More than two years ago, I reached my highest weight: 166 pounds and a size 12 (tight!). I was small my entire life, but my metabolism slowed down in my 20s. After moving to Georgia and moving in with Chris, my weight ballooned. I don’t know why, exactly. I had stress, I guess I exercised less (although I didn’t exercise that much in New York, either) and Chris introduced me to the boxed meal.
I’m talking Hamburger Helper and Betty Crocker’s Cheesy Chicken and Noodles boxed meals.
And, of course, there was the going out to eat.
I have a point to all of this, but first, I have a story to tell. I think a lot of people will relate to this, even if they don’t know it yet.
My whole life, I never had to worry about what I ate or how much or little I exercised. My natural metabolism kept my body in check. I’m sure my diet of fast food, chicken wings and pizza didn’t make me particularly healthy, but I looked good. Not that I appreciated it, but looking back, I can see it. So when I started gaining, even though I wanted to lose, I couldn’t quite get the hang of it because I never had to.
I got to the point where when I had to get dressed to go anywhere other than work or the grocery store, I would end up in tears because I hated how I looked in all my clothes. Two winters ago, I could no longer fit into a single pair of jeans or a single pair of dress pants to wear to work. I had to buy new so I wouldn’t freeze for months. I thought I looked pretty good in those clothes until I saw photos of myself wearing them.
Finally, I joined Weight Watchers, but in the beginning, I didn’t really follow it the way I should have. I told myself I was doing the program perfectly, but the weight wasn’t coming off. I started to think I should have my thyroid checked. I mean, it couldn’t be anything I was doing wrong, right?
After a few months, I stopped altogether. I began concentrating on what I was eating instead of worrying about how much. I started eating whole foods over processed, became a half-hearted vegetarian at first and eventually a full-blown vegetarian. I actually lost 6 pounds the first two weeks I gave up meat, but I did still have chicken on salads when we would eat out. And I started exercising a minimum of three days a week, slowly building my stamina.
When the time was right for me, mentally, I started Weight Watchers again and this time, I really and truly followed it perfectly. And I lost weight. A lot of weight. I also stepped up the workouts. I dropped almost 20 pounds and three sizes in 12 weeks. I was a size 6 again! The clothes I bought just months before were way too big (I could take them on and off without unzipping or unbuttoning them). I felt great.
Then I got burned out from being a little too strict with my eating and stopped for a while. I did continue being careful about what I ate, and pretty much maintained the total loss for about nine months before deciding to go back to the system. I gave myself permission to eat. For those not familiar, Weight Watchers gives you a certain number of points per day that you must use at minimum. In addition, you have 35 points to use as you like – or not at all – throughout the week and any exercise you do adds up to more points that are also optional. I decided to exercise as much as I could stand so that if I wanted to splurge or if I was particularly hungry one day, I could eat and not have to worry about it. I decided if that meant slower losses, so be it. At least I wouldn’t give up.
I started back again this past April. I haven’t lose as fast, but mostly because I had a couple weeks here and there where I just went off program and either gained a little or stayed the same. In weeks that I follow the program, I lose 1-4 pounds, without fail.
So, now I get to my point, and the event that prompted this blog post:
Part of my exercise routine is walking. There are some pretty steep hills near where I live that make a really great and free workout. Near my house is an office park and the main road within is a circle that contains a very steep hill.
I leave work at 3:30, so sometimes I walk in there about the time that people are leaving work. Many of them stand outside waiting for the bus. A few weeks ago, a woman across the street from where I was walking flagged me down and prompted me to remove my headphones to hear what she was saying. This was someone I don’t know, and barely even ever noticed before. I kind of get into my own world when I walk. She said she’d noticed me since I first started walking through the office park and guessed Id lost about 30 pounds (correct). She told me congratulations and keep it up.
People in my townhouse complex who I never see apparently notice me walking almost every day, because when I do happen to pass them outside, they all tell me what a great job I’m doing and that they see me out there all the time. Some have even said I inspired them to start working out.
And today (well, yesterday by the time this posts), the reason for this blog, a woman who works in my office building, but who I don’t know and I don’t think is even in the agency for which I work, stopped me in the hall and said, “You’ve lost weight, haven’t you?”
I told her I’d lost 30 pounds and she told me it really showed and that I look “great.”
It amazes me that people who don’t even know me notice me enough to comment. Sometimes, I feel invisible, and hearing those words is incredibly uplifting. A few of my coworkers are also working hard to get in shape, and I make sure to let them know I notice, too. We all need that affirmation. Even though it’s a personal experience and we all do it for ourselves, we need to know that others notice.
I think this applies to more than just physical changes. It applies to everything we do in life. We need to know we’re appreciated.