Rain Is Gone

Chance of storms north of us, they said. The storm line will dissipate, they said. And, like with so many weather occurrences, the weather doesn’t actually behave as predicted.

I watched the storm line building, last Saturday night, as we prepared to get in our camper for the night. We did what we were supposed to do; we prepared our campsite and buckled down for the possibility of wind and rain. I gave our sweet dog a calming pill because she’s incredibly anxious during storms. And we both hoped that just maybe the weather predictions were right and the storms would lessen.

Instead, just after midnight, high winds hit the state park where we were camping. The first thing to go was our dining canopy; it eventually tumbled in a mangled mess about forty feet away from where it had originally been staked to the ground. We weren’t able to do anything about it, despite trying to break it down and save it before it was completely destroyed; strong winds and rain pushed us back into the camper. Hubby spent most of the next two hours fighting the winds and holding down other parts of our camp outside. I kept an eye on radar while taking care of things inside our small vintage camper and comforting the dog.

Over two hours later, the winds and heavy rain stopped, leaving more peaceful rain in its wake. At morning light, prepared for the worst, we both went outside to see exactly what we’d have to clean up, mend, replace. Fortunately for us, the worst of the damage was the dining canopy; it was bent and broken beyond recovery. But everything else? Even things we expected to be damaged because we hadn’t been able to take care of everything in the camp made it through the storms just fine.

Actual sunset pic I took last Sunday evening.

There are just times in life where you can see the storms coming and there just isn’t much you can do to avoid them. You can plan, prepare, and accept that there will be some damage. You can console yourself that you’ve been through this before, and face the storm, but the outcomes aren’t always predictable.

Take the next night, for instance. Nearly the same scenario; the weather had been nice all day, but just before the sunset, storms fired up and headed toward the same spot on the lake. Granted, we had less to worry about; the canopy had already been trashed the night before, and items we moved previously were still safe, so we prepared as we could. I admit that I ad to sigh and think “not again!” as I gave my dog another calming pill and then sat out under the camper awning and screen tent, waiting. Despite preparing, though, hubby was in another area of camp, and I held down the awning poles against the gusts of wind and rain as they hit.

Ten minutes later, just as hubby managed to run back to camp, it was over. And we were treated to the most beautiful sunset I’ve seen in a very long time.

Sometimes, the storms aren’t what you think they will be, and you end up with something special afterward.

In regards to my journey, I have spent so many years imagining and fretting over the storms I knew would come if I chose to try again to lose weight, but I only thought I knew what was ahead of me. Instead, standing and fighting through has given me rewards I couldn’t begin to imagine — including simple things like camping.

Summer School

Summertime is my summer school time for learning more about my body. And it’s not just what swimsuits still fit, although there’s that — and the normal summertime Trying On Of Vacation-Type Clothes, which come in a wide variety for me. There was the dressier stuff for a resort just a few weeks ago, and now, this week and again in a couple more weeks, camp clothes.

Not that I worry nearly as much with camp clothes; it’s swimsuit time for most of the day. Right now, I’m sitting at our campsite table, a michelada next to me for morning refreshment, my laptop tethering through my phone, the dog laying behind me in front of a fan, morning sunshine reflecting off calm lake waters as a child from a neighboring campsite rides her bike up and down the camp drive. Birds are singing. The remains of last night’s campfire smolder in the fire ring, a box fan keeps me cool, and a hearty breakfast of farm eggs scrambled with yesterday’s leftover bacon and some garden vegetables from a friend keep my stomach full and happy.

My actual view as I write.

While resort life was fun, this is my quiet time; I colored for a while, yesterday. We watched heat lightning shoot across the sky after last night’s sunset, the occasional lightning bug drifting by and sharing a quick flash of yellow. My husband saw a shooting star; are you supposed to wish on them? If so, I haven’t asked him what he wished for, but I can’t imagine things much better than this.

Both experiences, though, are my learning periods about what my current body is like. It’s one thing to regiment myself when I am at home; I know my weight every morning, I know what I’m eating, when, and it’s nutritional content. But during these respites, it’s more about listening to what my body is telling me and understanding what it’s doing during the times when I’m not weighing myself daily, calculating food intake, controlling all those aspects. It’s learning what my body does when it’s not carefully watched — much like parents wonder how their kids act when they send them out the door to spend the night at a friend’s house or ship them off to summer camp.

