No Excuses


Ever notice how many experts there are in the world, now? Because I sure have.

I admit that one kind of the “experts” I find both humorous — and troubling — are the social media weight loss experts.

If you’re on social media, you know someone who has pushed the programs. Weight loss programs they just happen to profit from. Some promise you only health but then add that the unsupported side effects include weight loss. You know, with a *wink*, but if it doesn’t work for you, well… we did say that’s only what some people report. So sorry, but we have another product that might work for you…

I find them humorous because I seem to always end up a target. It was especially true when I weighed more; if I was at an expo where someone was hawking some health aid, they would head straight for me, as if I were a lost soul in search of saving. Perhaps I was, in a way, but I’m pretty sure these people just saw dollar signs, not the salvation of my health.

After I’d already lost over 100 pounds, a woman targeted me on Facebook, claiming she was just interested in being my friend; yet, after I told her quite clearly that I wasn’t interested in her weight loss counseling services because I was quite successful on my own, she said she could always use another friend. Odd how she never uttered a word to me after that, and the only posts she made were to hawk her products. Needless to say, I saw no reason to keep her on my friends list.

Humorous, yes, but I also find them dangerous. And this is why.

I am a longtime failure at dieting. Most morbidly obese people usually are; I’ve tried everything from tuna diets to vitamin plans to shakes to… well… name a fad, and I’ve probably at least considered it. Like so many others, I’ve been a target of these things most of my adult life. While all those things might at least get a person started on the path to lose weight, they inevitably fail, and all for the same reason.

They’re diets. They don’t solve the base issue because they never address it. They’re just excuses for not committing to real change.

Alright, already! YEESH!

Some consider the phrase lifestyle change a cliché, especially after the number of shows that have paraded the morbidly obese across the screen, feeding them three asparagus spears and making them run marathons, all while screaming about healthy lifestyle changes!!!! Any phrase used too often tends to lose its punch, and this one has been horribly abused.

A true lifestyle change means mentally accepting the commitment it takes to adapt. A lifestyle change doesn’t end because your bathing suit finally fits. I no longer think about some distant point when I might see a magic number on the scale and suddenly feel the freedom to scream “IT’S FINALLY OVER!!!” and dive headfirst into a banana split. There’s no goal weight.

People ask me often, now that I’m nearing crossing the threshold out of obesity (and into just being overweight! Ha!), about how much more I plan to lose. The truth is that I don’t know that number. There is no real finish point; just more of a progression in the stages of my health. I will eventually reach a point where my health is balanced enough that I will learn to maintain, but that’s as much of a process as the trip there.

Yes, it sounds daunting to anyone that’s at the beginning of the road, rather than being far down it, but consider this: time marches onward, whether you’re working on changing something about yourself or not. We face small choices every day. The long distance I’ve come was truly taken one small choice at a time, one step at a time. It’s a journey not of leaps and bounds, but of increments.

And no excuses.

What choice can you make, today, to change your life?




I have a tattoo on my shoulder. I had it done a number of years ago, after the first time I lost a lot of weight. It’s a colorful chameleon. Why? Because I firmly believe that change is always possible.

But sometimes I seem to forget that. I underestimate myself. While I think I have a fairly accurate mental image of myself that matches the physical, I don’t necessarily recognize my own abilities.

This week, for instance. I finally achieved the goal I wrote about last week and I’m on my way to the next one: a truly special one in another 11 or so pounds. Since I just passed a goal, I took progress pictures, as well as some comparisons to the last round of progress pics, and even some old ones. Being sure that the mental and physical realities of my body actually match is important to my success, so I take the time to measure and compare these things.

Yet, I lost track of my own abilities.

I’ve run out of pics that represent my weight loss, so… enjoy this lizard!

When I was in the doc’s office a couple weeks ago, talking to the physician’s assistant, he made the comment that I certainly had a lot of arthritis on both of my knees. Nothing I didn’t know, right? And then he asked me how much pain I’m in. I told him that actually my pain is well under control and I really don’t experience much in the way of debilitating pain.

