Living in the Past

No matter how good it was, you just can’t ever go backwards I just found a video of an interview done of me in 1996. I was 38 years old, and had lost about 100-150 pounds. I had met Richard Simmons on the front door of a cookie factory, imagine that! I was 444 pounds and was on my journey to lose 200 pound. Which I kept off for what felt like one minute.

Aside from the weight gain, I had a lot of losses that came suddenly, the most important people in my life died all in a short period.  It felt overwhelming so I just shut down, I lost any hope for a future. Since then I have spent the last decade trying to get back to that place. Believing if I lost the weight again, I could basically re-live that time in my life. But we can never go back.

Don’t we all do that? Remember a happy time in your life and try to re-live it? it never works that way and dreaming about how things use to be is only a memory. Memories don’t usually work very well as goals. To gain back any hope we must bravely move forward instead of backward.

When I finally decided that I could not do the same things to get back to a healthy happy life,  that is when I started making progress again. I started fresh, No longer living in the past.

The future was scary, it always is a bit, because the unknown can be scary when you walk alone.

But I have made a decision to move forward, and it’s working! My method of losing weight is different, most of the friends I lost weight with, have turned into a whole new group of support, of a different kind. Change is hard, but change is necessary to move out of the misery you are in. And change has to be forward, not backward.

The video below is from 1995-1996 when I had lost roughly 150 pounds. My friend Julie did this interview when she worked as a TV reporter. I had done one informational with Richard at this point, and did another one the following year in my home town after losing 200 pounds. The quality is poor, but I think you might get a kick out of viewing it. Just click the link below.

My weight loss story with Richard Simmons

The Emperor’s New Clothes

 

the-emperors-new-clothes

“The Emperors New Clothes”  (Danish: Kejserens nye Klæder) is a short tale by Hans Christian Andersen about two weavers who promise an emperor a new suit of clothes that is invisible to those who are unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent. When the Emperor parades before his subjects in his new clothes, no one dares to say that he doesn’t see any suit of clothes until a child cries out, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!”

There are a lot of points made in this tale that connect me to my life as an obese woman. Mostly denial.

When I was younger I was a ” functional Obese person”. it’s a proven fact that most obese people have a distorted image of themselves. When I was in my 20’s 30’s I maneuvered myself pretty well in a skinny world. I had an active social life, I worked a ton, and pretty much lived a somewhat functional life. I do not think that I was always mindful of how fat I really was. Occasionally I would see a picture of myself, or find myself in a situation where I did not fit in a skinny world and get a slap of reality in the face. But for the most part, I lived my life. The limitations were not as great as when I got older, and heavier and simply walking around the mall was no longer an option.

I remember shopping at the grocery store, and coming around the corner with my cart seeing a small child in the cart get a glimpse of me and shouting “Mommy, look how fat she is!” Just like the Emperor’s new clothes, the reality of my size hit me square in the face. Reminding me of my morbid obesity. Then the shame and embarrassment would over take me, let alone the awkward moment in that isle with the mother of that little child, who was only speaking what she thought out loud. You can’t really fault a child for telling the truth. The child was only saying what others were too polite to say.

I was in denial a long time. Now that I am openly seeing my obesity for what it truly is, it’s so easy to recognize this denial in many of the obese folks I see around me. The count of how many friends I had who have died from being obese and  in denial is staggering. It is ONLY the grace of God that has kept me alive today. The denial of the urgency of being obese is as toxic as the obesity itself. When the blinders come off, and you see what you have denied most of your life it is so hard when you see the same behavior in others. Often we appear prideful and feel a sense of superiority. Maybe this is an excuse but I think it is a way we cope. That pride never last very long,  because we all know we are one cheeseburger away from being in that ditch with them. That slip happens so fast and furious you don’t even realize it hit you until you are down.

