New Year’s Resolution

Where to begin…

I have about a hundred thoughts swirling in my head regarding what I wanted to write about today. Do I talk about my holiday self-sabotage? Do I talk about my New Year’s resolution and my current mindset? I guess I want to talk about it all as it is all related. I guess I don’t really want to talk about any of it – I just want to get to work and DO IT.

I gave myself permission to indulge over the holidays – hopefully with moderation. Given that I regained 13.6 pounds between November 27 and yesterday, it’s safe to say moderation went the wayside. Initially, I was still meal planning and prepping and keeping within my nutritional goals during the week, indulging on the weekends. I skipped the gym for the last two weeks of November, went back for the first week of December then didn’t go again until New Year’s Eve. Eventually, I started hitting the Christmas cookies hard in the evenings and didn’t bother planning, prepping or logging anything. I knew I had regained weight but I wasn’t expecting to have gained quite so much. Given my behavior, I should have expected it. That said, I was surprisingly un-upset by it. I see it simply just a starting point, the beginning of the next part of my weight loss story (I hope).

You see, I made an official New Year’s Resolution to reach my goal weight in 2019. If you follow my Instagram account, you would know that I have been building up a head of steam for weeks, preparing to tackle this resolution on January 1. I treated myself to a new meal-prep perfect lunchbox, new gym clothes and shoes, and a fancy new pair of earbuds. I worked with my friend Karol to come up with SMART (Specific-Measurable-Ambitious-Realistic-Time Bound) Goal Worksheets for setting up all the short-term goals that will get me to my end goal.  I have been furiously pinning great fitspo images on my Pinterest board and compiling a new Spotify workout playlist. I set up the camera tripod in the kitchen, marking the kitchen floor with blue masking tape, so that I can take my progress photos and, hopefully one day, create a time-lapse video of my transformation.

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So here I am. January 1, 2019 and I weigh 211.1 pounds. My first SMART Goal of the year is to lose 11.3 pounds by Saturday, February 9 (get back to Onderland in just over five weeks). I have 56.2 total pounds to lose in order to reach my ultimate goal and I would love to do it by August 1. I plan to stay accountable, stay honest and make my health and weight loss a priority. I plan to keep the lessons learned over the holidays (all that junk food really, ultimately, wasn’t worth it) at the forefront of my mind and make healthier, more productive decisions. I plan to eat healthy, clean, unprocessed and nutritious foods as much as possible. I plan to give 100% of my effort, energy and dedication to my workouts. No more excuses, no more backslides, no more pity parties… that’s how I’ll reach my goal. Time to lace up those Nikes, tighten up my ponytail and take ownership of 2019. This will be my year.

Green-Eyed Monster

I am jealous person and a terrible frenemy. I am not proud of myself. It has always been important to me to lift up other people, to support them in their efforts and encourage them. A friend of mine has been on an extremely successful weight loss journey this year and, as I have watched her progress and applauded her success, deep down I have been troubled. I am feeling envious and thinking spiteful thoughts. This negativity is not only uncharacteristic of me, it is shameful. Wanting to understand the root of my jealousy – I know it lies 100% within me and has absolutely nothing to do with my friend – I have been doing a good deal of soul searching. Over the last few months I have been paying attention to my thoughts and emotions, making mental notes of the things which trigger my strongest negative reactions, and believe I am understanding my own feelings of jealousy better.

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Most of the people currently in my life – my boyfriend, my coworkers, all the people I see on a regular basis – never knew me at 290 pounds. The people who did know me at that size have all adjusted to the way I look now, having not seen me at my largest in many years. I still have quite a bit of weight to lose but that change won’t be as dramatic as the changes my friend is seeing. It won’t be as dramatic as when I dropped from 290 to 180 pounds in 2010. The days of people being truly astonished by my progress are mostly over. People may still occasionally comment on my weight loss but I’m no longer going from morbidly obese to healthy. Furthermore, my nearly constant ups and downs over and my struggle to reach my goal has left me with the feeling that nobody (least of all myself) has much confidence in my ability to truly succeed. As a result, I feel like my weight loss journey is yesterday’s news.

