If I were to write a screenplay about my year long adventure toward health and self-love, it would stand a good chance of being a hit at the box-office. Not because of the quality of the writing, but because it would contain all of the elements of a good film: sudden twists, montages, epic failures, and heartwarming successes. When I published my first blog, I wondered how, if I am doing basically the same thing over and over, could I keep coming up with things to write about. The truth is that when it comes to weight-loss, there is no shortage of things to dig into, boast about, or shamefully admit. Because just when I think I am becoming predictable, life throws me a curve-ball like a five month plateau, or a nation-wide shortage of my thyroid medication that turns a five month plateau into a seven month plateau. Even an innocent observation from a curious and somewhat precocious six year old can still rattle me. Since there has obviously been no shortage of happenings that could derail me, why haven’t I been derailed? What is different about this time?
We spent Thanksgiving in Tahoe, this year – which ended up being one of my all-time favorite Thanksgivings. I disconnected from work and focused on having true quality time with my family. We reconnected with my sister and her husband, and enjoyed all of the benefits of their good company. We went on scavenger hunts and trampoline adventures. We floated around a warm outdoor pool in the afternoon, and glided around an outdoor ice rink in the evenings. Although we never did make it onto the ski hill due to lack of snow, we never let that stop us from making fun family memories.
Personally speaking, I have never felt or looked better. I purchased my very first pair of Wunder-unders from Lululemon and wore them everywhere from the village, to the mountain, to the Ritz-Carlton. Last year at this time, I wouldn’t have been able to get a pair on without serious external damage to their changing rooms – and serious internal damage from constricting and eventually cutting off the blood supply to my organs. The difference between last years Thanksgiving and this years Thanksgiving is astonishing!
One afternoon, as we were riding down the gondola, my six year old daughter Quinn asked if she could tell me something. I don’t know what I assumed she would say, but it probably had something to do with how pretty I looked, or how proud she was to be my daughter. Our conversation went almost exactly like this…
Quinn: Mummy, can I tell you something?
Me: Of course, lady-bird. You can always tell me anything.
Quinn: I am scared you will be mad, because it isn’t very nice.
Me: [expecting something not-so-nice about her sister or a stranger] You can always tell me anything, even if it isn’t very nice.
Quinn: You have a very fat butt. And also your arms, and your legs, and your tummy, and your boobs. But I love your makeup.
Me: [half deflated / half laughing at the amazing and hilarious honesty of a child]
The script trails off for a reason. I honestly don’t remember what I said. I think I had been feeling so good and so in the clouds with all that I have accomplished this past year, that I was temporarily paralyzed by the brutal honesty of her words. I remember Craig saying something supportive about how awesome I am doing, but it still took me some time to shake off the sting of being deflated. It took me some time to process and remind myself to stay present in where I am actually at. And where I am actually at is actually 240lbs. When Craig reminded me how great I looked, I agreed that yes, I have come a long way – but that I still have a long way to go. He furrowed his brow, and I asked him, “aren’t there some linebackers who weigh 240lbs?” He laughed and said yes. In other words, he also got real with where I am at.
The physical differences between last year and today are considerable. But it is the differences that aren’t as obvious that make me the most joyous. After Quinn commented on my sizable posterior (among every single other body part except my mascara), I felt all of my feelings, and then let them pass through me. I didn’t stuff them behind my vodka soaked liver only to work them out later with medium sized pizza. And I didn’t hide them from my husband, like he somehow has no clue that his wife is overweight. I also didn’t shame my daughter for her honesty. What I quickly discovered, was that I really needed that reality check. Staying humble to this process, and staying honest with myself is key to my continued success. Acting complacent and/or satisfied at this weight would be a real misstep. I am proud of myself for all that I have worked through this year, but as they say at Facebook, this journey is 1% finished. Ok, my weight-loss journey is more like 50% finished, but you get the idea.
This weight-loss and self love stuff is, at its core, thoroughly humbling. But it has been the most humbling moments that have served to strengthen my resolve – which is the exact opposite of the other countless times I have tried to get healthy in the past. For years, I repeated the same pattern of picking myself up, starting a diet, losing a little weight, and then getting completely thwarted at the first sign of a struggle. The difference between then and now isn’t that I no longer struggle, or that my struggles are vastly different. What has changed is my focus. Where I used to focus solely on the food and the things that I couldn’t have, I now focus on self-empowerment and all of the amazing things that I can have. I also focus on gratitude, meditating, writing, moving my body, reading more books, breathing, learning, and lots of other things that are equally important and absolutely essential for health and balance. In short, fixing all of the stuff off my plate, has magically fixed all of the stuff on my plate. Of course, the contents of my plate have also adapted to my healthy lifestyle – but the key for me has been to fold those non-food items into a more holistic way of tackling health and weight-loss.
I have also changed my beliefs and expectations. I used to start a healthy regime knowing somewhere in the back of my mind that I would fail. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy that I self-fulfilled every single time. And every single time I lost my way, I would quit and gain the weight back (plus a few). I know that will have good days and bad. I know that failure is as much of a certainty as my progress. Even my definition of failure has changed. When I was stuck in the loop of the all-or-nothing diet mentality, one bad meal meant the end of my diet and the beginning of a binge. I might occasionally have a piece of pizza, or a hamburger, or a slice of banana cake from Icing on the Cake – but I don’t even consider those failures or poor choices anymore. I am living a joyful balanced life, which includes cake sometimes! I almost never mindlessly binge on unhealthy foods anymore – but if I do, I have compassion for myself and get right back to healthy living. The second I make that next meal a good one, I am back to practicing self love, and the shame melts away. I am not perfect, but I am making great progress. I still have a big fat butt, legs, arms, tummy, and boobs – but as of today, I am three feet closer toward my butt matching my pretty makeup. That is something to be truly thankful for.
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