I believe a big reason for my attitude shift is my boyfriend, Brian (who will probably be embarrassed when he reads this, but I won't act like he hasn't played a big role). I've written before in here about my eternal singletude, and my disappointment that weight loss did not automatically translate to success in dating (check out Life begins at the end of your comfort zone and I guess my Prince Charming got stuck in a traffic jam). But last August, the impossible actually happened. I started dating Brian, and 10 months later we are still going strong. He's been so supportive of my weight loss efforts, but he also helps me keep a sense of balance (i.e. he calls me out for being crazy when I run 24 miles in a day or run out in the 100 degree heat). But he accepts and loves me just as I am, and what's more is, he accepts and loves who I used to be. I showed him my "before" pictures on our second date, and he wasn't disgusted by them. In fact, he said he wished he had known me then because then he could have been there for my whole transformation. There wasn't really a good way to be like, "Oh hey, by the way, I used to weigh over 300 lbs" but I felt like I needed to tell him because it has played such a huge part in my life and who I have become, that it would have just been weird not to tell him. Brian's kind and loving attitude has helped me be more kind and loving towards myself. So that kind of makes up for the fact that he can regularly eat 2 fast food dinners a night and never gain an ounce (hey, at least I've converted him to drinking water instead of soda!). If only he could let me borrow that superhuman metabolism. Here's a picture of us, because I think we're pretty cute.
Anyway, back to year 3. My year one post was filled with numbers. Pounds, percentages, inches oh my! Year 2 had some of that too, but I also talked about my other accomplishments. For year 3, I feel like I'm able to look past all those numbers and physical accomplishments, and look at the big picture....being happy, healthy, and active. You know, it's funny, but now when I look at my before picture, it almost feels like I'm looking at someone else. That girl is so different in every possible way than I am today. But unlike times past, I don't look at her with despair or regret or disgust. That girl was sad and unhealthy, but she was worthy even then. I look at her with love. While so many things have changed about me, the core of who I am remains the same, be it at over 300 lbs or less than half of that. I'm so glad that I decided the girl I used to be was worth saving. That's why I get annoyed now when people put down their before pictures or someone else's. It takes a lot of courage to change your life, and the person who first decided to do that wasn't the person who is fit and healthy today. It was the overweight person that people feel such disgust about that had the courage to take that very first step.
So as some of you know, I take progress pictures every year. The thought entered my mind that maybe I shouldn't take them this year since I haven't really lost weight. But then I decided that was stupid. I have made immense progress this year, just not in terms of pounds on the scale, and that deserves to be celebrated. So I put on my pretty white dress (a dress I never, ever would have worn at over 300 lbs for fear looking like a gigantic marshmallow), and even got a spray tan (because I rock an extremely severe case of sports bra tan lines and pasty white legs), and I went out to the park that I run in all the time to celebrate all I have been and all that I am (wow, that was super corny, but I'm allowed to get all sentimental and sappy on my anniversary). I decided that I also wanted a gigantic number 3 in my pictures. I stood in Party City yesterday and decided that, yes indeed, I would spend $10 on a huge balloon shaped like a 3. I mean, if all of this hasn't at least merited a gigantic balloon, I don't know what does!
So without further ado, year 3 progress pictures (taken, as all my other progress pictures were, by my mom), both the good and the humorous, because my face in some of these pictures is, well, special. Also. I like to try "interesting" poses, such as the one below that looks like a prom photo of me and an inanimate object. I thought about taking a picture of me wrestling and/or punching the 3, but that was too weird even for me.
Duh, got to have the before picture
It's our official couple picture...sorry Brian
Really, I just enjoy the unintentional creepy look on my face here.
Home Alone...enough said.
I also enjoy this weird face.
It looks like I'm taking the balloon for a walk.
No, I'm not pretending to be an airplane.
*Gazes meaningfully in the distance*...and when picture isn't taken fast enough, wonders how long she will have to continue to stare meaningfully.
Me and me
You can tell which pictures I actually thought were good because of my lack of snarky comment. But seriously, when I saw these pictures, I thought that I looked beautiful (well, actually in some of them I thought I looked hilarious). But for the most part, beautiful and very, very happy. It kind of bothers me that maybe that seems arrogant, but I know in my heart that it's not. It's not like I go around all the time thinking about how gorgeous I am. For once, I didn't focus on my loose skin and gross arms and crow's feet. and blah, blah, blah. For once, I didn't think how I still kind of look fat. For once, the most kind thought I could muster up about myself wasn't "I look okay" or "I look decent." It was, "I look beautiful."
I was looking back at my anniversary blog posts from year 1 and 2, and I came across this quote that made me tear up. It hits home so much for me that I'll use it again this year too.
Take time to celebrate. Celebrate your successes, your growth, your accomplishments. Celebrate you and who you are. For too long you have been too hard on yourself. You are a child of God. Beautiful, a delight, a joy. You do not have to try harder, be better, be perfect, or be anything you are not. Your beauty is in you, just as you are each moment. Celebrate that.
What do I hope for in year 4 (seriously, it really does seem crazy to write that!)? I hope I continue to keep this great sense of balance. I hope I continue to be kind to myself (but also give myself a come to Jesus talk when I need to). I do hope I hit my goal weight, even though that one single number isn't as important as it once was. I hope I get more and more comfortable with the concept of being perfectly imperfect. For that matter, I hope I get more comfortable with the fact that while losing weight did improve my quality of life exponentially (SAT word!), it didn't suddenly make everything perfect. And finally, I hope I keep living this amazing life that I could only have imagined and wished for 3 years ago, and never, ever take it for granted.