The finish line

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Weight loss is often referred to as a “journey” or a “marathon.” People focus on the long, arduous, difficult nature of the process, but also the sweet satisfaction that comes from crossing that ultimate finish line. At the beginning of my weight loss, that “finish line” seemed impossible: 200 lbs away! More than half my original bodyweight! That goal, the end zone, the destination seemed like a pipe dream.

Except it’s not. Now, I have just 30 lbs to go until my goal weight. And while that is still not an insignificant number of pounds, compared to where I’ve been, it feels more like a certainty that I will at some point get there.

I know in my heart of hearts that one morning, I will wake up (probably after snoozing my alarm at least 3 times, making my sleepy husband think murderous thoughts about me at 4:30, then 4:35, then 4:40… you get the idea. Morning me is always convinced that those NEXT 5 minutes will SURELY make the difference between groggy beyond all hope and awake.) and drag myself out of bed. I will go through my pre-gym routine and then, right before I put my gym clothes on, I will pull the scale out from underneath the bathroom sink, line it up to the correct spot on the floor, and I will step on it.

I will wait for the numbers to settle on the morning verdict. Some mornings, I get good news, some mornings it’s disappointing. But on this day, this day that I know is coming eventually, the scale is going to settle on a new number.

My goal weight.

I’ve visualized this scenario plenty of times. This is the scenario that forces me out of bed at 4:30… okay 4:50 in the morning more days than not. This is the scenario that keeps me putting one foot in front of the other. This is the scenario that encourages me to choose not to take out my frustration, depression and anger out on my body by injuring myself with food.

The image of the scale settling on my goal weight has become as real in my brain as some legitimate memories I’ve created, even though it has not happened yet. Because I know at some point, it will happen. I’ve come too far to fail now. The shore is too close turn around now.

But that day, that image, that salient moment, that very real scenario is not the sigh of relief nor the finish line.

More and more, as I meet people who have seen that scale settle on their goal weight, I am struck by one overwhelming thought as they tell me their stories:

There is no finish line.

When the scale settles on my goal weight, I will have accomplished a major goal that I really had very little faith I would ever experience. But that moment will be far from the end.

A hard truth that I am coming to terms with at the moment is that these mental demons I’ve been fighting with and the habits I struggle to break are going to follow me. They will always be the devil on my shoulder. Always.

Reaching my goal weight will be many things, but it will not be a magical turning point that means I no longer have to worry about the fears and insecurities that plague me. It isn’t the cure-all to happiness and self-love. Even at my goal weight, there will be days where I want to turn to calories for comfort. There will be days that my depression whispers its doubts into my ear.

There is no finish line. There is no moment where I just get to declare this journey to be at its end. Sometimes, especially in those doubtful moments, that thought is overwhelming. But if I have learned nothing else along the way, I have learned this:

No day matters but this day and what I choose to do with it. I start fresh at the beginning of the game today, regardless of yesterday’s successes or failures. It all starts new today.

And again tomorrow… And again the next day… This step. This decision. This bite. This breath. This morning.

It all starts over new.

Step by step. Decision by decision. Bite by bite. Breath by breath. Morning by morning. Day by day. Just this one.

And then one more.

And then one more….

Always one more.  Never finished.  Never complacent.

Reflection

It’s a jarring feeling, really. That groggy moment when you first glance in the mirror in the morning and have a single, fleeting moment when your heart stops because the face staring back at you is not your own.

But it is.

It isn’t a horror movie. That’s me. That’s who I’ve become. I’ve just come to a point where my brain has not yet caught up with my body, which is a well-documented phenomenon in weight loss. Cognitive dissonance.

I’ve been struggling with my weight loss lately. When I started my new job, I instantly gained 8 lbs. I wasn’t too worried. I figured it was a fluctuation, not a gain. After all, I was putting my body in the shittiest of all possible environments for weight loss: from a fairly active job to a sedentary one, struggling to get enough sleep, choosing “easy” foods (AKA “sodium enriched”) because I was exhausted. I figured if I stuck to my calorie goal, it would come off almost (but of course, not quite) as quickly as it came.

