Monday, June 6, 2011

Not the Answer You Expected...

The other day I was leaving work to go to lunch. One of the coworkers I don't get to see often (she is in administration and in a different part of the building than I am) was headed out of the building the same time as I was.

We made some smalltalk, exchanging our plans for and accomplishments so far during summer. She then paid me a compliment, saying I looked great. She asked me, "So I never did hear how you lost all the weight. What did you do?"

I am sure she was expecting a short and succinct answer -- something along the lines of Jenny Craig, or gastric bypass, or Weight Watchers. I simply couldn't give her one. The further and further I get down the path of healthy living -- a path along which the scenery and tools will change, but that I should never leave -- the less convinced I am that there are quick answers to what are meant to be easy questions about this journey.

I told her that I hadn't lost weight in a year, but that it has been an important year mentally for me with respect to staying healthy. I told her how I've worked to get a handle on my compulsive eating. I told her how I work to integrate exercise into my everyday life, taking the stairs instead of the elevator and riding my bike to work when the weather is nice. I told her that I eat tons and tons of fruits and vegetables and make healthier choices. I told her I had to focus on getting my mental health in order. I told her that I haven't cut out certain foods altogether, but I really make it worth it when I splurge.

Basically, I told her the truth. For me, the truth of how I've started to change my life and my habits cannot be summed up in a short 2-5 word phrase. It's the result of hard work. It's sometimes a struggle. Sometimes, I mess up.

And, finally, I told her I'd done Weight Watchers but that that's been a more minor piece of the get healthy puzzle. After all, I've been "doing" WW intermittently for the last year, and I've just gained and lost the same 10 lbs over and over. Weight Watchers is really a tool for me to manage what I put in my body, and not an answer in itself.

But all of this? This healthy living thing? It is worth it.

I can climb stairs without getting tired. People don't look at me with "that look" when I'm in public. I am starting to be able to shop in normal stores and normal sections -- ie, something besides Lane Bryant and the tiny corner of old lady fat clothes in regular department stores. I can fit into restaurant booths. I am not so fat that that's the first thing people notice about me.

And although Weight Watchers has played an integral role in all of this -- one that I will forever be thankful for and proud of -- I am the one who has done the work, with the help of my "higher power". And most of it has gone way deeper than just the food I eat -- to why I eat, how I view food, and the emotion behind the food.

And all of this? The changes I've made in my life? I would not trade them for a mountain of cheese dip. There really is life beyond the food. It's so much more than just looking cute walking around in nice clothes. And it is so so so much richer than I would have thought or imagined.

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