Life isn’t about those check-in moments when I’m paying close attention to fueling and physical movement; it’s about all of the moments in between. It’s about the living that goes on between those markers and knowing with confidence that whatever liberties I might take during those times are ones I will recover from. Much like sending your child out the door, you know that they might be tired, cranky, and a bit wild when they come home — but those fun moments while they were out living don’t undo all the work put in before and after. In the same way, I’ve learned that I can relax a bit while I’m out enjoying myself, and can recover to where I was when I return home. And quite often, while I obviously enjoy the breaks, I’m happy to find my rhythm when I get home.

There are learning and teaching moments that simply reveal themselves at these times, and being open to them is part of what makes summer such an enjoyable time for me. It’s feeling the breeze off the lakefront on my skin, savoring a cool drink, listening for birdsong, watching a great blue heron skim the surface of the water at the opposite bank. Eliminating all the reasons for worry lets me truly appreciate the experience.

Learning what is and isn’t cool with my body can be a fun experience, as long as I use what I learn.


This past week, I found a bike I like. It’s a used bike, so I wanted to research it a bit before buying — and couldn’t find one particular stat that always troubles me: the weight limit. So before I purchased the bike, I asked the shop owner about weight limits. She (quite reasonably) told me that these days, there are plenty of kids out there that outweigh many adults, so yes, the bike I bought would easily support me and probably someone who outweighs me by quite a bit.

I’m short, so I moved to a 24” bike, which are often marketed as children’s bikes, although there are a lot of us short adults in the world that need smaller bikes.

So often in my mind, I still worry about weight limits. Having lived as a morbidly obese adult for so long, it’s automatic, and even though I’m considered average size now for a woman (although still medically obese), I struggle leaving that behind. I’ve been that person who was mortified after sitting in a chair in a diner and breaking it from excess weight; I know what it feels like for my weight to destroy something.

* Not actually my bike… or me.

Related to this, I also struggle with feeling like I have to tell people why I’m concerned, but I have managed to stop myself from doing this lately when it crosses my mind. Honestly, it’s no one’s business that I used to weigh 200+ pounds more than I do, currently. Sometimes, I think it’s a matter of pride that drives me to want to explain, but I’ve come to realize that if I truly want to leave morbid obesity behind, I need to restrict myself from defining myself that way. That hasn’t been me for a while.

As I said above, I’m a normal size for a woman my age, despite still being defined medically as obese for a few more pounds. I’m now in the not-so-unique position of being the average that the world tends to cater to. When I was far outside the bounds of normal weight ranges, I often felt as if I needed to apologize for my size, especially if I was attempting to do something weight-related. At the very least, it was always a factor when buying something that would need to support me, from travel wheelchairs (mentioned last week) to lawn chairs to hammocks to items like bikes. I’ve owned a bike for several years, but I rarely rode it; both because I felt totally awkward on it, and because my knees were previously restricted in motion.

Now that my knees are super bionic leap-over-tall-buildings-in-a-single-bound models, I wanted to try to ride a bike, again. I even worked on both my husband’s and my bikes last year in anticipation of taking them camping, but the truth was that I was scared to get on mine; it was no longer because of knees or weight, though. It was because the bike was simply too big for who I am, now. I used to ride 26” bikes all the time, but the last time I rode one with any regularity was in college — and that bike was stolen while I was still in college. It’s not that I’m necessarily any shorter than I was, then; regardless of new knees, I’m not as agile as I once was. I also am rather hung up on being able to reach the ground with at least my toes when I’m on a bike, and I couldn’t.

I had to push out the ideas that kept me from riding — things that were no longer issues — and accept that if I wanted to ride, something needed to change, and it was no longer me. Fitting into the mental picture of actually being a smaller person has been a bit of a challenge, but as time goes on, I’m slowly chinking away at those old ideas that screamed you can’t do that because you’re huge. There were a couple of situations on vacation where I was shoved up against a door with a bunch of people in a private transport; other than feeling vaguely uncomfortable because of Covid, I realized that I was okay with a situation that previously made me feel anxious and claustrophobic.

I’m still surprised at times like this; I still have things to learn and unlearn, but the challenges I face now are so much more fun than they used to be!


I’m back from vacation! We have our haul of stuff from the Dominican Republic — and for me, that includes vacation weight. I knew I would gain, since I enjoyed eating and drinking whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted; it was as much a food vacation as a regular vacation.