The look on his face was priceless. It wasn’t what he expected to hear at all. But then, the average person going in for knee replacement is at least 15-20 years older than me, and often older people will simply back off of anything that causes pain. That’s not my circumstance.

I explained to him how much weight I have lost, and that while I had been barely able to walk and cope with the pain when I was at my heaviest, the pain I experience now is minor and manageable. Not to mention — after dealing with this for a number of years, I know my limits and don’t stress them.

Then, it occurred to me that he needed me to tell him that my arthritis was in some way limiting. And it is. While I now walk around 5500 steps a day, I can’t do long periods of walking or standing. My knee locks and buckles. I do have limits. I definitely still need knee replacement surgery. But I admit it was sort of a gas that he obviously thought I should be much worse off than I actually am.

I have a FitBit and I walk daily; and this week, entirely by accident, I joined a challenge. I hit the wrong thing and boom — there I was. So what the heck — I accepted an invite for another one. I’m in two of them. I’m still just walking my 5500, which in my mind, was a measly amount of walking. After all, FitBits are automatically set to start you at 10,000 steps a day. I started at around 1500 a day early last year. I’ve been thinking for quite some time that the number of steps I take a day is a feebly low number.

The funny part? I’m in these two challenges with people who are younger than me and don’t have the hindrances I do — and I’m not last. I’m certainly not in the lead, but I’ve actually been neck and neck with people, right on their heels, passing people. How the heck did this happen?! I’m 7 weeks away from total knee replacement, and I’m passing people? This rocks!

Not accepting a fate that people expect for you is a great challenge. Because change is always possible.


I Can See Clearly Now


In the spring of 2003, I started a weight loss journey. Over the course of about 18 months, I lost 140.5 pounds. And then, try as I might, I could lose no more.

While a lot of folks saw that journey as a success, the longer I look back at it, the more I see it as a failure. I fooled myself into thinking that I knew myself well — when I really wasn’t living true to myself. I forced myself into something that wasn’t natural to me, and quite often, I felt like an imposter. That fit woman who grabbed her life back couldn’t possibly be me. To add insult to injury, I was inflexible and unwilling to admit to myself that I needed to change in order to progress.

I fought to get past a 2.5-year plateau — and gave up. I regained every pound I’d lost, and then a few more on top of it. There were a few attempts between then and now, but I took that failure hard and couldn’t allow myself to believe I was capable of losing the weight without flogging myself half to death.

Because really, the life I led then was hardly a life at all. Everything came second to my weight loss efforts. Now, I firmly maintain that any such program has to be part of a person’s life, not take it over. (This is one of the many reasons I prefer not to be known for weight loss. If that’s all you see of me, you’ve missed the best stuff.)

Today, I can proudly say that I am .6 of a pound away from losing every pound I regained after that failure of a journey. I’m about to be in a weight territory I haven’t been in over three decades. I am entering a new phase of this journey — one of uncharted territory I am thrilled to explore. And the one thing I am truly thankful for is that it has taken me a much longer time to lose the weight than it did over a decade ago.

Keep ’em spinning!

Please pay attention to that: I am thankful my weight loss has been slow.

And by “slow”, I mean I’ve been fortunate to lose 25-30 pounds in a year, on average. I am in my 5th year of weight loss. These years have been a learning experience like none other I’ve ever had in my life. While I still have the occasional “what the heck, that was me?” moments when I see old photos of myself, my mind and body are in agreement. They never really were back during that first big journey.

Things happened so quickly back then that my brain couldn’t really keep up with my body. I was physically strong for the first time since childhood. I was a workout beast. I loved it when I could sneak up on someone I hadn’t seen in a couple years and they totally didn’t recognize me. I felt like I could finally leave that Fat Me behind and pretend she never existed.

