I’m six pounds away from my goal weight. And I’m thiiiiiiiiis close to saying that I’ve lost a hundred pounds.
I’ve spent some time looking back at old pictures of me. The BEFORE pictures. I was my heaviest right after my 1st daughter (blog name Peanut) was born. And let’s be clear – it wasn’t because I had just given birth. It was because my evening dinner included the “trifecta” as I liked to call it of local gourmet deep dish pizza, followed by a “Gotta Have It” sized Cold Stone ice cream in a waffle cone, followed by a six pack of beer and a full plate of cheesy nachos when I got home. You do the math.
I know now that I was eating to numb the desperation I felt. I ate to escape the shame I had about being depressed at the same moment I was holding my unbelievably perfect and beautiful newborn daughter. I ate because I tried to fill the hole with food.
It didn’t work.
So when I decided I’d had enough, I knew I had to change my eating first. I got help, I got a food plan and I gave up lots and lots (and lots) of ingredients. I spent the next 6 months terrified. Wait, scratch that. Fucking terrified. I would wake up in the morning and not know how I was going to make it through the day without bingeing. I had no idea how to quell the rising tide of panic that came along with life without huge quantities of food. Waking up in the new world order felt a little like jumping off a cliff without a parachute. Every. day.
Painfully slowly, I learned new tools. I learned to be honest with myself and others. I learned to feast on my relationships, not on food. I learned to deal with my feelings instead of eating them. I learned to be a passenger in the Universe’s car instead of trying to give it directions.
And now, nearly 100 pounds lighter, I remain a newborn in the new world. I’m fighting a new reflex to self-sabotage. I don’t crave my binge foods (gratefully) and I’m doing a pretty good job of maintaining healthy eating habits. But I just get this sense that there is so much more that’s being asked of me. So much more that I should be doing in order to fill my purpose. And I’m, quite literally, hiding under the covers. The minute my kids hit their sheets, I climb under mine. I read mind-numbing books or watch TV without really paying attention. I treat my bedroom as a cave and just want to be left alone. I isolate.
And it’s not because I’m not happy. I love my husband and my children and my dogs and the world and the Universe and younameit. But I know there’s more. I know that I’m being called to complete this transformation – not by just finishing the weight loss but by plugging in to life and love and beauty a little more each day.
And ohmygod that soft courage is exhausting.
I’ve started intentionally practicing presence at work. I try hard not to multi-task in meetings. I realize that paying attention to someone who is speaking to you is a no brainer for most people, but apparently I’m not most people. As soon as someone else starts talking, my brain screams “QUICK! While he’s not looking, bang out that email you have to write!“ Or, “Hey! You forgot to tell B that soccer practice got moved to 1pm!“ It’s incessant. The effort that it takes to close my laptop, put down my phone, and actually listen to what’s happening around me takes a Herculean amount of effort. And that’s just for one meeting.
Adding an extra hour of presence to my work leaves me absolutely exhausted at the end of the day. It’s like working out a new body part in the gym; my “paying attention” muscle is tired and sore. So I get why I want to hide. I’m making big changes, which take time and energy. I need the rest.
But there’s this niggling thought at the back of my mind when I’m under the covers. A little voice asks, What are you hiding from, Ryan?
I’m told by my nutritionist that people who lose a significant amount of weight are most likely to fall off the wagon when they are within 10 pounds of their goal. And I totally get it – after all, for the last three years I’ve watched as the scale steadily charted a downward trajectory. But now that I’m close to my goal weight, I’m staring into a future of what? Maintaining the same weight? The celebration of staying the same? It sounds both impossibly difficult and terribly boring. And it’s messing with my head.
While I’m so focused on making it over the finish line, I’m not able to focus on my true purpose. While I’m worried about what the scale will read, I can’t possibly embrace my most authentic self’s desires. If there’s one thing I’ve learned through this journey, it’s that my thoughts can not be trusted. So even though I’m thiiiiiis close to my goal weight and even closer to the hundred pound mark, I’m calling it quits on the scale. It’s clear to me that instead of weighing myself, I need to find different, better rulers to measure my progress.
From here on out….
I’ll measure my food, not my body.
I’ll measure the volume of joy in my life, not the amount of weight I’ve lost.
I’ll focus on making good, healthy choices one meal at a time, not striving for a number on a scale.
And I’ll call that good enough.
Setting myself free from the scale sets me up to stop obsessing about reaching my goal weight. The truth is that there is no finish line; I’m never really going to be done. I’ll always need to closely monitor my relationship with food. But I suspect that taking my focus off the destination and keeping it on today’s choices, I’ll be able to enjoy a fuller life.
And maybe, just maybe, I’ll come out from under the covers and discover why I’m really here.