The morning light softly peeked through the living room windows as I sipped on my coffee and scrolled through Instagram success stories that, for months, I’d been sort of wishfully hoping I’d have the courage to follow.
The burden of my own carelessness and indecisiveness hovering over me…
Weight gain isn’t something that happens suddenly, you don’t just wake up one day and find that you are overweight. It’s a series of choices that amount to it and before you know it, there you are; longingly looking at other people’s photographs, attempting to decipher what it is that they know that you don’t, wishing you had the drive that they have to get off the couch and get in shape because you can’t bear to look at photographs of yourself anymore.
I’m only 5’2 and at my heaviest, I’ve been 196 pounds. A few weeks ago, I found myself staring at numbers on a scale that I hadn’t seen in almost twenty years.
I weighed 193 pounds but unlike other times when I’ve seen those numbers increase as if by their own merit, I did not have a particular reaction to them. There was no jolting epiphany, no overwhelming fear or even determination to change them. I only accepted them.
I gave myself permission to accept that I was not in a place that I wanted to be and I sat with the feeling of it. Then, I gave myself credit for all of the things that I am doing right-not out of justification for where I am but out of a sense of empowerment for where I can go from here once I muster enough courage to take accountability not just for the good, but also for the bad choices that I’ve made.
Being overweight isn’t new to me, I’ve been there before. As a child, I wasn’t overweight but in my teenage years, though I was not obese, I was always heavier than my peers. Then, I gained nearly sixty pounds within a year of having had my first child and I’ve struggled with that weight since.
I’ve been through irrational diets, prescribed amphetamines, b12 shots, shakes, fasts. If it sounds too good to be true, you name it, I’ve done it. However, it had been a long time since I’d been as heavy as 193 pounds.
Recently, I was invited by a facebook friend to join a shake weight loss challenge. When I clicked on her profile what I wanted to say was that I’ve been there and done that but at the risk of sounding presumptuous, I didn’t say anything at all.
I clicked on her page and looked at her before and after photographs and I longed to feel as enthusiastic about the product she advertises as she looks on her facebook pictures but the truth is that I’ve been there and I’ve been as happy as she is, if not more. I’ve done the shake drinking (the exact same shakes) and I’ve seen the pounds dropping but I’ve yet to manage keeping them off.
I’ve yet to convince myself to authentically believe that I deserve to be at a healthy weight so that I can stop sabotaging my own progress. THAT is what I want to learn how to do!
I’m no longer looking for a magic pill or a quick fix. What I’m looking for is the inspiration that will motivate me to get off the couch and on the treadmill because that is what is best for me and not just because I want to look good and have a success story for someone else’s approval.
I want to see myself and recognize who I am. I want to look at a photograph and know that there I am!
Then, I found this word: Altschemerz–n. weariness with the same old issues that you’ve always had-the same boring flaws and anxieties you’ve been gnawing on for years which leaves them soggy and tasteless and inert, with nothing interesting left to think about, nothing left to do but spit them out and wander off to the backyard, ready to dig up some fresher pain you might have buried long ago.
Its definition spoke to me. It resonated with me and took me back to twenty years ago when I saw 196 on my bathroom scale for the first time and cried, on and off, for the rest of the day as my one year old watched me with curious eyes from his playpen.
Except, this time, I didn’t feel like crying. Instead, I wanted to understand what was happening in that moment long ago. So, I did my best to recall the feeling of it in order to better dissect it, and I sat with the pieces of it until I understood that that twenty year old girl wasn’t crying over her weight alone that day.
She was crying over how lonely her life was, over her mother’s empty presence in it, and the father figure she still longed for. She was crying over her dissolving marriage and the guilt of knowing she’d be raising a child alone, a child she knew deserved the world but she didn’t have the world to give him; All she had were years of sorrow built up inside her and so she cried.
Those weren’t only tears of frustration over the numbers looking back at her on that scale, they were the tears she hadn’t cried each time her heart had been broken in the years leading up to finding herself on that scale in that tiny first floor apartment.
They were long overdue tears that I’ve since associated with stepping on a scale!
It was in the quiet of a Sunday morning that I realized I no longer need to continue feeling weary over the same things I did back then, nor do I need to keep gnawing at them hoping to find something new in them because my life is not the same as it was back then (and neither am I).
Becoming who we are isn’t always pretty. At times, it gets rough and the uncertainty of what lies ahead makes us so afraid that we want to go back to what we once knew even when what we knew wasn’t any better than what we are going through right now but I want to be healthier and I want to feel better in general so I will keep going knowing that nothing I’ve left behind could ever be better than where I am today.
My only goal right now is simply to do better each day than I did the day before, not necessarily to do, or to be, better than anyone else, just to be better than what I once was…