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I can’t even remember being skinny. While my mother insists that I was a rather skinny child, I have to say that I don’t much believe her on that point. In my entire recollection of my life, I’ve been “the fat girl”. Sometimes I was “the fat girl with the great voice”, “the fat woman with the knack for curing your cold with an herbal tea”, “the fat chick with (insert the name of a skinnier and more popular friend here)”, or even “the fat chick who writes books, cooks great food, or any other host of things”. But inevitably, I was the “fat chick” or the “heavy-set girl”. I don’t think people meant for it to come out as a derogatory descriptor. It was a pointed fact about my appearance but, there is something about being labeled as such when there is so much more to me.

startWhen you stop and think about it, there was no difference in doing that to me than there is to labeling someone “black” or “gay” for that matter. Those are simply factors to the person that they are talking about. I wish they would stop and think about what that label does to a person’s self esteem when they say it. But, they won’t and that, my friends, is just the way the world works.

Being as heavy as I am, the first thing that I hear in a doctor visit is that I need to lose weight. I am the first person to agree with them, I do. And I’ve lost a considerable amount of it in the last year though I don’t think anyone but my family and friends notices it. But it has come with a lot of major change in how I view myself, how my life is now, and how I thought about healthy living.

2012 was, for me at least, a year of massive upheaval and change. I started standing up for myself and saying that things weren’t okay for once. You see, I was such a pushover. Sometimes, I am just too easy going and people take advantage of that. But, I finally started to get past that and be more assertive. Eventually that led to the end of my five year marriage in October. By mid November I was tired of wallowing in self-pity and hurt so, I started trying to be sociable again. The next thing I knew, I met my fiance Charles. Literally my life had turned upside down in a matter of a few months.

I went from being utterly depressed and unsure of myself to being happy, active, and falling in love all over again. From being completely sedentary in an apartment day-in and day-out to a more active lifestyle that included walks around the lake, afternoons at the park with a six year old, going to the fair, and taking in the local festivals. In other words, I’m being myself again and it felt fabulous.

Bikes-e1353883989495Of course, a natural result of all of this is that I started to drop the weight. Suddenly I noticed, I could walk through the stores without being winded or my back hurting. I could ride the rides at the fair, when I thought I couldn’t. My seatbelt in my truck was getting looser and my clothes were too. Then, I could wear jeans again for the first time in six years. And I was on cloud nine.

Wardrobe choices became about choices. It wasn’t just whatever would fit. I could actually have a style again. Something I’d resigned myself to being without. I’ll have to do a whole post on the way clothing fits later but, right now, it is important to focus on where I started.

I could do very little at first. Yes, I tried to cut out the soda and sweets. That was the first step. I tried to eat more vegetables. I drank more water. Those were all logical things for me to try. But, what was more important was my tracking what was going on with my body.

Remember, I didn’t have a scale to weigh on. I couldn’t go on the pounds lost tracking. So, I got my sewing kit, took out the tape measure and started keeping track of measurements. When I first started the tape measure wouldn’t even close around my hips or waist. I had to use a string and then measure. Thank goodness I had a stash of yarn around from a knitting project. I’ll admit, it was fun to snip some of it away as I lost the inches.

When I figured out I needed to add activity to my changes, I admit that I found myself feeling rather discouraged. My back, knees, and ankles were going to revolt. I knew that. I didn’t live in a neighborhood so, walking was out of the question. I read a suggestion about starting out with cycling as a low-impact option. I was able to barter for a stationary bike with product from my candle business. And I started with just 5 and 10 minute intervals. And built up to biking through a whole show on the TV. I would pedal while the show was on then take breaks during the commercial to catch my breath.

I started where I was, with what I had to work with. I had to start thinking about what I needed for myself more than I thought about the trivial whims of my ex-husband. Yes, this all led to some chaotic changes. It wasn’t easy but, it was worth every single moment of the struggle to date.

I still have a long way to go. Later this week, I’ll be posting a tool that I use every day to help me keep track of where I’ve been and what I have set for myself by way of goals. There will be free printables, reviews of free online tools, and more about where I am and what I’m doing now.

I will say this, instead of being healthy being such a fight now, I’m with someone who encourages me to do what I need to do in order to be what I want to be. My size is irrelevant and I am loved for the person I am and not what pair of jeans I can fit into. It is a marvelous feeling to be free to be myself again. I just want to be the best me I can be. I may always be plus-size but I don’t have to be unhealthy or unhappy.