That was a huge mistake and eventually my undoing. I was so busy trying to distance myself from who I’d been, that I lost who I was. I truly believed that the only way I could be healthy was to punish myself on a daily basis. I didn’t exercise for the joy of feeling the strength in my muscles; I exercised because I feared that not exercising would result in going back where I’d been.

Perhaps it was karma that helped pile those pounds back on, eventually weighing in at the heaviest weight I’ve ever been in my life.

Now? Not only do I know so much more about myself, but I also know without a doubt that I can achieve my goals without flogging myself, without punishing myself. Yes, I have a bit of a journey yet to go; no doubt about that. The most surprising thing this journey has brought me has not been weight loss; it’s been the gift of realizing that I am at a high point in my life. I have never been better than I am at this moment.

Sure, my life can be quite like the circus performer trying to keep all the plates spinning without busting them; I do well in one thing but another needs my attention. That’s life, really. I’m not quite yet at a point where I fire on all cylinders equally all the time, but I will be. I know that with absolute certainty.

My life was dissonance, then; trying to understand why I couldn’t get past where I was, was nothing more than an emotional and mental vampire that took me away from everything else that my life was supposed to be. Now my life is more about harmony.

While this process is never an easy one, I find that my occasional struggles are nothing in comparison to what they once were, because so many of them have a rightness about them. The result has been that I have never felt sharper, more in command, more hopeful about my future. Each thing that’s added to my life is another note in my harmonic structure, giving my life depth and joy rather than blocking my path.

And that’s a damned good place to be.


A follow-up: my weigh-in to make sure I’ve lost enough weight to proceed with surgery was this past Monday, and I passed with flying colors. Two months from yesterday, I’ll be exchanging a crappy arthritic knee for a shiny new one. I’m pretty sure I’ll be getting the better end of that deal!


Ease On Down The Road


Yesterday morning, I woke up — ready.

I’d been preparing for this day for months. From the first moment the physician’s assistant at my orthopedic surgeon’s office told me I needed to lose more weight before surgery, I’ve had a desire to show them I could do it. I stumbled, at first, because at that point I’d been struggling with breaking a weight plateau and my weight had drifted up, but I went in for a follow-up, trusting that once I actually talked to the surgeon instead of a PA, that things would go differently.

Instead, he told me — a bit nicer than the PA — that I still needed to lose more weight. He gave me suggestions. I listened. And I’ve been working my butt off (quite literally) since that point.

So when I woke up on the morning of my scheduled appointment weighing a full 27 pounds less than the last time I was in their office, I was ready to show them that I am strong. I am capable. And I am ready.

Imagine my surprise when they called me before the appointment and told me the x-ray machine was broken and I would need to reschedule.

I’ve lost a 170 pound, 6 foot tall UFC fighter.

And so I wait — another 10 days or so. It’s not the end of the world, but next week is spring break, I am going camping, and I had planned on not being quite as stringent with my food plan as I have been over recent months. I wasn’t going to have a food blowout, but I was also going to enjoy a few choice meals that I knew would likely cause a temporary weight gain.

And mind you, here I am, a mere smidgen away from my short goal, on top of everything else.

So it’s come down to choices: what do I want, more? A few heavier meals while camping? Or a double opportunity: the chance to achieve my short goal and also march into the doctor’s office on the Monday after vacation, still showing them what I’m made of, with no gains?

The choice is both tough and easy. Of course, I want to show them what I’m made of, and I will. But this comes down to choices: the short term delight of a couple of treats, or the long term achievements of not only passing my short goal but perhaps dropping even more weight before standing on the doctor’s scales.

Normally, I would not be this scale-driven. I firmly believe in non-scale victories (NSV), and that they are at least as important, if not more important, than a number on a scale. I believe that food adds to our quality of life, and that the occasional dietary bend is okay (as long as it’s not a full break). But in this instance, I’m being judged by that number — and so I am determined to make this third time a charm.

