I watched the season finale of Brothers & Sisters this week, and was struck by Nora Walker's quote from George Eliot at the end: "It is never too late to be what you might have been."
"Was" vs. "might have been"
I was "fat" in my mind long before my body was overweight.
I look at pictures from high school, and my heart breaks to see a girl embarrassed to have her picture taken because her size 12 dress is so embarrassingly huge.
It became a self-fulfilling prophecy: the less I believed in myself, the less I took care of myself. I hated my appearance and battled my weight throughout my teens, twenties, thirties (except for about a month after I lost the 70 lbs in 2003), and the first couple of years of my forties.
Then, after years of gentle support, The Faithful Mo broke through.
Not that Mo was responsible for this Thanksgiving Project - that was my own, latest "big idea" to get myself together. (It followed far too many other unsuccessful "big ideas" to even mention.) With that said, when I floated the idea with her (you have to realize this was likely the 50th "big idea" she'd had to listen to, and might well have expected to suffer the same fate as all the others), she was enthusiastic and promised to be a faithful reader (which, as you might have noticed from our comments, she is!).
But the difference between this time and all the other times is that this time, I'm actually liking my body.
Not how it looks naked - frankly, I don't know if that will ever happen! Had I gotten my act together in my 20s, maybe... But how it works, and what it can do. And that's where Mo gets the credit.
In 2003, I lost the weight, fine. But it was all about food, even then. I counted carefully, I journaled faithfully... until I stopped doing those things. And then everything was back to "normal" - I ate huge volumes of garbage, I didn't exercise, and I gained it all back.
Now, though the food remains a struggle (and always will), I am actually enjoying exercise, for the first time in my life.
As a kid I played hours and hours of tennis, and loved it - but not because it was exercise, because it was fun. Getting older, I didn't have all day and all night to play, and I moved away from my tennis-playing friends and family... and my body didn't cooperate the way it had before. While I had never been a particularly good tennis player, the playing had come easily (physically). Now, it no longer did.
So for decades now, I'd been hating all forms of exercise - until I started to run.
I won't say that running is "fun" for me, or even that I exactly enjoy doing it. But I love the feeling of having done it each and every time I go out -- and I love the feeling that I can do it. I never believed I could, but I can.
Mo, and her husband, and our brother and sister-in-law, and my own husband, all runners, told me I could run if I wanted to -- but for years I simply didn't believe them. My body had let me down in so many ways for so many years - orthopedic problems, arthritis, miscarriages, etc etc... I just had no faith that it could do anything beyond simple survival. Mo tried again and again, gently, to encourage me, but my faith in my own body was so low that I never even tried, until now.
Thanksgiving Project + Mo's 5K training program = the key
Today, I sat outside on the front step and changed out the laces on my running shoes to new special ones I bought at The Running Room (they apparently won't come untied while you're running - a big problem for me for some reason!). As I laced them up, I found myself excited for tomorrow morning's run, to try them out.
Me, excited to go out tomorrow morning and try out new shoelaces.
I still kind of can't believe it, and I don't think about it too much, because I'm afraid somehow the spell will break. After all, it's only been a couple of months, after more than 20 years of hating my body and having no faith in it.
But that Eliot line struck something in me, and somehow gave me permission to accept that maybe I can be a runner, and maybe I can be comfortable with my body, however it ends up looking.
I'm 42 now, and I'm angry to think of how my "good" years (beauty-wise!) were wasted in this vicious food battle. But, with luck, 42 isn't the end of the line, and if that's how long it took me to find my stride, then I should just be thankful that it didn't take me until 52. Or 62. Or, terrifyingly, until it was too late.
It's never too late to be what you might have been.
I have faith, and I feel good, starting now.
Thanks Mo. :)