Food indiscretions show up in bad ways, though, and the usual contenders reminded me that once I returned home and back to my normal ways of eating, my body would feel much better. This week has been about getting back into a routine; my normal extended walking, a return to normal eating. The pounds are coming off. There are several more to go, but I know they’ll be gone in a week or two.

The last time my husband and I had a vacation together out of the country was 2015. Back then, I still weighed more than 300 pounds, had two bum knees, and had to be transported in the airport and on resort in a travel wheelchair made to hold up to 400 pounds. I wore a titanium off-loader brace on one leg to keep my knee from locking up. I could walk short distances or up/down stairs when absolutely necessary, but those distances were measured in a matter of feet.

Making memories

Six years later, I’m in the habit of walking around four miles every morning and can go farther if needed. I gave the travel wheelchair away to a local vet who needed one with a higher weight limit. I donated my knee braces after both my knees were replaced back in 2018. I walked with no issues at all; not even sand or up and down rickety wood stairs to small shops along the beach. I also easily used a boat ladder on a catamaran, where I was able to snorkel during a catamaran tour with my husband and friends.

In short, every single thing I yearned to do back in 2015, I was totally capable of doing in 2021.

But the most important thing I’m now capable of doing is pushing through and getting back on my program. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone on vacation, excited about the trip, and then got discouraged when I realized how limited my abilities were. I went off my eating program for vacation and never got back on, although in 2015, I had already been on this journey for going on two years.

I’m proud of myself. Believe me, I saw my reflection in mirrors and still battle with feeling like I haven’t gone far enough yet, but instead of letting that defeat me, I feel more determined than ever to achieve my goals. It was no trouble at all for me to switch off food-vacation mode and fall back into my old habits; my comfort zone, now, is being in control of my mind and how I treat my body.

That ability to remain in control of who I am (rather than yearning for who I want to be) also gave me the bigger opportunity to truly relax while on vacation with my husband. Dealing with wheelchairs, hindrances, braces, pain — all of those things are emotional labor and they detract from the joy we should feel when finally taking a bit of time for ourselves. With those things removed, all I really worried about was getting coffee in the morning to tame my inner morning bear. Espresso, you say? Heck, yes!

The best gift I could give myself was the ability to transcend over my previous inabilities, and although I came back wanting more, I know I’ll be even more capable the next time. That’s Paradise for me, and totally a state of mind.


Last weekend’s horn camp in New Mexico was a whirlwind for me. Not only was the total driven distance just over a thousand miles in each direction, but I learned even more than I had thought possible; not just about what I can do to improve my music skills, but also things about myself I hadn’t quite realized, yet.

As I wrote last week, I went with the expectation of learning. I realized once I was there that my skill set had tarnished even more than I originally thought, but I’ve spent the last seven years playing music that has been a low challenge threshold. Being included with so many people with skills that exceed mine showed me exactly where I need to improve, and how much I haven’t challenged myself.

Being open to those challenges was a lot tougher than the initial commitment. While the camp is a no judgment zone, that certainly didn’t stop me from judging myself. It’s also an accelerated pace; with very little extra time, we sight read, rehearsed, attended master classes, and performed from the moment we arrived until the moment we packed up and left.

The view from Hummingbird Music Camp, where our horn camp was located.

Personally, I reached a breaking point Saturday evening. Our group had already performed once as part of program of ensembles, and we had the evening to ourselves. Feeling a bit frazzled, I realized I was on an emotional edge and removed myself for a bit of a cry. I needed the pressure release; not just because I kept pushing myself to benefit in any way I could while there, but because I needed to ground myself.

Doing challenging and difficult things is exhausting, both physically and mentally. I had to check myself because I’d been beating myself up about how far behind I felt. There was a day when I would have been able to keep up much better, but that day was decades ago. I kept lamenting that I just couldn’t seem to get the hang of some of the musical pieces. I did get some time to work out a few issues, but I also knew I’d hit a wall if I kept playing; my endurance wasn’t nearly what others had. Like any other physical activity, you can’t just keep working at it without getting to a point of negative returns, so I had to accept that I couldn’t devote the time I wanted to work those things out.

I could only play to my own abilities and recognize the things I want to work on moving forward, and stop beating myself up about it.

