I turned fifty this year. My first baby graduated high school and started college, and my second baby --they’ll always be my babies—will get his driver’s license this month.
And once again I am in the state of reinvention. Embarking on a new career that requires online presence and- paradoxically- long spans of solitude to get my characters’ voices to flow from my imagination to my fingers to the computer.
As much as I’d prefer not to, I must confront my fears and look at myself-- and not in my own mirror that lies to me so well.
Back in April two friends and I did a photo shoot in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park . It was a lovely spring day, with weddings and Mancandy to ogle. Professional photographers who know how to Photoshop encouraged us to ham it up.
But try as they could, photoshop couldn’t erase all of what the spanx under my clothes couldn’t contain. I cropped out everything but my face.
They confirmed my failures: I hated myself.
I’ve been here before eleven years ago, when my doctor told me I was bigger than him. He was kind, but I still cried in my car. The next day I was at Weight Watchers, full of fresh determination.
Now my past efforts with diets was “Blech! It won’t work for me; I can’t (fill in the blank). I already know all there is to know on how to lose weight. And… I HATE exercising!”
But I changed my way of thinking. I was ‘teachable’. I listened and accepted everything that skinny leader taught and embedded it in my brain. Negativity was out, positivity was in. When my body craved sugar, I reminded myself that I loved myself too much to give in to destruction; I loved myself so much I would take the best care possible of me.
I ran. 200+ pounds of me lumbered from one streetlight to the next, then stopped to catch breath, and then did it again. I measured success from mailbox to corner to yellow house at the top of the hill. Soon I measured success with smaller numbers on happier shopping trips.
I believed in myself. Success begat success. People noticed me, my confidence grew, I took on new challenges. I ran 10k’s and even a half marathon . I took on a new job and started graduate school with a difficult career goal. Everything I tried, I gave it my all. I liked myself and it showed.
But failures and weaknesses can return, and they brought back Fear.
My body betrayed me and my weight spiraled back up. Ten years later I look back and can see lessons that need to be relearned:
95% of weight loss is really a head game. You can actually change the chemistry of your body via your brain’s levels of endorphins --those happy hormones that come when you exercise. Look it up.
When your body moves, your stamina and health improve. Your achievements increase; you try for harder goals. But it begins in your head.
Believe in You. Love yourself so you can love the others around you.
Face the fear and look at yourself and see and believe. You are worth Success.
My friend at FishyFace Jewelry made a special piece for me when I told her my story and named it Swimming Without Fear. It’s special to me. Maybe there’s a special something with meaning for you. Not your goal dress or pair of shoes, but a lifeline. Something to hold that will remind you that someone believes in you, especially when you don’t. Wear it. Squeeze it in your hand when sugar and salt try to woo you back. And be good to yourself, one day at a time.