Monday, May 21, 2012

Anticipation and Appreciation

It's taken me a long time - too long, really, to appreciate myself.  It's not just a self-esteem issue, although that has been a big part of my life...and I'll get to that in a minute.  But I remember how, as a child, I couldn't wait for the next thing - a birthday, moving up a grade in school, going on the next campout - life was fun, but the next! best! thing! was just around the corner, I was sure of it.  Of course now I look back and think "why didn't you relax and just BE in the moment"?  A hard concept for a child to grasp...or maybe it was just my personality.  Any case, that was pretty much how I continued to move through life, anticipating the future and the next great thing.

Cut to May of 2008 and my weight loss...those of us who've been habitual dieters are quite familiar with anticipation, be it stepping on the scale or trying on a smaller size in the dressing room - things that can all turn out good (yay! the scale moved down/I fit into this new size!) or bad, when sometimes I didn't see what I'd hoped for.  And then, all of the work I'd put into this seemed pointless.  All of my prior victories on the scale and in the dressing room were forgotten.  I was still overweight, I was never going to get there, this was just dumb.  Rarely did I appreciate how far I'd come, and enjoy where I was at that moment, because I was always anticipating the next amount of weight that I should be losing, or the next smaller size that I could be fitting into.  That momentary thrill of a new low weight or a new smaller size was just that - momentary.

I spent most of my adult life letting myself be defined by a number either on the scale or on a clothing size tag.  Which, logically, is completely ridiculous.  But a number was something that anyone could quickly understand - and even now, when I'm asked how much weight I've lost, I still say a number, because that computes to most people.  Back when my "weight problems" started, as a teenager, I spent many years convinced that I was overweight and would be happy if I could just see a certain number on the scale.  Of course, I look back on pictures of those years and see how low my self-esteem had to have been, to think that way.

I haven't weighed myself in nearly a year.  I honestly do not care what I weigh right now.  This body is so much more than a random number on the scale, and I have never been happier than when I finally, finally realized and accepted that.  The same goes for clothing sizes...back when I was busting out of my size 24 clothes, I was thrilled to fit into progressively smaller sizes.  But now, thanks to a few years of being able to wear normal sizes, as well as seeing the absurdity of the variety of sizes that fit me (the tops that I bought when I was shopping with my mom last month were size small, medium, large and petite extra-large), I really don't care what number is on the label - I'm just thrilled that I can shop for clothes, find things that fit, and have options about what I buy. 

So this is where I am, four years into my journey to fit - and it really has become about being fit.  I have a body that is now capable of doing physical activity.  I have a body that looks cute in clothes.  I have a healthy-enough lifestyle that is allowing me to maintain my weight loss without having to be stringent about every morsel I eat.  I am in the best shape of my adult life.  And I'm determined to enjoy it now - I'm not going to make the anticipation mistake any more, because I sure don't want to look back in five years and think "why didn't you appreciate where you were?"   Today - right now - it's enough.

In case you think I'm exaggerating, here's a few pictures of me when I needed to "lose weight":
In costume for my tap dance recital at age 19.  See how I was trying to cover my huge thighs?   I remember being grateful that the t-shirt covered up the rolls in my stomach, too.  Yep.  The ship has sailed on those legs - too bad I didn't appreciate them back then.
Shortly after I graduated high school - 18 years old and feeling quite large.
I put this one in because I remember the guy I was dating at the time wanted to buy me a polo dress from Land's End, and I was horrified at the thought of how that jersey knit would show every fat roll on my body.  I know, I want to slap me, too.

My hope for you, whether you're just partially into your weight-loss journey, or nearing the end, is that you will stop and enjoy where you are, right at this moment, and not worry as much as I did about the final number.  Because I doubt very much that our (far in the future, hopefully) obituaries are going to include our final weigh-in.


  1. wow. thank you so much for sharing this as I know so so so many of us have felt the same and so many of younger us's are where youve been and perhaps you can save them the STRUGGLES the older us-people have gone through.

    at 43 it all seems such a waste of time to fret about the POUNDS. as you say with the obituary.

    I think about all the friends Ive lost and how they would NOT make the same choices again to pass on the lovely dessert with friends or to stay home from an event because they thought they looked "fat."

    life is so fleeting.

