When I first lost weight last year, I thought, “This is it. This is my skinny life now. Everything will be perfect.”
Even reading that sounds misguided and problematic. But after a lifetime of wanting something and finally achieving it, it was like winning the lottery. (I assume that’s what it feels like…I will let you know if I was right when I actually win it.)
Much like the case of many lottery winners, it did not solve all my problems, nor did wearing size six jeans bring world peace like I thought it would.
Prior to losing weight, I had 30 years of really bad habits that were etched into my psyche. I had less than one year of great habits that I was trying to tattoo on my eyelids lest I neglect them. As much as I wanted to be good all the time, my “you deserve it/treat yo self” alarm rang really loudly.
For some people that “treat yo self” alarm rings for them to buy something special or get a pedicure. Well I never restricted myself from those things so my alarm said, “You have eaten nothing but dry turkey and dirty tilapia for eight months…EAT THE FRIES.”
So I answered that alarm. Almost every time it rang.
And I gained weight.
And I wish I had a scapegoat to blame it on, but I don’t. I’m the goat. Yes, I had gallbladder surgery and was out of the gym for five or six weeks but that doesn’t account for the pudginess I was already feeling prior to the surgery. And in fact, I was super good post op. I watched what I ate because I couldn’t workout. I didn’t gain weight during my recuperation time. (Granted that could be because I was losing some muscle.) The real weight gain happened as soon as I was back in the gym. I felt like I was working out again, so I could eat again.
I didn’t gain all of the weight back. Settle down. That would be unfortunate but in the past couple of months I’ve gained enough that I’m not content with where I’m at.
I went through a period of time where I was angry with myself and therefore hateful towards myself. I just kept thinking, “Who does this, Heather? Who takes all these steps in the right direction only to go backwards? You were doing amazing things! Why did you let it go? Stop writing the blog. You’ve lost your credibility.” And I believed those thoughts. So I stopped writing.
The question, “Who does this?” kept bothering me because of course in my pea brain it’s only me. I’m the only one. Ever. Of all time. That has taken a ride or two on the weight loss roller coaster. (Roll your eyes. I am too.)
But then a beautiful light bulb lit up my brain. Oprah! Oprah does this ALL THE TIME! She is constantly losing and gaining weight, up and down on the scale like a carousel horse. Have you seen her Weight Watchers “I love bread!” commercial? I’m sitting in front of the TV, praise-hands up like, “Me too, girl! Me too!!” People still love her. People still think she’s wonderful. Probably, people will still love me too. Yes, I am comparing myself to Oprah. If I don’t there is surely no one else that will. Give me grace.
Then I heard a podcast that referenced Nora Ephron. Ephron’s mother was also a writer and when Ephron had a bad day, her mother would tell her, “Everything is copy.” Meaning that all the difficult and upsetting things we go through today will make a good story tomorrow.
Sometimes the stories are amusing, sometimes relatable, and sometimes it’s just therapeutic to get them on paper.
So if everything is copy and Oprah does this all the time, I’m going to keep writing. I will not be silenced by my own harassing thoughts because I know I’m better than that. Like Oprah. (I’m going to hold tight to this comparison because it’s a good one!)
At least this go round I am not going into the battle without armor or weapons. I’m going in with the experience and knowledge that I’ve been the victor in this battle before so I will not play the victim. It’s been about two weeks now of solid workouts and mostly clean eating but I am giving myself grace when I need it. That would be always. I’ve dropped some weight already but my honest goal is for my good jeans to fit. When that happens I will celebrate. (Probably live on Instagram) And until then, I will also celebrate the little victories along the way.
If I were to categorize my years thematically, 2017 was the year that I let go of shame. I wore shame like an old weathered coat for many years and I was very comfortable in it. But now that I have thrown off that coat, I am claiming (“decreeing and declaring” for my church kids) 2018 is my year to be brave. Being brave to me does not mean jumping out of an airplane, it’s just doing things that make me nervous and saying yes without second guessing myself. It takes being brave to write this post and let people know that I think I’m like Oprah. (Ok. I’m done.) Actually though, it does take bravery to let people know where I stand right now. It’s very different than last year, because last year I was trying something new. I was still very unsure of myself and still gripping that shame coat like my life depended on it. This year I’m being brave by saying, “Hey, this is me right now. I made some mistakes and now I am doing my best to try and rectify them.”
I share my stories because I value honesty. I’d much rather be told a harsh truth than a sweet lie. And these stories, these blog posts, are my truth. I know that I’m not the only one riding the roller coaster or the carousel or the merry-go-round that seems to go on forever. Your situation may not be dealing with weight loss. You may have found yourself making a lot of progress in one area of your life whether that be a relationship, your finances, your career, your spiritual well being, or something else all together. You may feel like you’re nearing the end of the ride only to realize that instead of exiting to the left, you stayed on the ride and are going through it all over again.
Sometimes we take two steps forward and one step back or two steps forward and three steps back and it seems like it will never end. And that is why we need grace. If you are familiar with the church, you know God’s graces are new every morning. Grace is defined as the free and unmerited favor of God given to humans. We don’t deserve it, and yet it’s given to us anyway. This is not a preaching. I’m am only saying that if God in heaven can give us fresh, new grace every day, then we can also be gracious with ourselves.
Give yourself a break. Give yourself credit. Give yourself grace.
Remember, you are not the only one on the ride. It’s you, me, and Oprah.
Little Book Rec:
100 Days to Brave by Annie F. Downs