DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor. I'm also not an astronaut, lion tamer or mountaineer. Please consult a professional before making life changes in any of these important areas. Thanks.
So here's what happened:
On the morning of January 1, 2010, I stepped on the scale and the display read "365."
My first thought was: "Wow, I only had two glasses of champagne last night. Why is my vision so blurry?" I blinked and rubbed my eyes. Still 365.
My second thought was: "The floor must be really uneven here. This stupid scale isn't balanced properly." I got off, moved the scale slightly, and got back on again. Still 365.
My third thought was: "If something doesn't change, I'm going to be dead soon."
The third thought was the one that stuck. I made a solemn vow (as I had done so many — many, many — times before) that I would lose a hundred pounds before the end of that year.
One year and fifty-three months later, I actually reached that 100-pound goal. It was on May 10, 2015, that my scale (the same one!) told me I weighed 264.7 pounds. When I saw that magic number, I did an exuberant but incredibly clumsy happy dance (seriously, be thankful you weren't there to see it) and supplemented my kale shake with an extra scoop of triumph.
But here's the thing: I'm still fat. Although 265'ish pounds was an incredible milestone for me, and I'm as proud as punch to have reached that weight, there is a long, rocky road (yes, that's an ice cream joke) to travel between where I am now, and where I want/need to be. And although many hearty souls have made the trip from Obesityville to Healthytown before me, the journey is different for each of us.
So, in many ways, this feels like uncharted territory. And as I make my way across the wild country, confronted at every turn by untamed bowls of pasta and perilous cliffs chiseled out of chocolate, here are a few things I'm trying to keep in mind:
You gain some, you lose some… and then you gain some back.
Between where I started and where I am currently sitting (258.6 as of this morning), I have dropped a total of 106.4 pounds. (Excuse me while I break my arm patting myself on the back.) In addition to that, however, I estimate that I've lost, gained back, and re-lost about 85 pounds. Goodness only knows how much I'll lose, re-gain and then re-lose again, before I reach my ultimate goal of 173 pounds (which is just at "normal" for me on the BMI scale.
For example, in late-2011/early-2012, I lost about 60 pounds (more on that in a future post). I then spent the next couple years re-gaining and re-losing about twenty of those pounds. I was a little depressed about this for a while. But in the long run, I kept off 40 pounds, and that was the important thing.
If you lose a bunch of weight, there will usually be an "evening out" phase where some of the weight comes back on. It's a natural (if infuriating) part of the process. But the important steps are the ones that lead us forward, and those are the steps we should count.
Decisions, Decisions: Health and Happiness, Or Pizza? (The answer isn't as obvious as it should be.)
Granted, the whole healthy/happy thing has its own kind of gratification (such as long life and… well… happiness), but it's rarely easy, and never instant. So, when I weighed almost four hundred pounds, how often do you think I'd pass up a hot, delicious slice of instant gratification in favor of a cold, unsympathetic celery stick? If you answered "Never," you win a bag of baby carrots.
But the lesson that I finally learned is this: it's not always an either/or question. Sometimes it's an and/and decision: Pizza and salad and a walk afterwards. Instant gratification tastes better with a heaping helping of healthy habits on the side. And the happiness is never far from my plate.
Mostly mental: Is it all in my mind… or on my backside?
Alfred Hitchcock once said, "When I catch sight of my reflection, I'm always surprised that I don't look like Cary Grant."
I can totally relate to that. Not that I think I look like Cary Grant. Or any Cary (or Carrie), for that matter. But I can completely empathize with the notion that our mental image of ourselves tends to be very different from what other people see.
Some people think they're fat, but they're actually not. Other people, like me, hide in a mental hole and pretend the fat doesn't exist until they get slapped in the face by the meaty palm of reality. (Like seeing 365 on my scale, or having my father die suddenly from heart disease, when he didn't even know he was sick.)
There are also some people who lose weight and still feel fat. But here's something I just realized recently: fat is a physical thing. It may, or may not, be seen as negative.
But beauty is always positive, and true beauty is entirely mental and emotional. If we feel beautiful, we are beautiful. And while there are exceptions to every rule, the majority of people will see us as we see ourselves.
So when you hear a little voice whispering in your ear that says you're unattractive, or unworthy, or undeserving, tell that voice to take a hike. Even if — especially if — that voice is yours.
And tell yourself every day how beautiful you are. Because, guess what! You are!
What, did you think I hadn't noticed?
So… could this be a regular thing?
I'm thinking of making this weight loss journey my regular blog topic here on the Rockville 8. Does that sound interesting, or self-indulgent? And if it's interesting, what would you like to know?