In the early days of my weight loss, it was such a thrill to hear people comment on my transformation. My metamorphosis was remarkable, garnering a lot of positive attention. I didn’t want or want to need accolades or validation from other people but I would be lying if I didn’t admit to fantasizing about it long before I actually started losing weight. I imagine that’s common – envisioning people’s ecstatic and awestruck reactions, being showered with praise and adulation. When it happens, it feels amazing. It is almost addictive and, while I didn’t realize it until now, I grew to need it. Watching my friend get all of that positive (and well-deserved) attention, reading the comments on her social media posts expressing awe at the change and congratulations on her success, I am seething with jealousy.

I will never have that again and I have realized, through my friend’s success, just how much I will miss it. It is painful, hurting my heart in a way I never could have anticipated. In so many ways, my weight loss journey has defined me for the past eight years – it was the single greatest personal accomplishment of my life. Now it feels like no big deal. Watching my friend experience all those amazing firsts, earn the supportive praise, I have realized just how important those things were to my positive attitude and determination to keep going.

I have had my heyday. I have had my attention, my accolades, my awe and congratulations. That part of my journey is behind me. I have to make peace with that and I can not allow it to bring out the worst in me, to make me someone I never wanted to be – a bitter, envious and catty person. I have to find my positive attitude and my determination elsewhere. Deep down, I want my friend to experience the happiness she is no doubt feeling now. I know what that happiness feels like and I would want that for anyone who has had to be made to feel subhuman because they wore their pain and trauma on the outside, in the form of fat, for all the world to judge and criticize. I would be ashamed of my jealousy if I didn’t take the time to understand it. Having insight into its source; however, I realize I need to be gentle with myself and understanding. As much as I wish I didn’t feel this way, I have to own these feelings, see them for what they are and be accountable. I also realize the need to encourage myself, to recognize the changes I am making and celebrate them even if I am celebrating alone. This is another phase of my journey, possibly a quieter and more personal one, and that’s ok.

My Own Inner-Demon

Everything was going great. I’d been able to get consistent and dedicated with my diet and exercise routine. I have lost nearly 30 pounds. I am back in Onderland. People have been noticing. Coworkers have commented on my progress, friends and family have congratulated me on my success. I have had to buy smaller clothes and even I, my own worst critic, have noticed the physical changes in my body as I sat on the couch marveling aloud and my “skinny calves.” It has been exciting, rewarding and encouraging. It has made me feel strong, healthy and proud. So why in the hell have I started to sabotage myself?

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This isn’t new a new phenomenon. I have squared up against this enemy twice and twice been defeated by it – once in 2010 and again in 2013. Each time I came within 30 pounds of my goal weight then, without any seeming provocation or reason, I started sabotaging my success by gradually neglecting meal planning and workouts and falling back into binge eating behavior. Both times I would regain more than 40 pounds.

Over the past month I have been facing this foe once again – skipping the gym, veering from my meal plans, binge eating. The last time I weighed in on November 17, I had regained almost two pounds. I haven’t weighed in since feeling that further weight gain could have a dire effect on my mood and motivation. I recognized quickly that I was getting in my own way but that hasn’t stopped the behavior. I have been asking myself questions, reading online articles about self-sabotaging, talking about my frustrations. All the while, the behaviors have worsened. Two weeks without visiting the gym, eating more cookies than I can log to MyFitnessPal.

Why do I do this… Am I afraid of success? Do I feel like I don’t deserve it? Is the excess weight some kind of security blanket my subconscious mind refuses to release? Am I simply getting over-confident, cocky about my weight loss, playing it fast and loose and paying the price?

I haven’t wanted to write this blog until I had answers to my questions, explanations and analyses. Weeks have passed; however, and I have no answers. While my inner-turmoil will have to be quieted, the most important thing for me right now is to get the self-destructive behavior under control. I have to work through this but, at the same time, I can’t work through this at the expense of the progress I’ve made. So I have come up with some steps which will hopefully help me to move past this stage in my weight loss story – this stage where, historically, the journey has ended.