It likely comes as no surprise that I’ve had to accept similar situations in my health journey. I used to constantly berate myself for not meeting goals that were, frankly, unachievable with my then-current set of abilities. Those were the times where I would push myself beyond failure and end up giving up. I’ve learned over time to see those signs and deal with them, but I’d become complacent and somewhat blind when dealing with such situations in other areas of my life, like music.

We have to realistically recognize where we are and what we want to do to move forward. This is true, no matter what we face.

When I first started walking, again, I worked up gradually. I started with what I could manage and challenged myself by small increments. I had no ability at all to walk four miles at once; I had to increase my strength and abilities as I was able. Now, four miles is quite achievable; then, attempting four miles would have flattened me.

While metaphorically, my musical abilities aren’t back at the walk around the yard once level, I’m not at the four miler level, either. I’m somewhere in between. I had to remind myself that if I want it bad enough, I can improve in the areas I want. I can challenge myself to do better. Last weekend showed me not only what that looks like, but how to work on getting there. I have to work with what I have right now.

I am impatient at heart, and I let my heart get in the way, looking backward at my inabilities rather than forward toward what I’d love for them to be. I’ve already proven to myself that I can be much better than I’ve given myself credit for; it’s far past time to use those same skills to improve in other areas of my life, doing things I love to do.

(No, this isn’t us and we didn’t play this, but it’s cool and it’s horns!)

A Different Kind of Band Camp

This weekend, I’m heading to the ultimate throwback. Yes, people, I’m going to Band Camp.

Okay, not really band camp; more precisely, horn camp. I’m driving out to New Mexico with one of my dearest friends from forever — and a newer friend — and we’ll spend a weekend making music, learning, and probably laughing a lot, while playing the instrument we all love: French horn. It’s a rural, rustic setting, and a camp where young musicians as well as us more fermented folk (sort of like fine wine!) will learn from clinicians and then have a final concert in a very unique setting. I haven’t been there before, but my friend has.

To say I’m excited is an understatement, although I have a little apprehension about the drive out. (By the time you read this, we’ll likely already be in New Mexico and on our way to our final destination, or already there.) I am also nervous and excited about the experience.

The one and only time I ever got the chance to attend band camp was when I was either a freshman or sophomore in high school. I was young, cocky, and talented. I got a scholarship to go. I had a blast while I was there, but I was raw material, too. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I was wildly devoted to playing, but not necessarily to learning.

I’m just gonna beat you to it.

This coming experience is nearly the exact opposite. I absolutely know what I don’t know. I am open to whatever learning I can glean at my age. It’s been a very long time since I’ve been a hotshot player; I got knocked down a few pegs when I moved to Arkansas and thrown in with people who were better than I was. I had rise to the challenges and take my lumps. And really, that sort of thing, taken in the right light, makes people better musicians. And better humans, too.

It’s about teamwork, much like team sports teach. Especially in horn sections, blending sound and listening to pitch is especially important. Knowing what sort of sound to produce — dark, rich, and full as opposed to brassy, for instance — is key. It’s a practice in cooperation and respect for your fellow players, even when warming up; the grounded players will do proper warmups while the hotshots play solos that aren’t currently part of the repertoire. (I know. I did this as a young player.) Because really, there’s a time to stand out, and a time to make your contribution to a team effort as best you can.

In many ways, my weight loss journey has been similar. My first bravado effort, I was very much the cocky hotshot who lost 140 pounds… and then got knocked down a few notches when I regained all my weight and more. Going through that process and learning some humility about weight loss has been… instrumental. 😉 Regardless of what I hope to accomplish, paying attention so I can improve is a much preferred experience to deluding myself into thinking I already know everything I need to know. If the focus is to improve, ego needs to get out of the way.

You would think that health journeys are a solo effort, but they’re really not. I have taken this journey with countless people along with me. I’ve benefited from the perspective and learning of others, and hopefully, returned the favor and encouraged others along the way. When we learn from each other, all of us benefit.

Example of a fine horn choir working together.


We proudly bought our first personal computer in 1990. We thought we got quite the deal, too; we drove all the way to a Sam’s Club and spent just over $1000 on a desktop computer with Windows 3.1 (… I think), DOS, and a 20 MB hard drive with something like 16K memory. We brought it home and discovered that they’d accidentally given us the other choice in desktop computers: one with a 40 MB hard drive! I remember calling the store and they told me it was their ($700!) mistake, so congrats!

