I have been sitting with the knowledge that I have lost 100 pounds for the last couple of days. When I first saw the number on the scale, I felt proud and accomplished but I didn’t really think about all that it represented until sitting down to write this blog post. In fact, it wasn’t until I was surprised with 100 long stem roses at work that I truly began to consider the gravity of what I have achieved.
Facebook has changed my life in so many ways, but it was the Thrive article that Sheryl Sandberg shared back in December 2016 that was the most profound. Let’s call it the click that would save my life! There are many benefits of losing a large amount of weight (not dying being the low hanging fruit, of course), but it’s really so much more. What is equally as important is acknowledging all that I have gained – including, but not limited to: my health, my confidence, my authenticity, my courage, my marriage, my career, my friendships and my vitality. I would be remiss not to mention that I have achieved all of this and more, but I didn’t do it alone. I have lost 100lbs through a combination of hard work and women supporting other women. Most notably, my incredible coach Jennifer, who paved the way for me and so many other women to regain their health. What I know for sure is this: Project healthy body is the road to freedom for me and any other woman who might read this and wonder if this could work for them, too.
When I sat down to write about losing 100 pounds, the first thing that popped into my head were these lyrics from one of my favorite Canadian bands…
Ahead by a Century, The Tragically Hip
First thing we’d climb a tree
And maybe then we’d talk
Or sit silently
And listen to our thoughts
With illusions of someday
Cast in a golden light
No dress rehearsal
This is our life
First thing we’d climb a tree
My project healthy body journey started with learning the very basics of health and well-being. For so many years, I was chasing a number, or an outfit, or an event, or freedom from judgement and remarks about my weight. I wasted years focused on all of the wrong metrics, because there was no diet that could heal the root cause of my suffering. To find long lasting change and success, I needed to look inside and answer the fundamental question of why I was essentially killing myself with food. Begin at the beginning, they say – and that’s exactly what Jennifer guided me through. Core PHB concepts were put into practice. Things like eating the formula, adding in healthy habits and crowding out less healthy ones, hydrating my body, and building back up to a baseline movement goal of 10 thousand steps per day. Then rinse and repeat until those behaviors became automatic, and fold in new ones. It was an easy transition to make, given that it wasn’t too far removed from trying a new diet (which was something that I was very used to at that point). My motivation was high, I was truly engaged, and the weight began to melt off as my body responded to the simplicity of eating real food, not too much, and mostly vegetables.
And maybe then we’d talk
The second phase of my healing was less tactical and more emotional. With coach Jennifer as my guide, I began to slowly and sometimes painfully unpack the reasons behind my behavior patterns. I honestly had no clue how my deep feelings of self-hatred (that I never new I had) were contributing to my weight gain. Why my obsession with the number on the scale and how I felt in my own skin, at that point, weren’t obvious indicators that something beyond more sit-ups and less pizza is almost humorous to me now. Thankfully my coach met me where I was at and led me (and the other women in our group) through a series of homework assignments built to uncover the truth behind the fatness. This process was difficult for me, but not as hard as it would have been if I hadn’t written and boldly shared my thoughts on my blog. For me, truly owning and sharing my story was a sure-fire way of mitigating the shame behind obesity. I don’t know who I was fooling in my size 2X tops, flip flops, and stretchy pants, anyway! The gig was up and the sooner that got real with myself and the world, the better! I was still capitalizing on momentum and old perfectionist habits, so my weight-loss remained fairly steady through this phase. It wasn’t until the next lyric that things got all-the-way hard.
Or sit silently and listen to our thoughts
It is very easy to live anywhere but here, when you strategically place distractions at every turn. In my first phone call with Jennifer, I told her that I had a hard time considering my life anything less than a 10 out of 10. Part of that was because I have a deep sense of gratitude for my life, but most of it was because I was ignoring the reality of my situation. I hid my pain from the world and myself by pointing at my career, my hot husband, my expensive handbags and other material things, and my over-the-top social experiences as reasons why I was doing just fine. Only I wasn’t fine. Healthy people don’t spend most of their time berating themselves for being fat. Healthy people don’t catch glimpses of themselves in a store window, or open a tagged photo on Facebook and immediately feel the hot sting of shame. And healthy people don’t fly across the country without a seat-belt because they are too embarrassed to admit they need an extender. With all of the noise and distraction in my life, I didn’t have to feel any hard feelings. But that only got me so far. After struggling for the better part of a year with long plateaus and minimal success on the scale, Jennifer suggested that I try therapy.
Therapy was something that I had never considered, because until PHB, I didn’t truly consider myself unhealthy. I was nothing if not coach-able, given that Jennifer’s guidance had gotten me as far as it had – so I found myself an amazing therapist and got to work. To say that last summer was a challenging one is an understatement. The truth, as I discovered, was that I wasn’t yet able to sit silently and listen to my own thoughts and feelings. In fact, I didn’t even know what my underlying feelings even were. I was at a fork in the road, because it is impossible to unpack feelings when you don’t even know what they are. My choice was to lean into the discomfort of emotional work, or avoid it and eventually (almost assuredly) gain the weight back at some point. This strategy of not feeling feelings, I learned, wasn’t born out of nothing. It was born out of self protection, when I was a kid and wasn’t yet capable of processing hard things. That was ok back then, but the strategy was no longer serving me, so I leaned all the way in. Much like I had to work through the fundamentals of fueling and moving my body in the beginning of PHB, I had to work through the fundamentals of feeling my feelings with my therapist. It was hard and arduous work but I can honestly admit that I would not be typing about my 100 pound milestone without it.
With illusions of someday cast in a golden light
The combination of therapy and project healthy body was successful in unlocking my plateau and restarting my weight-loss progress. It has been slow going since the initial quick drop, but it has not been frustrating. I have been enjoying the spoils of my new healthy life to the fullest – both in experiences that I never would have been able to enjoy as an obese person (like our recent trip to The Masters Championship) and in the simplicity of being present with my husband and children in the routine moments that I used to overlook. All of that has been great, but if this journey is only partly finished, then what’s next? What’s next is refocusing my energy and going for gold. It’s time to trade my comfortable house shoes for the clip-in bike shoes hanging off of my Peloton. It is time to fight with all that I’ve got for those last (and hardest won) pounds that cement my freedom. It’s time to get back to boldly sharing my ups and downs and it’s time to get accountable for this next phase of my health journey.
No dress rehearsal. This is our life
My next big bold goal is to be in the hundred-somethings by my 45th birthday (Christmas Day). Along with a zillion other things, PHB has taught me that when I make my intentions known, my attention follows. Losing 100 pounds was a big milestone for me to hit, and now it’s time to get back to the hard work of making the next 100 milestone happen. I will do this because I am a healthy and capable person. I will do this for me, for my husband, and for our children. I will do this because this moment is the only one that I am guaranteed. No dress rehearsal; this is my life.