Let’s call it…”You Won’t Lose Weight Until You Want to Lose Weight.”
It was February, 2016. It was still cold outside, cuffing season had been a failure and I was 50,000 words behind on my manuscript. So when an old friend invited me out for brunch (ON THEM) I quickly took the opportunity to drive out to Beyu Café to meet them. Who the hell turns down free food? I kiss their cheek, we find a table, we put away our phones. What happened in the next five minutes of us meeting changed how the rest of my 2016 (and beyond) would operate.
They go “Oh, girl!” [insert disbelieving laughter] ”You look like you aint missing no meals, so I know this will be a good spot.”
I laughed it off, we had our brunch, we talked about old times and then I went home with about thirty promises to keep in touch. I didn’t. I’m really bad at that. It could be because as soon as I got home, the thought of contacting them didn’t register. I laid down on my bed, belly full of shrimp and grits, closed my blinds and sobbedcriedmoaned for the entire day.
I’ve done this before. I’m no stranger to crying over things I don’t think I have the power to change. It’s a routine.
I’ll look in the mirror–always in the same order, stand to the side, sigh, stand forward, sigh louder, try to hold my gut in, groan, cry a little, try again, cry harder.
Then as my tears recede and my face dries, I begin to make excuses. [Scientifically, not really but I’m sure it’s in a journal SOMEWHERE, the longer you look in the mirror, you begin to get used to what you see, and the longer you’re used to it, the less terrible it seems.] These excuses would lead me back into the living room, to watching some infomercial on Insanity, and then finishing off my leftovers without much [any] guilt or remorse to the woman who had been almost on her knees in sadness less than 10 minutes ago.
I’ll start next month, I would tell myself as I watched Shaun T whip people into shape.
That looks uncomfortable, I would tell myself as Julian Michaels ran through her second HIIT section.
I’m not strong enough for that, I would tell myself scrunching my face up at P90X’s Plyometric circuit.
Then the conversation happened again, not even a month later. A “What Happened?!” accompanied by a face drenched in horror when I told someone all the sports I played in High School. Obviously the “what happened?!?” wasn’t towards the fact that I didn’t play basketball or run the 100m like a gazelle anymore. It was the fact I DIDN’T look like an athlete or that I’d ever looked like an athlete. There was no evidence going by how I looked physically. I looked like someone who’d been eating swiss cake rolls like they’re the largest part of the food pyramid.
Get home and IMMEDIATELY repeat my sobcrymoan routine. And as I dry my tears, and eye the half Sicilian pizza I picked up on the way home, instead of making excuses that I looked fine…
…I packed workout clothes.
The next day in the gym was rough. It was true. I wasn’t an athlete anymore. I’d tried running a couple of years ago but running is just walking really fast. You don’t have to be the foremost expert in physical fitness to run. In the gym, I stared at the barbells, the dumbbells, the treadmill, that stupid little machine thingamagigger where you’re supposed to do bar dips or dip bars or…I didn’t know! I laughed, told myself I was insane for even trying, grabbed my towel and hauled ass.
This literally happened, as I approached the door, my hand slipped and I banged my head on the glass. I’m sitting on the ground, holding my head, and then I, in MY fashion, begin crying. The crying was delirious and I sounded so pathetic that I started laughing. The laughter was me telling myself, you’re stupid and you are laughing at you because you recognize you are stupid. I stood up, turned around, put on some Beyonce and grabbed the damn dumbbells.
It wasn’t easy. I never actually got easy. I researched daily–weightlifting programs, HIIT programs, tabata and yoga. I started following every fitness person who looked like they knew what they were doing on IG. I ordered their programs, ordered books on portion control and eating clean and carb cycling[which I still don’t get but that’s for another day.] Every day was a challenge because I was pushing my body to limits it hadn’t eyeballed fifteen years. It was HARD.
Changing my diet was even HARDER. You know that old saying, “Abs are made in the kitchen. They are very freaking right.“ I wanted to Chalupa, I ate grilled chicken and a side salad. I wanted a gigantic bowl of pasta, I had #Whole30 approved soup. I wanted a gigantic fucking hunk of bread, I ….just cried because you NEVER ever stop wanting bread. There is no substitute. I’m sure God loves to see us triump over adversity and that’s why they created bread.
So it was hard. But it started to work. My reward system of a Dr. Pepper after a great workout morphed into acknowledging the fact that I could feel muscle forming in my legs, in my arms. When I wanted a half dozen doughnuts, my reward system began to tell me that I was easily running 2-3 minutes at 6mph on the treadmill now when I could barely do 30 seconds [I still had A doughnut]. My reward system was what I looked like in the mirror. Posting pictures on IG of me working out became second nature. I wanted to remind myself I was working hard. I wanted other people to keep me accountable.
Now I know that everyone is beautiful. I was beautiful at 200lbs and I’m beautiful at 165lbs. I’ll be beautiful when I hit my target weight of 150lb by April. But although I got so much fun out of dropping some pant sizes, watching my body change (not just my tummy but biceps and quads AND MY ASS) was critical to clicking on a “You are worth it, baby girl” switch in my head.
I move in confidence now not because I swim in all of my old pants, but because I know I can DO something…ANYTHING. People call me up for weight loss advice. Me. ME! They call me! Like…what? Right! People have called me inspirational. Motivational. And I’ve seen them get in the gym after a conversation with me. My confidence now lies in the knowledge that I own the power to change. I am elemental. I am the Last Fucking Airbender.
So I have nothing dramatic to say to motivate you. I don’t use “YOU CAN DO IT” inspiration quotes from Google to get people to want to get healthier (not skinnier but healthier). The simple fact is you won’t want it until you want it. You won’t lose weight (or get healthier) until you want to. You won’t get in the gym and lift until you want to.
I sure as hell didn’t.