I'll be the first to admit it. This last few years have completely kicked my butt. There is no other way to explain it. I don't know what happened. I can't tell you the moment where the downward spiral started. There was no one thing, just fifty billion little things that piled up until I was buried.
I can tell you the day everything changed.
I woke up to an email where someone had tagged me in a photo on Facebook. I knew I had just been to a show, and thought I was looking pretty cute that night, so I was not too worried.
I clicked on the link, and looked at the photo and all I could think was, "Who is that??"
What I saw looked like a pale, fatter, older version of me. It was not the me that I see in my head. Not the me that I've been for the last 3o something years. This was a less attractive relative with a lot of sadness in her eyes. I did not know this person at all.
I knew that getting braces last year was the beginning of my depression. I used them as an excuse to eat lots of carbs and ice cream. My excuse to myself was, "My face hurts and no one will ever think I'm pretty with these things anyhow, so who cares?"
Well, I will tell you who! The version of me one year later looking at the havoc I had reeked upon my body. She cared a lot!
There were other things, but I'm certain that was the catalyst. The proverbial straw that made me fall apart and gain like a bazillion pounds, let my roots grow out, and be generally an unhealthy person.
On that day, I woke up.
There is no other way to explain it. I told myself, it's now or never. I'm closer to 40 than 30, and I have no urge to get old just yet. I still have a lot that I want to do!
Today I weigh 3 pounds less than I have in all of my 30's and most of my 20's and I'm still losing. I looked at myself when I got out of the shower today. I mean, really took a hard look at myself, and guess what? I actually like my body again. I look good! And I worked hard and have earned the right to say that again and it is only going to get better.
Other people have noticed too, and have asked me what I'm doing. I'll do you one better. I'm going to make a list of all of the things that I've learned since May 27th. The list is for me to come back to and revisit if I go to that dark place again. The list is also for anyone out there who might find some inspiration in my experience.
Steps to a new life:
Step 1: Lose the weight.
I know, easier said than done. Trust me. I am the laziest person on earth when it comes to myself. I will go above and beyond to help other people, but when it comes to taking care of me, I will put it off like nobody else. But guess what. You are not getting any younger. It doesn't get any easier. And fat, doesn't give a crap about your excuses! It's as simple as that. So, decide today, recommit to yourself to be the best you that you can be. Lose the 10, 20, 30, 50 pounds you have been carrying around for the last however long. Guess what, you don't need it anymore.
And frankly, I don't care about all of the advice that I've seen all over the internet, "Do it for yourself, because you love yourself."
Yes, I agree we should love ourselves, but it is our lack of love for ourselves that got us to this place in the first place. Do it for whatever reason gets you up off the couch and motivated.
Do it because your significant other's ex is coming to town and you want to look amazing. Do it because your doctor told you to. Do it because you want to wear a slinky dress to your Christmas party, or you want to wear a bikini to the pool on vacation, or you want to spice up your marriage, or you want to date up. Frankly, I don't care what you tell yourself. Just do it. Because no matter what you tell yourself to get you started, when you start to go through the metamorphosis, and you start to really fall in love with yourself again, you will realize who you were really doing it for all along.
Step 2: Throw away all of your underwear. (and then go shopping)
I know that this is the strangest bit of advice ever, but it is very important. When you decide to lose the weight, reward your first 5 pounds with new underwear. Plan an entire afternoon and set aside a few hundred dollars or better yet, bring a credit card that you can max out, and go crazy.
I don't care what size you are, that first 5 pounds feels so amazing! It is the first major hurdle, and when you see that new number on the scale, it really puts an extra spring in your step.
5 pounds doesn't usually equate to smaller clothes, but throwing out all of your old underwear and replacing it with pretty new underthings really does do something for your mind. No matter what size you are, pretty undies are dainty. End of story. They make them in all sizes, and just knowing that you are wearing them under your clothes, is a reminder of why you are doing what you are doing and it makes you feel better about yourself. Also, not enough can be said about a well fitting bra. Take it from me, who has been lugging around a D cup for many years. A well fitting bra can make you look instantly 10 lbs lighter. if you are a woman and have boobs and have not been fitted in the last 3 years, take thee to Nordstrom right now.
Step 3: Get all new bedding.
I went to overstock.com and bought all new bedding after spending a weekend in a fancy hotel in New York. Something about crawling into bed under a fluffy down blanket and being surrounded by white cotton everything makes me feel good about myself. It's like being on vacation every day. I also invested in a new mattress which is a major life changer. It makes my bed one of my favorite places to be.
Step 4: Try something new.
I'll be the first to admit. I was in a routine and that was making me miserable. I was watching life pass me by doing the exact same thing day in and day out. Wake up, go to work, go home, fall asleep. By the time the weekends rolled around I didn't want to do anything or see anyone.
I find that signing up for classes is a good way to get out there and try something new. I've taken art classes, cake decorating classes, I even started playing piano again!
I have been making a point of trying something new at least once a week, even if it is as simple as going and hanging out with a new friend or watching a movie on the other side of town. Getting out of your comfort zone is so important. You won't love every new thing you try, but you will appreciate that you did it.
Step 5: Be reckless.
When I say this, I do not mean, "Go rob a 7-11" I mean, take a chance! Do something a little dangerous. If you don't drink, go out one night and drink a little too much. If you have never smoked, bum a cigarette off of someone you find attractive and tell them it is the first time you have ever smoked. Ask someone out on a date. Kiss a stranger. Dance on a table. Tell someone off who has had it coming to them for a long time. Get laid.
Do something/anything that will get your blood pumping and that feels a little dangerous. Then, when you feel that feeling, memorize it. That is what really living feels like.
Being a little reckless is the best way to be reminded of it, and that is why some people live their lives that way, chasing that natural high. My feeling is that if you have been mentally asleep for a lifetime, you need that rush to remind you why you are doing all of this. If you go about it the right way, that is a feeling that you can have in your every day life without being reckless at all.
Step 6: Forgive yourself.
I'm still working on this one, but I know it is something that needs to happen. You can't live under the weight of regret of failure. Life really is too short. If you can't forgive yourself, you won't ever be able to move forward. Look in the mirror every day before you start the day and tell yourself, "Today is going to be a good day." Guess what. Your brain is very literal, and if you do it often enough, you might actually start to believe it. And if you don't, what can it hurt?
Step 7: Clean house.
In every way. Get rid of clutter. Just throw it all away. Like the weight, there is no reason to hold onto these things/toxic relationships anymore. The same goes for people. If they make you sad more than they make you happy, it's time to let them go. You don't have to make a big production out of it, just give yourself permission to not answer the phone, or to say no, or to walk away from bad situations. You owe it to yourself and you will be better for it.
Step 8: Cry.
This is hard for me and I'm still working on it. I was convinced for years that my tear ducts were literally busted. It is so hard for me to cry, but when it happens, it is such an amazing sense of relief. I know that I have triggers. there are a few movies that will get me, so if it has been way too long, and I need to get it out, I will plan a night where I let it all go.
If you have read this far, that means you probably found something in here that you needed to hear too. To you, I wish you luck on your journey. Just try to remember, life can be really amazing if you give it a chance.
*Ironically, "the 27th of May" is a line in a song that Jon wrote about me called, Angelita. This is just a coincidence, and the date really had no significance to me until now, almost 8 years after the song was written!