I have been so very busy with being in love and planning a wedding that I nearly let one of my most important anniversaries pass me by. Today was the anniversary of the day I made the decision to take my life back from the obesity that was slowly taking it away from me. Three years. Wow. Time surely does fly.
I suppose it’s a good thing that my life is so full of blessings right now that I’m no longer spending so much of my time looking at the past and am instead living in the present while joyfully looking toward the future. But, truth be told, my past is part of me — it is who I am and who I will become. And there was a lot of fantastic that happened in my past. Fantastic that I wouldn’t have traded for anything in the world. There is no “before” and “after.” Because I am the same person living the same life — I’m just in a different place on my life’s journey.
But, I would be lying if I said losing weight and getting healthy didn’t have a HUGE effect on my happiness today. Because it did. It ohsoverymuch did. In fact, that portion of my journey feels like a lifetime away.
Before I continue with what I want to say about how losing weight and regaining my health has changed my life, I want to make one thing clear: I do not look at old pictures of myself and see someone ugly. I do not think that because I weighed nearly 300 pounds that I was less than beautiful.
I think there’s a misconception that because I show “before” and “during” photos that I’m saying I was a less successful, intelligent, beautiful person than I am now. Because I’m not. The physical changes I’ve undergone are simply visual representations of the major changes I’ve undergone in the past three years since taking my life back. Changes that have happened with my mind, my body and my spirit.
Let me be clear: I believe the human body — in all of its forms, male, female, large, small — is extremely beautiful and, quite honestly, amazing.
But let’s not lie to each other, either. I was not healthy. I was on the verge of being put on high cholesterol and diabetes medication. I had my gall bladder removed at the ripe old age of 21. After viewing an ultrasound, my doctor told me that my liver was full of fatty deposits that were becoming difficult. I had stopped having regular periods and was told I would probably have a difficult time conceiving.
I may have been beautiful, but I was not healthy.
Thankfully, with my change of diet and addition of exercise, I’ve reversed all of these things. Well, all of them except the gall bladder removal. Because, well, clearly, once it’s gone, it ain’t comin’ back.
But, more than that, the past three years have shown me that I can do the things I once thought were too hard for me. I have shown myself that I am incredibly strong. And that, indeed, I have the power to change my situation.
“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.” ~Christopher Robin
So how has this journey changed my life? In so many ways. And it goes far beyond the list of improvements made to my health — my life expectancy.
- Mr. B and me? We probably never would have happened. Not only would I not have had the courage and confidence to send that silly little message to him on the online dating site, but Mr. B wouldn’t have looked twice at me. And it’s not because he’s shallow — because he’s not. He is a kind, loving and wonderful man who loves without judgment. He wouldn’t have looked twice because I wasn’t the person he was looking for — I didn’t have a sense of self or a lifestyle that fit with what he was looking for. Back then, we wouldn’t have been a match. This is another reason I don’t regret my past. Because my past gave me the lessons I needed to be ready for the gift of Mr. B’s love.
- Running … dear, sweet running. That most certainly wouldn’t be part of my life. Not only was I uninterested in pushing myself in that way, but it wouldn’t have been safe for me to run — pounding nearly 300 pounds of person on joints is not really a good idea. Running has given me so much. It’s my therapy. It’s my reward. It’s my happiness. It’s my challenge.
- That marathon? One of the proudest moments of my life? Would have been impossible for me. Yes, I said impossible. And I mean it. I can’t imagine missing that experience. It changed me. Forever. And, no matter what, I will always have that.
- Friendship. Through this blog — and the one I started at the very beginning — I have been given the gift of friendship. From all over the world. These men and woman are the most of inspiring, hard-working, encouraging people I have ever known in my life. Some I’ve met, some I haven’t. Either way, they are my friends. And I can’t imagine my life without them.
- Faith in — and love for — myself. I have always been proud of myself and my accomplishments. But watching myself grow and change — over hills and in valleys — over these past three years? I am so much more than I ever gave myself credit for. And I continue to fall in love with who I am becoming every day. (Even though I still struggle sometimes.)
So, you see, it’s not just about how much my pictures have changed over the past three years. Those are just pictures. But they do represent something. They show what I see when I look in the mirror now: A happy, healthy woman who is getting stronger every day.