Saturday, April 21, 2012

Hooray for moms who support our good decisions!

Me and my mom
Mother's Day is just around the corner, so in celebration of moms everywhere I thought I'd post this story of how my mom has been one of my greatest supporters during my weight-loss journey (and always!), and how decisions I have made as a result of her support have led to my being able to take off, and keep off, the weight.

Early on in my weight-loss journey, when I still weighed more than 400 pounds, my mom offered to treat me to a round-trip to Paris once I reached my initial goal of losing more than 100 pounds. It was an incentive, and one that I asked for by name. I did this because I knew that if one person still believed in me in this world, it was my mom. And it's nice to know someone believes in you enough to help fund your dreams.

At my largest size, my freedom to fly comfortably, if at all, was impinged due to my severe obesity. The thought of flying to Paris, and imagining being there, sitting on a park bench in Luxembourg Gardens as the city whirled around me, provided me with enough visual candy to chew to allow me to evade my craving for other sweets (as well as overly saturated fats and other sabotaging foods).

My mom's amazing incentive for completing my daunting new goal tied in nicely to a yet-unfulfilled lifelong dream. Even though I ended up not cashing in on her offer, the offer itself was significant and enough to get me motivated when I needed it most. And as it would turn out, my mom would come to support me throughout my journey in ways that would turn out to be much more significant than an amazing carrot on the end of a stick.

When I started this journey, I was unemployed and scared to go out on a job search for fear of size discrimination, which I had begun experiencing in subtle and direct ways. I had been a journalist and an ESL teacher, and prejudice against me for my size became apparent, but bearable, once I hit 330 pounds. After being laid off at a time when I had reached my top weight, though, left my confidence in shambles. I ballooned up even more, and increasingly became reclusive, afraid to put myself out there in any social situation that might leave me open to being excluded.

In response to my predicament, my mother offered to help me out with clothing to make sure that every step of the way I could wear things that fit perfectly and made me feel proud of my accomplishments. With her help, I was able to buy clothes to fit that I would only wear for a month or so before turning around the next month and needing all new stuff.

One of the first things she bought me was clothes for new job. Even though I didn’t feel confident enough to bust down any doors at publishing companies or apply for new teaching gigs, I did get up the courage to apply for a job as a waiter at a local ale house. I told the manager how I had already started losing weight, and I assured him that I would for sure be able to keep up with the young, fit crew I saw swirling around me as he interviewed me at a booth I barely squeezed into just as the lunch rush was dying down.

The manager there took a chance on me, although he did express concern during the interview that I might not be capable of actually performing the job due to my excessive weight and size. And so, with my new black pants and shirt, and a pair of skid-free tennis shoes, I was newly employed and, with a sweat rag of courage in my back pocket, was ready to attack obesity once and for all.

It helped me more than you could imagine having this support. I would donate the old stuff to charities, and with mom’s help, replace it with other stuff – primarily from thrift stores and discount stores like Ross, Marshalls and TJ Maxx.

I think without her help, and in this specific way, I might not have been able to build my confidence and keep it strong enough throughout the laborious and incredibly trying middle stages of being committed to a plan for significant weight loss.

Now, I’m not saying that everyone will have the same needs during their weight-loss journey as I did. The first incentive of a trip awoke my mind up to old dreams. The second gave me wings to fly. And this worked for me because I absolutely love shopping, and I absolutely care about being comfortable in my clothes while presenting myself to the world. Others may have other needs that would support them, and each person knows innately what that is.

The bottom line is that it's important to be able to be totally real with yourself and others when you're going through the process, and make sure you are doing it FOR YOURSELF and on YOUR OWN TERMS. That's key.

It really is a journey. I took off nearly 165 in about 18 months, and then gained 20 back - after deciding I needed to slow things down for a while - to level off at around 275. I then worked keep it off, and I remained stable for a year before now, as I'm trying to lose more.

Back at it now for about two months, I've lost those 20 pounds I had gained a year ago and am working on losing another 40. I'm patient and focused on eating right and exercising. I'm happy with my weight and level of physical fitness, but my goal is to overcome "obesity" and that's what I'm going to do!

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