Island Dreaming

Two weekends ago, David and I decided to head to the beach. Being born and raised in here, I have lived comfortably with the self-christened moniker “Northern California Beach Bum.” Of course, Northern California beaches aren’t like other beaches. The water is cold, the mornings (and often large parts of the day) are overcast, the tide pools are teeming with creatures you can ogle and caress. Surfers are well-outfitted with wetsuits and bikinis are few and far between unless it is a particularly scorching day on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. But I love it – these are my beaches, the beaches I merrily trudged as a child, collecting an array of shells, pebbles and the occasional dismembered crab claw which, inevitably, stunk up the car on the drive home. As we cruised up Highway 1 along the coast on a gray Sunday morning, in my excitement to get my toes into some sand and surf for the first time in ten years, I was struck with an idea. “When I reach my goal weight, let’s go celebrate in Hawaii.”

I am prone to some pretty impulsive and hair-brained ideas so, as the words came out of my mouth, I half expected David to reply with an extremely rational reason why we should not go to Hawaii. The other half of my expectation would be that he simply wasn’t interested. You can imagine my delight when, in his constant and effortless way of being the perfect man for me, David said, “sure.” Hmmm… that was too easy. I continued to mention it at odd times through that day and into the next,  and David continued to be fully on-board. The idea took root.

I have never been to Hawaii. I haven’t seriously thought of going to Hawaii. When I was a teenager, mildly obsessed with the surf culture I saw in movies and Elle McPherson on the cover of S.I., spending Spring Break on the deck under a thin layer of heavily-scented coconut oil, trying to tan I probably imagined going to Hawaii. As an overweight and obese adult, Hawaii or any other tropical paradise seemed the antithesis of paradise: a place for tan lines, swimsuits and board sports. With my pale skin (I have two skin colors: “Edward Cullen” and “Boiled Lobster”) and the physical limitations of my oversized body, I was a poor fit for an island vacation. I would have been miserably self-conscious, watching people enjoy their tropical vacations as if their experiences were my own. In a way, Hawaii is like running in that it is a symbol for my real and perceived limitations. The beaches of Hawaii were a dream so distant that I had lost all sight of them, believed it so impossible that I never entertained the idea.

My Hawaiian Vision Board

I have been thinking of Hawaii every day since that Sunday, imagining my feet in sugar-white sand with the foaming swash of a turquoise ocean curling around my ankles; imagining the island sun warming my skin. But it is so much more than that. As I have spent my days dreamily listening to Jack Johnson and Mishka, mentally on the beach already, I realized how much more profound this trip would be. I began imagining all the things I couldn’t have done at 290 pounds: imagining snorkeling and swimming with sea turtles, hiking up jungle paths, paddle-boarding through inlets and biking along beach-front roads. I am imagining cute beach outfits and wearing my first two-piece. I am imagining lying side-by-side with David melting into our couples massages. I realized what an amazing and appropriate way to rejoice in my hard-earned health, athleticism and fitness. My friend Karol recommended I find a challenge to motivate me, to push me – something I can visualize – and I think I have found it in Hawaii.


207.6 (.8 pounds lost this week, 7.4 pounds lost total)

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