Today we finally topped 90 degrees on the thermometer and that means just one thing: Spring is clawing desperately at the edge of the cliff while Summer stomps mercilessly on every finger.
It also means that it’s time to start busting out all of those frothy sundresses and thinly strapped shirts, to start baring shoulders and browning skin.
Yeah, Rebecca, we know. So what?
So today I pulled out a very favorite dress of mine. Six dollars on clearance, and just the right level of monochrome for me to pull off my favorite fashion style: the pop of color. It looks a little something like this:
Despite my love of this little number, today was only the second time I’ve worn it since I bought it more than two years ago. And of the two times that I’ve worn it, today was the only time I’ve looked in the mirror and felt moderately at peace with what I saw.
Let me back up a minute.
About four years ago my life couldn’t have been more different. I was just finishing my Bachelor’s degree, heading out into the big blue world, counting down the minutes to graduate school, to meeting new people–and men, especially men (my first school was a women’s college. Sort of puts the whammy on dating for some of us)–to having all of those life experiences that I kept hearing about.
So in the midst of planning how amazing this next phase of my life was going to be, I made sure to stop by my doctor’s office to get a check up before I made the big move out to Kansas. Routine stuff, you know. And there was that moment that so many of us dread, when the nurse calls your name and you disappear into the bowels of the office, following her left, then right, then left again until you are standing in front of that stupid, ridiculous, terrifying lump of plastic: the scale.
Shedding whatever excess weight I could–shoes, sweater, purse, I would have shaved my head if I thought it would have made a difference–I stepped up to the plate. 239. No amount of closing my eyes and opening them again would make that number go away. I had hit 239 pounds.
For a while I put the number out of my mind, determined not to dwell on it. You see, for most of my life I had assumed that this was my fate, my destiny: I would always be fat. I would grow fatter and fatter every year until I died prematurely of a heart attack or cholesterol-choked artery, and that would be that. In the realm of my macabre, imaginary life, this fatness and eventual death was part and parcel with a few other key points. Namely that the hideousness of my body would so repulse others that I would never be loved by anyone, that I would die alone without ever having felt beautiful, having kissed someone who wanted to kiss me back, and it was okay because that’s how it was supposed to be.
I realize how melodramatic and overblown this sounds, but I promise you that I’m not kidding. This is legitimately what my brain had conceived for me. Some kids dream of being astronauts, I dreamed of becoming large enough for other, smaller people to go into geo-synchronous orbit around me.
And then my brain, perhaps tired of all that self-pity, put on a pair of steel-toed boots, kicked me in the butt, and said Get the hell over it. After twenty-two years I finally realized that if I wanted things to change, then I had to be the one to change them. I had to stop gorging on brownies and cookie dough and things so fried into oblivion that they surely must have achieved a state of negative nutritional value and actually take the steps to alter the course of my fate.
First step: I joined Weight Watchers*. After that it was baby steps. Weaning myself down from whole milk (which, I’ll be honest, I utterly adored) to non-fat, replacing my beloved cherry cola with diet versions, purchasing a food scale so that I knew exactly what a serving of things looked like.
Then it was time to start exercising. When I first started–I kid you not–I would get on the elliptical machine for 10 minutes at a time. That was all I could handle, so that’s where I started. Most of the time, I was making this face on the inside:
Oh the pain and burning in my muscles!!
Eventually I knew that I needed to do more, so I joined my local YMCA–a decision I’ve never regretted. With my new membership, I was given a few complimentary sessions with a trainer as part of a program designed to help health seekers create a plan to achieve their goals. That’s when I met Shannan, who has not only been my trainer ever since, but who has also become a very good friend and strong source of support as I continue working toward my health and fitness goals.
Since that moment three years ago, a lot about me has changed. I’m proud to say that I’ve accomplished what was once unthinkable and lost 50 pounds. I’m equally proud to say that two weeks ago I ran in my first half marathon and am resting up so that I can tackle another one come the Fall. I’ve been hiking and skiing and become a volunteer at my gym (anytime you need someone to cheer you on during a triathlon, I’m your woman).
So when I say that today I had a moment–one of the very few in my twenty-six years of life–where I actually looked at myself in the mirror and felt okay with what I saw, it’s a pretty big deal. Maybe it’s selfish, prideful, supremely arrogant–maybe it’s all of those things and more, but it felt like a moment worth sharing.
*Disclaimer: No compensation has been made to me for referencing the Weight Watchers corporation, though if they wanted to throw in a year’s free subscription to the eTools, I sure wouldn’t say no! In all serious, legal mumblings, though, I’m mentioning them here only because they are a legitimate part of the above story.