On New Year’s Eve a few months back, I reflected–with a considerable degree of disgust–on how far I had let myself go physically in the previous decade, and I was discouraged at the idea of entering into yet another year flabby and frumpy and–it hurts to admit–fat. As I rang in the New Year in the comfort of my beloved recliner–the only attendee at my private pity party–I resolved to make some changes in my life in order to shed some of that unnecessary blubber and to “look better in my jeans, feel better in my bones, and be healthier all around.”
I announced those intentions on this blog, hoping that the threat of failure and the impending public humiliation would motivate me to drag my lazy, bulky butt out of that comfortable recliner and actually do something. I knew my announcement was risky because previous attempts at weight loss had been few in number and completely lacking in success (mainly because they were also completely lacking in effort). So, to improve my odds, I also stipulated that failure on this endeavor would require me to make a rather large contribution to the “Sarah Palin for President” campaign fund (and those who know me well know how incredibly painful that would be!).
Well, I am happy (ecstatic, elated, jubilant!) to announce that Sarah Palin will not be receiving a dime of my precious money. That’s right–I resolved to lose 20 pounds by the end of the year, and I met that goal a couple days ago, about eight months ahead of schedule!
I won’t lie–it wasn’t easy. But it also wasn’t as hard as I expected it to be, which makes me angry with myself for waiting so long and allowing myself to waste precious time mutating into a disgusting, shapeless blob. Once I had made up my mind to change my life, I was determined to lose the weight in a healthy manner–no pills, no starvation diets, in fact, no diets at all–because I had already sacrificed my body and my health to years of neglect and bad habits, and I certainly wasn’t going to make the situation even worse by adding stupidity to the mix.
So I decided simply to focus on what I was eating and how much–to make conscious food choices. No more Ding Dongs or chocolate fudge Pop Tarts for breakfast, and no more chocolate chip cookies for a mid-morning snack–I started eating oatmeal for breakfast (and learned to like it) and began munching on carrot sticks at snack time. I replaced my previous high-carb lunches with fresh fruits and peanut butter, and then I ate whatever I wanted for supper–I just didn’t eat as much of it as I used to (one or two slices of pizza instead of four). And then an amazing thing started to happen. Suddenly, I wasn’t craving chocolate or other sugary sweets, and I was able to walk by those offerings in the grocery store and teachers’ lounge without a second look or a moment’s regret. The Ding Dongs that had held me hostage for years no longer had power over me! I was also eating less overall and yet feeling full–what an amazing consequence!
I attribute my success even more, though, to the sudden inclusion of exercise into my daily routine. I began slowly, riding my exercise bike a mile or two every day and lifting light weights every other day. By the third day I was already whining–my knees hurt, my elbows hurt, my shoulders hurt, even my armpits hurt (which I still haven’t quite figured out), and–worst of all–I was dripping with sweat from every pore of my being! So disgusting and so unladylike! But this time was different from all previous times; I kept going (and going), and within a few short weeks the pain had disappeared and the sweat had been accepted as a necessary evil on my quest. In no time at all, it seemed, I was able to increase my ride to 7-10 miles a day and also increase my weight loads and repetitions. I was starting to see and feel results; one of my favorite memories is of the day I glanced in the mirror and suddenly noticed little “bumps” on my forearms–by golly, I had muscles! The people around me were noticing the changes, too–and telling me so. And the more they fed my ego with their compliments, the better I felt and the more I wanted to keep going.
Strangely, the first 18 pounds were easier to lose than the last two. It took me almost three weeks to shed those final two, but I knew the end was in sight when I had an epiphany one day in the bathroom (the place where 98% of epiphanies occur). My pants were so baggy they kept sliding around on my hips, and my belt was too big to correct the problem. I wondered . . . and sure enough, I could slide my pants down and back up again without undoing the belt, unbuttoning or unzipping . . . and that’s when I knew I was going to meet my goal (but in the meantime, my baggy clothes would save me valuable minutes on my frequent trips to the restroom!).
My apologies–I realize I have probably become quite annoying to the people around me (and perhaps even to the readers of this blog) because I can’t stop blabbering about how much I really do “feel better in my bones”; many of my former aches and pains have disappeared, and I have more energy, strength, and endurance than I’ve had in years. Recent lab work also confirmed what I was hoping to be true–my blood pressure is down, my cholesterol is down (21 points!), my triglycerides are down (a whopping 56 points!), and my body mass index is down (6 percentage points!)–not only do I feel better, but I am better. Not bad for three and a half months of work–not bad for an “old gal”!
My psychological well being has improved, also. I don’t know a more appropriate way to express it except to say that I just feel good (“like I knew that I would”–Chuck Barry knows what I’m talking about), especially because I set a goal for myself and worked hard to achieve that goal–harder than I realized was possible. And my internal happiness has changed my entire perspective of the beautiful world around me–funny how that works. Even on rainy days (which we’ve had more than our share of lately), I am walkin’ on sunshine.
If only I had gotten out of my recliner years ago! The important thing now, though, is to focus on the future and keep doing what I’ve been doing in order to maintain my weight loss (and maybe lose a few pounds more). The twenty-pound loss returned me to the same weight I was at age 40; just five more pounds will return me to the same weight I was at age 30–now, how cool would that be?!
I think I can, I think I can. I know I can.
(And to all those who have encouraged and supported and cheered me on, I offer you my heart-felt appreciation. You have no idea how much your kind words have helped!)