I am quite sure by now that if you are my friend on the Book of Face, that you are well aware of the fact that I have dragged myself up from my comfortable chair, knocked the dust off of my tennis shoes, checked them for dry rot, and held my breath long enough to get them tied as I bent over before starting back at the gym in November. It was the end of a long and arduous process of living through denial and a cycle of failure that was taking up way too much of my mental energy to fight. Much like industrious deadbeat criminals who hatch elaborate schemes to rip people off instead of just using all of that talent to find and keep a job, I was using up a tremendous amount of energy trying to avoid dealing with the inevitable.
Because, folks, no matter how much you want things to be different...there are only two ways to lose weight...you eat less...or you exercise more. And frankly, you'll get to a point where you realize that you actually have to do both. All of the time. Every day. Consistently. Unless, of course, you are part of the 1% of the population that was born with a metabolism that could power an entire city if harnessed, or your body rejects the notion of fat storage. I actually know people like this...they do exist. And they are upset that everyone thinks that they are anorexic or aren't eating like normal people. To which I acknowledge their pain...but I'm not really terribly sympathetic. Because one of my superpowers is apparently the ability to gain weight.
And no, I will not be putting on a leotard and tights and putting a big FG on my chest for "Fat Girl." That would be entirely too tragic.
Because, truth be told...I'm not a fat girl. Now, I realize that I look like a fat girl. My clothes are purchased in the Junior Zeppelin Department, and elastic is my friend. But contrary to this evidence...it is only because my brain and body just think I am. Part of that is because I have sent my body the message that I am fat for the better part of 35 years. And now my brain believes it and has moved to make my body reflect that reality. For the record...my mind is a powerful thing.
So is yours.
Anyway, of late, I've been trying to tell it the truth...that I am a healthy, vibrant, child of God. Some days, it seems to respond to that message. Other days, not so much. When I am faced with a food choice that is not wise, I at least think about it. And about once a month, I just throw caution to the wind and eat whatever I want for one meal. Possibly two.
But even that isn't as much fun anymore. Because it just sets me back another week. Because I now know what burning off 200 calories feels like and can equate it to something that makes sense. By the way...in my case...it is 26 minutes on the elliptical machine. It used to be 36 minutes to burn the same number of calories, but I've gotten faster as time has gone by. Which is a really, really positive development. Because on day 1...I was happy with ten minutes on the thing.
But since I brought that up...I'd like to take you back to the first day that I entered the gym. After months of being encouraged to show up by my son (who works there) and watching Facebook posts about friends in the gym...I decided that the time had come. My daughter had been telling me that she needed a workout partner...and after throwing out every name that I could think of I realized that - ahem - her workout partner was...
That was in November of 2012. Actually, it was in mid to late November. I was wearing a shirt in size OMG and waddling by an entire room full of mirrors. I refer to this as the "walk of shame."
Except I was harder on myself than anyone else there. Everyone else was welcoming me and encouraging me to come back the next day...and the next...and so I have.
I am still not a fan of having to consider fitness a part time job. But it is. I'm not always happy that I can't go home and curl up in front of the computer and write about my day. Or that Big Dave and I miss those precious thirty minutes in between dinner and the first gentle sounds of snoring emanating from the couch. Sometimes the 30 minutes on the elliptical machine followed by 30 minutes on the bike is not my happy place. Especially when someone else has the remote to the TV and they insist on leaving the set on NBC Nightly News.
Yeah, Towanda is totally not a fan of this.
But I do my time and I wait for my daughter to arrive and then we head downstairs for another hour of weights, machines, or whatever. Sometimes the "whatever" involves pushing myself beyond what I did the day before. Other times it could be me holding Jill's feet while she does abs. Abs are something that I pretty much only aspire to as mine pretty much went into retirement in 1993, so I have fun just encouraging her along. After all...I'm told that swimsuit weather is right around the corner. I honestly wouldn't know.
Nor do I much care.
What I do care about is that every day be a little better than the day before. There are no guarantees, you know...even if you stay focused. Sometimes I just want to jump all over a pint of ice cream, or have a piece of cake in the breakroom. When you have a lot of weight to lose...it seems like such a long path that you can easily get down some rabbit trail promising to do better as you wipe the crumbs from your mouth.
Is at times like these, when it is really, really important to have people in front of you who have your back. Who tell you to get back on that elliptical machine and to say "NO!" next time. Who tell you that your face is looking thinner and your behind isn't as "robust." That you are doing great for just showing up...and are improving over time. That they are proud of you for being consistent.
Anything really worth doing involves showing up. And sometimes not just showing up...but pushing yourself to be just a little bit better. My instructor told me this morning that we are all works in progress. That you get to one level and you keep encouraging yourself to be faster, healthier, stronger...better.
And why not? The possibilities are endless. And so are the rewards.
I've had a number of people tell me that they are proud of me for doing something positive...and for making the hard choices. I'm not perfect, but I was inspired by others...so I like to think of it as just passing it along. It is my dream to be at a normal weight and to cage the monkey that has been on my back for the better part of my existence. It really needs to move on...because beyond this...there are so many other things that I want to do in life.
Five months ago, I was in Europe on vacation...and although I didn't say a lot about it...I was absolutely frightened to death at how little control I had over my appetite and how old I felt as I tried to walk around London and Paris. I'm too young for giving up...and I'm way too stubborn to let something like half of my normal weight handicap me.
Yes, you read that right. I need to lose half of my body weight. That's the downside. The upside is...I might end up on the cover of People Magazine. My Mom would be so proud.
But for now, I am just taking a day at a time. I make poor decisions still...but I'm making fewer and fewer each week. Eventually, I will get a handle on some of this...although I'm really happy that I can do an hour of cardio without hyperventilating or making bargains with God that if He gets me through the 30 minutes on the elliptical...I'll leave Lays potato chips alone forever. Mom always told me that you can't make bargains with God anyway. I've tried to keep my Lays consumption to a bare minimum just in case.
I hope that I can sit here and write about this journey a few months from now and will have more words of wisdom for those who are lacing up their shoes and considering that "walk of shame" past the mirrors in the gym. Just do it. Just hang your head and get it over with. And after that...hold it high for having the courage to do something that is really, really hard.
Because it is. This wanting to be better is always difficult. But it is also worth it. That is what I've learned thus far. Plus, I've gotten a lot of quality time with my daughter and a host of positive people at Hogan's Gym...and you really can't put a price on that.
I'm down 20 pounds more or less and have a very long way to go. But I'm down the road a lot farther than I was in November...and I'm very grateful for that.