I said hello to her and watched her struggle to figure out who I was. Then her jaw dropped.
I have to tell you in all honesty, that NEVER gets old.
She exclaimed over my transformation and then asked the question I've grown used to hearing over and over.
"But how did you do it?"
This is always an awkward moment for me. Because some people are genuinely interested. Some people are really looking for answers. But some people are just being polite. And some people? Some people want me to tell them that it was magic; a pill, a shake, a shot. Some people want to hear something, anything other than the unvarnished truth of the matter. So I never really quite know how to answer that question.
I noted that she had gained weight; quite a bit in fact. So I thought she might be one of those looking for a solution. I told her about Weight Watchers. I told her about Zumba. While I was speaking, I saw the hope in her eyes die. I had guessed wrong. She wasn't seeking answers, she was seeking salvation. She had her heart set on a magic elixir that would melt the very flesh from her bones and restore her body to it's formerly taut and youthful state.
I don't understand why people ask me when they don't really want to hear the answer.
The truth is this:
I ate less. I learned how to make healthy choices and control my portions. I made exercise a priority in my life (that's the one people really hate to hear). I learned to regard being strong and fit as it's own reward and not just the byproduct of burning calories. I stopped looking at eating healthy as a means to an end and began to look at it as a new and lasting lifestyle. And I kept going week after week, even when the scale didn't always seem to reflect the effort I was putting in. I celebrated small victories as though they were huge triumphs. I learned how to suffer setbacks gracefully and move on. I learned that it's all up to me. And and on the weeks that I faltered and that scale told the tale, I learned to lay the blame at my own doorstep. Accountability can be a real bitch, but it keeps you honest.
It's hard work. It's balance. It's perserverance. It's sacrifice. Sometimes it's denial. Sometimes it's being grumpy because you really want a damned cookie, but you've already exceeded your intake for the day. It's learning to live with the grumpy and understanding that you can't feed every negative thought or feeling away. It's figuring out that food is not your friend or your lover or your confidant or your shrink.
It's HARD, folks. Damned hard. One reason I became a Zumba instructor and that I plan to become a Weight Watchers leader is that I don't EVER want to have to do this again.
But has it been worth it?
"Worth it" doesn't begin to express how I view the journey that I have experienced. I'm aware that describing it as a "journey" is terribly hackneyed and hopelessly cliche, but it really and truly has been one. I learned a lot more than how to lose weight. I learned that I can do anything I set my mind to. The victory over my body gave me the courage and the confidence to conquer a lot of other demons as well. I have grown as I have shrunk. And though it was a long and arduous road to get where I am today, I would have missed so, so much if I hadn't walked it.
So if you ask me how I did it, I'll tell you, with the caveat that you may not like the answer. I could lie to you...I lied to myself for long enough. But I wouldn't do you the same disservice that I did myself.
If you're fat, you're going to die a premature death from heart disease, diabetes, stroke or other obesity related illnesses. That's not hyperbole. That's not a scare tactic. It's plain truth.
But you can fix it. Right now. Today. I know it's a scary thing. I know it seems impossible. But you can.