This week marks three years since I began the transformational journey to becoming happy, healthy and fit. Sometimes I’d like to go back and talk to the “old Margie” and tell myself it will be okay, that I would find a way to become fit.
Recently, one of the clerks at Kroger who knew I’d lost weight asked me how I did it. She is a middle-aged woman with straight almost-blonde-not-quite-white hair down to her chin. Her eyes and mannerisms are simple, even a little childlike and she struggles to meet your eyes.
So, I talked with her. I noticed she didn’t flinch when I said the word “exercise,” but she didn’t look very hopeful either. Until I talked with her about how I struggled with my emotional fat, my feelings of inferiority and shame. She looked me fully in the eyes when I said I felt “less than.”
“I feel less than,” she said in her small, soft voice.
“You’re not,” I said, looking straight back at her. “You are not ‘less’ than anyone else.” She gave a little nod and the conversation ended when another customer came up to her.
My talking to the old Margie really wouldn’t have helped. That “me” needed to learn for myself, had to figure out how to change a self-view branded in fire onto my heart. Perhaps I could give the Kroger clerk hope that she could do something to help herself. But, she too will need to explore her deep emotions and try to untangle them from her life.
Those were the types of things I had no inkling about three years ago. I knew I was going to focus on eating small portions and avoid some foods except for special occasions. I knew I was going to take medicine, but I didn’t believe it would help me. I knew I wanted to maintain a healthy weight once I achieved it. That was terrifying, because I didn’t as yet have any idea how to do that.
I also “knew” I would never exercise. Of all the truths buried inside of me, that was the only one of which I was perfectly aware. I was satisfied with that knowledge and didn’t want to change it one little bit. I was crippled from arthritis, I was breathless with any activity, and oh, how I hated to sweat!
I look back at those starting points and think: how the heck did my path become so transformative when those first baby steps were pretty underwhelming?
The biggest thing I didn’t know was how my journey would change my relationship with myself, my family, and the world.
In July 2016 we took an Alaskan cruise. It is odd how much of my memories of that trip are faded and dull—a sepia-tone film that plays out my separation from the adventures and carefree fun. I was an observer on that trip, not a participant.
I am not sure when, in the course of this past three years, my senses started to spark and sparkle. There were early moments of joy that are clear to me: watching our son Peter run the Marine Marathon in Washington D.C. in October 2017; Marc’s and my trip to the zoo in April 2018.
What was truly amazing was when those singular events started to run together, when the sparkle and the color and the sounds and the smells just started to swell inside me. When I opened my eyes each day with a sense of wonder and anticipation.
What was truly amazing was talking about my feelings of worthlessness and shame, telling the painful fat memories to Marc and to my dearest friends, and finding acceptance and love.
Perhaps in addition to a transformed life I am living a sensuous life. Living with all my senses is what gives me that deep sense of day-to-day happiness. I am where I want to be. I am who I want to me.
If you are not ready to throw yourself into your own journey to health and hope and happiness, perhaps you are ready to just take a few baby steps. I have said it before: change one thing and change everything. Like me, if you commit to those one or two little things with your whole heart and your determined mind, then your truly amazing journey has begun. I can’t wait for your senses to sparkle!