Many of us, dare I say most of us, attribute 2020 to the year of nearly all bad news. Yet amid the cruddy COVID-19 pandemic and the stress of a split nation as all things were made political, some good news snuck in there for a lot of us. OK, some of us got good news, whether it was a newborn baby brought safely into the world, adorable dog adoptions, or successful home projects (that includes growing sourdough). I lost weight. Well, I did more than lose weight. I got a new life with a nice reverberation from my early 20’s lifestyle, and in that I lost just shy of 25 pounds from this time last year. Most of that weight dropped since August.
Before I tell you what I did, let me first list all the things I did not do.
NO amazing fitness app program with a heavy subscription. The only app I used was FitBit, as I had for years, to track my steps and menstrual cycle. I turned 45 this year, so as some of you know, perimenopausal symptoms become daily life. Tracking the wonky irregular periods becomes part of the communication with your gynecologist. Some friends were excited to share their success stories using $100 apps and I just didn’t go for it. Mostly because I really wasn’t trying to lose weight, per se. More on that later.
NO diet. I mean it. I did not look to Keto, Vegan, Gluten-free, Paleo, South Beach, Blood Type, or any other diet. I didn’t even try intermittent fasting; not on purpose, anyway. One time I participated in a friend’s Eat A Rainbow Challenge, and I did take that two week opportunity to basically go raw vegan, and that did feel great. Mostly it tasted exactly like what I needed to taste. I needed juicy fat fruit and vigorously scrubby veggies to appease my loud brain and aching heart. More on that later. So yeah, it looked and tasted perfect to eat a rainbow of raw produce for two weeks but other than that I didn’t follow any diet.
NO fitness challenge. I didn’t sign up for a three month running club, hire a fitness trainer, or subscribe to a fitness plan for women in their forties. I did not join a gym. I did not follow Darebee.com programs as I usually hope to. I got a new iPhone and I refreshed the current collection of fitness apps usually designed for tracking and encouraging activity. I have Nike+ Run; Zombies, Run!; Gorilla Workout, and a few others. I simply ignored all of them.
NO corset-training, aka waist training. You have probably heard this historian/dress-maker passionately sermon on the beauty and benefit of wearing a corset. In the least you’ve been virtually slapped in the face with Kardashian post-baby boasting about waist-training saving the pre-baby figure. Here’s my thing: we don’t make fainting couches or carry smelling salts with us all the time for a reason! and why? Why go for the restriction? I still find the advocacy for corsets a cruel joke women play on each other. My opinion. Plus have you ever hugged someone wearing a boney corset? You may as well be hugging this:
NO pills or surgeries. I had no medical procedures or “thinning” pills, or “detoxing.” I know people who got quite slender in a frighteningly quick manner by taking “thinning pills.” Other women drank nothing but detox water for weeks, which is a special kind of starving oneself. No stapling of the stomach or liposuction or any organ removal took place. I didn’t have a 24 pound cyst hanging around that finally got cut out. Imagine losing 25 pounds just because you had a cyst removed! No, no such procedures. I did however have tremendous tooth pain suddenly in September, and for a few weeks while I had to wait to get into the dentist’s office, I did suffer to a degree that did not lend well to appetite. However, they had me on anitbiotics, acetominophen, and ibuprofen, so I had to eat just to take all the pills.
So what the heck did I do? I indulged.
That’s right. I did the exact opposite as some people do to lose weight. I denied myself nothing. You might be one of two camps here; those readers hating me right now, or those who are excited and want to learn how to indulge and lose weight at the same time. Those hating me right now can just go row a boat and head on down stream. We don’t need you here. I suggest you take a deep breath, figure out where that hatred is truly coming from, deal with it, and come back with a healthier mindset. The rest of you, read on.
And that’s part of my indulgence. I groomed my inner circle of friends fast after I [we interupt this program for an emergency test… more on the major life event another time…] I pressed my own personal reset button, hard, and kept jumping on it until it started kicking in. It took awhile for this impatient person, so by the time I felt like I was finally turning a corner, I had already put in place, micro step at a time, a lot of the life habits I desired to have back in my life. And only good strong understanding friends could support me in all this life change. The judgemental and weak had no place in this restart. That wasn’t the twenty five pounds of weight loss, but that definitely shed a load I no longer needed to carry.