Mind you, that might have been our first computer, but I’d worked with computers, before. I started back in late high school in an Explorer Post (BSA) that centered on computers; they were the size of rooms, back then, and we got to program a Snoopy calender in Fortran. WOOHOO!! And after that, I was the point person for computer stuff in an office I worked at for a couple of years. So, naturally, I thought I was an expert.

Not my actual first computer.

Which is why we took it home and I immediately reformatted the hard drive… without realizing it had already been done. Yes, I recovered from that failure, and that was just the beginning of a long line of failing with computers. I learned a lot by screwing up. And thank goodness for that, since I’ve been working with computers in one way or another since then, most of that time online. (Hello, modem installation back in December of 1990! Turn off call waiting so it doesn’t boot you offline!)

I’ve had plenty of other failures, too. You name it, I’ve failed at it. And mind you, I dearly want to be good at everything I undertake. That’s my nature; I want to excel, and I have had to fight the tendency to want to give up when I fail. If I can’t be good at it, I don’t necessarily want to do it. I was a perfectionist early on, and I have struggled with that my entire life.

In fact, while examining why I haven’t conquered my weight and health issues until late in life, I had to come to the difficult realization that not only had I failed at every single previous attempt over the course of my lifetime, but I also had not embraced efforts to work on my health issues because of fear of failure. I’d failed at even the most previous notable effort of losing 140 pounds; while I had lost the weight, I hadn’t fixed what I needed to fix, and it took me a long time to come to terms with failing myself in that regard.

The great thing about failure is that it gives me the opportunity to learn lessons if I will only be open to that learning. I wouldn’t have become as proficient with tech if I hadn’t learned from my failures. As a musician, it’s up to me to practice through failure until I achieve what I want.

Putting weight loss and health issues into perspective is much the same. The difference, for me, is that while I now consider weight loss to be a side effect of getting healthy, it’s also a very noticeable aspect to others. At 371 pounds after having lost 140 pounds and then regaining all of that plus more, I often felt humiliated seeing people who knew I had failed at my efforts. When you’re consistently the largest person in any room, and then you lose any noticeable amount of weight, it draws attention and well-meaning comments as well as praise.

It’s one thing to fail in private. It’s quite another to fail out loud, where everyone knows exactly what you’ve done. On top of that, our culture has an inherent character assessment tied to weight; obese people are often seen as lazy, stupid, gluttonous, unworthy. If only they’d stop shoving food in their faces! It’s just so easy — calories in, calories out!

Friends, if it were that easy, the weight loss industry wouldn’t be a multi-billion dollar industry. In fact, it’s an industry that thrives because we fail. When I realized that simple fact, I also realized that any long-term success had to be built on discovering for myself what works for me. Which meant building on previous failures.

I am where I am right now because I have been open to learning from failures. As the song says — I win some, I learn some. I’ve had to take my ego out of it and not worry about societal pressures, and simplify my view to analyze whether a change I implement is working. It’s definitely a scientific approach, but it’s much the same approach I have taken over the years to excel at tech as well as becoming a better musician. In those worlds, if something doesn’t work, you change it until it does. This has also become my approach to bettering my health.

While I have spent innumerable moments regretting that I didn’t allow myself to learn about such things much earlier in my life, I now see failure as simply a step in the process rather than an indictment of my character. Making that change has been crucial to continued success, and I’m no longer fearful of failure.

Stroke of Midnight

At the stroke of midnight, Cinderella scurried down the vast palace steps, losing half her footwear and dressing like a Walmart shopper again. Honestly, that shouldn’t happen to anyone, but the girl couldn’t control it. And had I been her, I would have ditched that prince, anyway; she dances with him, they fall in love, and he can’t even figure out what she looks like without making her try on a shoe? Perhaps he should have seen a princely optometrist?

And to the fairy godmother who thought glass slippers were a sensible footwear choice — seriously?

Still. Cindy had a couple of good things going for her. For one thing, even though she was stuck with the sucky jobs in her house, she had happy forest animals willing to pitch in on the work. And until that danged shoe came off, she was leading a charmed life.

Not Crocs.

So am I, minus the animals with killer cleaning skills and, obviously, glass on my feet. When I have to do a lot of cleaning, my dog is positively useless.

Bonus: I didn’t lose any footwear, but the stroke of midnight hasn’t tolled, yet, for me.

