Happy New Year!
At least it already is in Australia. Here it is still the dregs of 2016 where we sit in our fear bunkers worried that this year might take one more beloved celebrity. Hoping that one more cabinet appointment won’t crush our remaining willpower keeping us from singing ‘Oh Canada.’
The last few months have been full of a lot of things. For me – fatigue, anxiety, stiff knees, Netflix binges, recreational eating, and the traditional love/hate relationship with the holidays. In an effort to end the year on a high note my hubby and I took my mother to The Wizarding world of Harry Potter to celebrate her birthday. We are both only children and have only one surviving parent between us. We thought that this would be a great way to bring a little magic (see what I did there) to a group of liberals who are dealing with anxieties of aging ( I will be *gasp* 34 in April) and political Armageddon. And so I unwittingly brought about my own satori in Hogwarts Castle. It is an usual location for facing one’s own demons, a land of childhood fantasy, but as you will discover my life is filled with the kind of irony and unlikely coincidence that pauses one to question if Terry Pratchett really might be the great power in the universe.
The first morning we powered through the gates, running to the back of the park (these guys know what they are doing, you must scout every closed shop, pining for what you cannot yet have) to finally arrive in Hogsmeade Village. It was wondrous. Just like the movie- we were inside the world of JK Rowlings’ dreams. We sped to the castle, eager to see the talking paintings and visit Dumbledore’s office. I was as silly and lighthearted as all the children around me, only I could take much longer strides and beat those losers handedly in a foot race. I am not a roller coaster fan, and the closer we got the front the more nervous I became about what might happen as I ‘soared high above the grounds of Hogwarts castle’. Then a voice from the side came- ‘Ma’am, have you ridden this ride before?’ I was baffled why I was getting this question. “No, that’s why I’m in line at a theme park at 7am.” She continued,”Did you get a chance to try our seat outside?” Suddenly like a Dementor attack- it hit me. She didn’t think I would fit into the seat on the ride. The oxygen left the room. My face flushed. I was painfully aware that all of this was happening in front of roughly 1 million families and my mother and my husband, 1 day after Christmas. “No I did not see the seat.” I replied, my mouth dry and panic rising. “OK, come follow me,” replied the tiny pocket sized teeny bopper that was humiliating me in front of a theme park. We went over to the seat that looked a great deal like a yellow booster chair inside a tiny coffin. I climbed in, my arms compressed around chest, already feeling like I was trapped and that it was a very good thing this monstrosity was coffin-shaped. We lowered the lid- I mean arm restraint- and push, shove- nope. It would not close.
Now the tiny pocket sized millennial was leading me off on a walk of shame. We were all pulled off into a dark corner and then into bright sunlight. The world seemed much less magical.
My face burned, hot wet tears stung at my eyes. My hubby tried to comfort me, my mother turned into a peppy robot that would cause any morning talk show host to roll their eyes. It had all been laid bare before me in the most painful, public way. All the times I blamed the clothing companies for ‘erratic sizing’ when I had to bump up a size, when I sucked it in to get the airplane seat belt to fit, when I blamed bad lighting/bad outfits for ‘how fat I looked’ in that picture, all the excuses I made about ‘deserving’ those high calorie treats, and avoiding the gym when I was ‘too tired, busy etc,’ avoiding the church soccer league when I couldn’t keep up. I could not explain this away.
It wasn’t as though I had no idea I was plus-sized. I had never been thin or ‘normal sized’ even in childhood. Chubby had seemed the right fit. Growing I didn’t suffer from most of the common pitfalls. I ate health eating growing up, I played soccer, I played soft ball. I jogged. No matter what- I was chunky. Puberty finally gave me a boost around age 17, I looked ‘almost normal.’ College came, the freshman 15-20 from too much Chicago style pizza came, eh I still looked OK. Then grad school and additional training hit hard, unrelenting weight gain- about 70lbs of stress, sleepless nights, and too much alcohol celebrating each round of testing. Somewhere I met my hubby and we got married. He liked me Bridget Jones style- ‘just the way I was.’ I assumed when all the stress of grad school left that I would find myself back to the chubby loveable kid I had always been. The magic weight loss did not happen. I tried Paleo, I tried low carb, I tried South Beach, simple calorie counting, and Medifast. I did yoga 4 times a week, walked a 5K, became a scuba diver. Each time there would be a vacation, birthday, girls night out when calorie counts soared and I slipped back into bad habits, and buried myself in yoga pants and pizza.
In addition to today’s public humiliation my husband and I had been talking about getting pregnant. My weight is holding me back from growing our family, and now all of the Wizarding World knew it.
So there I was- faced with my public shame and needing change. I rode all the other rides without issues, we smiled and drank butterbeer, and my brain wheels spun beneath each sip. We averaged 16000 steps a day, a pitiful drop in the theme park bucket. I knew things were going to have to be different in 2017.
SO….I am making a plan. I am not giving up on myself, my body, my future, my health. Harry Potter, Harry Schmotter. I am going to use this terrible moment as fuel for change. One of the ways I have struggled in the past is accountability. If I don’t tell anyone about my goals, no one will know how badly I’ve failed and man have I ever failed. Husband and mother relationships are far too complex to also be lifestyle change accountable. My friends are not so- metabolically challenged. However they all do make great cheerleaders and I know that I will have support. I am hoping that putting down my goals, writing them out in black and white will help me stay on track. I hope having a place to voice the high and low points of my journey will help keep me motivated and keep me honest.
So here I go with all the other January schmucks, spouting off about plans. I’m doing some research and by the next entry will have a far more detailed plan. Tonight I will be enjoying some calories and alcohol with friends. Happy New year, Happy new You.