Fake it ‘til you make it. Even if my heart’s not in it, I will go to the gym and I will meal plan and meal prep each week. I will go through the motions and maintain the physical habit even if the mental one is lagging behind. A subpar workout is better than no workout. A cookie at the end of a healthy day is better than a cookie at the end of a binge.

Seek out motivation. Whether it’s Pinterest fitspo boards, Instagram success stories or Fearless Motivation speeches, I will take motivation from others when I can’t muster it for myself. I have to get encouraged, get inspired, get excited for this journey again.

Own it. I will be transparent and accountable for all of it. Owning this process is great when you feel strong and proud. It can be disheartening and embarrassing when you feel weak and confused. Not owning the uglier sides of this process only creates shame and hinders progress, perpetuating the self-sabotage.

Dig deep. I will delve into my heart and mind and find some answers to what may be driving this tendency to self-sabotage. This could mean journaling, doing research, talking to those closest to me or seeking out a support group. I will never truly move past this and reach my goals without knowing how to heal whatever hurt lies inside me.

Bear with me, dear readers, and I try to get out of my own way. I will have to step up to the mat and confront this old inner-demon head-on but I do so with hope and optimism. There must be a way to work through it and come out the other side fit, healthy and happy.

From Treat to Defeat

We’ve all been there, right? We’ve all be faced with a meal or a food – something indulgent, something we know isn’t in-line with the dietary and fitness goals we’ve set for ourselves – and we’ve had to decide. To partake or not. Maybe it was a birthday party with a decadent chocolate cake smothered in sugary buttercream. Perhaps was a steak dinner with the boss, a holiday meal with the family, a romantic dinner-for-two with your main squeeze. Most of us actually face these decisions on a weekly, or even daily, basis. Donuts in the break room, cookies in the cookie jar. Did you indulge or did you resist? I’ve done both and I’m proud to say that I resist about 90% of the temptations that come my way. But that other 10%… well, that’s a story unto itself. In fact, this blog is that story.

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Every week I have an opportunity to overeat when my sweetheart and I have “Date Night.” Those nights I have a chance to make choices that help me achieve my goals or choices that hinder me.  So why would I do the former? After doing exactly that for a few consecutive weeks and suffering the consequences (missed weight loss goals, nausea, lethargy, feelings of shame, guilt and despondence) I started asking myself a lot of questions, diving deep to discover my motivations and understand how I can be stronger and make more productive decisions in the future.

What I do can be tiresome. Pre-planning meals, counting calories and macronutrients, logging every ounce of water and every gram of food to pass my lips can be tedious. I start working on next week’s meal plan when I’m halfway through the week at-hand. I spend more time thinking about food now that I ever did when I was 290 pounds (and I thought about food a lot back then). Meanwhile, the people around me aren’t thinking about what they’ll have for lunch until a half hour before they eat. Because of that, this lifestyle doesn’t just feel demanding – it feels abnormal.

“Normal” is tricky. Participating in behavior viewed as normal can give a sense of inclusion, of belonging. Refusal to partake can trigger feelings of exclusion and deprivation. But “normal” is subjective and, furthermore, normal isn’t necessarily healthy. In short, “normal” is bullshit. In decades past, smoking was “normal.” Look where that got us.

For the last few weeks, I have sacrificed my goals and my healthy emotional state for the sake of feeling “normal” in a restaurant full of people mindlessly shoving forkfuls of food into their mouths. Sure, it felt good to not be thinking about calories or carbs or protein. But was it worth it? When I was sprawled on the couch with my jeans unbuttoned, complaining about my bellyache and internally lamenting my decision, was it worth it? When I think back and see, in my mind’s eye, myself mindlessly shoveling forkfuls of food into my mouth, is it worth it? That would be a hard “no.”

