I never thought I would be so happy to have my pants fall down in public.
A few days ago I was standing in line at the bead store, and Finn was nagging me to pick him up. He's close to 50 lbs now, so maneuvering him onto my hip is tricky. I got him settled, and - zoop - my favorite pair of stretchy capri pants slipped down to my knees.
I have lost 18 lbs in six weeks through a combination of Jenny Craig and a moderate exercise regime, and it feels great.
I'm reluctant to post about it, because every time I would read a blog about weight loss, when I knew I needed to lose a few pounds, my eyes would cross and I'd click away.
But I also realize something transformative is happening to me, and not just in the sense that I'm losing weight and getting in shape: I care about myself, more than I ever have before.
The whole experience has been a lot like getting sober. Just like when I was drinking, I've had nagging doubts and insecurities about my weight for years. I've also had a big dose of denial. I'm tall - 5' 10" - and have a large frame, so I hide weight gain fairly well. I can put on 20 lbs and still squeeze into the same clothes. Granted, they don't fit well or look good, but it fuels my denial because I'm not forced to go up a jean size. But little by little, over the past six or seven years, I found myself shopping in Women's stores, ticking slowly up the rack to find clothes that would fit.
Just like with getting sober, something had to click. I had to care enough about the problem - hit bottom, in a way - before attempting to lose weight made sense. Usually I'd think about dieting when I had a formal event coming up and I had to find a dress that looked good. Or my husband would make subtle (or not so subtle) comments about my weight gain, and I'd think that I should lose weight to make him happy.
The trick, as with all major life changes, is that I had to do it for me. And to do that, I had to care enough about myself to make changes.
I don't really know what happened. Six weeks ago I woke up on a regular Saturday morning, slumped into my sweatpants and oversized tee shirt, and thought: I'm ready. Two days later I was sitting in a Jenny Craig consultant's office, pouring my heart out, and coming up with a weight loss plan.
I can look back on my blog posts, starting in January, and see that this thought has been growing in the back of my mind for months. Pre-contemplation, it's called. I had that with my drinking, too. Countless mornings I would think, enough of this already, but somehow by 4pm my resolve was gone and I was having a glass of wine. But the pre-contemplation counted for something, because when the switch finally flipped I was ready to take action.
It was important to be truly ready, too, because the first two weeks were horrible. I was agitated, angry, irritable, and all I could see all around me were examples of things I could no longer eat. I felt left out, less-than, and was upset with myself for letting it go so far that I can't just eat like a normal person anymore. Just like with getting sober, when all I could see were examples of the drinking life that was no longer mine.
The key to making it through those first two weeks - both with drinking and dieting - was that I didn't want to cheat, because I was tired of letting myself down.
If I was dieting for someone else - to impress my husband, for instance - when it got tough I would get angry with him for 'making' me do this, and I'd eat at him.
On Sunday, we stopped at our regular ice cream spot on the way home from a day at the beach. This place usually has a nonfat alternative, but they were out. The kids and my husband all got dishes of homemade ice cream, and I didn't get anything. It just wasn't worth it. I am working so hard, making such great progress, and the ten minutes of pleasure the ice cream would provide were fleeting compared to how good I feel all the time.
I know this territory. When I'm hit with a craving for a drink (which, thankfully, isn't often anymore) it usually lasts about three minutes. If I can wait it out, do whatever I have to do to distract myself, it always passes. I'm finally content with the knowledge that one drink is never enough for me, so why have one?
It's the same thing, now, with food. I don't want just one ice cream. I never have. I want to be able to eat whatever I want, without consequence, and if I can't have that - then what's the point? As hard as it is to resist temptation, the benefits are totally, completely worth it.
And you know what? I'm worth it, too.