So many of us ” fatties” walk around like the Emperor, pretending we are clothed, yet we are exposed to the world. When you struggle with food, and are fat, everyone knows. You can walk into a room, say nothing, yet the whole room knows you are fat and food got you there. Unlike the drunk, or someone who is promiscuous, gambler, or a whole plethora of bad behavior and addiction, we can not hide. We wear it. We do not have the luxury of quitting eating. Not to minimize the struggles of all other addictions. But we differ because we have to eat, we have rooms in our homes (kitchen) made to support our addiction. It’s like a drunk having a built in bar in his home and having to mix drinks for everyone who enters, putting a 6 pack in front of him and telling him he must drink one, and only one.

Before you see this as an impossible situation, there is hope. The food addict, must always be honest with himself. He has to put up mirrors all around him to always see who he is. The mirrors are all the people and things around him that keep him in reality. ajax3The friends who share the same struggle who put up their own mirrors. Do you ever notice what happens when there are a lot of mirrors in the room? Any light multiplies. That’s what happens when we join together in support for each other. A dim room suddenly becomes bright and light. We are no longer alone or sitting in the dark. We see ourself and other for what we really are. We see the beauty in what we missed in the darkness.

Another huge component to my reality is to keep my conections with God fluid. This keeps me focused, and always a reminder of how much I am loved. And I get to see the same in other around me who share the same relationship with God as I.

Once we are exposed we walk out of our denial and shame. knowing we are loved, and no longer alone. gratitude sets in, and we are no longer the same.

Becoming Loveable

I had a very real conversation with a good friend today. It started out as just a friendly conversation, but got very real quickly. We have both lost, gained and lost a lot of weight. But somehow I ended up sharing the baseline of what I struggle with most. It kinda just spilled out of me unexpected. Struggling still, with the knowledge that I am lovable.

This has taken me a long time to get to the bottom of, and I’m not so sure there are a few more layers left to uncover. I have shared before how I was always everyones friend. I was a popular fat girl, I have lots of friends and I am loved by many. For this, I am grateful. But I have never really been on the front burner of anyones life, except my Mothers. I was the pal, or sister to all  the guys in my life,never the girlfriend. I was the personal attendant, never the bridesmaid. My Dad loved me, but he was pretty much married to his job. I was married, but I was not in a good place when I got married, and I still did not feel valued. This has nothing to do with how I was treated as a wife. It all has to do with my perception of myself.

I really struggled with this the most within the last 10 years. I wondered how long I could be dead in my house without being found. Who would stay by my side if I was to end up in the hospital. Who will be there when I get old? Who would even be there to plan my funeral? I spent a lot of time latching on to anyone and everyone who threw me any kind of crumbs. In fact, I either smothered the relationship, or wore it out. When I spoke of this missing piece of my life, people would say, “but you have so many friends, you will not be alone.” With the best intentions people will tell you anything that might bring comfort, even if it’s not really true. Because it is hard to see someone you like hurting.

Don’t we all struggle with this at some point? It is why we worry about what people think of us, and how we look. What our social status is, and if we are single or not. Arn’t we all currently, or have been imposters in one way or another? Don’t you thing maybe that facade we wear, is about convincing ourselves more that others? For if we can get others to look up to us and love us, maybe we can love ourselves?

How can we have an authentic relationship with others as an imposter? Most of all. how can we have an relationship with God? He wouldn’t know who we are, because we are not being real.

Although I don’t always feel it, I am beginning to believe the fact that I am loved. I am loved by whom it really matters. God loves me.

“I do not have to impress God, He is already knocked out by me” -Rich Mullins

With that, kind of love, nothing else matters. With that kind of love, the sky is the limit, and there is nothing to fear. With that kind of assurance and love, our crazy thoughts disappear, and our heads clear. All we have to do is believe and accept it.

When you finally figure out you are lovable, and perfect, just as you are, that is when your joy begins. Contentment happens, and you can freely enjoy the people and beauty around you. We love and forgive others, and our resentments seem, well, just silly. Your validation does not come from what others think of you. The need to over eat, or do anything to cushion that feeling of inadequacy diminishes. Because you are loved by your Heavenly Father just as you are, in your brokenness. You are enough.

