A little more than 91 weeks ago, my life changed. That’s 640 days of decisions about food and movement. I had hoped the decision I made on that first day would be life-changing, but I didn’t know I’d be where I am now. I set out to avoid an early death. And this week, week 91, I did two wide grip pull ups by myself.
91 weeks ago I was almost 200 pounds, looked and felt 10 years older than my actual age, had high blood pressure, and I had already had one trip to the emergency room for an anxiety attack that I, my husband, and the doctors feared was a heart attack. I was intimidated by the gym – at least the part of the gym where the boys lift weights. And then this week, I did two pull ups by myself. Real ones.
Every single day for 640 days, I’ve had to make many choices…
- Get up and go to the gym or sleep in?
- Stop for my favorite breakfast burrito at Sonic (bacon) or eat clean?
- Cook clean lunches on the weekend or buy my stand-by Lean Cuisines (which really aren’t super healthy)?
- Eating chicken breast and broccoli when I really want a pizza.
- Eat the cookie (and you got to know I wanted to) or say “no thank you” even when the person with the cookies takes it personally when you don’t eat them?
- Keep the workout routine in place NO MATTER WHAT. Every morning and leave work everyday at 3:15. No snow days, no long meetings, no grading, no extra hours tutoring – and TONS of guilt about choosing the gym instead of doing more at home.
And it’s not about being fat or thin. Food is a drug. It’s either fuel or poison. That food (pizza, burrito, cookies) left residue in my body that built up over time and made me sick and anxious. It’s not a sacrifice to choose not to poison myself. The body has to process it, so it’s not something I take for granted any more. I’ve heard people say “it doesn’t taste as good as thin feels” and I don’t think that’s how I feel about it. It’s not about being “thin”. It’s about being really ALIVE. And not just to live longer – although a longer life with Paul is a wonderful thing – it’s about every single day/hour/minute feeling awesome. Feeling amazing. Doing things I never thought I’d be able to do. Like two real pull ups. Those two pull ups were empowering. I’m so grateful when someone tells me that they changed something in their lives because of a conversation we had. My students ask questions and I know a few have made healthy changes in their lives. I’m a teacher, so I’m obviously jazzed by that.
However, there is the unintended, but very real pressure to NOT get healthier because it threatens other people. I’m not going give details about that, but it’s there, and it’s more than the cookie pusher referenced earlier. I’ve learned that it takes time for some people to get used to it. Most have. A few won’t. I accept that. I’ll just move forward. I’ve always done what I thought was the right thing to do – for others. Now, I’m doing that for myself. But I have to keep telling myself it’s not selfish because I’m a better wife, teacher, friend when I’m happy, healthy, and not stressed out. I think I’m more fun to be around now. I was so miserable before.
While I’m grateful for the help and support I’ve had along the way, I need my friends to know – the ones who tell me they want to make changes – I made those decisions every single day for the last 640 days to eat this instead of that, to go to bed early so I can get up early to workout, to invest the money when money is tight, to do the hard thing instead of the easier thing, and to figure out how to rearrange EVERYTHING in my life to make it work. I’m lucky that Paul is supportive, but I never asked for his approval on any of it. I just did it because it needed to happen. I was going to get sicker otherwise. And the changes people see aren’t just because I’ve been working with a trainer for the last 180 days out of the 640 days I’ve been on this journey. It’s not just because I’m wearing a bodybugg. It’s not because I’m disciplined. It’s because I gave myself the tools and resources I needed. And then I did what I was told by the research or by the people who were helping me. They said “log your food”. I logged my food. (BTW – the logging is hard at first but it’s easy now.) They said “burn more calories than you eat”, “take this many steps”. OK. Done. I don’t accept excuses from myself anymore. I’m not losing weight/getting into shape anymore. I’m training. LOVE IT!!!
And now I can do a couple pull ups. A small step that took 640 days to make.