Sunday, January 4, 2009

Look to the Past to Battle Complacency Today

The new year is when most people look forward and resolve to change something about their future. That’s all well and good, but it’s also the perfect time to reflect on the past, particularly if you’re losing or maintaining weight. It’s the best way I’ve found to keep complacency at bay.

I’ve spent a good part of this new year’s weekend asking myself these questions: What was my original motivation to lose weight? What did I look like along the way? How did I feel at this weight or that weight? What lessons have I learned and do I need to relearn any of them?

Today I was most interested in January 2006. I’d lost about 90 pounds and had emerged from a nearly four-year self-imposed exile during which time I’d stopped writing my column, having my hair cut and colored professionally, and socializing with friends. When I looked at photos from Christmas 2005 and new year 2006, I remembered I felt like someone had lifted a heavy blanket off of me. I could breathe again. No more did my world feel dank and cold.

Second only in importance to losing weight was my decision to write again. For seven years I’d written a bi-weekly column called “Been There, Done That” for our local paper. I even won a few journalism awards for it. But I stopped writing it in 2002 because I was too busy running an antiques business. After a year, I missed my column terribly and wanted to write again, only I knew my editor would insist on a photo. It was standard corporate procedure to include a columnist’s photo with with their byline, and in 2003, there was no way I was putting my face, as it was, back in the paper. I’d gained a significant amount of weight since the last headshot was taken (sometime in 1999, I think) and I worried what people would think. I denied myself one of the most important creative outlets I’d ever know all because I couldn’t bear the thought of people opening up their papers and gasping, “Oh my, she’s gotten fat.”

Seems like messed up thinking now, but I have to remember that that was the mindset of 300-pound me, not 128-pound me. Big difference (so to speak). In 2006, when I’d lost enough weight to feel somewhat comfortable having my photo taken, enough that writing became more important than what someone thought of my weight, I re-launched my column and fell in love with writing all over again.

On the left is the headshot from January 2006. On the right is my headshot from January 2007.
I didn’t lose weight so I could write again. But writing was one of the by-products of my weight loss. It’s one of the many things I like to reflect on and remember so when I’m tempted to eat a little more than I should or skip a workout or two because I don’t “feel like it,” I can make the best decision for myself knowing what I know now based on what I did then. And for that, I thank and love the old me and the wisdom culled from the past.

11 comments:

  1. You know, you touched on something that has always bothered me........I have not participated in my own life because of my weight, or fear of what people would think, etc. Its time for that to stop.

    Your pictures are beautiful. You have done a wonderful job! I am impressed.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Isn't it sad what we miss out on because of our minds?

    P.S. I think you are beautiful in all of your pictures!

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a great entry and it has got me thinking about all the reasons I am hiding out and not participating in life. I am hoping 2009 gets my mind and body jump started into a healthier me. Have a wonderful week.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Delete was me. Had to fix typos that were bugging me.

    Loved your pics.
    Loved this posting.
    It really made me think.
    After thinking - I realized,
    I sort of did the opposite.

    I was immersed in
    busy, Busy, BUSY and
    more, More, MORE
    at my highest weights.

    Like if I kept moving fast enough, I wouldn't have to stop and look at myself.

    I was first busy with babies/toddlers/children. And immersed myself in that. And then very busy with child related volunteer groups. And then later quilting and teaching quilting.

    And like you - didn't cut my hair, color my hair, do my hair. Didn't wear real clothes - just lived in whatever sweats or my favorite overalls (no waist band) I could squeeze into at the time.

    I was all about staying busy. Like if I keep dancing fast enough - I don't have to see myself in the mirror.

    I didn't like what I was doing, didn't like things hanging over my head, but it was the same - if I just keep moving - I don't have to look or do.

    As I worked on my weight/habits/life - I started to strip away all the busy, Busy, BUSY and more, More, MORE and get down to my own basics and taking care of myself.

    I didn't add any of those old activities back into my life as I got my weight off and got into the flow that is my life now.

