I was talking with a friend over the weekend who has also lost a lot of weight. She said that when she visited her in-laws house she went into the study and saw framed photos of her and her husband on the mantle. These frames held pictures of a woman she no longer knew. She said she was going to go in when they were out of town and take all the pictures out and replace them with new photos. She wondered how she had let herself “go” and get so big. I've wondered that too, it's like when it's happening you don't *see* yourself clearly.
I get it. I do understand that feeling of wanting to destroy pictures. And what she said got me thinking, and prompted me to look at my own shelf.
I saw a larger me, yes. But I also saw a life that was being lived DESPITE those extra layers of fat that surrounded me. Despite the pain that I was in. I think it takes a certain spirit to not only live through this, but to go out, set goals and accomplish them despite the “largeness” and the world being as critical as it is and un-accepting of that.
Here's what I found on my shelf:
This first photo is me when I was maybe in 5th grade, giving my sister Kara a piggy back ride. Holding her felt important to me.
A picture of me with my best friend Cheri, who has accepted me at every size - we've been friends for 25 years now, she always knows how to make me laugh.
A picture from my wedding day. Even though I had to get my dress made by a dressmaker as the style I wanted wasn’t in my size, I was beautiful and happy.
A picture of me in England. I went with a group of 11 strangers. This was out of my comfort zone. I got a scholarship to attend, and I knew that this trip would change me and it did. This was where I discovered my faith that I thought was long gone.
Me graduating with my Bachelor of Arts degree from DePaul University. I earned that degree working full-time and going to school full-time. I left my home when I was younger and only 18 yrs. Old. I had to work hard for everything I’ve gotten and this was no different.
My new role as a mother. Looking into her eyes was endless and holding her I felt I was holding the world.
My sister Missy’s wedding day (I’m on the far right). I was so happy for her and her new life ahead.
My nephew Tony’s first birthday party. Playing with the kids makes me feel like a kid again.
These pictures show a story. It isn’t a sad story, but a story of a life lived.
I think about my husband and what his experience with me has been, looking at myself through the picture frames has made me try to see myself through his eyes. Although I had always struggled with my weight, at the time I met him I was coming off of my anorexic phase and I was a size 8. Through our dating I grew, and when we got married I was a curvy size 16 and weighed over 200 lbs. He still loved me.
After we got married is when I really packed the pounds on. I went from a curvy 16 to a very unflattering size 26. All in a year’s time.
Why do I tell you this? Because I used to think that my husband was a saint for staying with me through this journey but looking back at my pictures on the shelf, I see a woman who despite the odds has soared. Had I not lost the 100+ lbs. that I have so far, would it make me a different person? Not in the ways that count. See, my husband stayed with me for who I am, for that spirit inside, that is who he fell in love with, not the outside wrapper. And my friend I told you earlier about is an amazing person too, and her weight, even when she was bigger, did not define her.
And so this blog isn’t about “Yaay me, I am so great.”. It’s just my observations of what I found on that shelf. But really, this blog is about YOU. How many times have you felt “less than” because of your size, or any restrictions it may give you? How many times have people maybe pointed at you, or laughed behind your back? And you know what? You are living despite that. You are making goals, working toward goals and becoming new people – not destroying that old part of you, but enhancing it and embellishing it. Letting that spirit SHOW . Because you are all great spirits as well. We all have the power inside of us to reach outside of our comfort zones, to sign up for that 5k, to train for that marathon, to go to a new country. Being on this journey helps us see ourselves through new eyes.
I would have never thought at the beginning of this journey that the very classes I was taking to start incorporating working out into my life that I would one day teach. But I am studying to be certified at the end of the month to teach Walk Live classes through Leslie Sansone’s Walk at Home program.
This morning my 5 yr. old daughter looked at me as I’m practicing for the movement exam, and asked me why am I going to teach classes? She went on to say “You’re just a mom.”
That gave me a laugh, "JUST a mom" (is that all? LOL.) (It's funny how we are viewed by our children). But I told her that I want to help other people change their lives like I have. I've been given a huge second chance. And I'm not wasting one minute of it. I want to just ooze inspiration everywhere I go! And maybe this will plant a bit of inspiration in my two daughters to go for their dreams, too.
I just wanted to simply say that wherever you are, right NOW, it is enough. You are amazing, just as you are. Will you be even greater someday? I have no doubt about it. Whatever you wish for and dream for, it can happen.
We all have those old pictures on the shelf we'd rather never see again. But I ask you to perhaps embrace the person you are, once were, and who you will be.
And remember, just like Dorothy – you have had the power all along.