When I decided to lose weight, the only thing I knew was that my body was going to change. That when it was all over- I was going to look different. And while I’ve since learned that this is a lifestyle change and that it will never truly be ‘over’, I could not have prepared myself for everything else in my life that was going to change along with my body.
Yes, I look different. I lost 70lbs and went from a size 18-20 jean to a size 4-6 jean. I used to wear XL shirts and dresses, and can now buy a Medium without trying it on. I can shop in standard department stores without the fear that the store doesn’t carry my size. I can wear a 2-piece bathing suit without being ashamed, and I can now wear tee-shirts without a tank top underneath to ‘hold everything in.’ I can wear dresses and other form fitting articles of clothing without Spanx- which was the devil’s idea, by the way. When I go shopping and decide not to purchase something- it’s usually because I just plain don’t love it, not because I can’t fit into it. These are all things I anticipated. These are things I expected. These are the things I WANTED.
But along the way, I began to notice other changes that I DIDN’T really think about beforehand. I went to a hockey game after I’d lost about 45lbs, and was pleasantly surprised at how different sitting in the tight seats were, as opposed to when I’d gone 6 months earlier. I got onto an airplane this past August for the first time since losing 70lbs, and raved like a crazy person to my boyfriend about how weird it was to be on an airplane and not feel like I was sitting in TWO seats instead of one. I can sit with my legs crossed for extended periods of time without them falling asleep. While I’m not even close to being ‘skinny’ or skeletal, I’m fascinated by my hipbones… by my collarbones… by my shoulders… I look at myself in the mirror OFTEN. A stranger on the street may think I’m being vain, but in a way- it’s not much unlike a visually impaired person after Lasik, or that video of the deaf woman after she got a device implanted that allowed her to hear… This body is new to me, and it’s fascinating.
No one could have prepared me for my newfound role in society. I never once expected to have a successful internet presence, to be recognized out in public, to be called an ‘inspiration’ on a daily basis. (I’ll never get used to that!) No one could have prepared me for the thousands, upon thousands, upon thousands of people that would be contacting me from all over the world to ask me about what I’d done, about how I’d done, it, and about how they could do it too.
No one could have told me that at the end of the day, the actual losing of the pounds would be the most inconsequential part of the entire process.
I joke a lot about the crazy e-mails I get and the repetitiveness of certain inquiries, (I’m 5’10” 😉 ) but I don’t often mention the other kinds of e-mails I get. On a daily basis, I get e-mails from people around the world who tell me that I’ve inspired them, that they’ve found a personal connection to my story and my journey and that seeing me conquer this dream shows them that they can do it too. I hear from men and women, young and old, fat and skinny, pre-weight loss and post-weight loss, happy and depressed, hopeful and pessimistic, lost and found…. I hear from people from all walks of life, and I’m always surprised at the level of trust that people have in me, and what they’re willing to share with me. Fun fact, I’ve cried twice this week alone from e-mails I’ve gotten.
The physical portion of the weight loss journey, while important, is probably the smallest piece of the pie… Pardon the food reference… What many people don’t realize is how much of a MENTAL journey it is. You have to DECIDE to lose weight, you have to DECIDE to get up and workout, you have to DECIDE to trade some of your junk food for the foods you need to properly fuel your body. It’s all up to that brain of yours to MAKE your body to what you need it to do to make the changes you crave so badly.
I’m asked all the time about what workouts people should do and what food they should eat, or how to avoid snacking on junk food or how they can make themselves wake up in the mornings to go work out…. My replies generally consist of “I’m assuming you’re looking for an answer other than ‘Just do it.'” DECIDE. You have to DECIDE what’s worth it, make the choice, and commit. I don’t mind sharing my favorite tips from the gym or the kitchen- but when it comes down to it- all most people are really looking for is a push to do what they need to do, and that’s what I’m here for. I’m here as proof that when your mind is in the right place, you can do whatever the flying hell you put your mind do. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. You don’t need me to tell you what to eat.
I don’t think having lost weight makes me anything special, but for some reason complete strangers are comfortable in confiding in me and sharing their deepest and darkest secrets with me. They like having someone to talk to when they feel like maybe no one else will ‘get it.’ THIS. THIS is the most important piece of the puzzle. While I’m proud of myself for the physical changes I’ve made to my body- my favorite part about the whole thing is getting an opportunity to be there for the people who want to do the same thing, and who just need a little push to get them over the mental blocks that are holding them back. This is my purpose and my reason.
No one could have prepared me for that.