I have to accept that at least until I have what I believe I need (knee surgery), I will have to play by someone else’s rules rather than my own. I’m giving myself a gift that’s a lot more important than a couple of meals that will be forgotten not long after they’re consumed. My planned roadside stop is going to have to wait until I’ve eased on down the road a bit more.


Walk The Line


I have had a pretty incredible week for weight loss — in fact, a run of weeks in a row that I’ve steadily lost weight, and this far into my journey, any time I lose any weight at all is a time for rejoicing. Right now? I’m positively giddy to be very close to my next short goal, one I honestly thought might be as far away as year’s end, considering my previous loss statistics.

I did make some small adjustments, and they were apparently the right ones. (And no, I won’t say what I did, because — as always — what my body requires is likely not what your body requires, and we all have to find our own successes.) I am well aware that future tweaks may yet be required, but for now, I’m very happy and confident, going into an important follow-up appointment for knee surgery next week.

But that’s not really what I’m here to write about.

I’ve lost the equivalent of this 167 pound tuna. That’s a whole lot of tuna salad right there.

I’m a member of a club that volunteers annually for a large marathon; they man a station that serves two points in the race, the last station marathon runners and walkers see before the finish line. The station sits at the 18 and 24 mile markers; marathoners turn and come back. About 30 folks come out very early on the first Sunday morning in March, which is typically a weather crapshoot here, and work until the last walker comes through in the mid-afternoon.

This was my first year volunteering since previously, I felt I was not physically up to the task. This year, I was, although I was on the verge of becoming sick and didn’t know it at the time, so wasn’t fully up to the day’s demands.

I spent some of my time out by the street and cheering on folks who were coming through. Later, I stood and handed out Gatorade to passing participants. Late in the day, my knees and head both hurt enough that I was sitting at a distance, watching, when the last of them came through.

Perhaps it’s natural to compare yourself to those in the race. I honestly thought that every participant would be much like the early runners; fit, determined, ultra-focused passing those late markers. Despite a chilly day’s start in the low 40’s, early runners were barely clothed, having likely dispensed of clothing along the way.

As time went on, the nature of each participant changed to span a much wider gap (and, might I add, more clothing!). Sure, there were the young and fit, and the ones who came from out of state to participate and proudly wore something identifying where they were from. But then there were those who didn’t fit the norm; a paraplegic on a special recumbent bike that required pedaling by hand. A sight-impaired man with an escort. Another with running with a service dog. People who must be well into their 80’s or beyond.

Some I recognized as people who have lost weight; the signs are there for those of us who have been through it. And while far from what is accepted as “fit”, many much heavier than I am currently, they were still running at the 18 mile mark. The farthest I have ever walked was 6 miles, and that’s been a decade ago; these folks tripled that and were still on their way. Bravery comes in a lot of different forms; they have my respect.

Some were clearly determined; some appeared to be in pain. Some were lighthearted and responded to our group cheering them on; we weren’t just there with refreshments. We were there with cheerful music blasting away, smiles on our faces, telling them we had faith that they were going to keep doing a great job. And, of course, some looked at us like we were crazy. No doubt, we are, but that’s the nature of the club.

Later came the walkers, and while some were still alternating with running, a day that had promised 60’s and sunshine instead dumped quick, hard, cold rain on the runners and volunteers alike, and nearby lightning threatened to end the race early. They soldiered on, the rain and threat of lightning left, and by then, it was plainly evident some of these folks were truly suffering. Wet clothing, wet socks and shoes. Garbage bags over their clothes in case it should rain, again.

Men bled from their nipples. People stopped at the medical tent next to us; one woman, who limped in with one shoe removed, I just knew was done. People of all shapes and ages kept walking, kept going, some smiling, many not.

But they all kept going. They all made the turn and we saw them on the reverse side at the 24 mile marker, closing in on the finish line.

Finally, the police and race officials confirmed that the last of the marathoners were just down the road. I’ve heard that many stations shut down before the stragglers come through; my club — and I’m damned proud of them for this — does not. They stayed.

