I sit in my living room this morning, after the New Year, at the beginning, AGAIN, of a weight loss journey. I’m not disappointed to be here (ok, maybe a little) because I understand the road that took me here and the road I have to travel, again, to get where I want to be. You see, I lost 40+ pounds in 2012. I had been through a divorce, quit smoking and had packed on the pounds from settling in to my new life of happiness and eating whatever I wanted with the love of my life because, and I hate him for this, he can eat whatever he wants and not gain and ounce. Isn’t he adorable? So, I woke up, made a decision and put the pedal to the metal and lost those unwanted pounds. I was on Cloud Nine. Euphoric! Ecstatic! I felt untouchable and in complete control of my life and it was awesome. But, then…
I was diagnosed with a relapse of Panic Disorder. I’m not talking about the “butterflies in your belly, shakiness but can do it anyway” kind of panic. No. I’m talking about the kind that interrupts your daily life. The kind that stopped me from driving anywhere. The kind that woke me up and kept me up ALL night, taking over my body and making me feel like a prisoner to it. No amount of talking myself down worked. No positive thinking worked. Literally NOTHING worked. I felt hopeless, sad, depressed and like a burden. I became the woman who rarely got out of bed, unless it was for work and even then I struggled through the day until I got home again in my “safe zone”. All of my confidence was gone. All of my independence was robbed and I wanted to my life back—for me, my kids and my husband. I wanted to feel “normal”.
I could feel “normal” again, my Doctor assured me if I just went back on my meds from 10 years ago and she was right. But, those “meds” also made me gain weight and while they took away my panic, they also took away my desire to do anything active and made me crave evil “carbs”. In fact, they also prescribe this medication to people with Bulimia to give them the desire to eat again. WHOOPIE! I wrestled with the facts and realized I had to make a tough decision—become a permanent shut-in and be a burden on my whole family or regain my sanity and possibly have a HUGE obstacle to my weight loss. The answer was easy. My family came first and so, I took the pills.
At first, they killed my appetite and that was ok, because while being a shut-in for almost three months, I had not exercised ONCE. Not a single solitary time. So, I was gaunt and had loss ALL muscle tone. I could see my hip bones and I didn’t care. In my mind, the person staring back at me from the mirror was a shell, a ghost, someone I didn’t recognize anymore. The light was gone from my eyes and a paleness ran through my skin like never before. But, slowly, they began to work and my life came back to me in a piece here, an outing there and before long, I was back to ME. I felt alive again. I felt good again. I felt “normal”. And, anyone who has ever been sidelined can probably understand that the FIRST thing you want to do when you are able to is to celebrate! And, I did. A LOT!!!! Wine and parties and late night Jack-in-the-Box drive thrus took over my waking life. My husband and I would grab a GALLON of wine (yes, a GALLON) and order a large pizza and cuddle all night, binging Netflix and eating and drinking and celebrating until our bellies were overfull and are hearts were content. I did this A LOT.
You see, I was MAD at my body. My body and brain had betrayed me. I had spent time taking care of them, making them healthier and then, poof, they had relapsed and knocked me off of my feet. I was angry at this temple and I wanted it to pay. I don’t think I consciously realized this at the time, but I do now. I was tired of trying so hard to make myself healthy, only to end up feeling awful. I felt like my body had been a best friend who had stabbed me in the back and I wasn’t going to bend over backwards again for them. I had learned my lesson. It was time for revenge. And lord knows I am a genius at revenge.
I continued to indulge and make excuses. I also, began exercising again, because it truly is something that is “in” me, being a former athlete, and I missed it. But, NO, I wasn’t doing it for my body. I hated my body. I was doing it for ME. My body could suck it as far as I was concerned. But, as time went on, something began to happen. I was no longer gaunt. My pants became tighter and as I gained back all and more of the pounds I had lost, I began to no longer feel like me anymore. I was in there. Inside this larger bodysuit of weight. I could see my eyes, I recognized myself but now I had gone too far. Like any kind of revenge, this had backfired horribly. Now, instead of not caring when I drank a gallon of wine and downed a large pizza, I felt guilty when I did. I obsessed about it all night and promised that “tomorrow would be different”. But, it never was. Tomorrow came and so did the excuses, then the food, then the guilt. My hatred of my body had caused me to begin to hate MYSELF. What had I done to myself? In hating my temple, my body, my shell, I had done damage to ME. Much like when we try to hurt someone else. In the end, we only end up hurting ourselves worse than we ever imagined we could. I couldn’t keep going like this. I had swung to the other end of the spectrum and I was fighting a losing battle.
And, so, it was time. Time to face my body and tell it how I felt. It was time to “make nice” and get ME and my BODY back. No, I couldn’t control what happened to my body ALL of the time. Sometimes our health fails us. We get sick, we have mental issues (thanks to a long line of crazy women in my family, many of whom were hospitalized in mental wards or attempted suicide, this is my cross to carry) or injured. But, I had a decision to make. I needed to find a BALANCE—controlling what I can and letting go of what I couldn’t and finding a healthy medium that was good for ME and my BODY.
So, with the help of a therapist and my husband, I took this BIG step. We had an extensive two-hour session, the last half of which, was spent with me stripping down to only tight yoga pants and a tight sports bra and looking at myself in a full-length mirror. THE HORROR!!!!!!! At first, my eyes wouldn’t meet my reflection. I didn’t want to see myself in that light. I hadn’t looked at my body like that in a long time and didn’t want to start now. But, she stood beside me and told me to look at it, to see the beauty in it and to appreciate ALL of it. She then did the unthinkable. She touched my belly! She said “This is beautiful. This held your babies inside and nourished them for months. Thank your belly”. And with trepidation and a sour look on my face, I did. I touched my belly and my thighs and my face and hips and told all of my parts that I loved them and I was sorry for hating them. As I continued, I began to feel love for my body and sorrow for hating it so much. She had my husband hold me and kiss my belly and my face and tell me how beautiful I am. Between the two of them and this “practice” I FINALLY faced my body and apologized for hating it. It was a powerful moment. My hands shook and tears came to my eyes. It was like making up with that old friend and realizing that nothing they had done to you in the past mattered. It was time to move on. Together.
And, here I am. Beginning, AGAIN, my journey of weight loss. I have made “nice” with my body. I love my body. Is it bigger than I would like right now? Yes. But, I still love every single inch. My legs are strong and my thighs are thick. My belly is round but it is beautiful. And now, I want to treat it with respect and to lose the weight for ME. And I know that my body will take me faithfully through this journey. Like anything in life, there will be ups and downs. There will be drama, failures and hilarious moments but most of all it will be raw and REAL. I will take you with me and hopefully we will all learn a little more about ourselves. At the very least, you will probably learn more about me than you ever wanted to know. So, join me on this journey. We ONLY have this one body. The one we were born with and the one we will die in. It’s time to make “nice”.
Undress yourself in front of a mirror. A full-length mirror is best, but whatever mirror you have is fine. Completely undress. Now look at yourself. REALLY look at your body.
*What areas do your eyes avoid? LOOK at them!
*What areas do you dislike? Tell them you love them. TELL them.
*Look yourself in the eyes and tell yourself and your body that you are grateful for them and that you love them. (This isn’t easy, but I promise it is vital to connecting to your body.)
*Tell your body the things you DO love about it.
*Now, apologize to your body for hating it or mistreating it.
*Hug yourself. Do it. I promise you need it.