I wait for it. Every morning when I wake up, I’m totally conscious of when I’ve failed, previously, and made the decision to give in to my baser needs. Every single day is a reality check, and the reminder that I’m not an imposter in this body. My situation is quite real; I’ve lost over 204 pounds. And while Cindy may have deserved the wave of a wand and a trip to the royal ball, my weight loss has been far from magical. It’s been the result of years of hard work, dedication, and a willingness to be a scientist on my own behalf so I can be fully aware of how my own body works.

Sometimes, when I look in the mirror, I still don’t trust the reflection. I know that somewhere in me, there’s the potential of my brain giving up the fight. I’ve done it, before, despite massive efforts, though not as vested as this one. But I’d be a fool to believe I’ve banished that thinking completely; like pulling weeds from a garden, I know that the seeds of doubt can gain traction if I’m not diligent. I can’t just consider things done, yet.

I also know that despite keeping my weight down for years, I still have medical issues I wish to resolve. Medications I would like to no longer have to take. I am still insulin resistant regardless of what the scale says, and that factor alone can account for easy weight gain when I’m not willing to push hard. I want to do everything in my power to control and heal these issues, and until I reach a point where I am confident they are fully within my control, I continue to push forward. No magic wand will solve that for me; I have to continue to do the hard work required or risk letting those weeds invade, again.

Allowing myself to lose control amounts to hearing that bell start to toll and acting as if it’s nothing. I have to remain diligent and constantly listen; and in my case, at least, I can reverse time when one or two bells toll without having to flee, lose perfectly good footwear (no glass in my house, though), and relying on a prince with bad eyesight to get me back to my own personal fairytale. It’s me who creates my reality, not the wave of a wand; and now, I totally understand that the work I’ve put in also keeps me on course. I’m not about to throw away the years of intense mental and physical work I’ve done, and if my efforts had been easy and miraculous, I probably would have caved a long time ago. Being vested in the outcome makes a difference.

I’m responsible for that fairytale and as long as I keep on my own path, the stroke of midnight will remain far in the future. And while those glass slippers are gorgeous, I’ll stick with my running shoes.

NSFK: suggestive language and bursting of glass slipper bubbles

Get It Right

For those keeping up with it, I’m at a new low weight! I have now lost a total of 206.6 pounds, and no one in the world is more surprised about that than me.

My super ambitious goal at the outset was to lose 200 pounds. It was a grand goal, but I seriously didn’t think I’d actually lose 200 pounds. I had zero faith in myself to do that, but I knew from previous experience that I could totally lose 50, so I set mini goals. Looking at a goal of losing 200 pounds was just too daunting and I knew it would wheedle its way into my brain and work against me.

I had smaller goals within each of those 50 pound segments, not all weight related. I know my body changes slowly, so I tried my best not to set time limits and frustrate myself.

There’s also the theory that overwhelming someone with goals that are too far out there tends to discourage compliance. For instance, grounding a 7 year old child for a month, whether that discipline is deserved or not, may work against both you and the child; if they can’t see a reasonable way to work off what they did in a time frame they understand, they have little incentive to improve and may just act out more. My mind works much the same way; I knew from the beginning that it would take me a long time to lose, and if I set goals that were too far in the future, I would likely give up. I’d done it before, time and time again.

That’s a 206 pound dog! The equivalent of what I’ve lost so far.

When I reached that 200 pound loss mark, I decided I’d try for 210. Our health insurance has made the occasional rumble about adding a surcharge for those with a BMI over 30, so I decided I’d get to that point, next; with 210 pounds lost, I’ll just be overweight. My goal is health-related; there are a couple of medications I’d like to either eliminate or adjust to lower dosages, so that’s what I’m after, now. For the first time in darned near 40 years, I’m fine with where my weight is; my goal changed to health some time ago.

So now that I’m within reach of that 210 pound goal and on the verge of another reassessment, it strikes me that a lot has changed in my world — and not just my body.

For one thing, as I said above, it’s been a heck of a long time since I’ve been okay with my weight; maybe even longer than I suggested, since I dealt with pressure from my father to conform to an impossible physical standard when I was just the barest bit overweight. We carry those scars with us for a long time, and they’re not easy to fight with logic when they’re firmly entrenched in our brains.