Except it didn’t. It stuck around.

And I do mean stuck. It seemed like no matter what I did, how many days a week I dragged my already-exhausted body out of bed to go to the gym, how many days in a row I abided by my calorie goal… It seemed like suddenly none of that mattered.

I’ve always described to people that my weight loss comes in “stalls” where my body kind of hangs onto some pounds for a few infuriating weeks, and “whooshes” where I wake up and suddenly feel skinny, and the scale confirms that some obscene amount of weight has “whooshed” off of my body.

I have recognized this pattern over and over and over again. But am I reasonable and rational about this and just keep playing the game until my body decides to “whoosh?”

Of course not. But gosh, that would make my life so much easier.

So I was stalling. And of course, panicking, which comes hand-in-hand with stalling. This stall was lasting longer than the others, which was normal for a major life change like a new job with increased responsibilities and a whole new schedule.

For awhile, I tried to just ride it out. Just keep doing my thing and wait until my schedule and anxiety level calmed down a bit. But every time I stepped on the scale, there were those 8 lbs just staring back at me.

I got discouraged, which is always when the negativity starts to creep in like some creepy dude in a dark alley. Go ahead, might as well go a little over today. Heh. It’s not like religiously sticking to your calorie goal is working.

And then came the little cheats, steadily repeated for a few weeks.

I reached out to my friends and comrades on MyFitnessPal. It takes a village, and as always, my village came through.

“Change something – but don’t quit.”
“Doing what gives results is the only way to get there eventually. If I do the opposite, I’m guaranteed not to get there.”

But two responses with the same theme just punched me in the gut in a way I absolutely wasn’t expecting:

“Take some time to really reflect on how you felt the day you started.”
“Do you remember 160 lbs ago how you DREAMED of being where you are today?”

And it all came flooding back. All at once. In one, extremely emotional wave that I am just now processing through writing this.

I feel very disconnected from the girl I used to be. In many ways, I felt like I had to cut that girl who I was completely out of my life because that is the nature of changing yourself.

I catch myself often looking at that girl with derision and disdain, much like the way other people often did due to my weight. Heck, even when I was that girl, I didn’t think she was worth very much. I’ve shuddered at the number of calories that girl ate daily, how much she just unthinkingly consumed. I’m shocked by how gullible that girl was, thinking some diet pill or magic superfood was going to cure her of her fat. I’ve scoffed at the weak, lame excuses she sometimes made.

But I’ve never really given that girl credit because that girl is me. I can’t compliment myself. I can’t even accept compliments from others properly. I have this annoying habit of trying to correct people when they think I’m special.

That girl gave me a gift, and I accepted it, but never thanked her.

I previously wrote the post “Fuck You, Future Me.” It’s time to acknowledge past me.

That girl was brave. She looked in the mirror one day and said “No. No more. I don’t know what to do yet, but I know it isn’t this.”

She was so eager to do something. In my very first blog post, I wrote:

“So you have to start somewhere, and I sure as fuck did better than I did yesterday.  So even though my exercise can be summed up as “Two humiliating minutes,”  I’m gonna call it a win.  Because I got up and did it.  Which is a start.”

In the beginning, everything was hard for that girl. Much harder than any of it is today. The gym was downright painful, both physically and emotionally. Her joints ached, her muscles didn’t know what the hell happened, and she was acutely aware of the fact that people were mocking her.

She had no idea what she was doing in terms of eating. Calorie counting wasn’t even something she had considered. That poor, naive girl thought “I’ll eat a bunch of quinoa and kale. Those are healthy, right? The more quinoa and kale I eat, the more weight I will lose, right?”

But she kept going. She was willing to change everything because nothing she was doing was working. She kept learning. She experimented, failed, got back up again, researched, and found what worked for her.

