Five years ago today, I got on the scale in my bathroom and saw that I weighed 253 pounds. I wrote that number down in a little calendar book, hoping that I'd never see a number that high again. I had tried to lose weight dozens of times in the past, and sometimes even lost quite a bit, but I never got anywhere near a "healthy" weight.
This time was different only because I went into it without feeling super motivated. I told myself that I wasn't going to make any changes I wasn't willing to live with forever, AND that I didn't have to exercise. I hated exercise, and decided not to force myself to do it. I wasn't really expecting that I would be successful at losing the weight this time, so I didn't want to make it too difficult.
You all know how the story ends... I went on to lose about 110 pounds over the next year, and by the following August, I was at a "normal" weight. I continued to lose weight, and I had taken up running, so I was focused on becoming a better runner. My lowest weight was 127.5, but it had gotten back up as high as 156 at one point. For the past four years, my weight has certainly gone up and down, and at times, I struggled with feeling like a failure when the number was at the higher end of the range.
Recently, I was trying to think of a fun post to write for the five year anniversary since I started this journey, and it was like an opportunity fell right into my lap. Someone left a comment on my blog that said, "Are u ever weighing in again? U were so inspirational. Not sure why you don't admit to the number and allow as to join u even during those times. A lot of us lose and gain." Now, I didn't get the impression that this person was trying to sound rude, and was probably genuinely curious, but regardless, the word that really struck me was "were".
I wasn't necessarily offended by this comment, because I don't write my blog with the sole purpose of inspiring others. My blog is simply an online journal about whatever I feel like writing about that day--usually how my day went. Sometimes I focus more on the weight loss part of my life, sometimes on the running, sometimes on my family, sometimes on my cats, and sometimes on something completely random.
It did make me stop and think for a minute, though. I "was" inspirational, because I got on a scale and posted a photo of it once a week? And now that I haven't been doing that, I'm no longer inspirational?
A few people have asked me why I stopped posting a weekly weigh-in. There are a few reasons: my weight hasn't changed by more than a couple of pounds over the past several months; I've not kept it a secret that my weight is up quite a bit; when I do post about a gain, most people are extremely supportive and encouraging, but there are always one or two people that cut me down and try to make me feel bad; and finally, it's humiliating to have my progress (or lack there-of) boil down to a single number on a scale.
I've written before that I love the show Extreme Weight Loss. But the one part of that show that I cannot stand to even watch is the initial weigh-in. The first season wasn't so bad, because the contestants weighed in without an audience--just the contestant and Chris Powell. But now, it's always in a very public place (not to mention on national television), and Chris Powell tells the contestant to take off his or her shirt for the weigh-in. I can see the shame and humiliation on their faces, and it makes me feel horrible for them. It's degrading to be put on display like that. When the show first aired, I remember thinking that Chris Powell looked very uncomfortable asking them to take off their shirts, so I am assuming it was the producers' idea. As the seasons progressed, however, he no longer seems uncomfortable with it, and he explains it away as having to "face reality".
Anyways, I'm getting away from the point. My weight is up--I have never hidden that fact. But do I need to humiliate myself on a scale week after week to be "inspirational"? No. Posting a gain once is hard. Consistently posting that I am over goal is embarrassing, and it makes me feel bad, when I really have no reason to feel that way. I am not expecting anyone to feel inspired by me, but if someone IS inspired, I hope that it's for more than just the fact that I weighed in publicly each week.
So, with that very long introduction, here are some current things I'm proud of that I've accomplished over the last five years--and they have nothing whatsoever to do with the scale!
1. I'm not afraid of flying anymore. After losing the weight, I felt like I could do pretty much anything--so I did one of the scariest things imaginable (to me) and went for a ride on a little two-seater open airplane. After that, I now jump at an opportunity to travel. I still need a little help from a glass of wine to board the plane, but the fear doesn't stop me like it used to ;)
2. I can run. Let me write that again: I CAN RUN. Five years ago, I couldn't run the length of my street, and since then, I've run 3 marathons, 8 half-marathons, and numerous shorter races. I've run a total of 4,403 miles in the last 5 years!
3. I set a good example for my kids. I go out and run several times a week, I step out of my comfort zone when necessary, and I have more confidence (something I want them to see). I ran a 5K race with them to show them that they CAN do it.
4. I live a fairly active lifestyle, without going overboard. In addition to the running, I go for walks with the family, or on my own, for no reason other than I enjoy it. Five years ago, I never would have gone for a walk without a good reason to. One of the things I wanted to do five years ago was to be able to get on the floor and play with my kids. I can do that now :)
5. I've gotten much closer with my family, particularly with my sister. There is an eight-year age difference between Jeanie and me, so we were never very close. I always felt intimidated by her, because she was the pretty, thin, confident one (with big boobs to boot!). We started to talk a lot while I was losing weight, and I realized we actually have quite a bit in common--especially now that she's started running as well. Being shy and introverted, I never really felt like I fit in with my family--but losing the weight gave me confidence, which has made me step out of my comfort zone. I'm still shy and introverted, but I handle it much better ;)
6. I'm no longer afraid of trying new physical activities. When Pete Thomas from The Biggest Loser invited me to try out his boot camp, I was definitely nervous, but there was no question in my mind that I could get through it--and I actually really enjoyed it. When I went to Minnesota for a race, my brother let my friend Renee and I use his kayaks. I'd never used a kayak in my life, and I certainly wouldn't have tried it before losing the weight, but I did it and it was fun! Going on an enormous inflatable water slide with my kids? Bring it!
7. My health numbers are great: my blood pressure is regularly about 90/60, my triglycerides and LDL cholesterol are low, my HDL is fantastic at 115, my blood glucose is totally normal, and my resting heart rate is great, at 52 bpm. Even with the extra pounds, my health is great.
While I was (and still am) proud of myself for losing the weight, there is much more to the story than the number on the scale. Of course I'd love to get back to my goal weight, and I am always working to get back to and stay at the weight where I feel the best (and run my fastest); but in the meantime, I'm proud of myself for my other accomplishments. It would be easy to just say "Screw it!" and eat my way back up to 253 pounds. In one way or another, I work hard every single day to be successful at my goals.
I can do a lot today that I couldn't do five years ago; and for that, I am proud. Today, I challenge anyone reading this to make a list of things you can do now that you couldn't do five years ago. Or a year ago. Or a month ago. Or last week! We don't have to wait until we are at our goal weights or have run a marathon to celebrate our success. Anything you can do now that you couldn't do before IS success!