I’ve fought the battle of my weight most of my life.
So much so, it’s just a part of who I am. In fact, when someone mentions ‘the lean years,’ I can’t help but smile. That’s because, for me, those words have a somewhat different meaning—happy, thinner, dare I say…leaner times.
For me, ‘the lean years’ are moments in time, scattered throughout the years, when I was relatively happy with what I weighed, the size on the label, the measurement of my waist. These moments are so embarrassingly embedded in my psyche that I can tell you outfits I wore, what was happening in my life in and around that time, and that oh-so-prized number on the scale.
As an example…The summer of 1995 was particularly good for me. We had just dropped both kids off at summer camp for the week and stopped at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants to celebrate our five days of kid-free living. We sat outside as the sun was setting, splurged on queso and margaritas, and I basked in moment of uncharacteristic thinness.
Later that summer, I remember going to an outdoor party for child’s birthday. The guys were grilling burgers and the girls were making sure the kids were all afloat. I was poolside, sipping a Diet Coke, and reveling in my size 2 pale pink linen shorts and an extra small silk tank.
I was young and tan and thin.
And it lasted about 10 minutes.
Before I could say ‘cupcake,’ I was, once again abandoning healthy habits, eating recklessly, and ignoring the increasing snugness of my clothes.
Sadly, the last 20 years have been pretty much a loop of the same—moments of deep dips in my weight followed by the return of the pounds, plus a few more, lest I start to think I could seriously maintain the loss.
So when a dear, dear friend, who had had tremendous success adopting the low-carb lifestyle suggested we try once again, in the name of healthy living and, hopefully, to shed a bit of the weight, I geared up on all fronts—mentally, emotionally, physically. Trust me…you gotta be 100% ready mentally to stand half a chance.
And so, for the last few months I have been practicing the low-carb lifestyle. I’m not fanatical; not even really counting carbs. Mostly, I’ve just been very cognizant of the much-maligned ‘white stuff’ (flour, sugar, potatoes, rice) and refined and processed foods in my diet.
The sugar withdrawals were mostly nothing more than a bother. After a four-day bender-type headache that served to remind me of the dependency I had gotten myself in to, I was fine. And unbelievably, I have even lost my taste for what used to be my daily addiction—a large Diet Coke with vanilla from Sonic. I say unbelievably because going to Sonic at least once a day was as much a part of my routine as brushing my teeth or washing my face. If we were going somewhere for any length of time, we’d leave early so I could stop at Sonic and I’d have my bit of sweetness for the road. Once, we almost missed a flight because we stopped for ‘my fix’ on the way to the airport.
Pathetic in so many ways, I know.
And the results so far…?
I’m happy to say I’m a good 30 pounds lighter than when I started this journey but with still so very many miles to go before I approach a healthy BMI. I don’t share this with you for any compliments or any, “I thought you looked different,” comments. Truthfully, I haven’t done anything that anyone else can’t do and that most people don’t already practice—cutting back a bit, eating moderately healthy, and doing a little more walking than usual.
I’m sharing this because, this time the journey has been different for me in several ways. For one, I’ve embarked on it with a dear, dear friend who, like me, could gain a pound just by looking at a bowl of chips and salsa. She’s talked me down from the ledge of giving in, indulging, and flat out giving up more times than I have hairs on my head. She’s encouraged me, inspired me, and modeled success.
I couldn’t ask for a better support system. I’ve come to realize that bit about having a community of support really rings true for me. It has made all the difference in the world.
Another thing that’s different for me this time is what I call ‘the Dear Abby mindset.’ It stems from a Dear Abby column I read years ago about a woman who wanted to go back to nursing school but was hesitant because she was 44 years old and the program would take her three years to complete. She asked Abby whether she should pursue her dream or not because, as she put it, she would be almost 50 at the end of her schooling.
Ever the clever Abby asked her how old she would be in those same three years if she chose to not pursue the degree. Score one for the lovely Abby’s insight.
I have since realized that this time next month, next season, next year would come and go whether I addressed my weight or not. Just the challenge of envisioning a preferred size at a time in the future has been a tremendous motivator. The part of me that wants to have fun in the moment and kick the can of delayed gratification further down the road has been seriously challenged, but on most days, the future is winning out over the here and now.
Along these lines, I’ve also figured out that it helps to make up my mind in advance that I am going to make healthy choices or I am going to go for a walk after dinner even when I’d rather watch TV. Instead of deciding if I’m working towards my goal, it has (again, at least on most days!) become a matter of how or when.
This is all new territory for me—at least in this area. I’ve never been a particularly disciplined person— not something I’m especially proud of at this point my life. I’ve always blamed it on the creative, laid back, go-with-the-flow bend of my personality. But the older, and occasionally more wiser I get, the more I’ve come to realize this: not only do we ‘free-and-easy creatives’ of the world need discipline just like the analytical-types seem to have and more easily practice, but we especially need it if we’re going to best develop our talents and skills.
I know—I’m so, so late to the self-improvement party. I realize most six-year-olds know more than I do about working towards a goal of fitness. And I know so many others are light years ahead of me in so very many areas. And sometimes that’s more than just a little overwhelming…to the point where all I want to do is curl up with a bag of Oreos.
But then…then I put on my party pants and remember that, in most cases, being fashionably late is better than not making the party at all.
Am I the only one exceptionally late to ‘the party?’ What? You, too?
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net/vorakorn