Saturday, December 7, 2013

Sheryl Crow had it right; a change would do you good

Okay, maybe Sheryl Crow's song isn't exactly about the same kind of a change I am talking about here, but you get the point. Anyway, I get a lot of people that ask me if there was some "Aha!" moment that made me start losing weight. I can't say that there really was, although it would for sure be more dramatic if there was some crazy event like me having a heart attack or something. I'm really glad it didn't take something like that though! I think for me, it was a lot of little moments that added up until I had just had enough of it. I got to thinking of one of those moments this week when I was decorating for Christmas. I have a rule that the apartment has to be clean before I start decorating. This keeps me from procrastinating on cleaning because I want to decorate so much (I find it slightly scary how often I have to trick my own mind into doing things). So that's some work, and then I have to get out the boxes of decorations from storage, which always leads to me cleaning out the storage closet, and then consequently having 5 million bags of trash to take down to the dumpster. This year, it took me about a solid day's work to accomplish everything. When I finished, I even still had enough energy to go for a run. And that's when I started thinking how very different this scenario was from 2 years ago. It took me about a week to clean and decorate for Christmas because of how many times I had to stop for breaks. Even on stuff like cleaning the bathroom, which isn't exactly an endurance sport, I still had to rest. And as far as taking all those trash bags out to the dumpster and climbing up and down the stairs? I needed 10 minutes to recover from every trip. My physical decline had slowly crept up on me. I knew that I wasn't in good shape by any means, but I had no idea how bad it had gotten until then. I mean, it is somewhat alarming (and embarrassing) that a 27-year-old would be in that kind of physical condition.

 Christmas is also a time when people tend to take pictures of family. I've always been the unofficial photographer in my family (sometimes much to my siblings' dismay), but before that year I had usually made an effort to ensure I was in at least some of the pictures. In 2011, I was present in barely any pictures at all. I don't think it was even a conscious thing on my part. It was easy and natural enough to remove myself from pictures since I was usually the one taking them. But that Christmas we went to visit my grandmother and took a picture as a family. Here it is:

I was absolutely horrified when I saw that picture. I guess I actually thought holding that pillow in front of me could disguise some of my bulk. And this may sound stupid and narcissistic, but even now looking at this picture of my grandmother's last Christmas, one of my first thoughts is how terrible I looked. It's even worse at  my grandmother's birthday party in June 2012 in our last family picture with her because I had put on about 20 more pounds there.

 Again, selfish and petty, but I hate that in this picture, the picture that everyone remembers because it was the last one, I look like a gigantic blob. What can I say? I'm very human.

I think seeing pictures like these is part of the reason I tried to avoid being in front of the camera. Pictures don't lie, although I really tried to hope that instead of the camera adding 10 lbs, it had added 200 lbs. You can't escape from the harsh truth after seeing a picture. You can't pretend anymore that maybe other people don't see you as big. That maybe you don't actually look like you weigh that much. I wish I could say that after seeing that Christmas picture, I had my big revelation. Oh, I made my New Year's resolution weight loss plans, the same as I did every year. I even joined a gym, which I did not set foot into until June. It would be easy to have regrets about not starting to lose weight sooner, but regrets serve no purpose. You can't change the past. The fact of the matter is, I wasn't ready to change at Christmas. I wasn't ready in January or February or March or April or May. But I was ready that June. Like I said, by then it was a lot of little things that had added up to make me ready for a change. Maybe it was that birthday picture that was the ultimate catalyst because 2 weeks later, I had started on this weight loss journey. In which case, I hope that in time I can start to look at that picture not with shame, but with a sense of pride that this picture was taken right before I took control and changed my life. That that girl, the one who weighed 328 lbs, was the one who had the strength and courage to try to be different. I know my grandmother would feel nothing but pride about that.

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