For a while now, I’d been planning on writing a very solemn post on the three year anniversary of my lovely project: the whole active, lose weight and be happier project I started one haphazard Saturday morning at a Weight Watchers in Los Angeles. (Actually, the project began a year or so before that when I went back to therapy and worked to find the gumption and will to get into that Weight Watchers in the first place.) It was going to be a very serious post. I was going to publish it on this past Wednesday, February 19, which was the anniversary.
And then I totally forgot.
Wednesday happened to be a bitch of a work day, starting earlier than usual and ending later than usual. I had plans that night, too, and hardly a moment to sit down and think, let alone write, let alone — hahaha — even remember that the day was an anniversary.
Over the past three years, I’ve lost just about 105 pounds. More than half that weight came off the first year. The second year was marked by a rather long plateau, and the third year saw a brief gain and then a plummet further down into where I am now: normal BMI, acceptable BFP, and the project more or less completed. I say more or less because the explicitly stated goals (which have shifted over time, you know) have not been met, even though I am quite close to meeting them. At 25%(ish) BF, I’m a mere three or so percentile points away from my ultimate goal of under 22% BF. This goal will probably actually take some serious, focused work but even that seems very doable, especially after losing 105 pounds already.
While originally I set out to lose weight, the real point of all of this was to be a lot happier than I was. Back in February 2011, I had beaten back depression but not the resulting numbness. My life was a lot smaller than I wanted it to be. I didn’t have an active social life, I wasn’t dating, I wasn’t even thinking about dating, I wasn’t traveling, I wasn’t exercising, I wasn’t enjoying the amazing cosmopolitan city in which I live. I spent a lot of time at home, alone. The limits of my weight — 260 or so — made it difficult for me to move around, and it certainly seemed to zap my desire to dress myself in cute clothes or to care about how I presented myself at all (short hair, jeans, and sweatshirts were de rigeur). Oddly enough, my body more or less worked the way it should — the only problem I had besides the 100 extra pounds was high cholesterol, and that had always been bad through the literal thick and thin — but who knows what might have developed in the future.
My body was like a big, heavy space suit that let me float around life in an orbit but never touch others, never breathe real air, never get back to Earth.
Things are different now.
Through the process of losing weight, and through the process of a constant, almost crazy vigilant sense of self-awareness and honest reflection (a lot of it captured here), I changed my life.
First, my body. It no longer weighs 260 pounds. I no longer feel stuck. I can move. I can move. I can run, jump, fold myself into bits, swim, hike, and bounce around my classroom like a little tempestuous Tasmanian devil, and it feels just completely awesome.
Second, I actually am beginning to appreciate the way I look. This is after years and years of active hate and body dysmorphic disorder. I wouldn’t say I’m free from either, but I definitely do not stand in front of the mirror and hate on myself the way I used to, nor do I study each and every photo I’ve ever taken and think that I don’t deserve happiness because my nose is too long or my thighs are too flabby. More often than not, I’m satisfied with what I see reflected back and proud that my body is a result of my choices and my effort. (And I’ve even begun to appreciate what I was just born with: height, proportion, great hair, I’m LUCKY, actually.)
Third, I’ve learned to pay attention to the way food and activity makes me feel. I prefer to feel light, hydrated, and energized, and guess what doesn’t help that feeling: pretty much every bad habit that plagued me. More often than not, it’s wanting to feel good that motivates most of my food choices. Sure I want to stick to my Points target. But mostly I don’t want to feel like crap.
Fourth, I’ve learned to enjoy exercise that I never, ever thought I’d like. Hiking and yoga don’t come as big surprises to me, but running sure does. Man, just this last summer I wrote a long whiny post about how much I hate running. Now? I really, really like it. (Not in love yet, but you never know.) It just goes to show the kind of change we’re honestly capable of.
Fifth, I’ve come out of my (proverbial) shell. I don’t have ten billion friends, and I’ll never be the type to maintain a huge friend circle, but I no longer spend every night alone in my apartment wondering what the rest of the world is getting up to. In fact, a nice quiet night in my apartment alone sounds like a treat — they’re getting pretty rare.
Sixth, I’ve found it easier to make friends and engage with people. (I think this is a practice thing. When I was overweight, I was shy and self-conscious, so I didn’t speak up. Then I got into the practice of making eye contact and smiling, which, by the way, do wonders.)
Seventh, I began dating again, and guess what: my heart is not a dried up lump of coal after all!
Eighth, I see a lot more of L.A. than I used to. Beaches, canyons, mountains on hikes and walks; all the great restaurants and nightlife with my friends; events and movies and museums just because. It’s not that I couldn’t do this when I was overweight (in fact, most of this is stuff I could have done then). It’s that I wouldn’t.
Ninth, I’ve been traveling a lot more. Weekends away, trips abroad. I feel more fearless, more adventurous than I used to.
Tenth, I’ve found my style groove again. There’s nothing like wearing clothes that reflect your style and taste rather than clothes that fit you because Old Navy carried your size.
Basically, I live an active, happy life filled with good friends, family, and experiences. I would not have said that about myself three years ago.
The lovely project is ongoing. It’ll never stop. I don’t want it to. But I can say that I’ve met the spirit of its goals, set so long ago. I have a life that I want. That’s a pretty great thing.