After a week of reflection, of asking myself questions and answering them, of owning my thoughts and emotions, I feel like I am understanding myself better. What’s more, I feel like I am discovering ways to deal with temptation in the future in healthful and productive ways. Here are my rules for coping with temptation, indulgence and over-indulgence:

Be Accountable. Come clean to someone, anyone. Talk to a trusted friend or loved one. Blog it. Write it in a diary or journal. Share it on social media. You have nothing to hide. Everyone indulges from time to time but hiding it away like a dirty secret, lying to yourself or anyone else about it has the potential of becoming more than a small treat and growing into a bad habit. Being accountable will purge yourself of the shameful feelings that come with keeping a secret. And you might be surprised and comforted to learn how many others share your thoughts and feelings.

Empower Yourself. Reframe your feelings of being deprived to feelings of being strong, determined and vigilant. Embrace this lifestyle, however different it may seem. Maybe this isn’t what other people consider “normal” but it’s awesome and commendable. Normal is often gluttonous and detrimental to good health. When someone offers you a treat, don’t think “oh poor me, I can’t have a treat.” Think, “oh poor you, you can’t resist temptation.” Own the lifestyle and let it lift you up.

MYOB.Seriously, MYOB! Normality is subjective, defying definition, so quit worrying about how other people eat, cook, shop, exercise or live. It is none of your business. Whether your slim coworker can wash down a double cheeseburger with a caramel frapp and stay slim has no bearing on your or your body. She isn’t better, luckier, or any more blessed than you. Mind your own business and mind it well.

Understand Moderation. Moderation isn’t once-per-day. Moderation isn’t even once-per-week. Moderation is once in a while. Moderation is a serving of something, not an multiple servings or an entire container. Moderation doesn’t leave you feeling overly full and miserable. Yes, you can lose weight and enjoy treats in moderation. For that to work; however, you have to get real about the definition of moderation and you have to get real about things you might not be able eat in moderation (i.e., me and roasted, salted peanuts – those little devils). If you can’t eat something without overeating it, stop eating it.

Someday Section

You have it, too, right? That area of your closet, all the way in the back, where those few precious clothing items hang? I call it the “Someday Section.” I don’t have a lot of space to store clothing so I don’t hang on to much if I can’t wear it. However, some items are just too nice to let go as I hold out hope of squeezing back into them someday. Some of the items fit at the time I bought them only to get progressively snug as I regained weight. Some were a smidgen too tight to begin with but I brought them home anyway believing the desire to wear them would motivate me. Regardless, they were spared from the thrift store fate to which many of my clothes are destined and they hang on a few hangers in the back corner of my closet, behind the winter coats and scarves and camping clothes.

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My old pants plus two pair from the “Someday Section” – they all fit!

As I have dropped weight – just over 23 pounds since March – I have started thinking about some of those clothes. A few weeks ago, I brought out one of my favorites: a pair of black and white pinstriped Banana Republic dress slacks. I was delighted they fit again and, as the last few weeks have gone by and I have put them into regular work wardrobe rotation, they’ve gotten a bit roomier in the thighs. This morning, as I dressed for work (much to the detriment of my morning schedule) I brought out a hanger draped with a few pairs of smaller dress slacks. One-by-one, I tried them on and, one-by-one, I discovered they fit.

It is easy, when focusing on losing weight, to lose sight of the progress which may not reveal itself on the scale. We get stronger, we get fitter from the inside out.  We get more confident and more determined. Our clothes fit better. Sometimes our clothes stop fitting at all and we find ourselves with the joyous chore of buying smaller ones. We crave physical activity when once we would have craved a soft spot on the couch. Our workouts get easier, we can push ourselves harder and longer at the gym. We see muscles and clavicles and cheekbones emerging. We tighten our watchbands and bra straps. We catch glimpses of ourselves in mirrors and have to stop to do a double-take. Our feet and our knees stop hurting after a day of standing or walking. Our skin glows, our smiles become brighter and wider (that last one might be in our heads but who cares?). Our friends and coworkers start commenting on the changes they are seeing.

