Today marks the day one year ago when I finally had to realize that there were things that I could not fix, people I could not please, but I could work on my weight.
It’s been a rough five years in my family. Like many moms, I’m juggling parents who are aging and have had several rounds of hospitalizations and teenagers who are struggling and also have had to be hospitalized. Sometimes it’s just not fun in my house.
What I could do is put myself first, or at least not dead last. I chose to work on my weight first, because it was staring me in the face.
On May 3, 2016, I weighed what I weighed when I had walked into the hospital to deliver my children — who are now 13 and 16. The scary thing was I didn’t have a baby to deliver this time. Or a baby to nurse to get the weight off. I had to do it on my own.
Yes, I was thinking of my family when I decided to make a big change. I wanted to be there for their graduations and weddings and their children, but really, I had to do it for me. I had to do it so that my blood pressure, which will always be above average (thanks genetics!) can be controlled with a low dose of medicine, not multiple pills. I had to do it so that I didn’t become diabetic like all the members of my father’s family before me. I had to do it so I had energy and wasn’t short of breath. I also had to do it so I could button my size 12 pants, which really should have been a size 14.
I chose Weight Watchers because I knew it had worked for me twice before. (We all get off the wagon sometimes; some of us spend a decade off that wagon). But more than what program I chose, it was about changing my mindset.
Working on my weight was “me” time, not children time, not spouse time, not work time, not multiple nonprofit organizations time. It was me focusing on me. It was focusing on food as fuel not as a way to try to magically fix all those awful feelings of failing as a mother, failing as a wife, failing as a co-worker, failing as volunteer.
It was owning my imperfections and working on one thing I could control and letting go of the things I couldn’t control.
I didn’t make a big announcement. I didn’t really even tell anyone unless they asked me when they started to see my face thin out. I just quietly worked on me.
By January 17, I hit my goal weight. I now wear a size 4 pants, which has never happened in my life. I have energy and have reduced my blood pressure medicine to 1/2 a pill a day. Even by my annual checkup in October, my blood panel was back to normal, especially for cholesterol.
I continue to go to Weight Watchers meetings because I know that’s what I need to make sure I continue to have a designated space and time to focus on me.
Losing the weight didn’t solve any problems at home, at work, at any of the organizations I volunteer with. I still have some days that are less than great food wise. I still have days when I can’t get the exercise in.
What losing the weight has done is help me evaluate my “have to” lists. I don’t have to be up until 2 a.m. working on a project I don’t want to do for an organization that isn’t making me feel good about myself. I don’t have to try to fix my children. I can give them the tools, give them guidance, but ultimately, they’re going to make the decision to help themselves or to not help themselves. My job is to support them, but also to let them fail.
I learned a lot by my “failure” to put myself first-ish and be healthy. I still don’t always choose me, but I don’t always choose only them.
So, as we approach Mother’s Day, put one thing on your ever-growing to-do list: Figure out how to put you closer to the top of that list. What’s one thing you can do for yourself today? It doesn’t have to be huge. It could just be a Netflix binge or a walk with the dog. it could even be five minutes of quiet in your locked bedroom at the end of the day. No kids or spouses allowed.
Do it for you because you’re important, too.