Since I began the weight loss journey, I have gone from feeling unlovable and not really wanting to be touched...for fear of shocking someone with unexpected padding I suppose...but the reasons don't really matter. I had decided that being beautiful was not something I'd pursue because I've really thought that inner beauty was so much more valuable...and I still do. Fortunately the people closest to me didn't have a problem with the weight other than a concern about my health.
But while I was accepted and felt valuable to my family and friends, what I also know is that within each woman is a little princess who wants to be looked at adoringly. Not all of the time for the majority of us...but every so often. As we get older, the accolades begin going to the younger set and then we begin to look good "for our age" or "in that outfit" or "with that haircut." We're generally okay with that...but every so often...we want to feel beautiful.
Even when we are tired, sweaty, exhausted, just woke up, are being lazy, or with our hair in a ponytail and no makeup on. Even if we have extra weight, or our arms seem to have wings, or there's some battle scars from carrying the children in our bodies that we wouldn't trade for the world. Even if we are forty, or seventy, or the perpetual thirty-nine. We want to bring delight...a flash of something lovely...a wisp of something sacred.
I have recently seen something going around Facebook that wants people to post five pictures in which they feel beautiful. And what an exercise it has been to observe. There are any manner of photos on display from just after childbirth to finishing a marathon to candid shots of laughter or moments from the past that show the delightful child they were at age seven.
I've decided that the photos that make me feel beautiful are those that have been taken recently. My hair is a mess, my makeup has gone MIA, and I'm generally covered in sweat from doing something at the gym. I've learned that for me...feeling beautiful means feeling capable. Not any feature on my face, or anything else in particular. When I feel like I can do something impossible...I look at myself with delight and imagine that God is smiling.
One of the blessings about being open about my journey and about this struggle is that people open up about their own. They can't find the motivation to get started. Cannot find the time, energy, resources, or will to do anything more than what they are doing to get through the day. I completely understand that because that was me for 20 years.
Now I feel a bit like Rip Van Winkle in that I've awakened into a world that I don't really recognize. With regard to my habits, my body, and my potential, anyway. I'm doing things that I wasn't doing seven months ago. I'm thinking differently about what is possible. Not comparing myself to others...but against my own ideas about my limitations and potential.
Sometimes you just have to decide. You have to really just be tired enough of the status quo to give something different a fair chance. To be prepared to do without your comfort foods, your TV time, and your Diet Coke in the morning. To learn to wear clothes that don't swallow you and get used to wearing clothes that fit. As my instructor and friend, Allyson says..."get comfortable being uncomfortable."
I now view "uncomfortable" not with trepidation...but with excitement. Because if something is hard for me...then I know that if I stay at it...eventually it won't be. There will always be something else that is...and that's fine...but this has been life changing for me.
If you want to make a change...you decide. Nobody can do that for you. They can't bribe you, threaten you, shame you, force you, or do it for you. They can encourage and help you...but the truth is...it is up to you.
I've decided to see this through. Yes, it has helped immensely that I have a strong support network and wonderful examples who have been interested enough to help me out. But even if they were in place and doing all that they do that I have been so inspired by...I still had to decide to try to pursue a beautiful path.
Funny thing...once I did...the teachers appeared. God works it out.
Sometimes the path has been really rocky to test my resolve. Full of plateaus that seem to go on forever followed by small glorious victories that keep me from being disheartened. I cannot count the number of people telling me that they wish that they could get to the place to want to start. My answer to that is...you just start. It doesn't have to be an Oprah moment...you just start where you are.
And then you don't quit. Ever. You just keep getting stronger, happier, freer. Your path will be unique to you, but I'd be willing to bet that you won't regret it.
Tonight I sashayed through the aisles of Publix wearing what I do to the gym as I'd just come from workouts. A pair of black capri pants that have a tendency to cling, a pink sports bra and hot pink shirt that my workout partner, Sandra gave me. I was dancing in the aisles to the music as I walked the perimeter of the store. I was smiling and feeling a little funny for not caring that I looked a little like a Solid Gold Dancer.
A funny thing is that lately I've just started randomly dancing for no reason. Never mind that I can't dance in a graceful and becoming fashion. I just move. I dance to my trainer's ring tone ("Ain't No Stopping Us Now") because someone always calls him during workouts.
I dance to songs that are in the MetCon class...even when the yoga students are trying to get in there and set up their mats. They care not.
I'll dance to pretty much anything. It doesn't seem to matter. What does matter is that the joy that I get from movement sure beats the stress I had from trying to not be seen before. Not that anyone was in my aisle. Thankfully. (For them.)
I suppose what I'm trying to say is that even a step in the right direction...done consistently...may inspire you to take another one. And then another. Before you know it...you're on the journey. It isn't always easy, but nothing worth having usually is.
I would be lying if I said that I don't love feeling better, being able to do more, and watching other folks start believing that they can get after it too. To me, that is the most beautiful thing of all. It really is.
I don't know if you'll turn into a dancing machine on aisle 7 or will start training for a marathon. If you'll take Zumba lessons or ballroom dance, or start bench pressing a Buick. You may get into cross-fit or may go pure barre. I don't know. It's always interesting when folks start moving.
Who knows...you make strike a pose on "What's Beautiful" on Instagram like my two gym buds and get free stuff. Sounds pretty awesome...truth be told.
Whatever you do...or don't do...just remember that you are beautiful. You are amazing. You are capable. Never forget that. Not for a minute.