I can’t tell you the number of old diaries I have from my adolescent years, teens, and twenties which were once brand new Christmas presents. Oh, I had such good intentions. I would record my innermost thoughts, wishes and goals and motivate myself to achieve what I knew I could. If you look through those old diaries, you’ll most likely lists of resolutions on the first few pages. The first one was the same each year: Lose Weight. I’d be so excited by the prospect of the new year and all it would bring, I usually went through the year writing down the number of pounds I thought I could lose by each date and marking my ‘goal weight’ date with stars and exclamation points. It seemed so tangible then, that in just a few weeks or months, I could be where I wanted to be.
Then, the real world kicked in. My diary stayed hidden in a drawer or under my bed and I had no reminder of the goals I hoped to reach. Temptation was all too easy to succumb to. The days turned into weeks and months and those goals faded into history. Every year it was the same. Add that to my list of ‘must do’s’ that don’t get done. It came to a point where I stopped getting those diaries to write in, because it was known I didn’t bother keeping up. It also came to a point where I just stopped making resolutions because I knew I’d forget about them so quickly. Why bother with the game?
Now don’t get me wrong, I have it within me to commit to something and see it through. I lost a bunch of weight before getting married, I knew it was possible. Then, kids came along. Nothing else seemed to matter except the here and now, despite worry about the future looming somewhere in the distance. I finally got so sick of myself that I joined Weight Watchers and Curves and lost 46lbs in a matter of months. It wasn’t the support of meetings or a group environment that helped me I don’t think, I believe it was the accountability of weighing in each week and knowing I didn’t want to disappoint myself in that setting. Something similar happened when I went back to work, I was always able to lose weight better when I was working and interacting with people each day because I felt accountable for my actions.
Then, baby #3 came along. Followed by turning 35. That magic combination of being a new mom again, leaving the working environment and I guess decreased metabolism led to my current state of being. It was so easy, being stuck at home each day, to make bad decisions regarding my life. I tried briefly to get back on track but when I saw no immediate results I pretty much gave up. Why bother, I thought. I’m going to be this way forever, I better just accept it. Sure, there was that niggling voice in the back of my head that said “what about your children? don’t you want to be there for their future? don’t you want to be healthy?” however I was very good at ignoring what I knew was right.
In September, something unbelievable happened. The Walt Disney World Moms Panel. You may have read my Cinderella story of not making it through the second round and then moving on after a mistake was discovered. The second round turned into the third round and phone interviews were soon hovering before me. It was around that time that I started to both panic and avoid thinking about the possibility of actually making the Panel. I knew many members of the existing panel. I watched their videos and saw their photos. I would stop and think, “what if I make it? what will I wear? I’ll look horrible in the videos! I’ll be the fattest mom there!”. Then I would assure myself that the possibility of making it that far were near impossible, and avoid working out some more. As you know, I got that call in November that yes, I DID make the panel. That’s when the real panic set in.
Knowing there was no way I could lose close to 100lbs in less than a month, my panic settled back into “why bother.” So I showed up for training in the new clothes purchased because NOTHING from my pre-baby wardrobe fit me (and that is not an exaggeration) and hoped I’d just somehow slip into the background unnoticed. Well, it’s kind of hard to remain unnoticed in your own personal video and head shot. I am also not exaggerating when I say I was completely shocked when I saw the photos of myself start showing up on my fellow Moms Panelist’s facebook pages.
How I could be living in quite that level of denial is a mystery to me. I guess if you are always behind the camera and taking the pics of yourself from above and usually with a cell phone, it becomes easy. Even when I tried on all the new clothes I’d gotten, I thought I looked okay in them. Seeing yourself, alone, in a dressing room mirror vs. NEXT TO skinny, normal-sized people are two very, very different things. Reality had hit, and there was no turning back. I’d given up on myself for too long. I knew I was the only one that could turn me into the person I wanted to be, and it was about time to show up and take charge.
