Two weeks ago, 495 days after starting to log my calories and get serious about fitness, I stepped on the scale to see if I’d reached my goal weight. Four hundred and ninety-five days might seem like an eternity to you, and it would’ve seemed the same way to me before I started this journey.
For years, as I would start my summer vacation, I would fantasize about returning to school at the first September faculty meeting wearing a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, sporting a trim and attractive figure. I would turn heads: I would get that “Wow” moment I had secretly craved. Unfortunately, as August would roll around, so would I. Despite the desire I’d walked out with in June, as the days passed, I would come up with countless excuses. It was too hot to exercise. I’d never be able to stick to a diet. And, of course, it wasn’t likely that I’d lose 100 pounds over the summer without divine intervention, so why bother to even start?
I’ve thought a lot about why I finally was able to start, keep up and reach the finish line of this leg of my journey. It could have been the desire never to be embarrassed anymore when I came face to face with high school friends who couldn’t recognize the fat lady I’d become. It might have been the ease of MyFitnessPal, the support of my daughter, or the fact that I was retired, so there was no end-of-summer date looming before me, no unreasonable deadline I’d set in stone for myself. I knew it wouldn’t take two months, but that no longer mattered. I had a plan, and if it took a year or even two, this time, there was nowhere to go but down.
I never wanted to see a three-digit number starting with a “2” looking up at me from a scale. But reaching a “magic number” wasn’t my only goal. I wanted to go into a women’s clothing store and be directed to single-digit sized clothes rather than the “Women’s” section. I wanted buy a business suit with a pencil skirt. And as much Woman Within is a nice catalogue, I never wanted to have to order clothes online again because I was too ashamed to try them on in a dressing room or to look at myself in a mirror. I’ve achieved all those things. Stepping on the scale was the final moment.
And so, 495 days after I determined to transform my fantasy into reality, I looked down and saw the number I’d been waiting for: a weight loss of 90 pounds. However, my reaction surprised me. There was no moment of fanfare. No screaming and jumping up and down. No shouts of triumph, no tears. I could have walked into the school building and had that moment I craved. But I didn’t need that anymore: I had done this for myself. It was a quiet victory.
People have asked me how I would celebrate reaching my goal. What would I eat when I finally reached this point? Would I indulge in the M&M’s and potato chips I’d been denying myself? I knew the answer before I even stepped on the scale. The truth is I’m not going to do anything differently than I’ve been doing for the past 16 months. I will still be making choices every day—a choice to maintain my weight, living each day with the understanding that this isn’t and never has been a “diet.” It’s been a complete change in my attitude toward food, a lifestyle I’ve chosen that allows me to make my own healthy choices.
The number on the scale is was just another number, another step in my journey: one I started 495 days ago and from which I knew that I would never look back. I smiled at the woman in the mirror. Then I put on my sneakers and headed to the gym.