Once I get to this weight, I will be happier.

Losing weight doesn’t make me happy.  I remember once saying, “Once I get to this weight, I will be happier.”  That was my mantra.  I would think about a number and wonder what I would look and feel like.  I remembered the sadness I felt when I finally stared at myself in the mirror and noticed how much I had changed.  I never thought I would be over 300 pounds, and at that point it was like an experiment.  How big could I get before I just exploded?

And I thought, like anyone would, that losing weight would make me happy.  If I just weighed a certain amount, then I would be worthy of love and attention.  I will finally believe what I should have always believed.

Measuring my self-worth on numbers meant that I didn’t value myself.  And now as a girl who is very much obese, very much jiggly, and very much round, I can say that whether that number comes, I have found my truest form of happiness.  The number moves on its own when I make decisions that will keep me healthy.

Once I get to my goal weight, that won’t define my happiness.  Dude, I’m already there.  I wasn’t happy, because I was making decisions in my life that were compulsive and were a direct reaction of my fear, depression, and anxiety over my past, present, and future.  As a result, I gained weight.  I am happy now, because I am making an effort to become healthy both physically and mentally.  I am no longer living my life on immediate wants.  As a result, I am losing weight (and looking fantastic, might I add).

Losing weight is just a result of loving myself, something that I do and promise myself everyday.  I feed my heart and mind just like I feed my belly (wow at that cliché).  You have to feed it right in order for it to be healthy.

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Timshel.

I’m really tired of hearing, “I can’t.”  It echoes from everyone around me, reverberates against our bodies, and enters us again.  I can’t.  I can’t.  I can’t.  I can’t.  The only thing consistent about failure is the person, not the action or lack of it.

I feel that I frequently take in those words and create a home for them.  I let them live comfortably while I exist in this strange exile from my own wants.  And I suppose it’s time to just stop it.

On the inside of my right forearm, I have the word Timshel tattooed.  Translated (poorly), it means “thou mayest.”  You may.  It’s up to you.  Every choice you make is yours and a man’s greatness is up to him and him alone.  Also tattooed is a period right next to it, meaning that’s it.  There’s no way to look around the truth.  No comma or ellipsis, no continuation of thought.  Nothing missed or abbreviated.  This just is.  It exists simply but with the whole idea around it that your life is up to you.  It’s yours.

I have let so many things control me.  I let my past dictate this very second and each second following.  They line up in a row, waiting for their marching orders.  But it’s the same every time.  I can’t.  I can’t.  I can’t.  I can’t.  And as they fall into the very little craters of the earth, dissected among moments I could have had, I’m realizing that this isn’t failure.  This is that strange feeling you get when you know there’s no turning back and all the seconds are given back to you, so you can cut off the little shit of an apostrophe and that asshole T and scream at the top of your lungs until you can’t breathe anymore.I can.  I can. I can.

Wow, You Must Have a lot of Weight to Lose.

Last week, I told my mom I lost 55 pounds.  She looked at me and said, “Wow, you must have a lot to lose.”  There was an opportunity to be offended.  However, I looked at her and said, “I’ve come a really long way.  And I’m doing it the best way I can.”

 

I am reminded of my childhood.  My father is driving and my mother is in the passenger’s seat reading a newspaper.  I think my mom was mad at me for something.  I either didn’t complete a chore or just didn’t do something the way she wanted it.  Without looking away from her newspaper, she says in a natural (almost ethereal) tone, “No one is ever going to love you.  You are too fat and ugly to be loved.”

 

This crushed me.  By the time I was eight or nine, I already weighed 200 pounds.  Rather than helping me with food choices and exercise, my parents only way of promoting weight loss was by yelling at me for how fat I was getting.  I think about it now and try to remember exactly what I was feeling.  I just remember being sad constantly.  And with sadness, there was food.  And with food, I gained more weight.

