This week has been quite the tutorial on goals. I am accustomed to goals at work, and am the kind of person who can get through most anything if you'll tell me when it will end. I count steps. I measure everything. I watch the clock. Can pretty much estimate if something is possible or doubtful based on when you need it. It is both a blessing and a curse.
This past weekend I watched my son and other engineering and physics majors attempt to get a vehicle of their own design around a course that was created to make that mighty difficult. These students had been setting goals and making adjustments and then had no choice but to move forward. It wasn't nirvana...but they finished the course. They learned from their mistakes. They are already planning the changes for next year.
I didn't mention that my son spent weeks at the gym building up his endurance in addition to working on the vehicle. After working in a gym for five years...he finally was told that he had to work out because he had to pedal this vehicle (with another rider) 3/4 of a mile as quickly as possible. A lot of it uphill and through sand, rocks, and bumps. One cannot simply jump onto the vehicle from the couch and expect not to require medical attention as a result.
Even if you are 21 years old and are still under the delusion that ramen noodles are actually food.
I'm proud that they finished...and that they set goals and stuck to them. That they are still setting them and expect to grow and improve and be on the winner's stand next year. I sincerely hope that they make that goal. I have confidence that they will.
As for my goals, I've been working on weight eradication for the past twelve weeks. It was time. Actually, it was "time" so long ago that I cannot even remember when it wasn't. One of the driving forces when I get upset when my fat cries (sweat) but my weight registers far less enthusiasm than I think it should...is the knowledge that I've finally made the hard decisions that I should have made a long time ago. If I keep at it, my children will get to see their mother be of normal weight. Neither has a conscious memory of that. They've seen pictures, but it isn't the same.
Struggles exist for everyone - no matter what the weight. Most people have issues with sweets, for instance. In my humble but (trust me) experienced opinion...if you are overweight and you know you have a problem with sweets...you have two choices: live in denial...or cut them out. Most people choose to "cut back" and not make the hard choice to eliminate these from the diet and instead focus on the other great things that are out there that are very satisfying. Like fruit. Which really tastes exceptionally sweet after you get away from the hypersensitivity of sugar and artificial sweeteners.
With regard to this...and (quite frankly) everything else...I was in the worst pit of denial you can imagine. I thought that if I only ate what I wanted on special occasions...I'd be fine. Not that I was losing weight or anything. I just thought that sounded reasonable. And honestly...it kind of does. Just bear in mind that I celebrate everything (birthdays, completion of a project, Saturday, visitors) and that might clue you in to the flaw in my sad little logic.
Besides...when you have half of your current body weight to lose and you still are under the delusion that you "deserve" dessert? Then? It's NO. Just no.
It took me awhile to get here. And no, I'm not judging anyone else's choices. I'm just being honest with people who aren't being honest with themselves. I was the queen of that. I totally get it. I really do.
To make a change...it took getting increasingly more afraid that my health would give out at some point. Took being disgusted with not being able to find clothes for special occasions. Took giving up everything except just a few types of clothes that at least covered me up. Took squeezing myself into a seat on a plane and having a very patient friend and mother be okay with the fact that I was kind of (okay, FINE, actually) sharing the seat that they paid for. Took not being able to climb steps without getting winded. Took being mortified to go to the gym because I was sure it was impossible for anything to ever get any better. It took having someone be honest with me that she didn't think I was serious enough to tackle the problem.
But I was wrong.
Not about some of it...but about the gym. All it took was making a decision by setting a goal...and getting serious about it. But the gym alone isn't the answer. I had to tackle the food as well. Had to drink the water. Had to write things down. Was required to think about why I was doing this in the first place and put that into positive words rather than negative ones.
I realize that for people who like to "go with the flow" that goals are most annoying. I really do. There are times when I'd prefer not to have a goal to meet. It is far easier without them. Or so it seems. But to me...having a goal to meet is really key. It gives me something to focus on instead of being uncomfortable or feeling denied or angry with myself for how far I'd let this go.
Once I decided that I was going to give it one last try...my first goal was to survive the day. Then the next day. And the third.