“How glorious the splendor of a human heart that trusts that it is loved!” -Brennan Manning

120 Pounds

Italian_traffic_signs_-_limite_di_velocità_120

number_120

I lost one pound this week. My total is 120 pounds lost, forever.  So I scoured the internet trying to see what weighs 120 pounds. Did you know each of us throw away an average of 120 pounds of trash every month?

I found this cool chart of how much stuff weighs. it’s sometimes nice to have a comparison when our weight loss journey gets long. I am still a little hard on myself about not losing faster. One pound at a time is going to take a while. But I am sure I will kick it up a bit as I get more and more active.

But there is something about hitting a milestone mark, that is satisfying. It is the assurance I am doing the right things to gain back my health. Consistency and progress trump quick and fast any day.

 

3 pounds = an average human brain
4 pounds = an ostrich egg
6 pounds = a human’s skin
7.5 pounds = an average newborn
8 pounds = a human head
10 pounds= chemical additives an American consumes each year
12 pounds = a Bald Eagle
15 pounds = 10 dozen large eggs
16 pounds = a sperm whale’s brain
23 pounds = amount of pizza an average American eats in a year
24 pounds = a 3-gallon tub of super premium ice cream
25 pounds = an average 2 year old
30 pounds = amount of cheese an average American eats in a year
33 pounds = a cinder block
36 pounds = a mid-size microwave
40 pounds = an average human leg
44 pounds = an elephant’s heart
50 pounds = a small bale of hay
55 pounds = a 5000 BTU air conditioner
60 pounds = an elephant’s penis (yep, weights more than his heart!)
66 pounds = fats and oils an average American eats in a year
70 pounds = an Irish Setter
77 pounds = a gold brick
80 pounds = the World’s Largest Ball of Tape
90 pounds = a newborn calf
100 pounds = a 2 month old horse
117 pounds = an average fashion model (and she’s 5’11”)
118 pounds = the complete Encyclopedia Britannica
120 pounds = amount of trash you throw away in a month
130 pounds = a newborn giraffe
138 pounds = potatoes an average American eats in a year
140 pounds = refined sugar an average American eats in a year
144 pounds = an average adult woman (and she’s 5’4”)
150 pounds = the complete Oxford English Dictionary
187 pounds = an average adult man
235 pounds = Arnold Schwarzenegger
300 pounds = an average football lineman

Anxiety

anxiety
plural anx·i·eties
1
a : painful or apprehensive uneasiness of mind usually over an impending or anticipated ill
b : fearful concern or interest
c : a cause of anxiety
2
: an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physiological signs (as sweating, tension, and increased pulse), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it

I have a lot of anxiety. Even if there is nothing to be anxious about I am anxious that I’m not seeing what I should be anxious about.

My road to health has reduced much of my anxiety. I have better peace of mind, less guilt, and an assurance that as long as I do what I need to do everyday, my life will change for the better.

Sometimes I am anxious to get to the next level. I am anxious to get to the place where I can just fly out of the house in a moments notice. I get anxious how my life will change socially, what kind of job will I have? Will I make enough money to finish the remodeling that got 1/2 done due to a lack of funds. I worry when I do not need to worry.

Because being morbidly obese requires some thought, when ever I did something,  or went anywhere, I am conditioned to think I need to know exactly what is ahead, always. I am mostly secure when I know exactly what to expect. I believe there are many of us, and not all of us are  morbidly obese. Some people would call us control freaks. But what is under most of that is fear. But the anxiety this fear brings on can feel catastrophe.

Mostly, I just want to “get it” right away. “It” being the switch in my head that stops me from over eating. I still white knuckle it more than I want to. I get very hard on myself. I just want to get on with my life.

But what I realize I need to be, is content. Knowing the place I am in, right now, is where I am exactly to be. There are no shortcuts. There is also no slacking. I want those numbers on that scale to be bigger losses, I am constantly analyzing what I need to do different, and where I flubbed up.