 

When I made this decision to lose weight, it wasn’t like my previous attempts.  I stopped caring about my parents’ approval.  I didn’t think about proving anyone wrong.  My intention involved no one else.  It was a commitment I made to myself.

As I lose weight, I’m realizing that I’m taking off these layers of memories.  I’m able to see them as they are.  I was sad and lonely as a kid, but that doesn’t mean I have to be sad and lonely now.  My past is a part of me, but it can’t dictate my future.  I have control over it now, over my emotions and actions, over my thoughts and intentions.

 

In a way, I’m kind of glad my mother told me this.  It didn’t remind me how far I have to go but how far I’ve come.  It reminded me that I’m strong and that nothing in this life can control me.  Nothing has enough power that it can take what I’ve earned.  And no one, not their words or actions, can bring me back to where I was.

Fatspiration.

I made the mistake of looking up “Reverse Thinspiration” last night.  The problem with looking for weight loss blogs is that for every one I find inspirational, I find at least twenty that promote extremely unhealthy lifestyles to lose weight.

My intention, as always, is to find someone’s success story and if I am lucky, I am able to see their progress from the beginning.  In one blog in particular, one girl has lost 150 pounds, and I was able to look back and see her progress starting at 350 pounds.  More than seeing progress pictures, I love reading thoughts and what goes through someone’s mind when they completely change their life.  A part of it is curiosity at what my future might hold.  The other part is validation.  I can do this.  I just have to keep working for it.

I found a blog called “Fatspiration,” and I assumed that it was a blog for women who loved their curves.  As I looked through pictures, I found it inspiring to find women who loved their bodies regardless of the size.  I then looked at the top of the homepage, and it read something like this: Want to be thin? Well, you’re not going to be thin eating all that food.  Do you want to look like these girls?  I’m stating this in the mildest way possible.

While it was my fault for not reading the intention of the blog, I think it was the first time in quite a while that I was completely speechless.  It went from something that made me want to be naked and frolic in the forest of awesome and bad assery to immediately covering my body and being ashamed.  I am someone’s inspiration to NOT be me and starve themselves.  If someone were to look like me, they would rather die.

But as I looked through the blog, I was less and less offended.  Yes, a lot of the pictures were of very large women and of women eating a lot of food.  But there were also pictures of women in love with their bodies.

I do not promote a size.  I do, however, promote healthy living.  From looking at these women, I cannot tell their resting heart rate.  I don’t know how often they exercise.  I don’t know what kind of food they eat.  I don’t know their blood pressure or history of medical problems.  But from most of the pictures I saw, I was overwhelmed with this feeling of self-confidence.  I didn’t think, “Why can’t I look like her?”  Instead, I went completely naked, looked in the mirror and thought, “I’m pretty no matter what.”

I don’t want a thigh gap.  I want strong legs that say, “I have been to many places, and I am ready to travel to where I have never been.”

I don’t want skinny arms.  I want them lean, overwhelmingly so.  If I ever have to push or crawl or dig my way through this life, they will never fail me.

I do not want to see my bones.  I know they are in my body, protecting the most important parts of me that beat and evolve.

I want my jiggle and thunder.  I want to travel to all the parts of me I took too long to discover.  And I will not be ashamed of them.  This is my journey to be healthy.  You are more than welcome to join me.  I’m not sure who I will become in the next few years, but I do know that I will become the strongest person I have ever met, regardless of my size.

The Beginning.

I thought saints were born saints
I looked in the dirt
and found wisdom is learned
through a costly process
of success and failure
-Atlas Sound “Quick Canal”

Everyday after work, I would drive to McDonald’s and get the following order:

  • 4 Double Cheeseburgers
  • 2 Large Fries
  • 10 Piece Chicken McNuggets

I had a special bag for this food that I would keep in my front passenger’s seat.  Before walking into the house, I would take the food and place it neatly in the bag, go inside, and walk upstairs into my room.  In my room, I would frantically take out whatever my hand reached first and proceeded to eat everything within the bag.  Sometimes, I never finished the food.  Other times, I did.  After it all, I would rest on my back and feel the heaviness of my body.  It felt soothing and terrifying at the same time.

