Goal 2012, #3: Continue improving on a health-full life.

In which I may, at times, sound a little bit preachy. Advance apologies.

I’ve been waiting to post this one until the end of the month, to make use of a convenient anniversary: In the last 52 weeks, I’ve lost, give or take, 81.1 lbs. I haven’t been making a big deal out of it, and I try to downplay it or change the subject when other people bring it up. Sure, it’s nice to have my efforts rewarded with the praise and compliments of others, but that isn’t why I did it. I didn’t do it to fix something I felt was broken, i.e. myself — I did it to prevent a future I didn’t want from even occurring. And there was just no better time to do something about it then the time I did. So I’m eating a little differently, but it’s better nutrition for me than the way I was eating before, and even though it may have meant some hard (at the time) changes, it’s second nature now and for what it’s worth, I’m enjoying it. Even Amy has helped in her own canine way, always being ready — MORE than ready! — to go out for a walk. Even in the rain. Even in the snow. Ok, maybe not in the high-noon heat of August, but mornings and evenings, at least. And Jim has been more than supportive, even suffering the 3x/wk kettlebell schedule with me (so far — we’re 1/3rd through a 6-week cycle. One or both of us may flake out by the end from sheer exhaustion, although after this week we’re more than halfway through, might as well hang on to the bitter finale).

So my goal this year isn’t to lose weight (ye Gods and little fishes, no!), or cut carbs, or cut sugar, or alcohol, or bacon, or meat, or to exercise more, or run a marathon by Christmas — my third goal is to just keep improving on the healthy improvements I’ve already started making. A little bit extra exercise — maybe a local yoga class in the spring? — a new way to prepare a meatless or less-meat meal even my omnivorous husband can endorse enthusiastically — a new organic body wash — a few more trips to the farmers’ market — a raised garden bed in the backyard — the possibilities are endless, and I’d limit myself by making a specific list of “Things I Plan to Do.” I will NOT cut out bacon — in fact, I am planning to cook some up for dinner tonight. And I’d be crazy to resolve to “Run a marathon in 4 hours!” when I know I’d probably fall short and hate on myself, or hurt myself, in the process. But choosing to take a leisurely run every now and then once the weather becomes dependably warmer? Maybe just a couple of miles a few times a week? Even once a week? That’s feasible, and would be a healthy improvement. As would regular visits to the farmers’ market for fresh, local foods. Or trying my own garden, and canning the results for enjoyment later in the year (if there even are any results!).

On a side note, and I know that some of you will be asking this: No, I don’t feel different! I don’t even “feel better”! My sleep is unchanged (that is, it is still broken and restless and waking up in the morning is still like clawing out of a bowl of Jell-O), my hair’s been coming out at an alarming pace, and I’m cold all the time! This is what dramatic weight loss gets you, people: A permanent, bone-deep chill and hours and hours of wardrobe-replacement shopping and the chronic dejected, tired, defeated feeling that comes with spending loads of cash on just a few pieces of clothing that you’re pretty sure won’t fit you in a month. I’m cold all the time and I need to replace EVERY BLOODY ITEM OF CLOTHING that I have EVER POSSESSED. Why exactly did I do this to myself? I’m miserable! Oh yeah, and I’m also waaaay healthier and better equipped with the tools to stay that way. That’s why — forgot about that.

In other words, I am trying to warn you — losing a lot of weight WILL NOT, alone, make you happier. Happiness is something else altogether. You may notice that you are less plagued by certain health issues, you may notice that you enjoy the outdoors more, or have an easier time keeping up with rambunctious children, and these things may make you happy, but that happiness is coming from making healthy, positive choices about your life. The happiness doesn’t stem directly from the weight loss. Please get that straight in your heads. Being skinny will not make you happy. Wearing a size 2 will not make you happy. You may feel happier and more self-confident after weight loss, but the happiness is not tied to the weight. Choose to make a few healthy improvements a little bit at a time, and choose to like the person you are, who is on this path, who is making these improvements, but like the person you are at THIS MOMENT and not the person you think you SHOULD BE, and the rest will follow. Believe me.

And in case you’re wondering, I don’t see anything different when I look in the mirror — I see exactly what I saw a year ago. It’s gotten to the point where people haven’t recognized me, even when they expect to see me, and yet if you ask me I look just the same, to my own two eyes, as I always have. I see 0% change over 52 weeks ago, and when I need to buy clothes a size — or two — or three — or four — smaller than a month — two months — six months — 12 months ago, I stand in the dressing room for a little while and stare and wonder WHEN THE HELL DID THIS HAPPEN? The answer is, it happened a little bit at a time, and even when I couldn’t see the incremental changes they were there, adding up, to the big changes you see today.

If you know me in real life, please don’t tell me I look “skinny.” I have a hard time identifying with words that just describe, arbitrarily, the state my body is in. You may tell me I look skinny on a day when I feel kind of bloated and icky, so the pessimistic part of my brain will choose to not believe you. Please say something like, “You look so healthy!” or “happy!” or “fantastic” or “confident” or “GREAT!” And then, please, let it go. I know it’s kind of surprising, but I don’t see what you see, and I suspect it will be a very long time before I can, so talking about it is sort of painful and unbelievable for me. I’m even a little bit embarrassed to talk about it. Although on the flip side, it IS nice to have the fruits of my efforts noticed and complimented, but then there’s overboard.

MEDEN AGAN, folks. Eat your veggies, and always leave room for dessert.

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