For another, my brain has almost caught up with my body, for once. I occasionally find myself fighting those imprints, but not nearly as often as I once did. I don’t look up weight limits on things designed to hold my body anymore. I don’t constantly assess whether I can pass between two chairs in a crowded room. I’m not concerned with whether I can bend over enough to tie my shoes. I’m not hyper aware of people glancing at me; before, I used to automatically think someone was looking at me because of my weight. Now, I don’t care why they’re looking at me; that’s their problem, not mine. I don’t spend a ton of time having to consider things like how long it’ll take me to walk to my own mailbox; not when I can easily get out first thing in the morning and walk four miles.

And while we all have the occasional day when we feel small or particularly large, those days when I feel ponderous are rare. When I lay in bed at night and assess my own body, I’m constantly pleased and surprised at the small amount of room I occupy, these days. While I’m still obese (for a little while longer), I feel small just about every day, now.

Those types of eternal calculations used to take up far too much of my brain. I’m free from those, now. I have the ability to commit those brain cells to things I enjoy, or to meet the demands of each day, instead of allowing those overwhelming calculations to hold me back. Instead, as I near maintenance — you know, just the rest of my life — the small changes and adjustments are what keep me moving forward.

Maybe I’m finally getting it right.

Reduce & Reuse

I threw clothes away today, and I can’t help but think it’s wasteful. And, really, it is. It’s against my nature to simply throw something usable away, but I’m learning to adapt.

Part of this issue was being raised with thrift; not just because we didn’t have a cent to spare, but because my mother was a child of the Depression Era and she would rather find a home for something than to simply throw it away. Once I moved away from home, any time I visited, she would try to give me something before I left. I recognized it, later, as simply something her family did to reuse everything; she was second youngest of ten children, after all, and I’m positive there were a ton of hand-me-downs. As the only girl in my family, I didn’t often deal with them, unless they came from Mom.

That stopped when I was a teenager; not only did I grow a little taller than her, but I eventually started gaining weight. She was of average weight, and never really ventured far into overweight. Me, though? I made up for everyone in my family that was never overweight (or not by much, anyway).

As a morbidly obese woman, my extreme plus-size clothing was expensive. I tried to get by on sales and the like, but quite often, I had to get rather expensive clothing in off-colors and styles. Not just because that’s what was available on sale, but because that’s what was available at all in the sizes I needed. At size 4X tops and size 32W jeans, I had to take what I could get.

Not my personal stash, though it feels that way!

Over the years, my cyclical weight loss efforts drove me straight to the thrift store, and even then, plus size clothing was relatively scarce, but at least I could live with the prices when I found them. Still, I ended up with the odd styles and colors available. Over the duration of my recent weight loss efforts, though, those thrift stores were both my joy and my bane; if I found something I really liked, I’d buy it and wait until I was that size (eventually), and then not feel awful about how much I spent on it when it no longer fit. Not to mention, I was confident that the clothes would find a home with someone else when I donated them back to charity thrift stores.

Sometimes, I still wander the thrift stores, but I’ve been below plus sizes for a few years, now, and I had to come to the realization that I couldn’t donate everything back that was too big. Even the most casual of plus-size clothing might find a home because of relative scarcity and cost. The same isn’t true for the sizes I wear, now, so I’m more selective about what I donate. I don’t want to put the burden on charity thrift stores to deem something not worth selling because they already have 57 of that same item.

I’ve also become more selective about what I keep. I’ve stopped buying things just because I need to make do with something — because I don’t have to make do, anymore. There’s no reason for me to keep a pair of shorts that just has never fit quite right or something I bought on sale. So I’ve been reducing the things that no longer serve me. I don’t need twenty t-shirts unless they mean something to me. I don’t need to keep washing/folding/putting those awful shorts with the shallow pockets back in the drawer. (What’s up with those pockets, anyway?) Those capri-length workout pants? I never liked them.

While thinning down what I have is freeing, I’ve also been fighting the thrifty part of me that has spent a lifetime reusing items that I no longer need. I came to the hard reality that in my little town, there’s no such thing as textile recycling and I’ve just been putting the burden on someone else to decide if something still has usable life. While I still embrace the practice of donating (especially lately, going through the last of my mother’s things), I hope that my acceptance of filtering the worth of what gets donated means those donations end up serving the purpose I hope they will; whether filling a need in someone else’s life, or the income covering necessary costs for the charity.

Eventually, my current batch of clothing just might end up too big, but at least I will like everything I give space to. It no longer makes sense to hang on to things that I just don’t like for the sake of thrift and size.