Monday, March 16, 2015

Sometimes, it helps to look back.

March 16, 2013

When I was a little girl, a woman named Ann Bradford was our next-door neighbor. Ann was in her 40s and was a matronly woman with a tight perm and polyester clothes. I was around middle-school age when Ann showed me a picture of herself as a teenager, and I was stunned to see she had been very pretty.

I wondered for a moment why she had allowed her looks to change so drastically, but then I reasoned, "She's grown up and already has a husband and family. She doesn't have to worry about the way she looks anymore."

As much as it pains me to admit it, I've become Ann Bradford.

That's a little harsh -- I still do my hair every day and put on makeup and wear clean clothes that match. I shower daily and have tidy nails. But when it comes to my weight, I've given up. It hasn't been intentional, but it's happened.

I'm not the 600-pound woman you see on the TLC specials; I can get out of bed, and my fat doesn't hang out of my pants. But my abdomen is huge. My ankles are puffy. My wrists are fat. And I wear plus-size clothes. As much as it pains and embarrasses me to admit this, I can no longer shop in the "regular" women's department in any store.

I can't attribute the weight to anything in particular. I'm happy. I love my family. I have a good job and great friends. Sure, the past few years have brought their share of stresses; my dad was sick, and then he died. I had surgery. I changed employers.

And maybe I used all that as license to eat pancakes and drink pop and sneak Swiss Cake Rolls before bed. Or maybe I just got lazy.

Whatever the case, it's stopping now. Well, it's stopping tomorrow. Nothing magic about the timing; I simply woke up one day last week and knew I was ready.

Twenty years ago, I lost 40 pounds. And as much as I loved the result, I think I loved the discipline more. I ate clean, whole foods. I cut out pop and most carbs and sugars. I put a mental barrier between my food and everyone else's. I threw my kids in a double stroller and walked and walked and walked. And as I started treating myself with the respect I deserved, I felt good and happy and at peace.

Out-of-control eating is fun while it's happening. Going to Viva la Bamba with my husband and inhaling two baskets of chips and not thinking about the consequences is fun until you look down and see the crumbs and realize what you've done. Or until you go to Kohl's to buy a trench coat and can't find one that zips and allows you to move your arms.

My husband has never seen me thin; he met me about 20 pounds ago. I want to do this for me, but another part of me wants to be a wife who's not crabby and angry about her weight. The superficial part of me is also excited for him to see what I really look like under all of this.

Sure, I want to make a lifestyle change. I want to get off blood-pressure and cholesterol medicines and be around to enjoy grandkids. I want to be the kind of person who routinely reaches for carrots instead of Swiss Cake Rolls, and I want to kick my Mountain Dew habit for good. But for now, I just want to do this. I want the discipline and the control and the results.

I want my kids to be proud of me. I want to be proud of me.

It's been a long time coming. I'm a little scared. But mostly, I feel something has lifted. I'm no longer just stuck.

Here's to seeing what happens next.

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