As a teenager, I loved the song from Rodger's and Hammerstein's Cinderella that sings about impossible things coming true. Over the years though, life has dented my belief in the reality of swinging on a star here and there. Gradually, I've begun to buy into the idea that not all dreams are capable of becoming a reality.
One of the dreams that I let go of years ago was that of being a reasonable weight. When I gave birth to my first child, I went from a size 5 (which is where I was still at about seven months into my pregnancy) to a size 14. While it was disappointing, it was not a huge surprise. Many of the adults in my family (at least the ones I knew growing up) carried quite a bit of extra weight.
Over the years, and after adding another child to our family, I found myself barely fitting in my size 18 jeans. It wasn't for lack of trying. I ate fairly healthy and was walking between 4.5-9 miles five days a week. The weight and my body had bonded.
The bigger I got, the more I stressed about it. The more I stressed about it, the bigger I got. It was a vicious cycle, and I was stuck pretty firmly in the middle of it.
Three and a half years ago, I left my husband. I'd already lost around 10-15 pounds. Just before I left, I bought a new pair of pajamas. Those pajamas represented hope. (The details aren't important, but the pajamas were.) They were cute, and matching, and they felt like a new start. They were also a size 16/18 and were quite snug.
The other day, while I was sorting through some of my old things, I found those pajamas. I held them up in front of me. My cute daughters saw and said, "Wow, Mom! You've lost a whole kid!!!" I don't know about that, but it was eye-opening to see just how many inches I have lost.
I found those pajama pants on the same day that I'd purchased a new pair of jeans because my old ones no longer fit. Those new jeans were a size 8. Just to see, I laid the new jeans on top of the old pants. I wasn't very careful about smoothing the pajamas out. I didn't need an exact picture, but I did need to see the visual affirmation of how far I'd come. This is what I saw ...
In the first six months after my divorce, I lost quite a bit of weight, not because of the stress, but because so much stress was gone. Then, somewhere along the way, I quit worrying about the weight. I learned to be truly happy and content with the body God had given me. I kept the healthy habits I already had in place and began adding in new healthy habits as well.
Last summer, I decided -- entirely for myself -- that I'd always wanted to run, and it was time. I started with interval running and did that pretty consistently until December. I was surprised to realize one day that I'd lost another 25 pounds. I hadn't been trying. I'd actually been pretty happy with my size 12 jeans, even if they were a bit snug. They were still far smaller than my old jeans, and my body has always been pretty proportionally shaped. When my size 10's began to be too loose, and more and more size 8 clothing fit well, I was surprised, but ecstatic.
In December, I realized that my lungs were recovering more quickly from my interval running, that my asthma wasn't making my workouts as difficult as it used to. I realized that I could push myself harder than I'd chosen to before. Before Christmas, I ran my first mile without walking any of it. (I'd never done that before in my entire life. Seriously, it was shocking!) It wasn't too long until I was running 1 3/4 - 2 miles without walking and I was doing it several times a week. Another five pounds came off.
What was most surprising though, was not the weight loss itself, but knowing that I had worked hard and put in the effort that made it possible. I had done my part. That felt pretty great!
I'm still not down to my ideal weight, but I'm healthy. I can run. I can play with my kids. I can breathe. I can fit comfortably and happily in my clothes. It's fun to be smaller than I was, but it's more fun to have learned to value myself -- no matter what size or shape I've been ...