If there were benefits after a year of huffing and puffing, I wasn’t seeing them. Neither the scale nor my waistline changed. I figured I was doomed to a miserable endomorphic existence until I got a fateful phone call from my sister. Dawn is four years younger than I and had faced a weight issue in her teens. As an adult, she had gained weight during her pregnancy and now was losing it with the help of Weight Watchers.
My first instinct was to rail against any dietary program. “Diet” sounds a lot like “deprive” and that’s too suffocating for a free spirit like me. At this point I realized I had lots of excuses, but none of them were making me feel any better about putting on a bathing suit.
I joined Weight Watchers and was relieved to find not a cookie-cutter list of dos and don’ts but a valuable lesson in portion control. I could keep eating the foods I liked, just in smaller quantities. And once I tweaked my food intake, the exercise started paying off. I did things I’d always wanted to do, like fit comfortably into a lawn chair and borrow my husband’s jeans.
I feel like a Cracker Jack, thanks to all the prizes that came with the package. For example, my head has gotten lighter. Losing weight not only caused my face to thin out and my hat size to shrink (my favourite newsboy cap now rests on my eyelashes), but my mind is unburdened. Guilty thoughts of “I can’t believe I ate three mayonnaise sandwiches” have been replaced with epiphanies such as “So that’s where I left the car keys!”
And I’m way more fun with all these cardio-induced endorphins zipping through my body. At a cousin’s wedding last fall, I hit the dance floor and, instead of being exhausted after the first polka, I was leading a conga line four hours later.
Plus, I don’t bruise as easily now and I’m not talking about my ego. My shins and forearms used to be covered in dark splotches from walking into door jambs and table edges. I attribute this painful habit to a misaligned self-image. Before, in my head, I saw myself as much thinner than I actually was. Now when I see my reflection in mirrors and photographs, my shape matches what’s in my head and I can manoeuvre narrow passages unscathed.
Finally, losing 58 pounds has allowed me to do something I’ve always wantedto run. In high school I tried out for the track and cross-country teams, but I was easily winded and prone to debilitating side stitches. So, I ended up on the yearbook committee instead, cropping photos of others crossing the finish line. Then a few years ago, I started having this recurring dream where I’d run long distances and never feel out of breath. As I ran, I felt completely free.
Last fall I was on the treadmill, speed-walking for the umpteenth time when I checked the monitors and realized my heart rate was low. So, I increased the treadmill’s speed. Again, the monitors told me I wasn’t working hard enough. I decided to try running, just for five minutes, to see what would happen. I was astonished to find that I wasn’t panting like an old dog. So, I ran another five, and another five, and another five, until I had run for 45 minutes. I could not believe itit was just like my dream!
Now I hit the treadmill for an hour whenever I can, thriving on the rush of feeling so free. Maybe it’s because I know that I’m not running away from anything but toward something better: me.