And when they knew the last of the marathoners were approaching, they met them and walked with them, cheering them on. Telling them that they were close, just keep moving, that they had the faith in them to accomplish their goals. And they made sure, later, that they knew who had crossed that finish line.

I’ve only done one race in my life; I walked a 5K that was a local fundraiser. While they welcomed walkers, I was the only one who signed up, and that made me dead last. And I was not a fast walker to begin with. I tell you, I was mortified. They kept sending around an ATV to check on where I was and if I was still in the race at all.

But when I finally crossed the finish line, there was a crowd of women there to meet me and cheer me on.

I have been last. And I know what it means to have not been forgotten, not marked off the list. To have achieved, anyway.

It’s one of those big life lessons you have to always carry with you: being last, being the slowest, does not mean failure. It means you finished — on your own terms. Those who are there to see you over that finish line are the ones who know that life lesson. And those who are struggling to make it over that line want them to know how very much they are appreciated, because support matters. Cheering them on matters.

Finishing despite the struggle matters most of all.


Questions & Answers


Spring is here, people! And I’ve been busy enough that I was totally stumped on what to write, so I’m answering questions that were posed to me. If you have a question, send it to me and I might answer it in a future blog! On a side note, I’m now 164 pounds down.

What do you do when giving up isn’t an option?

I’m big on mental processes, because I truly believe that changing my mind has changed my body and improved my chances of success. But that doesn’t mean I’m cruising along on all cylinders at all times. There have been times when I’ve been absolutely frustrated with my (lack of) progress and wanted to just throw in the towel. That time wasn’t all that long ago, when I was told I’d need to lose more weight to qualify for knee surgery. I reacted quite emotionally and took it as a slap in the face for all the hard work I’d done.

At that time, I was frustrated because I thought my options were limited and that I was honestly doing everything I could possibly do. When I asked the right questions (mainly, would you please help me?) and got answers I hadn’t considered, before, I committed myself to exploring those other options, and found the strength to give a few key changes a try. It worked. But even if it hadn’t worked, it reminded me that there are always other options available. We just have to choose whether or not they are feasible for us.

For me personally, weight loss is a side effect of my efforts to improve my health, both physically and mentally. Unfortunately, my actual weight mattered at that particular moment. While my weight may have stagnated for a bit, I knew that I was getting stronger and improving, so having medical professionals say those changes weren’t good enough was — well — I said a lot of angry, bad, creative words.

I’ve lost almost as much as this baby elephant weighs — and we have the same skin!

In that case, my options were to either accept that I was going to stay at a relative weight that wasn’t low enough to consider knee surgery, and face the very real prospect that I would continue to deal with severe and debilitating arthritis, or push even harder to get to the goal I’d set to achieve: knee replacement surgery. At that point, I knew that I’d already given up once after losing 140 pounds. I’d already beat that number. Was I really going to even consider giving up, again? This close?

Obviously, the answer was no, I’m not giving up. I had to remind myself of previous failures, the biggest being having achieved so many years ago and then letting it slip through my fingers.

To do that, I had to firmly get out of my head, of what I was feeling in the moment. I had to have my own personal come-to-Jesus discussion with myself and accept that even if I had to change what I was doing even further, it was a far better thing to try harder than to let myself down without the attempt.

I think that’s a bit easier to do when you’re facing a medical issue that determines an outcome. It’s much easier, when there’s not much on the line, to let that determination slip down a notch, and then, perhaps, risk letting it slip away altogether. We convince ourselves of things that are rewards in this moment. And that’s where the trouble begins.

I’ve always believed that every single day is The First Day. That every meal choice is The First Meal Choice. That the way you get through a day, a week, a month, a year, is by each small choice you make along the way. But in moments when I feel like I’m weak, understanding that cumulative effect and how many small choices went into a total 164 pound loss is a landmark reminder that making one more choice to remain strong will help me push those numbers a bit more.