She was miles further away from the goal than I am now. Sometimes, the mountainous task seemed completely insurmountable, and yet she believed that one day, she would reach her goal. She believed that the power was inside of her. So she made one good decision after another, and those decisions, painstakingly repeated, formed the foundation of her new life.

And I never even acknowledged it. I just took the pretty dresses and the compliments and ran.

As motivating as it is to say “don’t fuck over future you,” it doesn’t require you to really feel anything. Future me is a complete stranger. And fucking over a stranger is way easier than fucking over a gullible yet well-intentioned girl who gave you a gift that changed your life.

No more. No more fucking over past me. No more throwing her gift back into her face. No more undermining the hard work she did for me. I will arise. I will persist. I will transform into the person she dreamed I could be.

Because I owe her one. I owe her everything.

Habit Hacks: Creating new habits when everything is changing

One rule of life we cannot rearrange:
The only thing constant is change.”

Jekyll and Hyde, the musical

In many of my posts, I have written about how important it is to develop habits that will lead you closer to your goals. Habits are how you build that oft-recited lifestyle change. Habits are formed by demanding consistency of yourself.

Unfortunately, real life doesn’t make consistency easy.

I’ve never pretended to have it all figured out. Sometimes, I guess, you just get thrown into a situation where everything you thought was solidly anchored is suddenly being thrown at you and you have to figure out how to hold it all down again.

Life is consistently changing. Things always come up. The metaphorical rug keeps getting pulled out from under us just when we think our footing is firm.

My life right now

I got very good at living within my healthy habits. And then things changed, as things tend to do.

You see, I have a lot of change going on right now. There is the weight loss, of course. I look in the mirror and sometimes don’t recognize the person who is there, which can be a jarring, unsettling feeling to say the least. Not that I am complaining. It just boils down to a strange new feeling.

I got a promotion within my department. Go me! That came with a lot of changes. New hours, new responsibilities, new dress code, new place to eat lunch, coworkers don’t quite know what to do with me and I’m suddenly an outsider in a place that was stable… And along with all the shiny new things, some old insecurities that manage to creep back in. Will I be good enough? What if I fail?

The new dress code sounds fairly easy, until you realize that due to my weight loss I have given away 90% of my clothes (not even an exaggeration.) There is a big difference between doing leisurely clothing shopping and happening upon an item you love and desperately sorting through the racks of every thrift shop to find stuff that works. But that’s my life in this place between my high weight and my goal weight. The Eventually Former Fatty place.

Long story short, I have lots of new business-casual clothes. I thrift like a champion. I thrift to win.

But that is another feeling that throws me a little off-balance: Pretty much all of my clothes are new (to me). It makes me feel utterly unlike myself. I feel like I am playing dress up, or like I am wearing the costume for a character I am playing (because my life is a musical, clearly.)

Thankfully, the character I’m playing is super confident and a rock star. And sometimes she even looks in the mirror and thinks “Damn. I look good.”

All of my changes are overwhelmingly positive. None of them have been easy.

For instance, my new job comes with new hours (consequently, I’m also working some hours in my previous position, so I am working a TON of hours every week.) I didn’t realize the full impact of the new schedule. Coming in at 8 means I need to make the gym earlier. My gym opens at 5:25, and if I want to be there when they open, my alarm goes off at 4:50. That’s a horrifying time for someone who had trouble making the gym by 7. And then I work until 7 p.m. currently, so that means, if I want to get around 8 hours of sleep, (It never happens, but a girl can dream!) I would need to go to bed at about 9. When you get home at 7:30, it is tough to do everything you need to do (cook, eat, don’t be a slob and pick up after yourself) in an hour and a half.

It has really made me assess how I create habits, because right now, I have to be extremely conscious of how I use my time. I have built lots of great habits, and now I have to build them all over again.

How to create those new habits

Here are my tips for building, or rebuilding, new habits.

