My ex-boyfriend, in the middle of our break-up, once told me that my biggest problem was that I think everyone thinks like me, when in fact, most people don’t think like me. At the time, I dismissed the comment as something stupid someone says to you when they’re breaking up with you. I mean my life long best friend and I finish each other’s sentences. I’m convinced that she and I look at inkblots and see the same things. Over time, however, I’ve thought of his comment more and more, and have come to the realization that he was on to something. This was perhaps his singular moment of brilliance.
What strikes me is the things you remember that someone said. I find it stranger that I’m sure the speakers had no idea they were imparting words to live by to me when they said them. For example, I remember riding in the car with my high school friend, Joan. She had just gotten her driver’s license, and her father was letting her drive me home. As we got off the highway exit, she hesitated after starting to take a left, and then stopped. Her father said, “Joan, if you’re going to go….go. If you’re not gonna go, don’t go.” I think of this phrase at times of indecision. It sums it up so neatly, you either do something or you don’t, it’s really that simple. Do you think Joan’s father had any idea that decades later, I’d still be quoting his tidbit of advice? I then began to wonder what I might have said casually to someone that they still remember.
It’s a fleeting thought that I have that people may not realize the impact of what they say and do in everyday life. I remember my favorite college English professor once telling our class to be sure to call our mothers on Mother’s Day. He went on to say that it’s the day-to-day actions and words that tell you the measure of a person. It’s easy to be Santa Claus at Christmas when the spot light is on you. That’s a big one for me. It really stuck with me. It’s like that chain email you get that says something like, “somewhere out there, someone thinks of you that you wouldn’t expect.” I’m quite certain that my junior high school friend’s father doesn’t know I stopped biting my fingernails when he told me, “someday a gentleman is going to want to kiss your hand, and when he looks down at your chewed up nails, he’ll change his mind.” So the email is apparently true.
I’m not sure if it counts to say, okay, “Listen, I’m going to try to say something that will hopefully stick with you and give you the needed epiphany”….but here goes….. “You are no busier that a fit person.” It’s necessary for you to know this, because apparently every person I come into contact with that wants to lose weight, needs to confess that they simply don’t have enough time.
My own journey from average to fat to fitness was not a fast or easy one. I believe it’s what happens to a lot of people: You start college at a normal weight, put on the freshman fifteen, get married, put on fifteen more pounds, get pregnant, put on more weight, and then one day you stare down horrified at the scale. My own horror topped out at 208 pounds. This to me was proof that all things are relative. I remember being a size four as a freshman in college, and thinking a size twelve was huge. At 208 pounds, a size twelve was now looking pretty enviable! I had tried every diet fad, program, phen phen, Weight Watchers, you name it, and along the way, I had tried it. Somehow though I would always be thinking how unfair it all was. I mean, it seemed to me that everyone else was able to eat and not pack on the weight. I felt like my friends could have salami sandwiches on white bread with mayo for lunch, and Chinese food for dinner, and never put on an ounce. It’s amazing how when you’re fat, it seems like everyone else is thin, and more than thin, thin without trying.
I lost ninety-six pounds, and have kept it off for years. I’m jumping ahead to give you that “light at the end of tunnel”, but some strange things have happened along the way. I’m amazed that when people who saw me at my heaviest and see me now ask, “Oh, my God, how did you do it?” that their reaction is always the same: They’re disappointed with my answer. They want me to say, I ate cabbage soup for a week, or I only ate blue food for a weekend, or I took XYZ miracle pill that I saw on an infomercial and the weight fell off in my sleep. What no one wants to hear is that I work out over an hour every day and am unbelievably careful with what I eat. It’s an every day battle, with no finish line, and no touch down dance.
The bottom line is we are all busy people. I tell people that I’m an attorney, run a disc jockey service, and have three active boys, not to appear to be a multitasking super woman, but to really show that I walk the walk. We’re all busy, and you make the time for the things that are important to you. If you think you’re being selfish to carve out time for your workouts or extra time in preparing clean meals for yourself, think of the flight attendants who remind you to put your oxygen mask on first. This step is so that you’re around to care for the people who need you, especially your children.
You don’t have to think like me, but I’m hoping that “You’re no busier than a fit person” sticks with you, and like Joan’s father said, “If you’re going to go, go. If you’re not going to go, don’t go.”