A medication-induced vivid dream that I had last night featured my mother. In it, she and I were talking and reconciling the past year. I woke up with the reminder that this week marks exactly one year since I cut my parents out of my life. I still don’t regret my decision to do that. In fact, this holiday season will not be filled with the same anxious sadness I felt last year after making up my mind that I would no longer be a victim to their mental games. And while this week is a reminder of what I did last year to better my mental health, I am also reminded of how much has changed with my physical health. Granted, the lifestyle change I have instituted started the day after Christmas, but I am keenly aware of how different I am in just the 11 months I have been on this journey.
For reference, all of my weightloss success is due to the Phit-n-Phat program (www.phitnphat.com). I highly recommend the free course and podcast. I didn’t join the paid membership and have lost a little more than 51 pounds since I began. Through following the four basics of the program and exercising, I have lost physical weight; but truly, I have gained as much as I have lost.
My husband always told me that once I lost weight, I would have so much more self-esteem. I was sure he was correct, but I always assumed that my self-esteem was fine. At my heaviest, it didn’t bother me to look in mirrors. I knew I was overweight, but that’s just how I looked, no big deal. I did want to look better in pictures, but I figured that I wasn’t an insecure teenager, so there was no need to obsess over my appearance. Now that I have lost enough weight to truly notice a significant difference in my appearance, I realize that I care more about how I look. Because I have had to buy new clothes several times throughout this year as clothes continually became too big, I have found that I enjoy experimenting with new outfits and how new clothes make me feel. I have taken several mirror selfies that have never been seen by anybody but myself because I wanted to be able to look back on them and remember how good I felt the day I wore a particular outfit.
This translates to a confident feeling when I go out in public. It’s difficult to truly describe the difference in how I feel walking among other people in a store or other public place. I don’t feel as self-conscious, leading to my head being held a little bit higher. There is a comfortableness with my body that I don’t think I have ever truly felt. I am by no means at my goal weight. I still have another 40-50 pounds that I would like to lose, so I can only imagine what I will feel when I get to that goal.
I have gained a sense of control around food. It used to be that I would worry if I would be full enough with the food I ordered at a restaurant, or if I would get hungry after the dinner my husband or I would cook at home. It’s unreal just how much I had those thoughts in the back of my mind. It was for this reason that so many work days included a stop at a fast food restaurant either on the way to or from work. Even if it was after work, I could get McDonald’s on the way home and still eat dinner with my husband that evening. It never made sense to me why I was afraid of being hungry. Growing up there was always plenty of food in the house. My mother experienced hunger as a child which led to her always keeping our pantry and refrigerator well stocked. She was successful in preventing me from ever thinking that I wouldn’t have enough to eat. Yet, I developed this truly irrational fear of being hungry. Since being on this health journey, my relationship with food has changed. Rather than fearing not having enough, I sometimes become concerned that I will have too large of a serving or will eat too much during a meal. I have learned to listen to my body to know when I’m satisfied and should stop eating, well before the feeling of being overly full or ‘stuffed’. I have gained healthier eating habits, such as learning that I only need to eat when I’m truly hungry, not just because it’s a certain time of day. A feeling of freedom has come from these new habits I have formed around food.
I have always enjoyed running. In fact, many of my earlier posts on this blog have been about training for my first 5k. I have not given up on my desire to be a runner. Now I truly feel like one. I recently ran another 5k and the next weekend I ran my first 10k. I ran 6.2 miles…didn’t stop to walk once. With that confidence in my athletic ability, I registered for a half-marathon to be held at the end of next March. Of course, I’m having to do some training for that. At this point, I can’t imagine running 13.1 miles, but I am enjoying the training process. I have joined a gym so that I can practice running long distances on a treadmill after work without having to run in the dark. I enjoy the fact that I get frustrated with the treadmill because it automatically goes into cool down mode after an hour of running. It takes me a little longer than an hour to run 6 miles. I also enjoy the fact that I can run for an hour non-stop. I enjoy the muscle soreness the next day because that soreness tells me that I have done good for my body.
There are so many physical changes to my body that I never would have imagined at my heaviest weight. For instance, I can no longer where my wedding or engagement rings. They are simply too big for my finger. I stopped wearing them out of fear of them falling off and getting lost. I will get them sized down when I reach my goal weight. Aside from obvious changes in my waistline, I have noticed that my feet are no longer ‘wide’. I realized that when I recently bought new shoes in my regular 9.5 W size and had to sell a pair of ankle boots because the width was almost comically too big. Another pair keeps giving me blisters because my feet slide around so much in them that I have to press my feet to the sides of the shoes to keep them on my feet. Of course, my doctors are very happy with my health. My A1C and blood pressure have significantly dropped to normal ranges. Medications that I have been taking for several years to help with my blood pressure and blood sugar have been seriously reduced. I anticipate being taken off of them soon.
I don’t recount these positive changes as a way to brag. Some would certainly say that after losing 50 pounds, I should consider myself worthy to brag. These positive changes are indeed something to brag about, but I am more concerned with how they have shaped who I am now. I have plenty of side by side pictures that I have taken over the past year to help me visualize the difference between now and the time before I started all of this. But that is only the outside. Who I am now is somebody who isn’t perfect, still battles anxiety sometimes, but is now better equipped to deal with the imperfections of life. I have learned that I am capable of much more than I thought. If I can take control of my overeating, build up endurance so that I can run long distances, feel like a rock star when I’m grocery shopping at Walmart, then what else am I capable of? I took control of those things in less than a year, what will the next year look like? What else will I learn? What amazing changes will this new self-confidence lead me to? Whatever those changes are, I will welcome them with all my heart. Because above all else, in this past year, I have learned to love myself.