Friday, April 2, 2010

Back in the Game

My blog, as you can tell, has been hijacked (by me) for reasons other than weight loss. I am considering starting a blog about whatever -- my general musings in life -- but I am not sure. I'm still mulling it over. If I start one, I will let you know and stop interrupting this blog with other stuff.

Today's post is back to the normal topic: my struggles with (and victories against!) the war on fat, slovenliness, and being unhealthy. Let me start with a story.

Since my senior year of high school, I have liked swimming. In college, the gym was up a ginormous hill (seriously -- this hill was so steep and long they called it cardiac hill because several people died of heart attacks on this hill). Although I love to go swimming, the trip up this hill to the pool from my dorm prevented me from going as much as I would like.

Despite the distance, my freshman year (1997-1998), I managed to get a gift at the pool: I got some sort of fungal infection on my foot. That spread to my toenails and, for 10 years, I struggled with fungus toenails. If you have never seen them, don't go out of your way to do so. They are gross and yellow, and are so thick that I eventually had to use tools like pliers and as well as my engineering degree and creativity and knowhow (no exaggeration) to cut them. Finally, this year I was able to stay the entire course of treatment and now I am happy to report that the nails are growing out normally. THANK. GOODNESS!

I always told myself that if I was able to get rid of that fungus (I had tried a few times before), that I would go get a pedicure as soon as I was able. I am pleased to report today is the day I will go for a pedicure. I will probably cry tears of joy as I get it. The person dealing with my toes will think I am crazy, but that is ok too.

I was thinking about that this morning in the shower. Why did I let this incapacitate me for so long? Why didn't I take care of this early and stay the course earlier? I have always felt really awkward about my feet. I got nervous in the pool, and was always careful about using flip flops so I would not spread my fungus around. I went 11 years without wearing open toed shoes because I was self conscious about my feet. I hated to go to friends' houses where they take off their shoes if I was wearing closed toed sandals. This stupid thing made me self conscious and altered my life for almost 11 years. It doesn't anymore, and tonight I will have the pedicure to prove it.

As I was thinking about this this morning, I realized that this is just a microcosm of what my life used to be. I used to be afraid of and/or feel awkward about most everything I did because of my weight. Would I fit in the chairs? Would I spill something down the front of my shirt and look like a slob? (this used to happen ALL. THE. TIME. because it just wasn't far from my mouth to my "shelf" as I called it, and I was shoveling so much garbage into my mouth) Would people want to walk up stairs or something else that would make me puff like someone with emphysema? My weight and my unhealthiness seriously messed up my life and made me feel awkward and self conscious at every move. It is a terrible feeling not to feel comfortable in your own skin -- yet I have been this way most of my life.

I am pleased to let you know that this is no longer the case. Do I feel self confident 24-7? Um, no. Far from it actually. However, I know that at my core I am worth something and doing my best to do the right thing and be a good person. I don't question my fundamental worth anymore, which is something I used to second guess all the time. Most importantly, I don't feel awkward in my own skin anymore. I feel OK about myself.

Here is a quick story to illustrate how far I have come. This week, I was invited to a scholarship dinner at a sorority by some of my students. I was very honored to learn that not that many professors were there, and that the ones who were had been hand-selected by the sorority sisters because they had made a difference in their lives. It was hugely rewarding to be invited (but that is not the point of the story). You should also know that I have been incredibly curious about sororities for the past 8 years or so. Ever since I started teaching in grad school, I got interested in the sociological aspects of groups and everything...and, I loved that show Sorority Life that used to be on MTV. The lives I've seen depicted in stories like Legally Blonde (one of my favories) have left me intensely curious about living in a sorority (although, I don't think it could have ever been for me). Needless to say, I was pumped just to be able to go inside a sorority house and look around when I got this invitation.

In the past -- despite all of these reasons why I wanted to go to this dinner -- I am virtually certain I would have said no and politely declined the invitation. Why? I would have been scared of feeling uncomfortable in my own skin. I would have been scared to feel judged. When I picture a sorority girl, I picture someone who whines about being fat and the cellulite on her size 6 thighs. I see someone tan, petite, and cutely dressed. At almost 300 lbs and a size 26, this clearly was out of the realm of someone I could relate to (you try to find a cute size 26 dress that is flattering!). I would have felt certain that they were laughing at me on the inside. However, I now feel so much more confident in my body and, more fundamentally, myself that I went. I had a nice time and was glad to see what the inside of the sorority was like. My suspicions were confirmed: there is absolutely no way I could live with 85 girls (the year I tried to live with 10 almost killed me!). I didn't really think about my weight once (but I did wonder how those girls stay skinny with the food they were feeding!).

Although this is just one story, there have been many more like this this year. I am happy to report that my unhealthiness and weight is holding me back from less and less. I am doing more and more things, and am less fearful of them. There are still things I can't do that I'd like to that I can't yet. For example, I'd be hard-pressed to go shopping with a group of skinny people and be able to find anything at a normal store. I can't ride a mule to the bottom of the Grand Canyon yet (you must be 220 fully clothed and geared). I still can't skydive. But there are so many things I can do now, and I am doing. My weight is holding me back from less and less, and it feels great. This girl is back in the game. Bring it!


  1. It's so great to move past that barrier isn't it? I've always been pretty confident, but often, I have had to force myself to do something that makes me nervous, and then I find out it's not so bad. Sounds like you had a good time at that dinner! Good for you!

  2. Thanks Laura. I did have a great time. It was fun :)

  3. Sarah, I <3 this post so hard. I feel like even though we're just getting to know one another that I get to have a peek into your heart and how much you're changing and growing and becoming so very confident in who you are and what you can do. It's amazing and inspiring, and I can totally relate because I'm right there with you!! (Just picture me plumper and super-shy--I had no confidence at all!)

    On the "getting to know one another" note, I'd like for us to have lunch sometime soon, be it just eating lunches brought from home together or going somewhere. :)

  4. Thanks Jenn. Glad you like the post and I agree, it has been nice to get to know each other a bit! I'd love to do lunch. We should talk dates IRL or over e-mail.

  5. I want to see the pedicure!!! You're doing so awesome Sarah! I love to hear how your changing from the inside out. and it surprises me and I'm a little sad I was so oblivious to it at Pitt. Keep it up Sarah!


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