|Me at age 19, smoking a cigarette in the parking lot, thinking I was cute...|
If you had shown my 19-year-old self, at one of the lowest points in my young life, a picture of me today and of my life and interests, she would not believe you. She would not think herself capable of becoming the person I am today - a person who cooks, who runs 3 days a week, who can get to work on time at 7am. A person pursuing an MBA and who really enjoys her accounting classes. A person who spent two years as a vegetarian and would one day say goodbye to gluten forever. A married person; a mother, one day soon I hope. A person who's ideal Friday night is spent reorganizing dresser drawers, talking with her spouse, eating kale chips, and hydrating for a hard workout the next morning (don't judge me).
First and foremost, she would never believe that she could look and feel the way I look and feel today.
I have lost 80 pounds. The looks I get from people when I say that are incredulous. They want to see pictures. Honestly I seldom think about "the number," and how it sounds to others when I say it out loud. I admit that I am amazed at how hard it is to lift an 80-pound barbell, yet I used to lug that much extra poundage around all the time; I also pause in wonder when I see full-page articles in magazines highlighting women who have lost 30, 40, or 50 pounds. That's me. That's me PLUS 30!
|Christmas 2004. That's me on the left at my heaviest, one month before I cut out meat and started exercising (and taking time to straighten my hair before work).|
Maybe it doesn't seem very drastic to me because it was a very slow process. I made a life-changing decision to become a vegetarian on January 13, 2005; that was the first in a long series of steps towards good health. I also never "dieted." It always seems like people make a bold declaration to the world: "I am on a DIET!" and from that point on the clock is ticking and it's all about how successful the diet is, or how much of a failure. It took me a long time to educate myself on eating right and exercise (I have a shelf of For Dummies books as evidence!), and each of the changes were gradual and based on my expanding knowledge base. Being diagnosed with Celiac was certainly a big turning point for me, but I can honestly say that it came at the best possible time in my life. Any earlier, and I would have been terrified. Defeated. I would have found it to be an impossible life sentence, and my health would have suffered. Instead, the diagnosis was my personal tipping point. The disease provided me with a powerful motivation to clean up my act once and for all - to take charge of my body, to not let peer pressure or advertisements or my own inexperience decide how active I should be or what I should put in my body. And you know what? I have never felt better.
I want to write a series here (hence the "Part 1" in the title) on where I came from, and where I'm going, in terms of my health, activities, body image and journey to self-love. First and foremost I'm writing it for me, because I still need to wrap my head around this aspect of my life. I mostly need to reflect, not just on how much better I feel now, but on why I let myself get to such an unhealthy state before. A lot of it was environmental, societal... but a lot of the blame lies on me, and my own lack of empowerment when it comes to my own health and body. I need to fully understand how I lost that power and sense of self, so that I can be sure it never happens again.
So stay tuned....