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Was the devastating hurt congruent to the truth behind her words? Had I robbed my mother of a fond experience fit for a more attractive daughter? A single tear slipped from the corner of my eye and coaxed me back to reality. Organizing the jumble of ill-fitting outerwear, I returned them to their respective racks and rushed back out. I surveyed the neon signs lining the modest plaza, looking for a suitable distraction from my dilemma. My eyes came to rest on a bright orange marquee above a fitness center. “This month only – Membership sale – $19.99 a month.” I absentmindedly watched the words scroll by several times before skittishly stepping into the spacious lobby.
The clanking of metal and the echoes of swift footfalls greeted me as I stood wringing my hands nervously, shifting my gaze from side to side. I felt painfully out of place in my faded jeans and dumpy sweatshirt as I forced myself up to the counter. Caught off guard by the bubbly greeting that fiercely contrasted my glum disposition, I struggled through several long, speechless seconds before expressing my interest in the offered tour. It was just a formality, as I had already made up my mind to sign the two-year contract, no matter what the strain on my already scant budget. I needed to do this.
I don't know where I found strength that day—perhaps in the desperation of my circumstances. Room was made inside me for something new when I suspended my pride and admitted to having a problem. Hope? Bravery? Ambition? Perhaps my bridled pride now allowed space for all three. That night I sat with my laptop next to an open window, absorbing the chilling air and the lyrics of Depeche Mode's “But Not Tonight” emanating from my headphones. A favorite of mine for years, the song suddenly made more sense than it ever had before.
Is shining in the sky
Of so many other nights
When my eyes have been so red
I've been mistaken for dead
But not tonight”
I started my day three or four times a week with a sixty-minute workout. It became as much a part of my day as waking or sleeping. I loomed over my laptop every night, reading anything and everything about nutrition and the human body. Frequenting SparkPeople's weight loss forums, I found myself offering advice to others and effortlessly answering their questions. It consumed me, and it became my passion. My mornings at the gym were the only time in my day that was one hundred percent devoted to me. I did not seek a gym partner. I did not join a weight loss group. Despite the difficulty, it was important to me that I did it alone. I needed proof of my sustainability. I needed to know that it was forever. And that it was for me.