I didn't know how I was going to write this blog. The truth is, I've been feeling pretty down about all of my efforts lately. I mean, I've lost a lot of weight, so why am I still so unhappy with my body? I thought weight loss was the golden ticket to self love. How can I get on here and write a blog about the last 12 months of success if all I see when I look in the mirror is an overweight woman who is never going to be quite good enough.
Re-wind 12 months.
Last April my little family took an impromptu trip to Washington for my Grandpa's funeral. Before we left I needed to buy some new clothes, since I had just had my baby and didn't fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes yet. I went to a department store and bought whatever I could button or zip up. I was 294 pounds. The trip was so nice, except that I had to experience it from a bench most of the time because I didn't have the energy to keep up with my children. I saw family members that I hadn't seen in years and was so embarrassed about my weight that I became a wall flower. I turned 30 on that trip. I wasn't supposed to be that big still. I have been overweight my whole life but in my mind I always thought things like "As long as I don't get over 250." Which I did. "As long as I don't go past age 25 still heavy." Which I did. "As long as I lose the weight before I turn 30." Which I didn't. It was a very sad birthday for me. When we got home from that trip I went to my OB/GYN for a 6 week check-up. He gently encouraged me to start exercising and for some reason I got it in my head that I would. I logged on to that weird website that I had signed up for a couple years earlier during one of my many fleeting moments of determination to lose the weight. I read about a million blogs that first night. All these people had lost so much weight! They were running marathons, and buying dresses in single digit sizes! Their program wasn't crazy, just use more calories than you eat. Track calories, drink water, eat more fruits and veggies, write blogs, make friends. I could do that! Sure enough, by June I had lost 12 pounds. I was back into my pre-pregnancy jeans and I was downloading podcasts to start the C25k program.
Fast forward to April, 2011. I've lost 95 pounds. I was a size 30/32 in 2010, last week I bought size 14 shorts. My waist was 52 inches, it's now 35. My body fat percentage was 52%, last week it was 32%. Last year, I cried and wheezed and almost puked when I walked a 1/4 mile, last week I ran 4 miles in the sunshine, lifted weights 3 days, hiked a total of 10 miles in the rugged back-country of Utah, and cycled 6 miles. Last year on my birthday I was tallying up all the dreams and hopes that I had let slip away, this year on my birthday I was looking into finding a talent agent, and requesting information from Universities about their MFA Acting programs. I could go on and on about all the changes that have occurred as a result of "sticking with it" for 12 months. I'm not even the same woman. I'm so much closer to what I always day dreamed I could be like, if I just lost the weight.
So why the apprehension to celebrate? Why do I still "feel" like an obese woman, even when I'm trying on dresses at the Gap? Why do I still say "Yeah, I've still got a ways to go though." every time someone compliments my weight loss? Why do I still weigh myself every morning, cry about the number not changing, and ignore how increadably strong my body feels?
Turns out, weight loss is not the golden ticket to self love.
Oh, you're waiting for me to tell you what the golden ticket is?
I'll have to get back to you. Maybe, I can tell you what it isn't. Maybe.
It isn't the the number on the scale, or measuring tape. It might be the number listed next to your name, telling you the finish time for the race you signed up for, not knowing if you'd be ready or capable of running, but worked your ass off to get to anyway. Maybe.
The ticket isn't in weeks when it's easy to eat right and workout and you lose 3 pounds. It might be in the weeks when it's really hard to do, and you do it anyway, or maybe you don't but you have a heart-to-heart with yourself and gently explain that this a life long journey, and there are going to be days when you eat too many calories, there are going to be days when you skip a workout so you can catch the season finale, but the days you succeed far outnumber the days you don't, so stop beating yourself up, get some rest, start again in the morning. Maybe.
The ticket isn't in increase of people hitting on you and checking you out. It might be in the increase of people you start to weed out of your life because you realize that the relationship is destructive and unhealthy and you deserve better. Maybe, I don't know. There might not even be a golden ticket. It might be that we choose to love ourselves, that is, show ourselves love, in spite of being imperfect. Yeah, that's probably closer to the truth.
Anyway, I promised you a picture blog.
So the other night, as I was feeling sorry for myself for only losing 95 pounds in a year, instead of 100, wearing size 14 instead of 12, for having a strong body instead of a bikini worthy body, I was pouring through pictures of the trip to Washington last year and comparing them to the picture we took in Arches National Park just a few days ago. I was overcome with emotion. How could I not see it? I cried for that poor woman in the pictures because she didn't know how beautiful life could be. I cried for my husband who had his life companion with him at the end of a difficult trail, instead of waiting for him in the car. I cried for my kids who probably won't remember when their mom couldn't play with them because she was always tired and out of breath. How could I not see how much has changed, how beautiful I have become? How could I be so hard on a woman who has worked so hard to bring her dream life and her real life into alignment. I see now that I can post this anniversary blog with pride because I've earned it. I do have a little ways to go, but it's going to happen, because the days I do well far outnumber the days I slip up. It's going to happen because it is HAPPENING. Life is happening right now, and I'm a worthy, capable participant.
Without further ado: Pictures form April 2010 and April 2011: