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LJ Idol - Week Seven: Brand New Day

This is my entry for Week Seven of The Real LJ Idol competition, where the topic is "Hope." I'll post an update about voting later in the week. If you haven't already, you may want to join therealljidol, since some voting will be restricted to community members. Thanks so much to everyone who has voted for me so far!

Me at New Year's 2000

As I labored up the steps, panting, my new puppy wriggled in my hands impatiently. I considered passing her off to my sister, who was bouncing ahead of me, talking excitedly. The problem was, she was already carrying two puppies: her own and the one we had claimed for Mom. Besides, I was embarrassed to admit that I was having so much trouble.

We had driven across the country with friends, from Pennsylvania to Colorado, to celebrate New Year's 2000 with my brother and his then-fiancee. My brother's dog, Pulsar, had given birth in October, and we had agreed to adopt some of her pups.

My brother lived in Leadville, 10,430 feet above sea level, and he'd warned us the thinner air would take some adjusting. But we'd been there for a couple days now, and I was the only one still suffering. The regular trips with our puppies up and down the apartment stairs posed a challenge. Even walking around town was difficult. I had to admit: I simply wasn't healthy.

While I'd always gone up and down in terms of weight, for the last five years I'd gone only one direction: up. In fact, when I did the mental calculations, I realized with a shock that I'd gained almost 50 pounds just in the past couple years. What would happen to me if I continued this route? What would life be like if I couldn't climb the steps in my Pennsylvania apartment? How would I take care of a dog? How would I even take care of myself?

I resolved at that moment, I had to change. And this time, I wouldn't just go on a diet. I would change my life.

The first step, the hardest part, was to tell those who were close to me. Even though I knew they saw the same person I saw in the mirror every day, as long as nobody mentioned it out loud, I could pretend I was still the energetic person I'd been a decade ago. Yet, I knew I needed their support if I was going to change. Too long, I'd used food as a substitute for dealing with difficult emotions. It was time to face up to them.

My opportunity arose when my sister and I grabbed some coffee together at a little shop downtown. I mustered up my courage and told her, "I've decided I have to change my life. I have to get healthy." Tears welled up in my eyes as I admitted that I still couldn't get my breath in this thin air. I couldn't wear regular pants, only ones with elastic waistlines. I didn't even recognize my own face in the mirror.

After soothing me, my sister said, "I'm glad you said something. I could see how unhappy you were, but I didn't want to make you feel bad by bugging you." We talked about what I could do: simple things, like cutting back on portion sides and opting for healthy snacks instead of candy bars. I resolved to exercise more and eat more fruits and vegetables. Somehow, having my sister's support made everything seem possible.

I didn't know then that those little steps would expand into greater accomplishments, and over the next eight years, I would lose 80 pounds and six dress sizes. Or that, with my newfound self-esteem, I would break off a self-destructive relationship and eventually seek a counselor to work on my mental health, as well.

A couple days later, we all celebrated New Year's Eve at a friend's cabin, gathered around a bonfire, gazing at the stars and telling Y2K jokes. Near the end of the evening, some of the guys even ran through the smouldering fire, in a mad celebration of new beginnings. It was the turn of the millennium, and I was filled with hope.


The first step is the hardest, but it's worth it.

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( 36 comments — Leave a comment )
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Nov. 5th, 2008 12:50 am (UTC)
Can really relate to this. :)
Nov. 5th, 2008 12:56 am (UTC)
Cool! Thanks for reading.
Nov. 5th, 2008 12:59 am (UTC)
Firstly YAY YOU! I celebrate your accomplishments with you!

Secondly, great post! Just the right way to show where hope can take you... wonderful job!
Nov. 5th, 2008 01:02 am (UTC)
Thanks for the encouragement! Sometimes it's good to remind myself of how far I've come.
Nov. 5th, 2008 02:27 am (UTC)
Congrats to you! What a success! Something to be proud of! P.
Nov. 5th, 2008 02:44 am (UTC)
Thanks! And thanks for the encouragement.
Nov. 5th, 2008 02:38 am (UTC)
That's wonderful! And an extra congratulations for wanting it so much that you stuck to it!
Nov. 5th, 2008 02:44 am (UTC)
Thanks so much for reading and for the congratulations!
Nov. 5th, 2008 04:32 am (UTC)
This is excellent! Congratulations!
Nov. 5th, 2008 05:36 am (UTC)
Thanks for reading and for the support!
Nov. 5th, 2008 02:40 pm (UTC)
While the catalyst for the change was different for me, the method has been largely the same. Congratulations on all your changes!
Nov. 5th, 2008 06:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I forget sometimes to appreciate how far I've come. It's great, though, to feel healthy again.
Nov. 5th, 2008 06:54 pm (UTC)
Very nice! And congrats for the many things you accomplished. :)
Nov. 5th, 2008 07:23 pm (UTC)
Thanks much!
Nov. 5th, 2008 07:31 pm (UTC)
Good for you!
Nov. 5th, 2008 07:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Nov. 5th, 2008 10:07 pm (UTC)
There is defintely hope, and I enjoyed reading how you were able to accomplish those first steps, that were the hardest!

I remember thinking, Is there hope to graduate college... those first steps were hard! I made it.

There is so much I could say about this entry, but you did a great job, and it brings back he many memories of the mountain climbs I've made over the years!
Nov. 5th, 2008 10:46 pm (UTC)
What you say is true. It reminds me of when I climbed Mount Washington, the highest mountain on the East Coast of the U.S. It's also the highest mountain I'll ever climb, since it doesn't require ropes! As I neared the end and most of my fellow hikers had gone on ahead, all I could do was focus on one trail blaze after the other. I just headed for that next trail blaze, and so step by step, I climbed the whole mountain! Congratulations on your victories, too.
Nov. 6th, 2008 08:10 pm (UTC)
I agree. That first step is almost always the hardest. Once you've gotten started, momentum can carry you through.

I'm glad you had your sister's support, and have been able to change your life.
Nov. 6th, 2008 09:17 pm (UTC)
Thanks! It was a gradual process, but worth it.
Nov. 7th, 2008 04:36 pm (UTC)
Congratulations on changing to a more healthy lifestyle. :)
Nov. 7th, 2008 05:05 pm (UTC)
Nov. 8th, 2008 04:52 pm (UTC)
That first step is often the most difficult, but with hope you started and with hope you succeeded. Yay, you!
Nov. 8th, 2008 04:56 pm (UTC)
Nov. 9th, 2008 06:49 am (UTC)
Good for you for taking that first step!
Nov. 9th, 2008 08:22 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the support!
Nov. 9th, 2008 07:01 am (UTC)
You are such a beautiful woman - I have always loved your icon pic of you and the doggie.

I don't need to lose 80 pounds - but I do need to lose 40. I started Weight Watchers back the first week of October and I have lost seven pounds. A slow start, but a steady one - and the healthy way to do it, instead of trying fad diets or pills.

I am so proud of anyone learning how to eat better, take better care of their bodies and especially how to love themselves more in the process. I can't wait for the day I can look at myentire body in the mirror, and not justfrom the shoulders up, without cringing.

You rock!
Nov. 9th, 2008 08:23 pm (UTC)
I'm currently doing Weight Watchers, and even though I've been focusing primarily on maintaining for the last two years, I still find it to be a positive route. You don't have to wait to love yourself, though! You're awesome the way you are!
Nov. 9th, 2008 01:09 pm (UTC)
This was great! Smile!
Nov. 9th, 2008 08:22 pm (UTC)
Thanks! On the days when I don't feel quite so accomplished, I have to remind myself how far I've come.
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( 36 comments — Leave a comment )

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