Far too often in the course of my life, I have passed on opportunities and/or experiences that would have brought me joy and happy memories because I was uncomfortable with how I looked. I often felt the pressure that I HAD to look a certain way in order to be accepted by those around me or to be taken seriously by those who participate in our challenges. It was an overwhelming feeling and frequently lead me down a depressing road of self-loathing and self-sabotage and was absolutely counterproductive to a happy, fulfilling life. I preferred to shut myself inside my safe little world and avoid interaction with anyone who might be judging my worth by how I looked (which sadly, in my mind, was almost everyone).
In the past year, I've been hard at work on myself and changing my thoughts from "I'm not good enough and never will be because I lack will-power and self-control" to "I'm grateful for my body and my life, and I am proud of my accomplishments and the progress I've made so far." I can't begin to explain to you the peace I've experienced since I decided to stop basing my happiness on the number on a scale or the tag on my pants. It has been absolutely freeing to let go of the obsessive need to live up to the expectations that I assume others have for me, and while my outside isn't changing much, my "inside" has grown leaps and bounds. I've attempted things that I never thought I'd be brave enough to attempt simply because I let go of the fear of failing. And while I've had some failures, I try to focus on the lesson to be learned instead of the defeat. Nothing that is truly worth having in life is achieved without some personal sacrifice and hard work. Faith, love, friendship, respect, confidence, family, peace and good health: each of these things is important to my happiness and they all require constant work and attention as well as growth that comes from messing them up every once in a while. As I've worked on what's happening inside my head, it's been so much easier to take advantage of opportunities and experiences that have come my way and push myself outside my comfort zone. My confidence has grown with every little step I've taken in the right direction, and that confidence has helped me pick myself up after each misstep and focus on moving forward again. And can you believe that I've accomplished this while still living life in size 12 jeans??? Crazy, right?? My goal is to someday dust off my size 8's again, but until then, I refuse to be unhappy simply because there's more of me to love.
We received this "triumph" story from a participant a few years ago and it continues to inspire me to enjoy the experience ON MY WAY to reaching my end goals.
"This last week I went on a cruise and being that I was responsible for my team and not for just myself, I was very motivated to do well. The last time I went on a cruise, I gained at least 8 lbs. This time I lost 2 lbs! I had a great time and just enjoyed all the beauty that God has provided for us and did not concentrate on the food. There were many delicious choices that were healthy, and I did not feel deprived at all. I went to the gym and did the bike three times, walked and worked in 2 days of strength training even with a bad knee. I shared this experience with my team, and wanted to share it with you as well.
We were on a beautiful beach resort in the Bahamas with white sand and turquoise water, and I did not want to go in the water because of the way I look. I was feeling quite depressed as I stood with my swimsuit in hand and watched my brother having fun in the ocean. A sweet, overweight woman in a swimsuit came up to me and said, "Get that suit on and enjoy yourself. I am 6 months cancer free. No one cares what you look like. Go and have a great time. We both cried and shared a big hug, and I told her she was my angel. I put my suit on, and I DID have a great time in the water and will forever be grateful for that sweet angel. I am trying to be better to myself and want to love myself and see myself the way I see others...I think I am on the right track." -Anita
Thank you Anita for sharing your "triumph" and for being such a wonderful example of getting out there and enjoying life no matter what others may or may not think of you. I hope that if you struggle to truly enjoy life simply because you're not the size or shape you think will make you happy, that you'll consider right now to stop waiting to be happy until....until you lose weight...until you get a promotion at work...until you fall in love...until you fit in your size 8 pants. Those things might bring temporary contentment, but TRUE HAPPINESS is a CHOICE that we have to make every single day to find the joy in the ups and downs of life. Choose to be happy and enjoy the ride!
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