The response to my first ever blog, “Awakening”, was overwhelming and so incredibly positive. Thanks to all of you who read it and especially to those who took the time to respond. I’ve been posting snippets about this journey on Facebook as well, and the support there has also been huge. To repeat something I wrote on F/b in response to the encouragement, your support piles strength onto my strength. It’s really true. I feel so completely empowered by having all of you stand with me. I was doing cardio on Monday and toward the end I was getting really fatigued. I started listing mentally all the people who are standing with me on my quest: “Erin is fighting with me for my health. Tasha is fighting with me for my health. Megan is fighting with me for my health. Steve is fighting with me. Sam is fighting with me. Colin is fighting with me. Ethan is fighting with me. My dad is fighting with me. Ashli H. is fighting with me. Ashley B. is fighting with me. Mark is too. And Chloe. And Sylvia.” And that helped me to push through to finish my workout. All of you are helping me fight for my goals, and I’m serious when I say, I feel it. Your support literally gives me physical strength. So ‘thank you’ is not nearly enough gratitude, but I have to say it anyway. Thank you, my friends.
A very, very dear soul sister of mine has spoken to me now and again over the eleven years of our friendship about the day she decided she had had enough of being overweight and out of shape. For eleven years, I have waited for the strength to find a day like that of my own. I didn’t know how to get there. I honestly didn’t think it was possible. Now that I have found it, I keep trying to fit the pieces of the puzzle together to see what people, what things contributed to that epiphanal day. This is what I have come up with so far (in no particular order):
Erin– There are more than a few people in my life who are healthy and fit, but until I met Erin, I don’t think I have ever spent time, day-in and day-out, with someone who is so excited about and dedicated to fitness. She talks about it all the time; not in an obnoxious gym-rat way, but in a contagiously enthusiastic way. I mean, she LOVES working out. Yoga, belly dancing, aerobics, you name it. There is something about the way she attacks fitness that made it, for the first time for me, seem NORMAL to work out. I belong to a cerebral family. We read, we write, we discuss, we do puzzles, we play games, and we do all of this SITTING DOWN. That was normal for me all my years growing up. Yes, I played sports in high school, but as an adult, it was normal for me to go weeks, even months without any kind of strenuous physical activity. Being around Erin all of a sudden made that seem abnormal. Erin also introduced me to a lot of food that was delicious in spite of the fact that it was nutritious and healthy. And over the course of our friendship, she began to nudge me toward working on my own fitness. Casual invites to a new workout class she was starting. Calling me to ask if I wanted to go for a walk. She was completely non-judgemental, totally low-pressure, but she made exercise accessible to me. That was really huge. After less than two years of gentle pushing, I have now bought a membership to the gym she uses, and in fact, we worked out together just a few hours ago. There is no doubt in mind that without Erin, I would not be on the path I now tread.
Natasha– Tash is the friend that I share the deepest spiritual connection with in my life. We know each other, all the way down and all the way through. Everything I have ever heard about love is true about her love. It is whole, pure, unconditional and unreserved. She loves with her entire being, and how can I help but respond in kind? Having her as a friend has taught me who I want to be in life, and it is not an understatement to admit that she is my hero. Her absolute and unwavering support over the years has been a rock, has shown me how to find an answering strength, has inspired me to fly. She is so connected to people and to nature and to God that she had to write a book about it. The Story of Q (find it at Chapters online or instore, or at Amazon.ca) helped me to realize what I already knew but was afraid to admit- that I am strong and beautiful and that I can be completely realized as a human being if I will allow myself to accept that and to live it. Natasha, what a miracle you are. You breathed form and strength into my broken, phantom wings, and then kicked me off a cliff so I could prove to myself that I can soar. I can never love you enough for who you are to me.
Megan Joy– We’ve come full circle, haven’t we Megs? It’s hard for me to believe you were once someone I once thought I had to help. From day 1, you have fought to be a part of my life, and I am so grateful that you have always believed that I am worthy of that. Your faithfulness to our friendship is unlike any I have ever known, and I am deeply moved by your loyalty. You are my loudest cheerleader, and your uncompromising commitment to speak (or scream) the truth no matter what the cost has challenged me to reject the lies I accepted about the permanence of my weight problem, and my helplessness to do anything about it. You are my tough love friend, but I also know that you are there with the biggest hug and the most steadfast encouragement at any time of the day or night. You hold me up when I doubt my ability to do it myself. I not only love you, Megan, I need you, and I thank God for you every day.
Dad– My dad, who has been overweight for most of my life, had a minor health scare just before Christmas last year. He has made attempts at losing weight in the past, but it has been a discouraging rollercoaster ride of more ups than downs. When his doctor told him six months ago to lose weight or else, he decided to change his life. He began eating what amounts to a diabetic-type diet and walking on his treadmill for an hour every day. In the last six months, he has lost over sixty pounds, and is still going strong. I have admired and looked up to my dad my entire life, but I have never been more inspired by him or more proud of him. For four and half months, I watched him decide to live life in a healthful and sustainable way, and then I decided to join him. Now that we are walking this path together, I love being able to compare with him what I eat and what exercises I do, and I love when we get to check in with each other about how much weight we’ve lost. In a way, I feel like I am once again a little girl leaping into the footprints he leaves as he walks before me. Now, as then, the road is easier for being able to follow in his steps. Thank you, Dad; first for giving me life and now for helping to save it. I love you more than I can say.
God– I hestitate to include this section, even though it is the biggest piece of the puzzle, simply because I don’t know how to write it in concrete terms. I don’t really know how to define who God is, or who I am to him, or what he wants from me. But I know that this is where my biggest debt of gratitude lies. I know I would not be where I am on this health journey without him. I know that two months ago, I was a broken creature who fell to my knees and sobbed that I was sick of myself and that I needed something to change because I could not keep churning forward through the same filth I had packed into my life. Nothing happened that day, but within two weeks, I had awoken to my new life with a strength and determination I could not have generated alone. This is not the kind of miracle I expected. I thought it would be more… spiritual. I would not have idenitified the root of my existential disease as physical. This change, however, has been a complete transformation. Not only do I feel better in my body, but I am healthier in my mind, my emotions, and my relationships, as well. I know that I am doing 100% of the work to eat well and exercise, but the strength and will to do it come from somewhere outside myself. I have to credit God, because there is no other explanation. I have named other people who have helped to fill in pieces of the puzzle, and although I am bursting with thankfulness to and for them, I also have to admit that those pieces were there before. There is something else, this X factor I can only name as God, that is knitting the parts together to make a new thing, a new me. I don’t understand it, but I am compelled by virtue of the new strength within me to give credit where credit is due. So God, although I don’t know how to say it, I thank you.
To all of these people, and to all of you who have read this, my most heartfelt and deepest thanks. The journey (-25 lbs and counting!) is eased by your companionship. And I promise to try to keep forthcoming blogs shorter.