I’m convinced that what all of us need is kindness. We need to be kind to ourselves before we can be kind to others. How hard is that though? I can’t even count how many times that I thought I needed to be completely self-sacrificing in order to experience soul-deep joy. Yes, it is true that all of us need to practice being grateful for what we have and helping one another. But what about being kind to ourselves? What does that word “kind” mean? Does it going to bed a little earlier each night allowing our bodies adequate rest? Does it mean sleeping in on the weekends, if that’s what we truly want? What about telling someone no? Or eating better? Or incorporating more play in our lives?
I haven’t written on here in quite a while. I thought that I just didn’t have any more to say about weight loss surgery and the journey I’ve been on for the last 16 months. I seriously considered shutting this blog down. One thing that I’ve realized is that each person’s weight loss journey is their own. No two paths are the same. What works for me may not work for others. I doubted my ability to really make a difference or contribute anything. After all, I don’t have a degree in Nutrition. I’m not an exercise expert. I am not a physician or surgeon. What could I possibly say to others that would offer any help? Then I realized that it’s precisely those reasons just mentioned that I am a perfect candidate to continue sharing this journey with others. I am an ordinary person trying to cultivate the most out of life, like many of you. I am not an expert, but I am someone who knows exactly what it feels like to live life from the sidelines. I know what it feels like to have others look at you with scorn or pity because of your size. I know what it feels like going into a department store and realizing that nothing that have for sale will fit. I know how it feels to struggle to get out of bed in the mornings knowing that I’m going to gorge myself on food and feel like dying by nightfall. I know because that was my life too.
My weight loss has stalled for several weeks. It’s been more than a year since weight loss surgery. I can honestly say that food cravings are minimal. The desire for and thinking about food all day long is gone. It really doesn’t matter to me whether I eat tofu or a steak. I eat for fuel. My stomach has stretched a little, but that was expected. I can go longer periods of time between meals. The way that I have been eating for the last 16 months is normal to me now. It no longer feels odd. I slacked off on exercise for about 5 or 6 months. I don’t know what happened. I was focused on weight loss so much that I forgot to stop and enjoy myself along the way. What I was doing and my attitude from before was making me miserable. I have a tendency to really push myself in the beginning of any new project. I can be quite intense at times.
I’ve recently experienced an inexplicable shift within my mind. I no longer see myself as that “poor obese girl with the pretty face.” I feel like the me from more than 20 years ago has resurfaced; that bubbly, vivacious girl who experiences life to the fullest is back. Except this time, I am wiser and much bolder. I went to my local YMCA yesterday and got in the swimming pool for the first time in years. I did some underwater exercises for about 40 minutes and got quite a workout and then I just hung out in the pool with my kids and had fun. I went out of my house with no makeup on and my hair pulled back into a ponytail. I got in that pool and didn’t care one bit about what I looked like or what anyone thought of me. It was glorious and liberating!
This summer I took a Clinical Medical Assisting class at my local university. Before weight loss surgery, I would not have had the courage to do it. I would have wanted to, but not had the self-confidence to just do it. Although I don’t have a job yet, I received much more than a new skillset. I received a huge dose of confidence. I took a Nursing entrance exam at a local college last week and passed! If all goes well, I will be starting Nursing school in January, 2016. Me? In Nursing school? At my age? Yes! Now I’m not saying that I don’t question myself about whether I can actually do this from time to time, but before weight loss surgery, this idea would have been just that – an idea. I would have never actually done anything about it.
I’m not suggesting that weight loss surgery is a cure-all. It’s not. It’s a tool. It’s a way to help me to control myself. I can’t eat large amounts of food when I’m feeling overwhelmed. I can’t stuff myself with carbs and sugar when I’m depressed. I’ve been forced to find alternatives to stress. Exercise really is, at least for me, the best way to relieve stress. I was feeling really out-of-sorts the other night and instead of indulging in some chocolate, like I would have done pre-weight loss surgery, I went for a walk. I was so stressed out from the day that I ended up walking a mile in 15 minutes. That’s the fastest that I have ever walked a mile in my life. Actually, I didn’t just walk, I jogged. I haven’t jogged in over 20 years. I walked for a few minutes then I jogged for a couple of minutes. Walked and jogged, walked and jogged. I did that until I found myself back home with sore muscles, but all my worries and frustrations gone!
If you’ve made it to the end of this post….woohoo! If you get anything from this post at all….know this – be kind to yourself. You have to take care of yourself before you can effectively take care of others. When you begin to be kind to yourself you will find joy. When you are joyful you can accomplish anything. You won’t accept anything but the best treatment from others. You won’t allow others to put you down and you’ll also stop comparing yourself to others. You’ll begin to love yourself unconditionally. You will start to see your flaws as your greatest strengths. When you are joyful you will begin to attract good things into your life. You will be like a magnet to all the great things in life. Accept yourself where you are and love yourself enough to create the life of your dreams. Be courageous and be bold. You only live once. Make the most of it. And whatever you do, be kind to yourself.