Posts Tagged With: holidays

Letting Go of the “Old Me”

I have a confession to make. Prior to this weekend, I hadn’t weighed myself since before the holidays. And by holidays, I mean Thanksgiving.

These past few months have included some of the the most defining moments of my life — not the least of which was finally moving out of my parents’ house.

For years I have struggled with self-doubt when it came to both my weight loss and my writing career. I think it’s a fair claim to make that living under your parents’ roof in the post-college years somehow intensifies the inner turmoil that’s typically associated with the quarter-life crisis. But for me, self-confidence and the belief that I am actually capable of success — whether in the form of reaching my weight loss goals or landing assignments in my dream magazines — have always seemed just out of reach.

I have dreamed of being a writer since I was in the second grade. Interestingly enough, that was also the year when I suddenly found myself at the receiving end of the bullying that would continue until the day I received my high school diploma. In an era where my cruelest high school foes are just a click away on Facebook, I tend to avoid writing about my painful childhood years here, but I feel as though I can’t fully express the victory I experienced this weekend without at least a mention of my past.

Of course, I was teased and tormented because I happened to weigh more than just about everyone else in my class, and to this day I attribute my constant need to drown my emotions in food — and my inability to see myself as worthy of success — to my years of being bullied by my classmates…and, on many occasions, even those I considered my closest friends.

This weekend, I returned to a Weight Watchers meeting and stepped on the scale for the first time in months — and was pleasantly surprised to find that I was showing a loss of .4 pounds.

After over a decade of gaining and losing 20 pounds here or 60 pounds there, or having to sneak to the mall to buy bigger pants every couple of months, I realized that after months of holiday hooplah, a Florida vacation, and a move to my first apartment, I am actually succeeding at maintaining my weight.

For the first time in my life, I felt…cured.

I could have easily emerged from these past few months carrying around an extra 20 pounds, but instead, I realized that I have finally learned the secret to maintaining my weight loss…and that I have genuinely achieved what I once thought impossible. I am a healthy, active person now.

As my own worst critic, it’s often hard for me to recognize my own accomplishments, but to continue following my usual eating and workout routine despite weeks of skipped weigh-ins and the overwhelming task of having to pack 26 years of my belongings (and all the not-so-good memories associated with them) into boxes — and to come out in the end of it all maintaining almost the exact same weight — forced me to realize once and for all that while the old Jen still lives inside of me somewhere, I am, truly, an entirely different person. I no longer need the specter of a weekly weigh-in to keep me in check. I am enough.

I know I’ll have to work hard for the rest of my life not to give in to my old ways. I’ve accepted that the struggles with my weight aren’t going anywhere. I definitely succumbed to some of my former habits this weekend, as I was surrounded by hearty St. Patrick’s Day fare and festive green cocktails, but the difference now is that I know a day or two of not-so-great food choices or skipped workouts are not going to be enough to bring me down.

I no longer let the slip-ups that would have once completely derailed whatever diet I was on at the time make me feel like a failure. I’m living proof that allowing one mistake — like, say, avoiding the scale for weeks on end — to undo all of your hard work is all you need to send you right back to where you started.

I’ve even been pitching my dream magazines lately, and though I’m often faced with rejections — or, worse, a wall of complete silence — I’m starting to acknowledge myself as someone who can succeed as a writer. All I have to do is not give up.

I may not be at my goal weight, and I may not have bylines in all the newsstand magazines, but I’m slowly but surely starting to believe that I can reach my goals.

I’ve finally learned how to pick myself up when I fall, and not let my past dictate my future. The holiday season, family vacations, paying rent for the first time (not to mention having to cook all of my own meals!), and other life events are no longer powerful enough to send me to the refrigerator. I am finally in control.

And that, I believe, is truly the key to losing weight…and keeping it off.



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Holiday Horrors

As we get closer and closer to Halloween, I find myself growing more and more afraid of something that has nothing to do with zombies, witches, or things that go bump in the night.

I’m afraid of the holidays.

Truth be told, this is my absolute favorite time of the year. Nothing is more invigorating to me than admiring gorgeous fall foliage or inhaling that crisp chill in the air. Fall is by far my favorite season, and as such, I’ve packed the last several weekends with apple picking, hayrides, and haunted houses. Besides, I’ll take tall leather boots and cashmere sweaters over shorts and tank tops anyday.

I love the spookiness of Halloween, the coziness of Thanksgiving, and the spirit of Christmas. And who isn’t thrilled by the idea of starting fresh in a brand new year (not to mention a legitimate excuse to party all night long)?

But this year I find myself truly torn between my excitement for the ten-week stretch that has come to be known simply as “the holidays,” and my commitment to reaching my goal weight. This is the time of year for sugar cookies and apple pies, and it also happens to be the time of year when I notoriously find myself falling off course and throwing the progress I’ve made all year out the window.

I did it last year, when I found myself forcing myself into my size 8 jeans come January 2nd. I did it the year before, when I gleefully scarfed down all of the homemade treats I could get my hands on. In fact, the only time that I managed not to gain several pounds between the months of October and January was the year 2007, when I was just a few weeks into my Weight Watchers membership and counting POINTS and weekly weigh-ins were still oh-so-exciting. I didn’t so much as let a bite of Stove Top stuffing pass my lips for fear of affecting what the scale said on Sunday morning. I was shedding pounds like crazy and reveling in the compliments, and that was far more exciting to me than partaking in weeks of holiday hooplah.

Oh, how I long for those days.

Right now, I am finally back on track. I screwed up royally over the summer, and am still chipping away at the several pounds I gained on my two-week Orlando vacation in August.

It’s endlessly frustrating that it often takes me a month to shed just a pound or two, despite my absolute best efforts to eat well and push myself harder at the gym. Meanwhile, it seems that all I have to do is to think about ice cream to send the scale skyrocketing in the wrong direction. Talk about life not being fair.

I want to lose the rest of this weight I gained, and then some. I want to reach my goal weight. I want to become a Lifetime Weight Watchers member. I want to be a leader someday. I want to finish what I started.

I want it all so very, very badly. But I’m worried that the festivities of the coming weeks will ultimately derail my progress once again, and I’ll end up right back where I was earlier this year – feeling discouraged and hopeless.

I’ve developed a love for baking and have spent the last several days with my head in magazines and my eyes scouring the Internet for fun, festive treats to make and share with friends and family on Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.  And guess what?  Very few of them are especially POINT-friendly. It will be the ultimate test of my willpower to indulge in (and track!) just one or two of my creations this year, but I feel I must challenge myself in this way because I refuse to let my weight issues keep me from doing the things that I enjoy…which pretty much sums up my life for the past 25 years.

I don’t want to hole myself up in my room to avoid attending holiday parties. I don’t want to nibble on celery while everyone else is devouring turkey. I don’t want to hide from the buffet and dessert tables. That’s not life.

The holidays are a part of life.  They’re not going anywhere.  And it’s time for me to figure out how to enjoy them without eating everything in sight.

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