First, I had to resolve the health issue I previously posted about involving Douchebag. Thank goodness, my health is fine (although I still have thousands of dollars in unpaid medical bills, thanks to him), and I never have to think about or deal with him again.
Next, I was the victim of a crime -- my summer subletter, the sister of an acquaintance, robbed and severely beat me, an incident that has had very serious ongoing financial, health and legal ramifications. (More on this another time.)
Lastly, there have been three deaths in my family in the last eight weeks, including the shocking death of my aunt, whom no one knew was sick and who had become a second Mom to me in the years since Mom died. Talk about pain.
Those are the major things . . . life got in the way.
On the plus side, I am happy to say that the Old or, as a friend put it, the "New and Improved" Rachel - the one that my best friend from law school once called his funnest and coolest friend" - is back.
First, the physical difference. I am down 10 jean sizes from where I was last year at this time!
Here's a look back at the 2011 transformation in pictures...
Because I knew that I'd eventually want to do a "before and after," a la the "They Lost Half Their Body Weight" people featured in People and on the Today Show's Joy Bauer Fit Club, I kept the fat jeans. I haven't checked yet to see if I can fit my whole self into one of the legs of those jeans, but I'd venture to say the visual difference is noticeable to put it mildly.
I feel really gratified that I set a goal and have gone a long way toward reaching it. Those 100 pounds (yes, 100 pounds) I gained after Mom died are mostly gone.
The compliments I've received have been myriad and are greatly appreciated, each and every one, each and every time. They serve as invaluable positive reinforcement. I can't tell you how awesome it was to see a doctor whom I hadn't seen in months and have her remark, "You've lost a tremendous amount of weight since I last saw you." I can't explain the joy (jumping up and down in my mind) of numerous friends who hadn't seen me during the spring/summer calling me "The Incredible Shrinking Rachel" when they next saw me. Me? Are you talking to me?!? I can't express my happiness at the trashbags full of "fat clothes" waiting to be donated to a local charity as soon as I can find someone to carry them for me. [I sustained a back injury during the assault.]
Unfortunately, I don't have a recent (i.e., 2012) full-body pic to show yet, and, rest assured, I'm not going to show one until I take one that I love because that's just how I roll.
I have many of you to thank for being part of my wonderful support system during this long and arudous endeavor. Your cheers and enthusiasm mean the world to me, and I can't possibly express my gratitude adequately.
People have asked me how many pounds I have lost. The truth is - I don't know. I stopped weighing myself and started focusing on how my clothes fit and how I felt/feel in them. Unlike a Weight Watchers weekly scale-focused check-in, I find this reality check to be much more effective for me. Generally, I'm going down a jean size a month (sometimes more). There's a clear difference in the size and shape of my face. You can see the weight loss in my neck (my nutritionist pal gauges my weight loss by how low my necklace hangs. Apparently, it used to be a choker . . . not anymore.). My ass is smaller. (I even think - dare I say it? - the boobs may be getting a little smaller! Unless you've ever been a DDD, you can't begin to understand that joy.)
Lingerie that barely fit at this time last year is now HUGE on me. The sexy high leather boots that I gave to my skinny friend, A, this summer because I'd always had trouble zipping them up; they zip now - no problem, and they're HOT. (Thank goodness she brought them back to me, wisely anticipating this!) As of last week, the Flashdance-style, shoulder-bearing sweatshirt that I "stole" from my sophomore in college roommate (in all fairness, I didn't actually steal it. I just borrowed it for long enough that she eventually officially gave it to me. I've acquired some of my fave clothing from friends and beaus alike this way ;) fits for the first time in five years. My hands look different. My ring and watch are loose. I'm beginning to see definition in my collarbones. You get the point. (I'm really not trying to brag.)
Moreover, although I have a ballpark idea of what the scale would say (the doctor weighed me on Halloween), I don't want to beat myself up because the number is a few pounds more than I'd like it to be when I have done such a great job overall. (Boy, I haven't given myself a compliment like that...maybe...in forever?)
Also, I still haven't reached my ultimate weight goal, which, I've realized, surprisingly, is going to be a feeling, rather than a number or a size. I'll know it when I do, and that day is coming. Apologies in advance, but, even when I do know the number, I'm not going to tell. It's going to be a sacred secret between me and G-d and maybe a medical professional or two.
And another thing...weight doesn't come off one's body evenly. I haven't been able to get on the treadmill much of the year because of my back injury. This means there are problem areas...I won't tell you what they are, but I know them. I feel them. I beat myself up about them constantly. Constantly.
