The Unexpected


As I creep closer to my fifth anniversary on this journey (early next month!), I’ve been giving a lot of thought to expectations.

When I finally decided to give weight loss one more try, my expectations were low. I faked it until I actually worked up the necessary commitment, which took a while. I’ve failed so many times over the course of my lifetime that I didn’t believe for one second that I was capable of getting much past that first day.

I did it, though, with many days passing since then. In fact, 1,809 days.

When I took my beginning stats — my weight, my beginning measurements, my “before” photos — I had one hell of a cry. I made a video to myself so I could actually see and remember what that day felt like. How horrible I felt, how difficult it was for me to move, how ashamed I was of what I’d become. I didn’t need anyone to tell me what a failure I was; every look in the mirror, every laborious attempt to get up off the couch, every time I had to rearrange my body to just put on clothing, every horrible process of hygiene that I will not describe here. (I’ve made several videos since then, and I’m just about due for another.)

Credit: The Oatmeal –

I have no idea what others expected of me, but I suspect the bar was set pretty low. I’ve been around long enough that many of my longtime friends have seen me from my thinnest to my fattest; several times over. I wonder how many times I was the subject of discussion when I wasn’t around; how worried they may have been for me, how disappointed they might have been when I have regained weight time and time again. I know it was out of concern for me, not disgust at my weight; when you love someone, you want them to succeed, and it hurts to see them fail.

The thing is — we forget. It’s human nature. It’s why we can move on after tough times. But it’s also our downfall.

It’s why people start smoking, again, after a heart attack. Why we slide back into old habits that we know aren’t good for us. Why we repeat the same mistakes over and over again. Why we jump on the diet train and derail.

I sometimes wonder — at what point did my friends and family figure stop wondering not if but when — I’d go off the tracks again? Or are they still holding their collective breath, expecting that I might stop making progress? Do they have any more faith in me to succeed than I do in myself?

Because, even though I feel certain that I will finally reach a point where I can modulate into maintenance (for the rest of my life), I am keenly aware that failure comes when you’re not looking. When you’re not prepared. When you don’t fully embrace a change for all it’s worth. When you don’t fully understand and accept change.

When you forget.

I strive hard not to forget the lessons I’ve learned these past almost-five years. It’s why this blog exists. It’s a mental check-in to make sure I never, ever go back to where I was, before. And perhaps in that light, I’m doing the unexpected. I’m mindful of the places I’ve been and what I experienced. I have to get up every day and challenge myself to keep doing the unexpected.

Do what no one expects of you. Your life will change for the better.

(Credit: RIP, Aretha. You did the unexpected in so many ways. Nossum Dorma — No One Sleeps.)

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