Then the week.
Then the next 20 weeks.
I'm still in the midst of that process. I decided if I was going to monitor my food intake...I was also going to have to pick up the exercise to a level that was somewhere between difficult and impossible. I'd had just about enough of doing the best I knew to do. I had to find people who know more than I do and are willing to test me. I have been blessed to have found that.
For my first 25 pounds off...I got a pedicure. For the next 25...shoes. Gaudy, bright yellow-green shoes with purple and blue and hot pink laces and soles. They make a statement...to me anyway.
See...as a "big girl" I didn't want to draw attention to myself by wearing something colorful. That was just too awkward. Other than a little crimson or pink and for some reason...lime green...I just didn't venture out too much. Besides, other than gargantuan flowers that are apparently a staple of gosh awful fashion for the plus size woman, the people who make clothes in larger sizes don't really put a lot of creativity into what they put out there for sale. For the most part...it is truly heinous. It is mostly black and has a lot of stretch waistbands. You can gain and lose up to about 20 pounds in each size. No kidding.
I'm currently down two sizes and working on the third.
And while I am still a "big girl"...I figured that I could cut myself some slack by having some ridiculously colorful shoes to kind of get me used to not wearing black/beige/brown/gray all of the time.
Ergo the very loud shoes of which I am very proud. I waited a month to wear them. They have given me something to work toward.
My next goal is another 20 pounds...which will put me halfway to my ultimate goal. I've had people tell me not to get all crazy...but you have to understand that my ultimate goal is to fit nicely into the upper end of the weight range for my height and to have a BMI of under 25. When I started this...it was over 40 and therefore..."morbidly obese."
Think on those words for just a moment, will you? Morbidly obese. Yes.
I am now simply "obese" on my way to "overweight." Works for me. Anything to take that word "morbidly" out of the equation.
I've had a number of people ask me where the enthusiasm comes from. How I can stand to eat chicken and salad day in and day out and eschew things that traditionally make us temporarily happy (i.e. Reese's anything). I suppose you just have to decide one way or the other and be okay with that. I think that the problem most people have is that they are seriously uncool with their decision. I say "forget that." If you want to lose weight...figure out how to do it and expect it to be ridiculous in some ways and easy in others. If you want to eat what you want...then quit beating yourself up about it and accept that this is your choice. Just be honest with yourself.
Folks have asked me what I eat and how I feel and have asked if I've had surgery or am taking any supplements/drugs. I eat single ingredient foods, I feel fine, and I've had no surgery (it was my next consideration) nor taken any drugs (outside of a whole food vitamin). I just spend a lot of time planning what I'll eat, saying "no" and exercising. It's just that simple.
I am happy tonight that I have hit a goal, but also well aware that I still have a long road ahead of me. It doesn't scare me, though. I know it will take awhile from here on out and I've been prepared for that. But it is also amazing to know that I'm not walking alone and that my body is still capable of surprising me. I thought that ended when I had my kids. All it took was someone telling me that I could do more than I thought I could.
So I do.
There are a lot of goals that I have ahead of me...including getting into some long abandoned sizes and finding muscles I'd forgotten existed. Of getting to the halfway point twenty pounds from now, and then setting new goals. Of having people tell me that they are trying something new because I've yammered on about it and it sounds like fun...or like my friend, Sandra or my daughter, Jill...just showing up at the gym and grinding it out right beside me. I am very grateful for that.
I'm also thankful that people care enough to wish me well and keep telling me that I can do it. It is amazing what the mind responds to. The encouragement has been the biggest thing that has sustained me during those times when it would be easier to just quit.
I can't quit now. I don't want to let anyone down. Especially myself.
So, the goal is to just get up tomorrow and do what I know I'm supposed to do and repeat that over and over and over.
And one day...the next goal will come into focus. I'll meet it. Set a new one. Keep going.
That's the plan anyway. I think it is a good plan. I know that where I am right now is a whole lot better than where I was...and where I'm going is a lot better than where I am.
Onward to the next goal. Wish me luck.