In The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater, there’s a thematic opener throughout the book. “Depending on where you began the story, it was about ___.” I often feel that the story of my health and fitness journey is much the same way. It looks different depending on when in my life you start and end.
Picture #1: There was once an athletic girl who had never struggled with weight issues. Then she got sick in college and had mysterious symptoms, including rapid weight gains and losses, for eleven years. Would she have gained weight in adulthood without the illness? Maybe. All we know is that by the time the illness was found and cured, she’d gained so much weight that she was morbidly obese and very unhealthy.
Picture #2: There was once a girl who who gained tons of weight through eleven years of illness. She hated her body and felt a lot of shame, and over three years of determined work, lost 100 lbs.
Picture #3: There was once a girl who had lost 100 lbs and kept that weight off for nearly two years. She was learning to love her body despite the damage done to it over the years. Then she received an emotional blow so heavy and severe that she began to attack herself in every way possible. She began a nomadic lifestyle and developed an eating disorder and regained 3/4ths of what she had lost before she found a tiny bit of peace and stopped her self-attacks.
Picture #4: There was once a girl who…only this story hasn’t been written yet. Only the setting is in place: a girl who is no longer living a nomadic life, and who wants very badly to overcome her various disorders and get healthy again. This is a girl who, other than her weight, is very healthy. A girl who is fitter than to be expected at her current size, and who wants to be more fit. A girl who is a fighter, but who has also exhausted her strength over the past four years.
Here I am. Ready to work, but weary and wary at the same time. Dismayed by my body, but trying to love it at the same time and refusing to use shame as a motivator. Knowledgeable about what used to work for weight loss, and what might not work as well now that I’ve got some new physical issues/illnesses. Upset by my failures but no longer held down by them. I acknowledge that there are good things – I’m in a better place than when I began my last weight loss journey. I saw my GP last week, and my blood-stats are better than they’ve ever been. So good, in fact, that my doctor didn’t even bother to tell me that I should try to lose weight despite me being obese. I’m also doing very well, muscle-wise. While I’ve regained a lot of weight, my body structure is very different now than it was the last time I was at this weight:
My inches are closer to what they were when I weighed 15 lbs less than I do now. I have a lot more muscle mass. I’m fitter and stronger in many ways, and I’m healthier in terms of cholesterol etc than I’ve ever been (even at my thinnest). These are all good things, and good signs. Weight loss is a long, hard process and it takes a hard shove to get the ball rolling. That’s the part I’m trying to push through now – the start. I have yet to find my groove, but I hope to soon. I’d like to write that fourth story, and add a fifth picture – a healthy me at a healthy weight – to start a new story of the healthy rest of my life.