  • Think through your barriers before you encounter them. Before creating a new habit, assess what has stopped you before and what challenges you face. Most habits are formed because they are the easiest way around a hurdle. Instead of letting these obstacles stop you, think through how you will move past them and compensate for them ahead of time.
  • Focus on making good decisions the easiest decision. Habits are formed as a result of what is convenient. But you can choose what is convenient! If you find yourself always reaching for cookies before bed, and that isn’t something you want, make it harder to obtain cookies. If you are feeling snacky and you have no cookies or chips but you have an apple, chances are you will take the apple that is there before you will leave the house to get cookies.
  • Find the root cause. Your bad habit isn’t the cause, it is the effect of something else. You need to find the cause to fix the effect. Don’t focus on a bad habit, focus on the habit that leads you there. For instance, instead of focusing on healthy eating, focus on healthy grocery shopping. If it doesn’t make it into your cart, it is harder for it to get into your mouth.
  • Just do it, even if it won’t be complete or perfect. If you wake up late and know you will only have 30 minutes at the gym instead of an hour, go anyway. Even though you might not accomplish your workout goal, you will still make progress toward hardwiring that thing you have made a priority into being a habit.
  • Plan to succeed. Plan ahead and prepare. One of my new habits is packing my lunch the night before because my morning schedule is tighter than before. I also keep a squadron of healthy snacks in my desk.
  • So let it be written, so let it be done. I am a sucker for a to-do list. I make a daily to-do list in my planner. If you are building an intentional new habit, write it into your calendar or daily to-do list for the next month. If you aren’t that organized, tape a reminder to your bathroom mirror or put a note on your door knob.
  • Divide to conquer Break each habit down to smaller elements. For instance, if your goal is to stop eatiing fast food for lunch, focus on the habit of planning lunches for the week.
  • Never miss two in a row. Let’s face it. When you are building a new habit or adjusting to a new schedule, you won’t succeed 100% of the time. If I miss the gym on a morning I was planning to go, I make it my mission, come hell or high water, to not miss a second day in a row. This means that new habit won’t go where all those old new-years resolutions went to die: Forgottenland.
  • Set a timer. There was this show on PBS when I was a kid called “The Big, Comfy Couch.” One of their features was the Ten-Second Tidy, where the main character set a timer for ten seconds and cleaned in fast-forward mode for that time. When there is a lot of little stuff to do and I don’t know where to start, I set my timer for 20 minutes and pledge fast-forward levels of productivity during those 20 minutes.
  • Forgive yourself. Sometimes you have a bad day, or even just a few oreos too many. You can’t go back in time (not yet, anyway) so you may as well focus on forward momentum. Forgive yourself when you fail and move forward.

The most important part of that list is the last two words: Move forward. Just keep moving forward one step, one day, one decision at a time.

MyFitnessPal Coaching : The Ultimate Review

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Recently, I was able to test out MyFitnessPal Coaching because I was a part of what appears to have been a random trial for a service that has not gone live yet. One day, I went to log my breakfast in MyFitnessPal and saw that the header “Coach” appeared in my menu sidebar. Intrigued, I clicked it and discovered that it was a new service being offered by one of my favorite apps.

After a quick Google search, I discovered that the internet was quite barren of information about the new service. My husband pointed out that I was in the perfect position to give my readers the answers to the questions I had initially about the service. Plus, you know, I was kind of excited about the service itself.

So here we are! You may have read my previous posts about MyFitnessPal Coaching, but this will be my ultimate, no-holds-barred review.

I want to get a few things out of the way before this review begins, because I think they are important.

