Friday, August 27, 2010

Where I Am Now

I have been following the progress of a friend on Facebook who has, over the course of a year, lost more than 130 pounds. I've read message after message (and written some too) of congratulations, which are of course well-deserved.  It reminds me how I felt a few years ago when I lost my weight—blissfully happy over everyone’s outpouring of love and support. While indeed, many pats on the back are in order for my friend's accomplishment, unlike most people my first thought isn’t to say, “Good job,” instead it’s, "Well now the real work begins.” But nobody wants to hear that.

It’s funny the way some people view accomplishing a weight loss goal as if it were the end of a roller coaster ride instead of what it actually is--the ascent of the second hill of a very long ride. People say, “Wow, you did it,” as if losing weight is something that you just do and be done with it…take the picture, get the souveneir cup and mark it off your bucket list.

Looking back, losing the weight initially was ridiculously easy compared with trying to maintain it now. For me, when I become singularly focused on a specific goal, nothing can stop me. I was driven; I was obsessed. And furthermore, when you’re making strides toward your goal, you have people all around you complimenting your progress and helping to motivate you. But then you’re done. You get to the goal you had set, and then what?

While pretty much all of my physical problems and many of my emotional ones were “cured” by my weight loss, the change I experienced brought on a whole new host of issues that I wasn’t ready for. First: Solitude. I could remember way back in 2007 when there was a crowd of people chanting my name, screaming, “You can do it, Gabby!” Every time I got to another goal, it was like a big party and everyone showed up to honor me. Even through my first marathon, I had friends and family supporting me and always asking about how training was going, living the experience vicariously through me. Now, two years later, I can only hear crickets and the sound of my own feet thumping on the treadmill. It’s certainly not that the people in my life no longer care, it’s just that it isn’t new anymore. It’s almost—gulp!—expected of me now. The party is over, now it’s just about the maintenance work… how yucky is that?!

Secondly, I found out that my own expectations changed. Where I once set a goal to not have to wear plus sizes and to get back to the weight I was in college, I now find that having checked those goals off the list isn’t good enough for me anymore. I look in the mirror and where I should be seeing accomplishment, I sometimes just see flaws. I want better tone in my arms, I desperately want to get rid of the cellulite on the backs of my thighs and I would sell my soul to the devil for flatter abs.

Sure, I still know and feel good about myself most of the time, but it's difficult (if not impossible) not to be critical.  And it makes me so mad at myself. On one hand, continuing to work toward new, better goals when we’ve achieved something has historically been a good thing in society, right? Without constant improvements in the world, we’d all still be using sticks as tools, grunting and wearing loin cloths. But, as hard as I work at maintaining my body weight, why can’t I just stop for a minute and be proud of myself? Why do I always want more? 

So, that's where I am right now.  It's not always shiny and happy, but it's honest.

We all know that significant weight loss can do amazing things for one’s health. But I would like to hear from readers about how your own weight issues have affected you emotionally. What made you soar with happiness? And on the flip side, what challenges have you faced and how did you cope with them?

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