  2. I LOVE this post!!! Im saving it in my favorites, and will refer back to it many many times!! ThankyoU!!

  3. Lovely post, Shelley. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  4. Shelley we are so on the same page in this. I used to be like you: always look forward to the next event but I don't do that anymore. One day at a time.

    So instead of thinking about our upcoming vacation I just enjoyed the lovely lunchwalk I just had with some guys from work.

    Enjoy life now, that's a wise decision you made and good advice you gave us.

  5. You know Shelley - every past photo of you in this post you aren't smiling or not much. Now it seems every photo you post has you wearing a big smile. That really says so much.

    1. I noticed that too, Lori. I used to be so self-conscious about how I looked in pictures that I didn't like having mine taken. Funny how that's changed!

  6. Just this weekend I was looking at older photos of myself and realized that almost my entire life I've wanted to lose 10 more pounds even when I was much thinner than I am now. Not saying that wanting to lose weight is a bad thing but you've hit the nail on the head here: enough is enough and we all need to enjoy and appreciate where we are right at this very moment.

    Excellent post Shelley.

  7. This is such a lovely post. I'm so glad you are living in the moment, enjoying yourself. Hopefully I'll be able to reach the same attitude one day. Right now, I'm doing my best to be grateful for all the wonderful things in my life, and not let myself get down in the low moments of my weight loss journey.

    Also, just noticed your may 2012 picture - love the top!

  8. love it. I have those pics as well where I thought I needed to loose weight. oy.

  9. I could have written that first paragraph myself. I still find myself looking ahead too often instead of just appreciating what's here right now.

    I'm putting this post on my Blog of Fame page if you don't mind. :)

  10. That last line of your post really sums it up doesn't it!

    I love how far you've come and that you are living life - not knowing what the number is on the scale. So proud of you Shelley!

  11. What a good post! I try to live like this (not doing so good at the present moment!) Yeah, its almost shocking to look at those pictures and think that you WEREN'T happy with your weight. I have some of those too.

  12. Just fantastic, and inspiring. Thank you so much Shelley, for this post and for you presence here in the blog world. You add so much and help so many folks.

  13. Thanks Shelley! I needed this today desperately. I've been thinking about just how long I've hated my body. Age 7 maybe? That's 35 years of self loathing which is ridiculous. I'm SO glad to know it can be conquered. You're an inspiration as always!

  14. Thank you Shelley. You made me cry and that, I guess, is a good thing. Melody

  15. Great post Shelley! I'm definitely guilty of the 'waiting until I lose weight' to start living life! I also focus overly on the damned numbers and let them rule my life.

    Like you I need to focus on 'living in the now' and not continuing to wait. (I am 44 years old for god's sake!!!)

    PS. Love the old pictures of you and you certainly weren't overweight!


  16. Shelley,

    I was traveling for several days and took no time to comment on any blog posts - but tagged this one to be sure to read it again when I got home. Because it is just that powerful. Your words, your attitude, the message. Thank you for sharing it; I hope that many read it and absorb even just a bit of what you have learned.

  17. Thank you thank you thank much as I try and model what you've written here, I am not always successful and I need to constantly be reminded. Our stories are very similar and lately I've been in a not-so-nice place of insecurity. I am trying to ride it out and embrace it at the same time.

  18. Great post Shelley! I've lived a lifetime of "waiting to live" too. I call it the when syndrome. When xxxx happens life will be so good - fill in the xxxx with weight lose or marriage or clothes size or certain job or location, etc... I like your just for today attitude that is letting you live life fully now! For me, I do still have to look at the scale - but if I take care of the small scale (weighing my food) the big scale takes care of itself. It helps provide that sanity around food that opens up the door for living life fully! Thanks for the reminder!

  19. Thank you for sharing this Shelley, it is wonderful. I truly admire you, you have such a healthy attitude about your body, and fitness and food. I'm not there yet, but I hope to follow in your footsteps.

  20. Finally catching up on blogs....I'm standing up and clapping for you on this Shelley. What a powerful and positive post. You are elequent, elegant and fantastic, and I'm so glad I found your blog!!! HUGS! BTW...if we were in the same city (or country) I'd ask you to teach me to tap dance!!!


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