Today I arrived at a huge milestone in terms of my weight management--that coveted two-year mark when my odds of regain go from as high as 98% all the way down to 50%. But this day means much more to me than statistics can ever represent. It represents the renewed sense of hope, joy and happiness I feel as a result of finally achieving what I had previously thought was unachievable.
I had been thinking about what I wanted to write about to celebrate this milestone for quite some time and asked friends and family members to dig up some old photos of me that I could use for this blog. Back when I was at my heaviest, I absolutely detested having my picture taken and I don't have many "before" shots. So few, in fact, that when my mom sent me this one, I was floored:
(I'm the one on the right!)
Was that really me? I barely recognized myself and couldn't believe I used to look like that. The photo is from late 2001 when I was at (or very close to) my all-time highest weight. In the 12+ years that have passed since that photo, I've undergone much more than just a physical change and my journey has been far from a straight shot from there to where I am now. I lost 115 pounds in 2002-2003 only to regain 95 of them by 2010. And even though I wasn't at my heaviest when I got started again in early 2010, the blow to my self-esteem that came from regaining all that weight was huge. I thought I was destined to be obese for the rest of my life and that no amount of dieting or dedication could change that destiny. Yet for some reason, I still decided to give it a go anyway.
Fast forward four years to now. Not only did I manage to lose the weight I wanted to, but I've also been able to keep it off for two years. (For those of you who are into numbers and serendipity, I joined SparkPeople on March 7, 2010, reached my goal on March 7, 2012 and am celebrating two years of maintenance today, March 7, 2014--kind of neat, right?) But what's even more important than the weight I've shed is the fact that I've reclaimed my life. The girl in that old photo did not have a high self-esteem. She slept all the time, had little energy and her size physically held her back from enjoying many of the things a young person should be able to do without a problem. If affected her relationships with other people and also her relationship with herself. I'm writing about myself in the third person, because I feel like that girl is not me anymore and not just in a physical sense. From a low point with little hope, I've slowly, but surely been able to rebuild my shattered confidence as I lost the weight and kept it off. That sense of confidence comes from achieving what I once thought was an unachievable dream and makes me feel like there's little that life can throw my way that I can't handle. Having weathered quite a few challenges, especially in the past year, I've come to appreciate just how tough and resilient I am. It hasn't been easy work and those were skills were not ingrained in me from the start--I had to develop them, be prepared to fail and learn to pick myself up time after time so I'd have the resilience I needed to help me cut through the rough waters when times got tough and feelings of self-doubt started to gnaw away at me.
So as I look back at pictures of where I've been over the course of my life, I can proudly say that not only am I at my healthiest and happiest, but I've also developed a kind of coat of armor that I think will serve me well as I forge ahead. I am strong, I am tough and there's no going back. This journey and where I stand today has been worth every sacrifice I've made, every day I cursed having to exercise when I just wanted to stay in bed and every rough patch I've slogged my way through when practically every ounce of me wanted to chuck it all in and dive headfirst into a box of cookies.
If you're just starting out and are filled with doubt and trepidation, please don't give up hope, even if you've struggled your whole life as I had.
Getting to the root causes of our over-reliance on food as a coping mechanism is not an easy process. I'm not going to lie--it's been very, very hard for me at times--but it is one that can be tackled with patience, persistence, honest introspection, consistency, gentleness with yourself and your slip ups and increasing levels of resilience, all skills that CAN be developed.
As the beautiful Audrey Hepburn once said, "Nothing is impossible, the word itself says 'I'm possible'!" Successful weight loss and maintenance are possible. And so am I and so are you.