April 6, 2012

Roses and thorns

I was writing in my handwritten journal the other day, as I am wont to do when I'm feeling overwhelmed and stressed but need a more tactile way of unburdening myself of the anxiety (while I could likely type for days without running out of things to say, there's nothing more cathartic than a pen scratching sheet after sheet of paper). Out of one of the pockets fell an envelope I'd tucked in there before I moved to California.

I didn't remember it at all, and since the deadline I'd apparently set for myself had more than passed, I tore it open.

In August, I'd set a challenge for myself and Meghan to try and get out of our respective plateaus. Dying to see an 8 in the tens place, I set up rules for eating and working out, as well as activities to stay motivated and inspired. The first week, we had to write a letter to ourselves for after the challenge.

This was my letter.
Dear Mary -

First, and above all else, I am so incredibly proud of all the work you have done so far. Losing weight isn't easy - you know that. You've been trying for years. But finally, you became strong enough to stand up for yourself and fight for your health. You finally figured out that you're worth the sweat and the tears, that being lazy and eating exclusively junk food aren't "treats" but rather, punishments. You were sad and lonely and pretty hopeless, and now look at you! There are still tough days - there always will be - but you'll never be that big unhappy girl again - you value yourself, you understand your self-worth, and you'll never allow yourself to be mistreated or slighted again, especially not by your own self.

You've been having a bit of a rough time lately, and that's okay. It's normal to have struggles in life, whether you're trying to lose weight or not. But I'm concerned, because you've been trying to self-medicate with food. It's okay to sad because of what's happening back in [hometown]. It's understandable to get upset because [Boy] was cheating on you. It's normal to be anxious about not having a full-time job and a secure career. But it's not okay to turn to food as a source of comfort or stress relief. What is happening at home is not your fault, nor is it within your control. Some people in life will hurt you and break your heart - again, not your fault. And jobs are hard to come by for everyone these days - there really isn't much more you could be doing. The solutions to these problems are not food.

I wish you would lighten up a little. Stop taking everything so seriously and so personal. Do what you can about what you can do - everything else will work itself out one way or another.

I know you're scared about weight maintenance. About feeling like you're living a secret double life. About how to find a healthy balance. About how to let food be food and not something good or bad or worth worrying about. You still have a bit of work to do before your goal, and I know you'll use this time to do your research, to explore possibilities, to figure out what maintenance entails for you and your own situation. There is nothing to fear - you'll do well, just as you've done in the losing phase, because you want to do well. You're doing this all for yourself, which is the one and only right reason to do this at all. You enjoy feeling healthy and being active, and for the first time in your life, you're genuinely in love with yourself. You're worth fighting for!

Enjoy the 180s while they last - enjoy the life, don't fixate on the scale.


How wonderful to find it this week, exactly when I needed its message - especially its love and support. I've been weighing my options and thinking about a few different possibilities, and am trying to put together a few ideas for what to do next: to stay in California, to move back to Chicago, and how to live my best life possible no matter where I end up in the fall. There's an awful lot to consider, and I'll be fleshing it all out in a post some time soon. It's not an easy decision by any means, but neither are most of the really big decisions in life, I think.

By the way, that letter to my in-the-180s self was dated "Aug. 7, 2011."

Better late than never, eh?


timothy said...

that's great! as for those BIG decisions i say go with your heart, if you're just simply NEVER gonna be happy in cali then go home, but make sure you're actually giving it a chance and not just running back to what you know out of fear. only you can answer that but no matter what/where you're at i'm behind you 100%! xoxoxoxoxoxo

LynnieG said...

I know it's not original but 'ditto' what Timothy said!

sheila said...

You look beautiful in your race gear. Enjoy where you are at in life right now, while always making plans for your life to get even better! You won't go wrong.

Anonymous said...

Great letter Mary and that's a nice number. Best of luck in searching your heart and soul for the right decision for you.

Ann said...

Mary - LOVE THIS. You are amazing! :)

Frickin' Fabulous at 40 said...

I like the little guy on your scale under your weight, cheering you on, celebrating your victory!

marisol said...

The first line & last line are my favorite parts of the letter. Definitely be proud of all that you have accomplished and even more love yourself. Great job!

Meghan said...

AHH!!!!! I'm just now reading this!! I LOVE IT!! I'm getting back on track hardcore TODAY!! I needed to read this post!

Tim said...

Wow! How amazing finding that letter. I love it!!

Just putting it out there - Have you ever thought about working in France?