I have yet to stand fully naked in front of a man. There are certain spots I still prefer to keep covered, if at all possible, during intimate moments (super romantic, right?), and I have learned ways to de-emphasize those spots. (Did I really just say that out loud?) OK - TMI, even for me, the Queen of TMI...moving on...
I don't loathe passing by the mirror naked or trying on clothing anymore, as I did for the past five years. I'm not parading myself around the way I would when I was 22-years-old and had a smokin' hot bod either though.
There's still work to be done. Even when the weight is all gone, there'll be work to be done. That's just the reality.
So, how did I accomplish all this? Much to most people's dismay, there is no magic formula (for me or anyone else, for that matter, I firmly believe). I may not have lost/be losing the weight in the "right" way, but, for lack of a better term, "it is what it is."
I spent much of the year operating under an extraordinary amount of stress that resulted in me simply not eating sometimes. It wasn't intentional. I'd all of a sudden just realize that it was 11 p.m., and I'd eaten nothing all day. This still happens, although I think it's happening less now.
I was dead broke, so I didn't buy a lot of groceries; that also resulted in some not eating.
My most serious challenge remains the ability to force myself to eat three meals a day. I'm just not a three-meal-a-day girl. I never was. Offer me additional time to sleep or time to eat breakfast, and sleep wins every time. I dislike most traditional breakfast foods. Also, the smell and thought of food in the morning tends to nauseate me. Let me be clear . . . I know how important it is, from a nutritional perspective, to eat three meals a day and how bad it is to skip meals or, even worse, days' worth of meals. Trust me, I've heard the talks; I've read the books; I know. This is a challenge I will continue to face my whole life, I suspect.
On a healthier note, I've learned to listen to my body's cues more successfully. I eat when I am hungry. I rarely overeat. In fact, I rarely eat to the point of feeling full. I often don't finish an entire meal. Whereas before, I would've - by virtue of being raised by a good Jewish Mom - been a member of "the clean plate club," I rarely clean a plate anymore.
I feel better physically. I feel healthy!!! Any joint pain I had is gone. My asthma is better. My cardiovascular capacity is vastly improved. I have more energy than I've had in eons. That's an amazing feeling! I look forward to exercising. I don't shy away from having my photo taken (as much). I don't try to bury myself in baggy clothes anymore. I'm enjoying having my curves back in the right places.
Do I eat the "evil" comfort foods - filled with fat and carbs and chemicals - that I've always loved? Some yes some, although not nearly as often or in remotely the same quantity as I did previously. Are there foods I avoid because I know they are trigger foods that made me tend to overeat in the past or which I routinely ate to deal with stress? Hell's yeah. Do I feel deprived? No. Never. Do I binge on said evil foods sometimes? Yes. (I am being honest. You're all here to hold me accountable.) Do I count calories? No, for the same reason I don't use the scale. Do I say "no, thank you" to things that I'd like to eat, things that look or smell amazing? Often. Can I have one bite of something super delicious and stop there? Sure. Tomorrow's another day; I will see that deliciousness again in this lifetime. Do I pay more attention to what I eat, in terms of protein and nutrients? Absolutely. I've even learned that "breakfast food" doesn't have to be cereal or eggs or oatmeal. It can be leftover pizza, as long as I'm eating a proper quantity at a "breakfast-y" time.
Do I compare my body to others, including those oh-so-thin (read: anorexic) celebrities? Yes. Our culture makes it nearly impossible not to. If there's one silver lining though in having had the scale reach a number I never imagined I'd see, in my worst nightmare? I can look at People or Us or any similar magazine and tell you exactly who's lying about their weight loss/gain (emm...Kirstie Alley...ahem).
Is this the "right way" to lose a large amount of weight. I don't know; I suspect not. I wouldn't recommend "The Broke-Ass Crime Victim Diet," as I dubbed it some months back, to anyone. Ever.
I am continually learning and practicing better eating habits though and eating (or not eating) with more awareness than ever before. I am proud of what I've accomplished. I've traveled a long road, but I still have "miles to go before I sleep."
Maybe the most important - and the healthiest - thing to come out of this year is that I truly realize, down to the depths of my soul, how crucial the psychological aspect of physical fitness is. You can't have one without the other; they are symbiotic. The yin and yang of a well-balanced person.
But I'll address that in my next post...stay tuned.