I am sure in some way the employees at drive-thrus knew.  I ordered two of everything, so they wouldn’t think poorly of me, yet I’m not exactly sure why I cared.  As I would drive up to the first window, I would look away the entire time.  Do they remember me from yesterday?  Are they on to me?  Do they know that I eat all of this?  Embarrassment didn’t stop me from going.  But I suppose some part of me wanted them to know.  No one else knew these secrets and who better than people who would read out my order, swipe my card, and say, “Have a good night.”

For some reason, I thought my actions were normal.  Because everyone hides food in their bag before they go home, right?  And when the quantities of food got larger, along with my debt and my body, I wondered who exactly I was becoming.  What was I in my room when no one else knew what I was doing to myself?

I thought I was saved.  I thought that I had encountered the worst in my life, and it would be impossible to go through the same events again.  I didn’t realize that I was repeating my past in my own way.  All the pain I had was remembered and relived through nightly binges.  And like anyone in deep denial over their life, I thought I was completely fine.

I don’t know what happened to me when I decided to change everything.  I was just lucky enough for my body to take over.  I was at a point where every decision I made was impulsive.  And that first night as I drove home, I passed all the places I was so familiar with and changed my life.

I stopped saying maybe tomorrow and started immediately.  I could barely walk for fifteen minutes, but I went through it.  And as I felt the sweat on my forehead, I looked in the mirror.  I felt something in me shift and align.  My body was refusing to put up with my shit anymore.

And I learned in steps.  For the first time, I stopped trying to peek into the future and the big picture we so often see when we begin our first step.  With food, I felt like I had to eat everything.  And that was how I handled my life.  I had to do everything or nothing at all.  And as usual, I would get overwhelmed, exhaust myself and stop before any real progress was made.  What is the point of tackling the whole world if you can’t even understand the dirt?

Things started to come to me in sections, little morsels of progress.  Just do this one thing today and keep doing it until its second nature.  And as I mastered my mind, my body began to give me a little bit more control until it knew finally that it could trust me.

And everyday, I speak to my body.  I thank it so much for surviving when I could not.  And really, I just want to thank it for giving me a kick in the ass.

Dear Past Me.

Dear Past Me,

I want you to know that the pain inside of you is worth it.  The uncontrollable urges to cry, the inability to get out of bed from soreness, and the frequent trips to the bathroom mean something amazing is happening inside of you.  I don’t want you to fight it.  Brace it, accept it, hold it with you and finally, let it go.  Forming into the person you’re meant to become means that you’re going to compact your insides to make room for the rest of your life.  There’s no room for the trivial or unwanted.  Those things stick inside your head and grow until doubt is second nature.  And everything else that matters gets thrown out and all that sticks is the worry.  Hasn’t it been agonizing enough wanting to live so badly but not knowing how to wake up from that haze?

As you get stronger, remember how weak you thought you were when you began.  Realize that you weren’t weak at all.  You were digging through the disorder in your life to find it.  And some days, you will feel so vulnerable you’ll want to go back.  And you might escape, but you’ll remember how empty it feels to deny yourself the right to get stronger everyday.  Regret your decisions before you make them.

As you think of me, do not look at me fondly.  Do not think, “I cannot wait to be her.”  You are her.  No waiting is needed, no longing or silent hopes.  You are me.  You have found me trying to break through to you for so many years of your life.  Do not hold me up to some standard.  You will be shattered if you do.  You are already the person you were meant to become.  All that’s needed now is to get stronger and better.  All you need is to form into your own life.  Make it yours and conquer it.

So the next time you’re weak, exhausted, and unable to get up from soreness, get up anyway.  Your life is waiting for you.

Love,

You

Dear Future Me.

