My January issue of Shape magazine -- featuring Aury Wallington, the 2009 Weight-Loss Diary columnist -- arrived in the mail recently and as I read her story, I reflected on my own weight-loss journey. Getting to goal weight with the support of my expert team was a tough, but well-worth-doing endeavor. Not for the number on the scale, mind you, but for what I learned about the importance of taking care of myself. Truthfully, life feels so much better when your body feels good and is operating on all cylinders. I'm sure that anyone who has ever faced a health problem -- or watched a family member face one -- knows just what I mean.
In the year-and-a-half since I reached goal weight, I've learned a few ugly truths about keeping the weight off. One, it's not about expensive gym memberships, fancy diet foods or any of the other "trappings" of the weight-loss industry. It's about commitment, pure and simple. Two, it requires a certain selfishness and by that, I mean I've learned that I have to make my commitment to healthy living (making time to exercise, planning and preparing healthy meals, etc.) a priority. It sounds simple, but it's an extremely difficult mental shift for many women, who are used to putting the needs of family, job, community, etc. before their own. Not only is it hard for me, but there's a lot of guilt involved, too.
All of this is exactly the reason why I just want to give Oprah Winfrey a giant hug. I know people have mixed feelings about her, but when I read her story, in which she chronicles her feelings about getting back up to 200 pounds, I just wanted to let her know that I understand. Because I do.
It's easy for life to get in the way of our best intentions. And for women, it seems, it's easy for our obligations, our guilt and our "shoulds" to get in the way of doing what's best for us. Will that ever change? I don't know that it will for me. But I'm aware of it now and when I feel myself slipping down the spiral of taking care of everyone but myself, I know it's time to put me first -- even for just a half-hour.