  • I have not been compensated for this review in any way. MyFitnessPal has offered me no perks or monetary rewards for my review. They were unaware that I had a blog and have assured me that my selection was random. My review represents an average, ordinary person’s experience. I feel I am in a position to be unbiased.
  • My experience may vary from yours for a few reasons. First, if you are familiar with the concept of a beta test, you know that things change from the time things are tested to the time they are released to a wider audience. MyFitnessPal may choose to change aspects of the program between now and going live. Second, I am a different person who has different goals and an overall different worldview, therefore even if you have the same experience I have, you may perceive it differently than I do. Third and finally, you are paired with a specific coach upon entry into the program, and so much of my experience centers around the interactions I had with my coach. A different coach may lead to a different experience altogether, although I assume they all receive similar training.

Service Overview

If you haven’t heard of MyFitnessPal yet… Oh boy. You are missing out. At the time of writing this, MyFitnessPal has helped me personally lose 140 lbs… for FREE. My friends on the app have lost a collective amount of 8,000 lbs at last calculation. It is an app that allows you to track calories based on a goal that is calculated for you. It sports the most comprehensive food database of any other calorie counting application in existence. Long story short, it takes the guesswork out of weight loss and turns it into a formula.

MyFitnessPal acquired the personalized digital coaching company Sessions after their first ever bout of fundraising. This acquisition is what is leading to the coaching service. With this strategic acquisition, the company hopes to be the ultimate resource for helping users reach their weight goals.

Here was the service as advertised to me:

For $49 a month, MyFitnessPal Coach boasts that it will give you the following benefits:

  • MyFitnessPal Coaching pairs you with an MFP-certified dietitian who guides you to your ideal weight.
  • Your coach will take the guesswork out of what you’re eating and provide you with a daily diary audit.
  • Get fresh perspectives on the food you’re eating. Uncover great ideas for recipes, snacks, and all-important food swaps.
  • Learn about weight loss and nutrition from an expert. You can ask your coach anything!

Your personalized coaching will include:

  • Daily audits of your diary.
  • Weekly progress check-ins with your coach
  • Support hitting your daily fitness and nutrition goals.
  • Strategies for overcoming challenges and techniques for developing new habits.
  • In-depth nutritional analysis and eye-opening behavioral insights.
  • Access to hundreds of dietitian-approved, macronutrient balanced recipes.
  • The flexibility to eat foods you love.

Basically, you are assigned a coach and interact with this coach in several ways. The coach looks through your food diary and chooses something to comment on daily. Sometimes it is to applaud a decision you have made. Sometimes it is to redirect you and give you ideas for how to make a healthier decision in the future.

You also have access to a messenger-like screen where you have a running conversation with your coach. You can ask questions at any time and they can get to know you better so they have a better understanding of the challenges you may face and the goals they can help you achieve.

Together, you work with your coach to set goals, identify areas to improve, and work to retrain you to make better decisions on your own.

MyFitnessPal Coach

Effectiveness

Verdict: I believe MyFitnessPal coaching is effective in accomplishing the promised goals and the goals I set for myself.

To give some perspective on this verdict, I will share that prior to coaching I was experiencing kind of a rut. I was still losing weight, though never felt like it was coming off quickly enough. I also felt like I was eating the same foods every day and was in need of some ideas.

As soon as I started the coaching program, my weight loss renewed itself. I became very aware that I should show my best self to my coach and should show her that I know how to eat right. As a result of “showing off” to my coach, I dropped 5 lbs in the first week of coaching. Holy wow.

After the newness wore off, I began to just live my life, which allowed my coach to find patterns and give better suggestions. Something the coach and I worked on was getting more healthy fats in my diet.

Throughout the process, I lost weight steadily and continuously. I very much credit the program itself in addition to making decisions I knew would make my coach proud. Throughout the time, I ate normal foods and had many productive conversations with my coach. She shared recipes, ideas, and encouragement with me, all of which helped me move forward with a renewed sense of purpose with my program.

Personalization and Flexibility

Verdict: MyFitnessPal Coach has succeeded in creating a personalized service that is flexible enough to work in your lifestyle.

