When I was 10 pounds away from my weight loss goal, my friend Kim Bensen asked me where I saw myself in 5 years. I said, “Living in Connecticut and working with you.” It just fell out of my mouth, but it’s how I felt. It was through her support, program and weight loss center that helped me achieve that goal.That was 2 years ago. Quite honestly, I didn’t know HOW I was going to accomplish this Olympian task. But I didn’t let that take away my dream or put out my fire in my spirit. I knew if it was meant to be, I could make it happen. Somehow. Heck, if I could lose 150 pounds, couldn’t I move to another state? I laugh now at how simple my thinking was about it.
When I hit my weight loss goal of losing 150 pounds, it opened up a new door for me. It was so similar to the movie The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy lands in the magical land and everything goes from black and white to Technicolor and she found her yellow brick road that led her to where she needed to be most.
It tore down the dark curtain that shaded my world with feelings of regret, apprehension, fear and anxiety. The light poured in and the colors of life itself became brighter, richer and more intense. I realized that a goal is simply a dream that you decide to go after with everything you have inside of you during your waking hours.
It crashed through walls of the house of mirrors that I allowed people to put up around me. Mirrors that distorted how I really felt, who I really was and how I thought I looked to people. It liberated me.
It also made me feel naked and exposed. It took away the layers and padding of excuses for being unhappy. So much of my misery and pain was attributed to carting around an extra 150 pounds. It was the “evil twin” that sucked the happiness out of my life by being the fall guy I could blame for everything from break ups, opportunities I was afraid to take, spontaneous things I wanted to do but thought I’d look silly. It was the reason I felt someone was looking at me the wrong way. Or it was the reason why someone was rude to me. It was the ultimate answer to the question of why I couldn’t achieve, do, be, get, have, etc. It was the looming thought in the back of my mind all the time. It was the monkey on my back, the elephant in the room I never wanted to discuss. In many ways I bound, gagged and caged that evil twin, but I’ve never killed her. I don’t think that’s possible. It’s part of who I am.
Losing weight gave me a voice for the first time in years. While I’m not known for being an extrovert, extremely social or overly talkative, I opened my mouth when I needed to get things done. Without fear. Without regret. Without guilt. I’ve learned that it’s not a bad thing to have the courage to ask for what YOU want. What’s the worst that can happen? The word “no”. And we hate to hear that word. It resonates with loss, restriction, failure. But I can’t be afraid of failure anymore. Even when I’m screamed at, even when I’m insulted, even when someone is trying to make me feel like less than I am. Even when they’re telling me to “shut my f—-ing hole”, it only shows they are afraid of ME, what I am about to say. That’s quite a powerful feeling to invoke such fear with mere words. And I’m not going to hold them back anymore. Because I learned a very important thing in this weight loss journey. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about me – not even my kids. What matters the most is what I feel about me and my actions at the end of the day.
I found my voice one day when a chapter of my life was ending. My job of over thirty years was shutting its doors forever and I said one sentence that changed it all. It wasn’t even a question. A statement. I said it without fear, without thinking and with total confidence. When the president of a multi-branch corporation said, “I’d like to talk to you about your future plans in the industry.” It took about 2 seconds for me to look up and say, “I’d like to talk to you about Connecticut.”
Within days, I went from wondering what the heck I was going to do for a paycheck to paving a road right up to the front door of my new home. I didn’t just push out of comfort zones, I busted through them like huge brick walls in my mind. I felt like Bruce Lee busting through these fears that held me back for so long. I jumped into the deep pool of the corporate world at almost fifty years old with only a high school education and life experience. I applied for a mortgage and against some very big odds, got it. Six years ago, I never thought I’d ever own a home again. But here I was, I house-shopped in a different state, two hundred miles away and had the support of women in the weight loss center I have come to know as friends and sisters. They scouted out neighborhoods and gave me their opinions of towns in the area. I tolerated an initial commute of over an hour each way for six months while in training in the Philadelphia area before my move. I made the decision to detach myself from everything familiar and start over brand new.
And wow, isn’t that a whole lot like losing 150 pounds? Detaching yourself from everything familiar and starting over. Reinventing and redefining yourself with courage, fortitude and wonderment. Against the odds. And what everyone else thinks. At whatever age. With whatever education and experience. Looking your fear in the eye and saying, “Look, could you just get out of my way for a while…I’ve got shit to do.”
So you see, when someone here in my new town tells me how amazing my story is on how I got to Connecticut. I say, “It all started when I lost 150 pounds. It showed me I could do anything.”
Don’t let anyone hold you back…not even you. It doesn’t matter if you failed before, it doesn’t matter what “they” are saying, it doesn’t matter if it’s impossible. It’s what YOU want. Get out there and show the world what you got! Remember in the first paragraph when I say I laugh at how simple my thinking was? Well…that’s what got me there. Not getting too hung up in the bad memories, overwhelming anxieties of looking at things as these monstrous events. Take it one step at a time, one day at a time. How do you eat an elephant…even the one in the room that nobody wants to discuss? One bite at a time….