Yep, I admit it I am a loser but not in the traditional sense, yea, yea, what a shock me not traditional who would have thunk it. Sitting here typing this very late blog I am less than 3lbs away from hitting my goal weight. I am, and have been a member, on and off, for the last 7-8 years, of Weight Watchers. I have mostly been on for the past 5 though with various degrees of success. There were times years prior I tried lots of diets and weight loss programs The Zone, Atkins, Weigh Watchers, Suzanne Sommer’s, and the Cabbage Soup or otherwise known as the “you can’t go out in public because you are a gas bag diet”.
I grew up in a house where my mom lived on and off on diets, that legacy was passed down. Though looking back at pictures I was slim most of my life and as I got older not more than 10-20 pounds over till I was put on a medication to help with my out of control migraines. Those meds and a lifestyle of stuffing my emotions got me up to what a defensive tackle for the Miami Dolphins weighs. I am a tall girl so I rounded out to the silhouette of the Michelin tire man, very unattractive. Not to mention the self loathing that accompanied the weight gain, the feelings of loss of control, and overall sadness only exacerbated the problem. Eventually I hit rock bottom around my 40th birthday. I realized if I managed to live another 40 years I did not want to be hauling the body I was sporting much less be making that ungodly groaning noise I was making just getting out of a low slung chair. This was not my beautiful life and it was up to me to go find it. The pain of existing in my skin was so great that introducing a healthy lifestyle was really the lesser of the two evils.
It has taken a long, long time. A long time to learn what works for me and not judge it. I hated exercise and finding things I could tolerate in the beginning and eventually love took almost a lifetime. Learning what foods made my body feel good, listening to it when I was satisfied with my meal and not keep eating until I feel stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey. Weight Watchers ultimately gave me many tools, support and the philosophy that “it is not a diet, it’s a lifestyle” that worked for me. I do not do well when I deprive myself of anything. I am a creature who needs choice and variety. If I feel trapped I bolt. It’s a simple fight or flight thing for me: if I am told that I have to give up carbs for 3 weeks, then that is all I want, need and obsess on. I need the freedom to choose or feel as though I do. We always have a choice; even not choosing is a choice.
There have been two things that have come to light to get me all the way home here. The first was really learning, really understanding that my coping method of eating my emotions no longer served me. I learned to feel what I was feeling instead of stuff it down with food, whether the emotion was stress, anger, boredom, or happiness, didn’t matter. I never felt better after eating during those times only worse. So when I started to take walks in time of high and unmanageable emotional states, or write in my journal, or call someone to talk I felt better. I always felt better. These skills became my new coping mechanisms, my new tools in my self care tool bag. It didn’t mean I didn’t try food first in the beginning but I didn’t get relief I was seeking and by just walking out my door and around the block for 30 minutes I did. It took time; I wanted to keep going back to where I used to find comfort but no longer did. Finally I let it go and moved forward. I replaced a bad habit with a good one as the universe abhors a void.
The second thing I that got me this close is I just didn’t give up. I kept tweaking the food, my mood, the exercise, I failed over, and over, and over for years. I just kept getting back up and looking at what beliefs limited me, what mindset and habits were sabotaging me and addressed them. What can I say, I am one stubborn bitch. I was also fighting for my life, my mental and physical health. I knew that giving up was not an option I didn’t want to going back to that half life I was existing at prior to this. The pain in those mornings of looking in my closet and being ashamed to get dressed because I had run out of angles in the mirror I looked OK at. It hurt too much. So I kept t trying to get healthy, making small adjustments, small steps, meal by meal, mile by mile.
Three and half years ago I lost my youngest sister Amy to Leukemia. She was 36. She was diagnosed just at the point she was pulling her life together. She had fallen in love, was getting physically and mentally strong and healthy. Then she was diagnosed and dead within 6 months. Life can be very short. I swore after her death I would not only get healthy but wanted to honor her by honoring my body. I wanted to become athletic in a way I had never done before. I wanted to be the kind of athlete who moved with ease and grace. I wanted to be someone comfortable in their body, strong, confident and happy. None of these things I had ever been or dreamed I could be. It was pure fiction to me, ok science fiction… I put that marker in the sand and promptly forgot about it until late last spring. On a phone call with my trusty sidekick and BFF Marsue, she reminded me about that vow, that desire to become an athlete in some sense. She also pointed out I had done it. I had not exactly forgotten the desire to take it to that level of fitness, I had just been doing those small steps to get there and I forgot to look up to see I had arrived. I am happy to say the view is better than I could have dreamed.
A few weeks ago I was walking on the beach with a friend of mine and we were talking about our schedules for the week. I mentioned I had my Weight Watchers meeting the next morning and he stopped walking. He took my arm and spun me around to look at me incredulous and said “You don’t need to lose weight.” He turned me sideways and continued, “When you turn sideways you remind me of an Angelfish, you all but disappear except for those eyes.” I burst out laughing , not only was it one of the nicest things I had heard in a good long while it was hilarious to me to be compared with such a graceful creature. So within the next week or two I will hit goal. I will have lost a little over 90lbs which is essentially a prima ballerina from the Moscow Ballet Company. I have no doubt that I will hit goal, you see once I started connecting the dots to how my body worked, emotional hunger verse’s physical hunger, and strung all those small steps together I understood bone deep I was no longer my old story. I wasn’t holding on to the things that no longer served me. I was working on a new story, a new life and it has grown up around me on my journey. It seems in my new story I am something of an Angelfish with an incredibly beautiful life. I can’t wait to see what happens next!