Dear Future Me,

Today I took a walk, and I thought about you.  During the beginning of my walk, I started to get a little afraid.  My knees have been hurting, and I could feel my left hip get a little wobbly.  I often worry that all of the progress I’ve made will all erase, and I will start again.  I know the fear is irrational, but it’s the reason I stop sometimes.  There are days I just don’t try at all for fear that I will go through it again.

As I walked, I imagined you.  You would be jogging.  There would be nothing to distract you other than irregular breaths while going uphill.  Not even your own thoughts would distract you.  You would just be another woman, alone in public, breathing and racing herself.  And as I thought of that, I started to walk faster.  I know I can’t become you tomorrow, but I can try everyday to do just a little bit more.

 

At times, I am overwhelmed.  Yesterday as I worked out, I struggled to catch my breath.  I wanted to do all of the moves so badly but just as I got frustrated, I heard, “Go at your own pace.  Remember to breathe.  Just don’t stop moving.”  And while I might have been slower, I eased back into the movements.  I didn’t worry about doing them fast.  I only had one train of thought; do it well, or don’t do it at all.

For my whole life, I struggled to understand who I wanted to be and accepting who I am.  There were images and ideas, but they weren’t my own.  There were people who told me I had to look and act and be a certain way.  I silently accepted it all, nodded, and thought that this was it.  As they named off all of the attributes that defined what a woman should be, I crossed them off and kept repeating, “Not me.  Not me.  Not me.”

But as I lost weight, I began to see glimpses of you.  Some of them were in my physical attributes but the others were in my actions.  It started with my refusal to quit after a bad day.  I don’t think I’ve ever done that in my life.  One bad day clusters into a bad week, month, and sometimes, year.  And I stopped feeling guilty for getting what I wanted.  I felt confident whenever I looked in the mirror.  I stopped blaming myself for the life I didn’t have and started to create the life I wanted.  And I can’t help but think this is all because of you.

I am becoming my own rescuer.  I waited for something to save me, to make me want to live, and I realized that I should be that reason.  So I’m fighting for the first time in my life and while it hurts at times, I think of you.

You are the woman advertisements don’t want to mention.  They’d all be out of business.  You can’t sell confidence.

And as I continue [to emerge and break and rebuild again] I can only imagine what a single body is capable of.

Love,

Jo

A Plea for Today.

I think you know you’re on the right track when you stop focusing on the things you aren’t.  There’s something empowering about being proud of what I am right now.  I am someone who can do half of a girly push up.  I can do fifty squats before the point of my legs giving out.  My breasts slap me in the face when I do jumping jacks.  I can barely do ten sit ups without cursing.  My back fat cushions me whenever I have to sit against something hard.  To anyone, this doesn’t seem like the pinnacle of fitness.  However, I appreciate these things, because I know with time they will change without me realizing the power I had to do them.  I have to appreciate where I’ve been to truly understand where I’m going.

Weird, right?

People are so intent on looking ahead.  Tomorrow is a new day.  Welp, I fell off the bandwagon.  I’ll do better tomorrow.  I’ll start next week.  I read these things everyday, and they piss me off.  The only way a body is strong is when the mind makes the decision.  The blatant lack of communication of people with their bodies disturbs me, and the reason it does is because I am the example that I speak of.  Everything was tomorrow and later and “when I feel ready.”  I was so ready for the future to happen that the present crumbled.  The worst part was that I wanted nothing to do with my body.  How in the hell am I supposed to be healthy if I don’t accept my own body for what it is right now?

I have spent the past few months accepting myself.  It was difficult at 350 pounds to look in the mirror and realize that saying that I would do something tomorrow meant that I was sacrificing some part of myself today.  Yes, everyday is new and bright and shiny.  The inevitability of a new day doesn’t change inaction.  And refusing to be proud of my accomplishments, regardless of how small, just made the problem grow.

I gladly take my puny push ups and stare lovingly at my back fat.  Today is the day that I make it count.

Accept yourself before you wreck yourself.