Will you have excess skin removed?

Right at this moment, I’d say no, unless it becomes a medical issue in some way. I may change my mind the closer I get to a manageable maintenance weight.

For a while, I considered it. I watched a show on YouTube that featured people like me: folks that had lost great amounts of weight and ended up with excess skin. Some went through as many as three or four surgeries, removing 30 or more pounds of excess skin.

Their changes were pretty miraculous, but I took a few things away from the show, itself. One was that all of those folks were at least 20 years younger than I am, and when it comes to recovery, that does make a difference.

The other was much more important, though. It might have been a construct of the show itself, scripting what the men and women said, but just about all of them said one thing that bothered me: that they saw the excess skin as being as bad (or worse!) than having the actual weight.

While I’m not close enough to a goal, yet, to consider surgery, I would never trade away the immense changes I’ve made weight-wise because I don’t like my skin. While it’s certainly a personal choice, I can’t imagine a world where I’d rather foist all the conditions I suffered from on my body, again, because my skin looked better filled out with fat. I’m sorry — that’s totally ridiculous.

At this point, where I’m just as vain as the next person and I’m not a big fan of skin more wrinkly than an elephant’s trunk, my excess skin is also a reminder of where I’ve been and what got me here, which are important lessons to carry with me for the rest of my life.


That’s all for this week. If you have questions, please ask; I might feature them in a future blog when I have nothing else to write about, like this week!


I Won’t Compromise


Once again, I’m pleased to note a loss. A girl could seriously get used to this.

It’s easy to feel good about weight loss efforts when they’re going well. It’s invigorating to see changes. I’m seeing them in other places than just the scale; my size has shifted enough that I’ve needed to take corrective action. Otherwise known as a belt, so the world doesn’t see my pants fall down around my ankles. The only belt I could find, since I don’t normally wear one, had to be cinched to the smallest notch.

I’ve lost the equivalent of an adult alpaca — without the attitude.

It’s when nothing changes that times get tough, that doubt creeps in. I’ve been there. I may very well be there, again. After all, the road I’ve taken is hardly flat and straight; it’s more like an abused mountain road with dips and switchbacks, and plenty of potholes.

The closer I get to each goal, though, my resolve has strengthened. While there’s still at least another year or two for me to keep at the good fight, I know more certainly than ever that I’m finally going to reach my goals. All of them.

That sort of confidence has been hard won, and the battles are far from over. The shape of what my life will eventually look like is starting to emerge from the fog. That shape is already within me. I already know how to be that person — because I already am that person.

I used to think that some undefined change would still have to take place for me to be truly successful at getting healthier and improving my whole being, and I was stumped, because I had no idea how to go about changing. You have to know what to change to, after all. I was wrong about that; what it has taken has been a commitment to shaving off the excess — not just weight, but the mental crutches that no longer serve me.

It’s an emergence; a shedding.

It’s both a willingness to recognize when change is needed — and an unwillingness to compromise and risk the dream. Every step, even missteps, are in the right direction if I understand both the successes and the failures.




I am amazed to report that I’ve now lost 161 pounds. In the last couple of weeks, my loss shifted into high gear. While I’m more than happy to ride this particular wave for as long as it lasts, this shift back toward changing my body has brought up some interesting issues.

I wouldn’t say I was necessarily comfortable sitting at my last plateau, and I’m certainly glad it’s in my rearview mirror, but since shifting gears once again, I realize I had fallen into a certain mental stagnation. When my body is not changing, there is a part of me that wondered if this is all I will be able to lose. While I have trained myself to appreciate the moment I’m in, I stopped thinking about what’s down the road, including how I will adapt as my body changes.

We be stylin’!

There’s part of my brain that simply can’t believe that this is who I am, now. It’s not body dysmorphia; when I look in the mirror, I see my accurate size, and I’m well grounded in where I am at this moment.