MyFitnessPal is in a unique position to provide very personalized feedback, and combining that potential with a coaching platform just makes sense. Consider the amount of data this app gets from a regular user. Looking at my diary, one is able to see not only the food I eat, but can also see which days I am most active, my weight loss trend, and any posts I make to my friends.

When I began working with my coach, I was really afraid that she would tell me I should never ever eat any sort of “junk” food again. I was afraid they would tell me I should go on a dairy-free, cage-free, organic, raw-only, vegan, free-range, gluten-free, Non-GMO, locally-sourced, kale-and-chard-only diet. Which of course, just won’t do.

So I tested my coach. I went to Taco Bell.

MyFitnessPal Coach Comments

Now, I should explain that Taco Bell serves a very distinct purpose in my life. It is one of the easiest places for me to eat out low-calorie when I’m not feeling the soup / salad / sandwich trifecta. Between the Cantina Power Burrito and the Shredded Chicken Tacos Fresco Style and ALL the salsa verde, I can eat yummy on the go without blowing the calorie budget.

…And my coach didn’t yell at me! She praised my ability to find low-calorie options, but cautioned me to watch the sodium for the following day.

Reasonable as hell. That’s what my coach was throughout this whole process. At no point did she say “Don’t eat that. That’s bad.” She said things like “Try a smaller portion of pasta paired with a huge salad.” and “Hey, pre-packaged oatmeal cups tend to contain quite a bit of sugar. Try making your own! Here’s how…” Or even “Sounds like a fun treat! You deserve it!”

During the course of the program and going forward afterward, I felt like I could live a reasonable, balanced, tasty lifestyle by following the suggestions of my coach.

I would say that this particular attitude and style of coaching, if followed by every coach MyFitnessPal employs, will make this program tremendously successful.

Cost

Verdict: I thought the cost was slightly high for my own personal budget, however I consider the service received is well worth the money if you have it.

I’m going to let you in on a secret. I am a little bit cheap. I really am. I think of purchases in terms of “I worked X number of hours to afford this.” So, for instance, working for 5 hours to afford a month of electricity seems completely reasonable. Working 5 hours to afford a top I will only wear a few times seems less than reasonable.

At the time of my test, the service was $49 per month, which is just over 4 hours of work for me. When giving feedback to the head of coaching at MyFitnessPal, Glennis Coursey, I made the comment that this seems like a lot in my cheap brain for something that is not a tangible something I can hold.

When compared to existing services like personal dietary coaching or a personal fitness coach, $49 is certainly comparably inexpensive. But the pricetag still makes the service prohibitive for some people at a lower income.

Communication / Responsiveness

Verdict: The response time was much better than I expected, and the quality of responses was great!

I was concerned about the response time to my questions initially. Most certainly, I expected my coach to have others on her roster of clients. But I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly my coach responded to my inquiries.

On average, I could expect a response from my coach within a few hours of posting a question. I find this completely acceptable. My coach is a person with her own life to live, and I don’t even respond to all my emails in the same day.

So, it might not be realistic to ask your coach “Hey! I’m at a wedding and have no idea what to eat! HELP!” but the coach could certainly respond to “Hey! I’m going to a wedding tonight. Any tips to get through it?”

Overall, my coach answered all of my questions and much, much more.

Overall recommendations

Verdict: DO IT!

I think this service is a really great investment in yourself! I think it is ideal for people who have been logging for 30-90 days on their own. I feel like this gives a person enough time to get into the habit of logging everything every day. If you are not logging accurately every day before beginning this program, it will not be of much benefit.

Once someone is in the habit of logging, taking advantage of MyFitnessPal Coaching can be exactly the perfect thing to ensure you don’t run out of steam. It gives you a sense of accountability, the confidence to make weight loss fit into your lifestyle, and plenty of ideas to carry forward after you graduate from the program.

If ever I start making real money from my website, I would love to offer scholarships to cover the costs of two months of coaching for those who may need it. I feel like the individual guidance is so valuable, particularly for someone in the early stages of weight loss, and I plan on recommending the hell out of MyFitnessPal Coaching when it goes live.

