Since Christmastime is a time of miracles I thought I’d share a story about myself. If you’ve read my blog for any length of time you may know all this; but I had to share again today because it’s been a year now and a 180-degree turn in my life.
Just over a year ago I had decided I was going to love myself the way I was – heavy, not active, but full of life and joy. After months of giving up dieting and struggling to accept myself I had come to the conclusion that I was meant to be heavy and I was going to accept that for what it was.
We had planned a three-week long trip around Christmas break 2008 to visit both our families out west and attend a conference. I planned for this trip by buying some new clothes at Lane Bryant (size snug 2x), because I was determined that I was going to look cute no matter what I weighed.
For the most part I enjoyed myself. At times I felt twinges of sadness about how big I was, but I just turned my thoughts to accepting myself and not letting any negative thoughts rob me of the joys of the season.
I went so far as to sit at the table of a dear friend of mine and tell her and another friend who have both battled weight that if some people want to be “health nuts” then that’s fine, but it’s not for me.
I defended myself by saying that I just have as slower metabolism and it’s in my genes to be overweight. Words of “self acceptance” poured forth as freely as the coffee in my cup. My friends were gracious enough to listen and accept me for who I was. I even put down a woman is known in our circle to be very health conscious and has managed to keep a very trim figure even as she reaches her 50’s through healthy eating and exercise.
I’m ashamed to admit that last part, that I put her down, and I can only pray it never got back to her.
Seriously though, I kind of laid it out for these dear friends that I wasn’t going to struggle any more. I was tired of feeling like I had to live up to a certain ideal of a woman and so I wasn’t going to fight against my weight issues any longer. They agreed with me and my vacation continued.
I enjoyed the comments on my new, stylish haircut and I enjoyed the company of friends we hadn’t seen in a year and a half. I enjoyed food and treats and just tried to moderately not pig out if I wasn’t hungry, but honestly I didn’t care.
Or so I thought.
Try as I might there was still some despising of myself going on inside my mind. Especially when I saw this picture I had taken with a friend of mine at our former church:
As we were driving back to our hotel and I scanned through the pictures I’d taken that night I paused at this one. My husband asked what was wrong and I told him, “That’s not me. That’s not who I see myself as, or who I feel like.” He sat quietly, wisely not saying anything, but patted my leg.
Though I tried to brush it off, I couldn’t. I was heavy. I was getting to the point that my face was getting fat. I knew I was at the highest weight ever for me, without being pregnant, and when I saw myself in photos I felt like I was looking at the “wrong” person.
Well, as sad as I was that evening I forced myself to get over it and continue our vacation happily. I brushed aside those feelings of negative self talk and reminded myself that God loved me for who I was, my husband loved me, my family, my friends, etc. and I needed to love me for who I was.
And as I continued this loving myself my weight continued to creep up. Until one awful night in April when I mindlessly jumped on the scale and saw 232.5 pounds.
230 pounds?!? I had gained ten more since our vacation and hit another all-time high for me, without being pregnant. My friend was there and I was so embarrassed. She was going in to deliver a baby the next morning and weighed less than I did and at 9 months pregnant.
I was mortified, and felt utterly helpless to do anything about it.
I knew I couldn’t try another diet because diets didn’t work for me. Or rather, and I knew this to be true, I couldn’t make diets work. So, while I knew I needed to do something about this weight that was also currently causing some knee pain regularly, I refused to start another diet.
During that time I came across a book called “Body Clutter” by the ladies from FlyLady.com and decided to see what it had to say. I answered every journal prompt at the end of each chapter and delved into some very personal feelings in regards to weight loss.
I also watched my first episode of The Biggest Loser and heard some deep personal talk that brought out feelings I could relate to. For all the drama and non-realistic workout regimens presented, that show touched a cord in me and I began to see people who thought it was hopeless turn their lives around. During one show I mentioned to my husband about the spouse of a contestant who had lost weight at home before her husband was on the show, “I could look like that?” He answered, “If you work hard, yes.”
With those encouraging words the spark was lit. I knew I had to do something and little by little I began working on some bad habits I had.
I started perusing weight loss blogs and reading people’s stories. Somehow, I don’t even remember now, I came across Diane’s testimony and her blog Fit to the Finish. As I read her story I found someone I could relate to and I began to follow her story. I realized that if she could lose 150 pounds and keep it off for 12 years, then I could too.
Slowly, but surely I began making small changes, starting with walking 30 minutes, three times a week and cutting out full-sugar soda. I set my goal to lose enough weight to buy a dress for my husband’s dental school graduation in May 2011 and it would NOT be in the plus-size department. I was too nervous to set any goals more solid than that, and since I knew it was doable I had the courage to start.
The first 20 pounds came off in four months, and it was almost easy at times. However, I’ve struggled much. I’ve discovered attitudes I’ve harbored and learned to deal with them. I’ve had to admit some things to myself and accept responsibility for my choices.
I have not lost any more the past three months, but neither have I gained any. My fitness levels are increasing and I’m learning what works, or would could possibly work that I haven’t tried yet and most importantly I’ve learned that I can do this.
And as I sit here, just under one year later from that picture in purple I know a miracle has taken place. Where once there was a young woman who refused to be a “health nut” there is now a woman conscious of her eating, and who now wants to jog in a 5K this next year.
The fears still creep up and there remains a long road ahead, but there is also hope and determination. I know that I am going to make it to the end on my weight loss journey, and I know that I will no longer look at photos of myself and tear up inside because I don’t recognize the girl looking back.
That is a miracle, my miracle and one that I will never let go of.
Leah, thank you for sharing this, what a great story. You have found that little spark in you and that will definately get you to the finish line, be it a race with your weight or a running race, you will make it, i know you will!
(How did I miss this post?)
Journaling miracles is a great idea.
Thank you for sharing your story…I also don't recognize myself in photos. I could so much relate to what you said about the pic isn't how you see yourself.