That part of my brain — maybe it’s that old inner Walt coming back for a visit — insists that this isn’t real. That it’s not permanent. That I’m not deserving, and I dare not think in terms of finally reaching a point where I am in optimal health and can focus more on maintaining.

It’s the same part of my brain that scolds me when I see an increase on the scale — as if to jab at me and say see? Told you so. It’s the taskmaster who torments my mind if I have the nerve to take a vacation and relax my eating plan for a few days, as if I’ll gain back 161 pounds in a week.

It’s fear of failure. Even after 4.5 years of making positive changes, it lurks in the dark corners of my mind. Although 4.5 years is certainly a long time, I spent more than 30 years as a morbidly obese woman, and I freely admit that living as that person was certainly far easier than the life I now lead.

People expect more of me, now. I expect more of me, now. I never, ever want to be that woman, again, and perhaps it’s good that my inner fear is there to remind me that the possibility of returning there will always exist.

If I occasionally feel like an imposter — or like a child playing dress-up and that this isn’t who I really am — I suppose I can learn to quiet that voice, as long as it serves to remind me to never go back down the path that led me here. It’s certainly a different kind of self-awareness that often leaves me feeling unsure and exposed as I find my way to a new normal.


Live Some


Last week was a great week for loss and for breakthroughs. I didn’t have high hopes for this week because big losses usually come with some offsets afterward, but I am pleasantly surprised to report that I have another loss this week; I have now lost 156.4 pounds. This puts me a little closer to my next goal.

Goals are good things, as long as you’re smart about setting those goals and picking ones that are achievable rather than setups for failure. I’ve tried a lot of different things as weight loss goals over the years, and I’m sure you’ve had yours, too. I’ve had rewards, like getting contact lenses again, getting a tattoo, buying something special, even going out to dinner. (Honestly, cheat meals are not a good reward for losing weight — that should be self-explanatory, but hey, I did that, too.)

Physical rewards weren’t really a good incentive for me. They still aren’t.

Random Person who weighs roughly what I’ve lost. Can I count her off as a dependent on taxes?

On one particular effort, I threw out the idea of tying myself to the scale, because I was far too emotionally tied to the number and let it affect my outlook. So, I picked goal clothing that was too small, and when it finally fit, I would weigh, and then pick another set of goal clothing. It worked for a while, except I usually had a number in mind that I wanted and expected to see on the scale after staying off of it for maybe a month or two at a time, and if I didn’t see that number, it frustrated me.

The problem wasn’t the scale; the problem was my perception of success and the expectations tied to it.

I have promised myself any number of things over the years in the name of trying to work up the desire to get down to a certain weight. I still have clothes I bought probably 12 years ago hanging up in the closet; I kept a goal dress and a goal leather coat. Luckily, both were thrift sale finds, because that dress was probably out of style when I bought it. The coat, I’ll eventually see good wear out of it. But I stopped looking at either one and pushing myself to be that size. (On a side note, another coat that was a Christmas gift from my daughter 3 or 4 years ago now fits! And winter will be over soon.)

It’s not the clothes. I don’t even know if my body will be the right shape for those clothes to fit. And it’s not about the covering, anyway; it’s about my body’s ability.

Probably the biggest, dumbest goal I ever tried to take on was telling myself on the very first day of a diet exactly how much weight I needed to lose, total. From that point on, my eyes were set on that likely unachievable goal, and I was incredibly hard on myself, to the point of punishing myself. I didn’t allow myself to live in the meantime; in my head, the rewards would finally be reaped once I was that certain size and weight, and not before.

It’s not about delaying life to some undefined point in the future. It’s about living right here and right now.

This time around, I did something different. So far, it has worked. (And I think, after 4.5 years, it’s safe to call it a success.) I knew full well on the first day of my diet that I needed to lose at least 200 pounds, but I also admitted to myself that setting such a long distance goal was only likely to frustrate me. So, I set my goal for losing 50 pounds. I’ve lost 50 pounds time and time again. Do that, I thought, and then move on.