I gave myself the holidays, knowing that once New Year’s weekend came and went, playtime was over. It wasn’t that I thought “OMG what must people think of me, I have to lose weight”, rather it was the fact that I was finally able to see myself, without blinders on, without the rose colored glasses of denial. The days had long gone of people saying, “no no, you’re not fat…really!” Well, my family was still saying that, but I knew now that believing them was helping no one. I was fat. As much as I didn’t feel like a ‘fat person’ in my mind, it was affecting my health and physical abilities. I didn’t want to be the mom that couldn’t run and play with her kids. I didn’t want to be the mom struggling to get through the turnstiles at Disney or worrying that I wouldn’t fit in a seat somewhere. I had to admit who I was before I could commit to who I wanted to be.
I started last week with working out on the treadmill daily and a complete elimination of all the bad foods I’d come to eat. No more Christmas cookies or candy, Ben & Jerry’s, or fast food. More water. (Sometimes I would go the whole day only drinking an iced latte and avoiding water like the plague.) As an unexpected by-product, I actually didn’t even crave coffee. I went the whole week without a single sip of Starbucks. I was in shock as I assumed it would cause headaches or withdrawal symptoms, but I had none. I had no cravings for anything, it was surprisingly easy to make it through the week. (I don’t plan on giving up coffee completely, but when I do drink it now, it will not be full of flavored syrups and cream.)
So what’s different this time? It’s only the second week in, who’s to say I won’t give up like every other time? Well, a major part of it is, again, the Walt Disney World Moms Panel. The Moms Panel is full of so many amazing people, it’s almost impossible for the motivation not to rub off on you. Many of them took part in the Expedition Everest weekend last year (back when I was just a groupie hoping to meet one of them). People who had never run a 5k were now doing so in the oppressive heat and monsoon-like rain. And what’s more, they wanted to do it again. More of them are signed up for the Princess 1/2 Marathon and more are planning to run in the Wine & Dine Weekend races. And all along, they reached out to my first attempts to change my life and said, “You can do it! You can run. You can take part in a 5k, you can even run a half marathon!” Now, I may not yet be at the point where I agree with them, but the fact that they look at someone like me and don’t just write me off as being without a hope – well, that translates to a world of motivation.
In addition, it’s the other friends and blog readers I come in contact with on twitter that tell me I can do it and making changes along with me, who keep me going. I can’t give up on myself this time, because I have a whole support group that won’t let me do that to myself. They have confidence in me and my goals, so that gives me the confidence I need to keep going. I created a hashtag on twitter to track my progress: #skinnyzanna. At first, I was afraid to use the word skinny in it. I’ve never been skinny and I learned long ago that making “skinny” a goal can lead to great disappointment. People like me don’t get skinny. But as a dear friend reminded me, that’s my goal and I’m calling it forth. So why not. I deserve to be skinny and I will get there. For so many years I wanted to quietly, secretly, magically, make these changes that I’d dream about and surprise everyone with the new me. I realize now I cannot do it alone. I don’t have to. I have a whole new family of supporters cheering me on and telling me I CAN achieve my goals. How can I ignore that power and belief in me?
So far, I’m just doing the combination of reducing calories and working out and we’ll see how that goes for a month or so before I start something like the Couch to 2k program or a more structured nutrition plan. I will share with you something I was so excited to post on twitter and facebook – last week, for the first time since gym class or running to catch the Monorail, I JOGGED. I lasted over a minute and I know it’ll only increase from there. Suddenly the 5k doesn’t seem quite so out of reach, even if a half-marathon is still a bit daunting. Secretly, it has always been a goal of mine to compete in a triathlon. I always wanted to be that success story that went from out of shape and overweight to conquering the ultimate fitness goal and proving to myself and the world that I could do it. Now, it’s not a secret, so we’ll see if it ever becomes a reality. At the very least, I know that my future is bright and I WILL succeed.
Stay tuned here for periodic updates on my journey and check the twitter hashtag as well. If you don’t see me posting or tweeting, ask me why – make me accountable. I’ve got 35 years of bad habits just dying to prove me wrong, and I can’t let that happen. I won’t.