To the girl on the next treadmill

Treadmill

To the girl on the next treadmill,

When I walked into the main gym today, I instantly wanted to be on the treadmill next to yours. It was like looking into a time-lapsed mirror. I recognized so much of myself in you. I recognized the baggy T-shirt with the unflattering sweats, which you chose because they don’t make cute workout clothes in your size. I recognized your determined gait, as if with each step you were walking further and further from all the times you failed, as if the each percussive step was the foundation of your mantra: This time is different.

Or maybe you were thinking none of those things. Maybe you aren’t like me at all and don’t need to constantly take stock of your negative feelings and find a way to run away, far, far away from them. But I suspect that we have at least some shared experiences, as there is no hiding the fact that you are right around the weight where I started.

I feel connected to you because when I picture myself in my head, I still picture myself as your shape. I still catch glimpses of myself in the mirror, even today, even 140 pounds and 15 months later, and find myself shocked to see someone I wasn’t expecting staring back at me in the mirror. I have to constantly remind myself that now I can fit there, I might not have that barrier, or that maybe I will fit into that top.

I recognize something else too. You are on Day 1 of the Couch to 5K program. I can recognize it quickly, as I have attempted Day 1 three different times in the past, and three times I have had the wind pulled from my lungs until they ache too hard to continue. I’ll try again in 50 pounds, I tell myself with a sigh. Maybe it will be easier then.

That’s what inspired me to stand next to you. You are doing it, actually doing it, at a weight where I failed. You are pushing through. You are winning the battle. And I am fiercely proud of you. I am inspired by you, and because of you I choose to push myself harder. You are someone I want to stand beside.
And as I push my pace faster and sweat harder than I had intended, I think to myself I need to tell you that you are amazing. I need to tell you that you are so much stronger and better than I ever was at that stage, or even now. But there is no good way to tell you. So I decide that I will strike up a casual conversation with you when you finish about the C25K program, and hopefully I can slip those sentiments into our casual interaction.

When your boyfriend came over, I wanted to scream at him. With his exasperated, flippant “How much longer you got? I don’t want to be here all day,” I wanted to scream “Don’t you understand what it takes for her to take this step? To take every step? To keep putting one foot in front of the other when your body tells you ‘no’? Don’t you care that this woman you supposedly love is trying to change her life?”

And when he sees the 9 minutes and 58 seconds glowing on the face of the treadmill and says “You’ve got 10 minutes still? Come on. I’ve got shit to do,” all I can wonder is what ‘shit’ he has to do with such immediacy that he cannot spare 10 more minutes to make sure the woman he cares about gets to feel the satisfaction of knowing that she did it, that she completed something, and that she said she would, so she did. In short, those 10 minutes may have been the 10 minutes where you discovered you were powerful beyond what you had ever dreamed.  But you were robbed of that.

Girl on the next treadmill, I tried to stalk you down in the locker room a minute after you left so I could awkwardly tell you some of this, probably stammering stupidly to find the right words and getting redder in the face than even my workout made me. Because I suspect you might need to hear it from someone. But I couldn’t find you. You had gone. So I decided to write this, because if you are the mirror of my past, it can only follow that I am the mirror of your future, and you need to know.  I wish I had known that I wouldn’t fail, and that every challenge was an opportunity to triumph.

You need to know your future is inside of you. You need to know that every mile will be worth it, even though it feels impossible and incomprehensibly far away. You need to know that you are worth loving, completely regardless of your weight. You need to know that the people who love you, I mean truly love you, will be your greatest fans.  You need to know that you can get tougher and stronger every day.

I hope that you come back. I hope his selfish comments don’t make you quit. I hope nothing makes you quit. I hope that someone with the determination I witnessed in just a short amount of time gets the chance to reap the rewards of that determination. Because you deserve it.