So that’s what I did. I made it to 50. The reward? Nothing, really, except being able to look myself in the mirror and be glad that I had reached that point. Once that was behind me, I set my goal for another 50. And then another, after that.

Last week, I passed 150 pounds down. And… I didn’t reset my goal for another 50. Nope! I set it for a short goal: 8 pounds. 8 pounds, in the grand scheme of the path I’ve come, is nothing at all. And at the same time, it’s everything. Because I didn’t get here by chunks of 50 pounds down, and again, and again. I got here in increments; 2 pounds here, a slight (or not so slight) gain there, lose that same 2 pounds (or 20 pounds!) a few times until it sticks, another 4 ounces down below my low weight.

Being a total of 158 pounds down puts me firmly under a BMI of 40, which is what my orthopedic surgeon’s office wants. I am already under 40 BMI, but this means I’ll have no doubts when I walk into his office next month and I am weighed once again (with clothes on. Let’s not scare the poor man!). It also means I’ve passed out of the category of morbidly obese to just plain old obese. Not that my whole actual physical state changed magically the second I crossed that line, although by all accounts, the stats say that’s exactly what happens.

I am now within easy attainable reach of that short goal. Like all my other goals, the reward is in my changed and improved abilities as well as my possibilities; now it’s possible to go ahead with knee replacement surgery, which I firmly believe is the next step in my progression toward better health.

After that short goal is met, I have a few other short goals on the way to 200, but the reward is in living in the here and now rather than some fantasy on a distant horizon.

You Don’t Own Me


“It won’t work,” Mr. Bentley continued, sipping his tea. “No matter how hard you try to be what you once were, you can only be what you are here and now. Time hypnotizes. When you’re nine, you think you’ve always been nine years old and will always be. When you’re thirty, it seems you’ve always been balanced there on that bright rim of middle life. And when you turn seventy, you are always and forever seventy. You’re in the present, you’re trapped in a young now or an old now, but there is no other now to be seen.”
— “Dandelion Wine”, Ray Bradbury

It took seemingly forever to get here, but when my body and mind decided to work together, I made quite the jump straight over that momentous 150-pound mark to land at 155.2 pounds down. It’s been a fantastic week for loss!

It’s natural to think back on where I’ve been, especially since I firmly believe that my successes are directly tied to the amount of headwork I’ve needed to do.

Lately, I’ve seen photos of myself at various points in my history, and I’ve cringed. Yes, I was horribly overweight, but it wasn’t that. I have always known that my weight gain was a shield and a symptom. Those times were tough times, and while someone else might not notice, I can see the sadness, the trouble, the depression in those photos. There are entire sections of my life of which I am not at all proud, and I sometimes regret that I have spent so many dark days and lost so much time.

I’ve lost any of these women. And a pound of butter.

But life, whether it’s weight loss, career choices, learning, or anything else, is certainly a process. I’ve often mentioned having lost great deals of weight before, but even on my best day then, I am not that same person, now. Neither, luckily, am I the woman who wallowed in depression. While I’ve journeyed a long way to arrive at this point in my life, I am simply me, as I am in this moment; no more, no less. I have the gift of the same potential as anyone else at this very moment. (And so do you.)

While I have been operating under a bit of an invoked timeline for weight loss, lately, that’s not my normal situation. (The good news there is I am now within the acceptable weight range for knee surgery, far ahead of my date.) With around 200 pounds to lose and a multi-year process to achieve it, it’s quite easy to always look forward rather than appreciate the here and now.

Today, I am thankful for where I am at this very moment. I’m not waiting to start an undefined life in some unknown future after I’ve lost a certain amount of weight. I’m working on living my best life now, and at the same time, accepting that I am no longer who I have been, and the burdens I carry from my past no longer serve me.

To that old brain of mine that held me hostage, this is my message: you don’t own me. I choose to not make my choices based on old clutter from all the times I’ve failed, before. “There is no other now to be seen” because I create now in every moment.