5: When the knee pain progressed, I stopped running. AND I did a different kind of exercise to keep progress until I can get my knee looked at. Why? Because in just three short weeks, I learned how beneficial running is for my being. I'm frustrated by this knee situation, but I'm not going to let it be the thing that stops me doing this for myself. I'll get it checked out and in the meantime I'll do other forms of exercise.
These are all NSVs and I'm so thankful for them! I've had a lot of N.S.V.s in the last 2.5 years and am often surprised at how much I've changed. What's most amazing, though, is that the each change has felt like me coming into me, becoming a truer version of me. And that is an incredible feeling.
Learning to recognize and name N.S.V.s is all about becoming aware that none of us is defined by the number on the scale. Health, contentment, peace; they all come from a variety of sources we miss if we're locked into that one (false) measure. If your self-worth is tied to that scale, I encourage you to begin seeking N.S.V.s that help you see you are so much more than that one number. Create a circle of support who helps you celebrate the victories, big and small.
Before you go, here's just a quick reminder to take a moment to pre-order Faith Doesn't Erase Grief before it officially launches on 7/12/2022. Start here!