I can never stress enough how important it is to recognize these changes in ourselves. I, myself, become obsessed with the scale and can blatantly disregard any and all real progress I’ve made in lieu of agonizing about the earth’s gravitational pull on my body. That may be the single most unhealthy thing I do in terms of weight loss. This morning, however, as I delved into my “Someday Section” and paraded back and forth down the hallway, prancing around in my smaller pants and showing them off to my boyfriend, I forgot all about the scale. I forgot I was nervous to weigh in this coming Saturday. I forgot I was heartbroken after my weigh-in on September 1. I forgot I’d convinced myself that I’d stopped making progress and become an overnight failure. I remembered that weight is just one marker, one of many ways to see and feel progress, and often it isn’t the most reliable or profound.

Weak in the Knee

Early last week, during an intense cardio workout on the treadmill, my left knee twisted and popped. I kept going. I had been diagnosed with Patellofemoral pain syndrome more than a year ago and the treatment was exercise so I rationalized continuing. After getting home, my knee still tender, I thought to myself, “I should take it easy so this doesn’t get worse.”

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But the next day I thought to myself, “this knee injury was no big deal a year ago and the prescribed treatment was exercise – I’m going to keep going. I’m going to stay disciplined. I’m going to push through the pain. Don’t wimp out now, Jody!” After all, I have been losing an average of two pounds per week. I’ve moving the needle. I’m dedicated, I’m on a roll. I can’t risk losing that momentum. I pushed through the pain and kept going.

Over the course of the week, I’ve had to shave five minutes here, ten minutes there off of my cardio due to knee pain. I’ve had to lower the leg press machine with one leg, not wanting to bend my left knee to an extreme degree. I’ve sort of nursed the knee, but I pushed through my workouts. Now, more than a week later, the knee is swollen and throbbing. I didn’t sleep last night, unable to get or stay in a comfortable position. Even now, sitting at a desk, I feel the pulsating pain in that knee. I think I screwed up. I am in a situation where I can’t do much of anything in the gym. Even low-impact cardio forces painful bends in the knee.

I find myself saddened. Last night, as I sat on the couch with a bag of frozen peas on my elevated knee, the tears started welling up in my eyes. Who knew I could come to a point of being emotionally devastated by having to stop working out? I used to actively seek out lame excuses to skip the gym (i.e., I forgot my hair tie, I can’t find a decent parking spot.) I have to stay mentally strong now and look for answers and alternatives. I am stocking up on athletic tape. I have ordered a compression knee brace online and paid for expedited shipping. I’m using someone’s ice pack from the office freezer (sorry, coworker). I made the heartbreaking decision to dial back my workouts until this knee recovers, putting all my goals and milestones on hold. I know it’s what I have to do. I know it’s what I should have done in the first place. Swimming. Arm bike. Supersets of upper body and core exercises to get my heart rate up. I have to find alternatives to using my knee that allows me to rest and recover without sacrificing my progress or dedication. I have to adjust my expectations during this time.

These are the challenges we face when we step foot onto this path. That is one of the reasons I wanted to write a blog as I lost weight and transformed, not just after I’d already taken the journey and reflected back. I believe these are important lessons and trials that most people face. This injury may have left me weak in the knee, but it will also make me strong in the spirit – in the heart, the mind. I limp along on my journey, exercising and strengthening my spirit as my body rests. I try to stay positive, I try to find the lesson I must learn from this injury. 

Your Results Are A Mirror

Sometimes you hear the exact words you need to hear at the exact time you need to hear them.

Sometimes someone finds the words you’ve been wanting to say.

A friend recently shared with me some motivational videos and, while many have been moving and impactful, one stands out as particularly profound to me. The first few times I listened, this motivational speech lifted me up and pushed me forward. It drove me to work harder and to understand what has been going on within me these past few months. Suddenly, the video transformed from an external motivational voice into my own voice, urging me forward and fanning the fire within me. I had been searching for a way too say all of these things, to speak all of the truths within.

