If anyone had asked, there was a time I’d have said my greatest accomplishment was getting the job I have now. After all, I help people in conflict. I get to use my gift of speaking and sharing to let them work through issues, together, to an outcome of their choosing. What could be greater? Well, motherhood, for sure – but aside from that?
The more I’ve thought on it, though, I’ve realized that wouldn’t be the truth. I’ve done many great things – charity work, successful projects – gosh the list is endless. And none of it would be the greatest.
I spent my youth wishing I was popular. By the time I hit college, I worked out 7 days a week to be skinny so I could have the ‘perfect’ body. Seven days a week…
I ate little, and what little I ate couldn’t be counted as healthy – diet coke and a bag of chips (which I worked out to burn off). I picked at food – hated it some days, loved it others – never really being satisfied. I didn’t want to go back to feeling like the fat girl I thought I was in high school. When out on a date, God forbid I actually enjoyed a meal.
That perfect body I mentioned? It never happened. No matter how much I worked out, or how much weight I lost, I still felt fat. I was never happy with how I looked. There was always another girl who was thinner, prettier or more attractive than I was. Self-esteem… yeah..right..
I hung out with the ‘in’ crowd, was part of the student council, did well in class – but somehow it never seemed to fill that empty place inside. The boys I liked didn’t notice me. The people I surrounded myself with didn’t see, well, me. The real me. I felt like I was on the outside looking in. A stranger in a crowd of friends.
The scary thing is, that feeling persisted into my adulthood. But now instead of thin as the goal, being invisible was. Until one day I realized that the only person who could change that, was me. I decided to step out of my comfort zone (which included a protective padding of extra weight) and make some changes. I began to eat well – deciding I deserved better. I began to exercise – in fact, I participated in an online challenge, sharing my journey for all to see. I set a goal to average a pound a week for a year. I’m almost halfway there and right on target!
I’ve decided that being an inspiration for others – especially my children – is important. When you start a journey like this, you lose more than weight. You let go of a lot of negative habits and more than a little guilt. I’ve also come to terms that how I felt back then was my perspective – and not necessarily that of others. I am still surrounded by many of those people from my youth and I now know I was wrong about what they saw. I wasted a lot of years with those feelings.
Learning to let go of my negative voice, to embrace a new lifestyle, to let friends be supportive and to truly share with them is transforming my life. And no, I’m not perfect or even reaching for it - and that’s ok! I see the opportunities. I embrace the unexpected. I love myself. And that, all on its own, is my greatest accomplishment.