I indulged in self care. I took baths in the middle of the day if I needed to. I rubbed CBD oil where it ached or hurt and I nursed those aches and pains. I took long walks and made a conscious effort to take in my surroundings, smell the air, feel the breath in my lungs, aim for the hills and feel my muscles work the inclines. And I tried to remember to pack or wear bandanas, so when I felt the need to cry, I just cried. I cried with my entire body, and I let myself wring out those tears and soak the bandana I shoved in my back pocket. I didn’t care if people landscaping their front yards heard or saw me. I released. One day a lady walked down her driveway when she saw me approaching from the sidewalk and looked me in the eyes with intensity, “How ARE you today?” I smiled and thanked her for asking, “I am much better, thank you.” And I hear myself saying that genuinely more and more often these days.
I indulged in food. This sounds so contradictory to losing weight. I craved vegetables, though. I often eat big salad for dinner. And when I craved pizza, I ordered pizza delivery. And when I craved pasta, I made a big pile of pasta. I craved smoothies, so I made those smoothies. I craved wine and cheesy popcorn, so I would get wine and popcorn on the way home from the big dog park and my dog and I would share a big bowl of freshly popped corn from the stovetop while I washed it down with Chardonnay. I craved spicy Thai so I would get Tom Kha Tofu or some spicy shrimp dish from an adorable Thai restaurant doing carry out nearby. If I was too tired and cranky and depressed to make my own food I ordered Indian or Chinese delivery. I ordered enough for a family of four and packed up leftovers. I did not starve myself. In fact soft noodly dishes and hot soups were exactly what I needed when I had tooth pain.
I indulged in friendships. When I needed friends I reached out. I warned them too, “I’m going to need to dip into you often, like Mocha Chip ice cream. And I will some day repay you a thousand times over, but for now, I need you.” And my friends were right there for whatever I needed. We were all very much cautious and used COVID procedures if we ever dared meet in person. If I just had a long painful therapy session on the phone and I was “prescribed” friends, people jumped at the opportunity. I had fire pit sits, porch hangs, outside dinners, long long dog park hikes, drinks on the deck, and vivacious video chats that I will never forget. My true friends rock, and they are my rock. And they were the ones noticing how my voice changed, and when they’d see me, how my weight changed. Some remarked that I had a new glow.
I indulged in visions. I took time to envision who I wanted to be. Still working on it, actually. It took time to sit and dive in to the luxurious permission to dream. Where did I want to go? What did my life look like in various stages? Who would be around me? How did I see myself at my best? I was happy, healthy, and traveling in these visions. It got me craving olives and hard cheeses, pickled vegetables and crusty bread, high fat butter and oak-aged wines. I craved sun on my face and miles on my legs. I wanted to dance with my entire body again, like I used to so long ago. I wanted Latin music back in my life that made my hips do things they hadn’t done in so long. Every day I could sneak at least a little of those somethings into my daily life.
I indulged in indulgence. For a Midwestern American, guilt is very much a default. I don’t even want to know why, and many experts say that guilt is nothing other than anger towards something/someone else directed at oneself. OK- all that sounded absolutely unhealthy and terrible to me, so part of my own self-love practice was to do away with guilt. Do away with embarrassment too. Shed and shake all that off. Rather than fall into that miserable trap, I savored the indulgences. I reveled in the moments the best I could that I took to heal and rediscover self love. This was not as easy as it would seem and when I realized that, I let go of the old default with even more vigor and determination. It was like I fought my own inner battle to indulge but the more I did it, the easier it got.
And next thing I knew, the new-to-me clothes I got at ThredUp as part of my new life were already too big and bagging so badly on my long dog walks that the denim chafed my legs. One rainy night I thought my pants were going to fall off as I ran across the street. And yet I kept putting cream in my coffee and cooking risotto with butter, homemade bone broth, and wine. Granted, my dog, Janis, and I walk an average of 18,000 steps a day, and it does not feel like work to do so. Even on the days we break 20K on my FitBit, it’s just because we’re having too much fun watching ducks on the river, chasing squirrels up an old oak tree, visiting various snowmen, or savoring the lake breeze and moonlight. But when I get home I might scoop a little dark chocolate ice cream to serve myself on top a toasted mini waffle I have stocked up in the freezer. Or Janis and I might share a big bowl of popcorn while I listen to jazz and bullet journal before bed.
This is not a life of starvation or restriction I chose to live for myself. I simply lost 25 pounds living life as ME.
This is my wish for anyone reading this, that they find it within themselves to find whatever their true and honest happiness looks like, and sneak that into their life a little at a time until next thing you know, you too are living the life you intend to. I am not one hundred percent there. I might not even be half where I intend to be in that elusive “some day,” but I do try to get closer every day in the healthiest way I know how, by embracing a little indulgence.
How will you indulge today?
Thank you for reading. I welcome comments and questions.