I have wanted to write about the discipline I’ve developed, the sacrifices I make, the determination I feel to push myself harder, to do better, to be the person I want to be. Something in me has changed – a switch has been hit and I have become devoted to this journey again in a way I may have never been devoted to it before. I am dedicated, disciplined and fearless. I get it… get what it is going to take to achieve the results I want and I’m willing to do the work, to make the sacrifices. I know there is no fast way, no easy way and, if there were, the results wouldn’t be worth having. I know I want to earn this, I want to fight for it, I want to look at myself and look at how far I’ve come and be proud of everything I did to get there. I want my results to be a mirror of my efforts.

I realized I didn’t need to put this into my own words. I could simply share this video and its transcript with you. I listen to this video EVERY NIGHT before I workout, in the car on my way to the gym or while I warm up on the treadmill. I hope that it inspires you the way it inspires me.

Your Results Are A Mirror (Motivational Speech) | Fearless Motivation

Your results are a mirror of your effort, your DISCIPLINE and sacrifice.
In life, In the gym,
your body, your health…



EFFORT.

You can talk all you want… Results don’t lie. EFFORT doesn’t lie.

When it’s game day…
when it’s SHOWTIME… Those who talk but haven’t worked…
The work they’ve put in will be seen by everyone.

Those who kept their mouth shut and WORKED when no one was watching, Their work will be seen by everyone too, but in a much different way.

 Which one do you want to be?

SACRIFICE

If you don’t sacrifice for what you want,
WHAT YOU WANT will become the sacrifice.

 And you will have to SETTLE for a life you DO NOT want.

If you aren’t willing to SACRIFICE now, for what you want,
then you can guarantee that LATER you will be making sacrifices for many things you don’t want.

If you don’t work for it NOW, you will be working for someone who DID work for it, later. 

If you don’t put in the blood, sweat and tears NOW.
 Sacrifice your time, sacrifice your nights out, give up your treats… 

If you don’t give up everything that is holding you back, that will be reflecting back to you in your FUTURE.

That’s life.

Success will never come easy. GREAT results will NEVER come easy.

You might get lucky. You might get OK results. But long term, success requires SACRIFICE. EFFORT and DISCIPLINE.

The good news is, you rarely have to sacrifice anything that will give you long term pleasure.

Almost always, all you really have to give up are things that are dragging you down. The things that do nothing for your future.

DISCIPLINE.

Your body is a mirror reflection of the sacrifice you make in the kitchen and in the gym.

 The DISCIPLINE to say no to short term temptation over long term pride.
 The DISCIPLINE to get up, to drag yourself through a workout. Consistently. Not just one day. EVERY DAY.

Do you want the quick fix now, that leads to a bigger problem later?
Or discipline now that leads to pride later?
STRENGTH LATER.
STRONG HABITS LATER.
CLEAR MIND LATER.
POSITIVE INFLUENCE OVER OTHERS LATER?

Without EFFORT you will NEVER get it
Without SACRIFICE you will NEVER get it
WITHOUT DISCIPLINE you will NEVER KEEP IT

So I’m asking you… Have you got what it takes to be great?

Tell yourself:
 It may take time… 
It may take HUGE EFFORT… 

I may have to dig deep and go to places I’ve never been before…
 BUT I WILL MAKE IT! 
I WILL DO IT!

I WILL STAND AT THE END WITH PRIDE KNOWING I STOOD FIRM.
KNOWING I LET NOTHING AND NO ONE STOP ME.

THIS GOAL I HAVE… THIS DREAM I HAVE…
It is more important THAN ANYTHING.

You can throw whatever you like my way.
 I WILL DEFEAT IT.
 I WILL DEFEAT IT WITH MY WILL! 
I WILL GET THERE!
 I WILL!