    I cringe at the thought of babies (like my kids, just don't want to start over again) and very much at the thought of quilting. I very much associate quilting with being fat.

    I am very picky about how I spend my time, what my priorities are now.

    I don't like ANYTHING hanging over my head now - no habit of saying YES to everything and then wishing I hadn't. Not running or hiding from myself.

    I run into one particular mom on occasion - and she always makes a point of telling me how she doesn't have time to take care of herself because she is very busy taking care of her kids - every time I see her.

    I recognize the busy, Busy, BUSY and more, More, MORE each time I hear her say this.

    And one of these days I am going to let slip - "are you implying that I don't take care of my kids - because I do take care of myself?"

    PS - and I did start writing - not again - but for the first time - about half way through my weight loss phase. Writing for me is talking to myself and listening to myself. Both things are new to me - and very much a part of my maintenance.

    My writing (listening to myself) and my yoga (learning to turn off my brain) are part of why my maintenance works.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sometimes we let our minds tell our hearts what we should do instead of the other way around. Love the pics and starting writing again was a great decision for you and I appredicate all of your "wisdom" you share with us.

    Mara
    http://24stepstogo.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  6. Both of your pics are beautiful, but you look so much happier on the right. Amazing what losing weight will do for the psyche!

    ReplyDelete
  7. the difference is the pics are awesome - I know you see them on the left: arms crossed no smile (a smirk if you will), covered from head to toe; on the right: vibrant smile, open and inviting, v neck shirt! What a difference! With that being said, the gal on the left was able to cultivate and nurture herself to bring forth the girl on the right... LOVE IT !

    ReplyDelete
  8. Vickie, I'm pretty sure if we were to meet, it would be like looking in a mirror, psychologically speaking. I'd have deleted a comment, too, because of typos! I get what you're saying. Thanks for saying it here.

    Shelly, our minds really do a number on us sometimes, don't they? I wish I could have the philosophy of my 1-year-old granddaughter. Everything's exciting to her right now. Nothing (psychologically speaking) scares her. Ah....to be a child.

    CJ, it IS time to step. Let me know if you do and how it works for you. Seriously. I like to know how other people deal with this stuff, too.

    Dutch, same thing.

    Deanna, you've been busy :) And you're right. I was happier in the photo on the right. On the left, the one with my arms crossed, I still felt so guarded. Body language says it all.

    Juice (love that name) and Mara, thank you for your kind words. I really needed them today. It's been a long, complicated one, that's for sure.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Awsome Job! Love the pictures!

    Come join me on my weight loss journey!
    http://nicolesweightloss.true.ws/

    ReplyDelete
  10. Your post really touched me today. While I dont have quite as much weight to lose as you did. (I need to lose about 60lbs total) I just keep losing 10-20 and gaining it all back. Year, after year, after year. I find that I exile myself too. I dont go out nor do I deserve to do something nice for myself. I dont buy myself a new outfit (because I wouldnt look good in it anyways...or maybe once I lose weight I will do something good for myself) Instead I walk around in worn out stretch pants, a far stretch from my younger years when I was rather attractive. I do wish it was just my weight I was trying to hide but as a 33 year old my hair has been falling out too. This actually started about 9 years ago and contiues to get thinner and thinner to the point where people stop and stare. I know they are staring at my hair (or the lack there of). Thank goodness for a wonderful husband who loves me as I am no matter what I am. But after a cry in the bathroom this weekend over my weight/hair this post truly touched my heart. Thanks for your honestly of your struggles. I've got to get busy and start doing for myself.

    ReplyDelete
  11. {{{Shawnda}}} I'm sorry people are so stupid and insensitive. If this post touched you, I'm glad. I want to add, though, that it's important to start taking care of yourself NOW. Buy clothes that make you feel good NOW (I've found lots of great things in thrift stores for those in-between sizes so I wasn't spending a lot of money). Have your nails done or get a massage or just start walking or lifting weights, something that will help you feel good from the outside in. Never ever forget your self worth. I'm sure your husband would tell you that, and I know you'd tell a friend that if she were in the same position.

    ReplyDelete