Gaining and losing weight has been a battle for me from my earliest memories.
I inherited my maternal grandparents’ genes, Polish through and through. Their stocky builds ensure a strong legacy of survival. My grandfather was a baker, not like we see now on Cake Wars and other “fluffy” baking shows.
He worked 12-hour days, starting at 2 a.m., and lifted 50-pound sacks of flour, sugar, and dry milk. Schlepped pounds and pounds of butter, nuts, and chocolate. Back-breaking work, mixing ingredients, pouring batter into molds, leaning over to roll out and decorate cookies.
My grandmother was always with an apron, cooking or sewing, bent over a large soup pot, a frying pan, or with a garment she was mending with a needle and thread. Suffice it to say, I was never a stick figure, I wasn’t built that way.
I learned to dance, literally, Zumba, Powerhouse, and Step. Anything for fat burning. The real dance was one step forward and one step back. One day I would eat what I wanted. The next, not eat what I wanted. Repeat. Rinse. Repeat. Exercising faithfully to keep the muscles moving, the joints greased and the weight down.
This kind of worked for me – through high school and college, my sex and the City years, the child-raising, the doing my chores, and finally into retirement. There were thicker years and thinner years. I weathered my ups and downs like a reverse stock market roller-coaster ride, fretting through upturns, holding on for the sunny side, the thin years.
Well after the pandemic, I hit a wall. After a heartbreaking breakup I ate myself through my emotions. Now, in my case, it was better than downing double martinis, yet, there I was at 30 pounds to lose against my almost 5-foot frame, and the pounds were still mounting.
It’s never a good day to start a healthy eating plan (we abandoned the word diet years ago). Every day I said, “Today will be the day.” Then a bagel crossed my path, a pasta special for lunch, and some French fries made their way next to my grilled fish, and it was only a hop, skip and a jump to pie with whipped cream for dessert. And even my “big” clothes weren’t so big anymore.
Yesterday was Day 1, which included three healthy right-sized meals, 64 ounces of water, and no refined sugar or carbohydrates. And the truth is, I feel skinnier today. Actually, I am skinnier today. How do I know that? How do I know that one day can make a difference? Well, I’ll tell you.
Taking power back is not like a scene from a movie between two Greek gods or witches with thunderbolts, flying and lightning zapping each other. Taking my power back means I understood I had a choice.
It was my choice to eat the bagel and then complain when my pants weren’t pulling up easily. It was my choice to continue to go to the pantry for the bag of cookies, the salty snacks, or the refrigerator to eat the leftovers and an extra dessert right after a meal.
It was my choice to sit through the discomfort of wanting to eat, to kill the boredom, to just stuff my feelings down. Taking my power back means that, in the moment, I chose to serve my long-term goal, lose a few pounds, and be able to swiftly pull my pants on.
I am skinnier today, without the weight of worrying about not doing anything about the weight. I am making better choices today.
Unfortunately, at this age, we all know the muscles don’t work as strongly as they once did. But yesterday was extraordinary. Drinking the full eight ounces, eight glasses of water, I was racing to the bathroom every 20 minutes, literally not to pee in my pants. The water was cleansing me, going through me, and I woke up less bloated, less inflated, just less.
I am skinnier today because drinking all that water helps me to burn more calories. The water started shrinking me.
There was more time in my day because I had more energy. Studies show that drinking more water regulates your metabolism, converting the less food eaten into more energy. Besides I didn’t waste my usual tons of emotional energy worrying whether my pants would fit, what I should eat, what else I could eat, and will I run out of whipped cream.
I am skinnier today because I focused on content, on slowing down, not on the food.
Yesterday, I put on my most comfortable pants. Loudly printed stretchy bell bottoms with hot pink, orange, and rust swirls, and flowers against a black background. They felt good. And because I felt good, I looked good.
I am skinnier today because I lifted the weight of having to have the perfect look and outfit. I wore what felt good and that made me stand up straighter and smile louder.
It’s a funny thing, I look exactly like my grandma. And I loved her; thin or fat I only saw Grandma. I look at myself that way. It does help that at this age I look exactly like her – my curvy shape, the small gap between my front teeth, the color of her hair, and the big smile she wielded, that I catch in reflective surfaces as I walk by. I loved her, no matter her size, her choice of apron, or her hairstyle.
I am skinnier today because I love myself no matter my size.
Like most of life, today’s dance is staying on the path. Making the choices that propel me toward peace, serenity, and comfort. For today that means three healthy meals and 64 ounces of water to nourish my body. And running to pee is just a little bit more exercise.
What’s your weight loss journey? Do you love yourself just as you are? What efforts do you make toward healthier you?