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A Good Place

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I feel amazing. Seriously, I feel absolutely fantastic. I feel unstoppable – motivated, dedicated and determined. I have not missed a gym day in six weeks. We’re not talking about relaxed gym days, either. I haven’t been sitting on a recumbent bike, lazily pedaling while updating my Facebook status and sipping a sports drink. No, these have been punishing, all-out, balls-to-the-wall workouts including intense cardiovascular workouts and weight training. I am at the gym for an hour or more per day, five days per week. My devotion in the kitchen has been almost as resolute. I have been meal planning and sticking to my nutritional goals (except weekends – I am still striving to get my weekends locked in). I have lost more than 13 pounds. I have been so excited, so elated at finally feeling like I am back on track I want to shout from the rooftops. Yet, I have been – and continue to be – reticent to write this blog. Why?

I have tried and failed many times. Well, that’s not true because I feel you don’t truly fail until you quit so allow me to rephrase. I have tried and suffered setbacks more times that I care to count. I have gained some momentum and had some success only to encounter some obstacle or interference which I allowed to send me careening wildly off track. My entire weight loss journey has been a journey of starts and stops. Does something feel different this time? Yes, absolutely. I feel much like I felt back in 2010 when I transformed my life and truly began this endeavor. Have I felt this way before only to drop off? Yep. It has become embarrassing to look back at previous blog entries, boasting about my success, only to have egg on my face later when I fall down the rabbit hole of apathy and vanish from my blog with nothing to say. Furthermore, the superstitious part of me doesn’t want to jinx it. I have to get over that, I need talk about where I am now.

Where I am now is someplace good. I am in a place where I no longer ask myself if I’m going to the gym that day. I am going. I am going if I am tired, I am going if I am sore, I am going if I’d rather just go home and relax. I am going to push myself until I my eyes are stinging with sweat, until feel I can’t pick up my feet, until I am breathing through my mouth and looking around for the nearest trash can just in case I need to vomit (no, I haven’t actually thrown up at the gym.) I am going to push myself no matter how bored I am of my playlist, no matter how bored I am of the treadmill, no matter how much I have to do when I get home. I am in a place where I no longer wing it on my meal plans. I am meal planning every week, I am meal prepping every Sunday. I am not feeling deprived by my meal plan, I am not tempted by an extra cup of coffee, by the peanut butter filled pretzels and Biscoff someone keeps bringing into the office. Ok, maybe I’m a little tempted by those peanut butter filled pretzels but I look at them with the awareness of, ultimately, what they will cost me. I am in a place where I feel supported. I check in with Karol nearly every day to give and receive encouragement, to talk about temptations and frustrations as well as accomplishments. I am supported at home by a loving partner who eats all my meal prepped healthy food without complaint and encourages me to try new foods and test new recipes. I am in a place where I feel empowered by my dedication and determination. I am in a place where, when I do slip up or have a bad day (or a bad weekend), I don’t just throw in the towel – I am strong and resilient enough to get right back on track. I am in a place where I feel hopeful – hopeful that I have rounded a corner, hopeful that all those stops and starts are behind me, hopeful that I have made this lifestyle change for good and everything I want is right there for me to take it.

Yes, I am in a good place.

The Thief of Joy

one size fits none
That’s not fair. You are trying to take the easy way when there is no easy way. You’re cheating. You don’t have to work half as hard at this as I do. Why does she have it so easy while I have it so hard?  Jealousy, despondency, spitefulness, hopelessness, indignation, self-righteousness: these are all things I feel when I compare myself to others, when I compare my weight-loss journey to someone else’s. What is it that they say comparison is? The thief of joy.

It doesn’t stop there. Comparing myself to other people has an adverse effect on both my emotional state and my physical progress. Comparison steals a lot more than my joy. It robs me of motivation, self-confidence and empathy. In comparing my journey, my success (or lack thereof), my methods or beliefs to those of other people I become judgmental and resentful, subsequently making me feel ashamed of my thoughts and angered at myself for being anything short of supportive of people trying to change their lives and find their own happiness. It shifts my focus off of the only thing that really matters in this process: me.

