The great thing about writing a blog is that really, anyone can do it. That's also one of the most interesting things about it, I think - some people write long stories, some share short excerpts from their day-to-day, some people post mostly pictures, and other share only raw data. But everyone, no matter what his or her background with writing, can sit down with a computer and express his or her ideas, sharing them with the world after a few keystrokes and clicks.
For one reason or another, some blogs get to be fairly well-known. These blogs don't conform to any one specific category, but there's still a common thread. We, the readers, see small glimpses of ourselves in their posts, and no matter what means they use for expressing themselves, we appreciate their candor and our ability to relate to them.
When I first started reading weight loss and healthy living blogs, I was voracious - I couldn't get enough. I scanned blogrolls and comments, trying to find anyone else who could possibly have some advice or experiences I could glean. Some names I saw more often than others, but for some reason, I didn't investigate right away.
One of those was Jewlia Goulia.
Julia was a girl about my age, slightly taller but around the same starting weight. I finally started following her as she transitioned into onederland; I was about thirty pounds behind, and devoured her posts. She shared her fears as well as her victories, and I ached and cheered along side her. A photographer, she boldly posted a series of tasteful nude photographs of her transitioning body; the honesty both inspired and motivated me. I wanted to lose weight like Julia, but mostly, I wanted to be brave and own my success like Julia. Silently, from my own little corner of the internet, I idolized her.
Then, her posts slowed. And her mother passed away, and she posted even less. It was understandable, but still upsetting - reading blogs, especially when someone shares as much as Julia did, you feel like you know these people. These are friends, we're in this together. Her less-frequent posts upset me, for selfish reasons, but also, because I worried about her.
She was in the 180s, the 190s, bouncing around, and one day, she posted a goodbye. There were many reasons, most unlisted, and ultimately, her decision was to stop publicly blogging and focus instead on her health, her marriage, and her offline life. I was as heartbroken as I was confused. Heartbroken, because again, this was someone whose journey I wanted so desperately to follow and support. And confused, because I didn't quite understand how someone could start in the 300s, do all the work to get to onederland, and then struggle.
The more research I did on situations like hers, the more common I discovered it was. You find stories of people who lose hundreds of pounds, only to regain most of it, or all of it, or end up even bigger than when they started. How can that happen? How can you regain when you know how good it feels to be healthy, to be properly fed, to finally do right by your body?
Right now, I'm where Julia left off weight-wise ... fighting my way through the first decade of onederland, hoping to get safely into the 180s and continue to work my way towards my long-term goal. That, among other reasons, is part of why I've been blogging less. And even though I can't begin to understand her emotional specifics, I am finding myself confused and conflicted and wishing for the attitude I had thirty, sixty, ninety, over a hundred pounds ago.
This is what I wanted - this is what I worked so hard for - so why am I struggling *now*?
It seems counterintuitive. For so long, it was so easy to say no to processed junk and empty calories, to try and beat the clock on Saturdays and finish my 1200 calorie elliptical workout before the gym closed, to not eat the calories I burned exercising. The beginning is when it's supposed to be tough, right? Logic says getting started should be hard, not staying the course.
Well, maybe not.
As exciting as it is, and as hopeful as we are that we'll get there, onederland is still a terrifying place for those of us who are fighting tooth and nail against the odds. The paradox of weighing 345 pounds is that you know (and are told) that you need to be willing to fight hard and change so much of your life in order to get healthy, even though you know (and are told) that statistically, you either (a) won't make it to your goal or (b) won't be successful long-term with maintenance if you do make it. Every day, I wake up wanting to be my healthiest and feel my best. And even though these ideas are at the front of my mind, in the back still lurks the voice whispering that it doesn't matter what I want, I am not meant to succeed at this. Some days, it's easy to scream back Like hell I won't, and I work out and eat well. But when the rest of life gets stressful and it feels like you're giving all you have to fight simply for your sanity, this tends to be an easy place to concede.
I've written on this several times before, so bear with me, but I'm so damn close. This isn't every other time. I haven't lost three pounds, or ten, or thirty. I've lost 150 pounds. And I only have about 40-60 more to go. I think that when Ben wrote about his own struggles with the last few pounds, he summed it up perfectly: the last few pounds are the hardest because they matter the least. I'm not 345 pounds anymore. My struggles now are not what they were then, both physically and mentally. I eat well most of the time - I have off days, but so does everyone. I stay active. I'm happy and self-confident and incredibly different from the girl I used to be - again, with the occasional off day, but overwhelmingly, I couldn't be happier with who, what, and where I am right now.
So, Julia, wherever you are, I hope that all is well with you. I can't possibly understand the specifics of your unique situation, but for what it's worth, I still think of you and how strong and brave you are. I hope you're happy and healthy and in love with life. With you in mind, I'm going to keep making as many good decisions as possible, and hope that I can be someone's Jewlia Goulia. That someone might be as affected by my story as I was by yours. That someone might read what I have to say and realize that even though I'm fighting against the odds, I'm still out there fighting. That I do the best I can with what I have, I give it my all. And that folks understand when I need to refocus a bit on my offline self.