Thursday, October 27, 2011

Baby steps up Everest

I am not a fitness professional, although I was, once, sorta.

I am not a doctor, but I've been to many.

I am not a nutritionist, but I watch a lot of Food Network.

That being said, because I've had some success taking off a few layers of my former self, folks ask me with some regularity for my "secret". There's no secret, friends, at least not for me. It's as simple as this:

Eat less. Move more.

For years, I self-medicated with food. Regardless of my knowledge and study, I did not know how to properly care for myself and my body. The lethal combination of suicide by cheeseburger and a butt that seemed fused to the sofa found me tipping the scales at the 300-pound mark. So when it came to "go time" - that moment when I knew I had to choose my path on the fork in the road - I knew it would be hard, but I decided to take it off the same way I put it on.

One fraction of a pound at a time.

They aren't kidding when they say it gets harder as you age. It does. But that's okay, because you get tougher as you age, too. Things are easier when you're younger because that's what you can handle. So if you're staring down the barrel of 40 and wondering if it's possible, it is. But it's gonna take work.

And that's what scares people. No matter your age, it's hard work, and there will be weeks when you see little progress. There may be months when progress is slow in coming. Stick with it. When you treat your body with love and grace, it will give the same back to you.

For me, it came down to the realization that instead of treating my body like a temple, I was treating it like Woodstock. Did I really expect it to remain resilient, flexible and strong? And yet was I surprised when it rebelled against movement and life. But over time, I've made incredible progress. I still have work to do, and goals to accomplish, but I won't fail. As long as I'm still doing the work, there is no failure.

So now I'll let you in on my secret: my motivation lies within my completely screwed-up self image. See, when I was at my heaviest, I didn't see myself that way. It was only when a series of photographs presented themselves to me that I realized I was, in fact, the fat girl. (Really, holding up my own jeans did nothing to show me how big those size 24 jeans actually were. Duh.) It was shocking to realize how truly unhealthy I had become. But now, I find myself shocked when I see photos of me in my current state. I don't recognize the healthy girl yet. So the work has become less about what I look like and more how I feel, as I wait for the picture of me in my head to sync up with the girl in the photo.

In the meantime, I am intensely fortunate to have people in my life who admire my triceps (seriously, that happened!) and who remind me that my limitations exist only in my imagination. No matter how small your steps, as long as you keep moving forward, you can reach any destination you choose.

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