I have my fitness journey. I have my own unique starting point. I have my ideas regarding the best way to lose weight., I have my own values as to the right way to do it, I have my own goals. I am proud of what I’ve achieved and, as I work hard to lose the weight I’ve regained, I re-embrace those methods and values and I focus on today’s starting point.  So why do I care about someone else’s journey? Why do I compare myself with them when, ultimately, there is no comparison. Why do I allow myself to be so petty as to be anything but elated for someone’s accomplishments or so disheartened that I allow it to deflate and discourage me?

In trying to answer these questions, I come back over and over to my own insecurities. Losing weight is hard. Losing as much weight as I have to lose and losing it the way I chose to lose it is hard. Maybe there are easier ways, maybe there are faster ways, maybe there are ways that require less commitment or sacrifice. The insecure child in me rails against the perceived unfairness of it all as if that somehow changes reality.  As my confidence in myself wanes when I don’t achieve my goals, I compare myself more to others resulting in self-sabotage and shame. It feels much easier to focus on someone else than take responsibility for my struggles.

I cannot be distracted or derailed by someone else’s journey. I must have the confidence in knowing my way is the right way for me – both in terms of health and values – and that there is no right way for everyone. I am responsible for my own body as it is now and I will be responsible for it when I hit my goal weight and I will have pride in that achievement. Supporting people in their attempts to lose weight and get healthy should never be restricted to those whose paths follow my own. This is not a one-size-fits-all venture. There are a myriad of methods and we all must find what works best for each of us as individuals, the method that makes us proud and helps us to achieve the goals we set for ourselves.

To Shop, Or Not To Shop

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To shop, or not to shop, that is the question: whether ‘tis nobler in the closet to suffer snug garments mocking you or to take the mall and replace them. Maybe that’s a no-brainer. I mean, duh, shopping can be fun! When I have a closet full of clothes; however, which are either stretching within an inch or their lives each time I put them on or are collecting dust, untouched in the “someday this will fit again” section, what do I do?

I find I am torn, my mind and emotions a swirling torrent of conflicting thoughts and feelings, leading me to a confusing midland between shame and acceptance of my body, my self.

Will buying new clothes mean I’ve given up?

Is buying new clothes rewarding weight gain?

Is condemning myself to having nothing to wear cruel punishment for weight gain?

Will buying new clothes make me feel better about myself?

Will feeling good about myself again help me to get back on track?

Do I need to get back on track or should I accept this body?

Is that complacency?

Is it reality?

Am I listening to The Cure too much?

Is the shame I feel perpetuating my depression; is depression perpetuating my shame?

Nine years ago I bought my first two non-plus sized blouses at Dress Barn and I’d felt like I’d climbed Mt. Everest. No longer relegated to the frumpy, tent-like garments passed off as extended-size clothing at that time, I swore I would do what it took to never have to shop outside the ladies department again. Yesterday I faced the reality that I needed plus-sized pants. Knowing I would walk through those doors again was crushing and humiliating, stinging of defeat.

Yet, yesterday, I walked out of Torrid with dress pants and blouses that made me feel pretty, made me feel good about myself, made me feel comfortable. Maybe even made me go home and pack my gym bag for the week. As I flounce around the office today I feel more confident, feel put-together and stylish. I feel like I have a new lease on life, a bit like this rain cloud hovering overhead is dissipating.

I don’t know how to answer all the questions I have but I do know I don’t want to punish myself. I don’t want to feel ashamed. I know there is no such thing as listening to The Cure too much. I know that, no matter what, shame and self-hatred won’t ever serve me – they won’t provoke positive change nor positive feelings. But I don’t know if this is my new reality and I need to find a way to accept it. I don’t know if this is a lull and that I will get back on track with weight loss and drop back out of the plus sizes again. I don’t know if I am complacent or frustrated. I don’t know if these new clothes are transitional or permanent. I know I still have some fight left in me, still have a desire for healthful change. I know I feel really good today and maybe feeling good is, in the end, all that matters. I guess we all just need to stay tuned.