OK, so what if I could write my own script. I’d get in a perfect food plan, never struggle, and breeze my way through it. If that could happen, I would miss out on some very critical life lessons. I would have not learned as much as I am now. I would not become the person I want to become. I would not have the deep spiritual core I am building with God. I would not have those sweet magical conversations with my fellow soldiers. I would not have the tools to keep the weight off. I would have never found out, that God loves and created me just the way I am. Perfect. My self-esteem would still be laying on the floor. The humility and patients I have needed to go through to have a total healing, would have never existed. I would just be a skinny, shallow, empty shell, that would appear to be unapproachable. If I struggle with loneliness now, that would be the worst kind of loneliness.

Every struggle, every error in judgement, is a gift. A teacher, a life lesson. Every struggle I make builds the muscles I need to conquer the next battle ahead. I can’t read exact directions in a book, I am not making a cake. I am making my life better. Now let me be clear, this does not mean that I go through life recklessly, letting  some of my bad choices be cast to the wind. I am still responsible for what choices I make, be it food, or lifestyle. But I can rest, knowing I am moving, every step takes me farther down this road that has no arrival.

That deserted lonely path I was on, is now getting greener, there is life around me and many other traveling with me. I do not need to be anxious about what is ahead, because I have a backpack full of tools I have brought alone with me, that I can use to get through any obstacle or weather ahead. I see the beauty around me,garden-of-eden1-620x418 (gratitude)  and I know step by step,  I am making progress.

Building an Army

 

Unknown

I am someone who needs people. When I isolate I can spiral downward pretty quick. Some of you don’t need a lot of people in your life, but I would bet you have a small handful of friends and family that keep you going.

When I was over 500 pounds, I wanted to live in isolation. It all started slowly, I felt so much shame and life was too much work to participate in anymore. But the loneliness was unbearable and I shoved food down that empty lonely place. Food never had or will satisfy.

Last March, I not only hit bottom, I bounced around down there a while. I was alone. I was morbidly obese, and could hardly roll over in bed. I only wanted the people around me to rescue me, and get me out of this prison. I believed real friendship was when people would come and deliver you out of the darkness when you were alone. But that’s not the case. Some tried and failed, some were disgusted with my self pity and ran away, but some, just a very few, sat in the darkness with me, held my hand, and waited patiently for me to get up, and when I did, they walked with me in the darkness toward the light.

Since then, I am still walking in the shadows, but the light ahead is getting brighter and bigger.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I now have several more who have joined me in my journey. These people are who I refer to as my army. What started out as accountability partners, has turned into a whole group of people who march forward with me everyday. As I took a step, it seemed another member of my army joined in. And the miraculous wonder of it all is that the person I needed at that very moment stepped in at a specific time I needed them. In fact, I am still trying to figure out how this all happened, and how powerful this has been in my life. But I don’t think I need to know, I just need to trust. I believe God has been in control all along. This is the evidence, of the very thing I hoped for. (faith, is the substance of of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen)

Now this is not an army of reserves. All of my members are actively serving, full time. This means, if I am in a crisis, they would drop and run to my aide at any given moment. Holding my hand in the darkness, but never taking charge or carrying me. None have given me exact direction, they all believe the path I choose to get healthy is my own. They trust me with my own choices.

Many members of my army share with me there own path. Some have been further down the road than I. Some just want to walk with me because they are in their journey as well. None of us are experts, or play the role as the General. For most of us, out General is God. We just do what we are told, don’t question, we do not need to understand, we just need to keep moving ahead. Sometimes we don’t even know we are moving. or how far we have gotten. Until we look back, and it takes our breath away. But we do not dare look back for long, we must always put one foot in front of the other. There are no breaks, this is our mission, and it includes staying true to our commitment to ourselves and each other. We can get pretty beat up along the way, our feet get sore, and we wonder when we will get to out arrival point.

Then something truly amazing happens, the sky clears, the sun comes out, the light becomes bright, and there is beauty all around us. Madeira-Walks-Levada-da-Serra-Paradise-Valley-1-640Our bodies and our spirits are renewed. We become accustom to the rhythm of our march, the pain lessens and our spirits soar. There is no arrival, but we don’t care, because we are all enjoying the journey and each other. We are full of gratitude and keep marching, no longer sitting alone in the darkness.

Thank you all who read this, for being in my army. Thank you for walking me through this journey. I love you all deeply.