Everyone needs a good epiphany once in awhile. An epiphany can knock you out of a rut, turn your head around, open new possibilities you thought weren’t possible. The very best thing about having an epiphany is the spill-over. Once you change your conception of one little aspect of your life, it’s possible that everything else will be affected by the cosmic shift. For me, it happened two years ago when I lost a big chunk of myself.
This time two years ago I weighed sixty pounds more than I do today. I gave up hope that I’d ever be thin again, no more admirers, no more double-takes. I’d given up hope of ever again becoming incensed by whistling construction workers. It wasn’t a happy truth, but I grew to accept that my shelf life had expired and I’d been taken off the market.
I had the usual waistline and hip issues. What surprised me was how seriously fat is attracted to breasts as well. Mine were a living science project on gravity. Large breasts make a great catcher’s mitts for spilled food and like a scarlet letter, all my shirts bore stains. My wide behind was a billboard that said, “I have absolutely no self control.” It didn’t help that all my friends are thin. At parties, like an illicit lover I tried to act blasé about my lust for whatever sweets were served, but I’m sure my friends noticed me surreptitiously going back for seconds, thirds, fourths. It took a lot of work to haul around that much fat and I was embarrassed by the savage shade of red my face would turn at the least exertion. I was even more mortified when my face dripped sweat from every pore, forehead to chin. On the plus side, if I got thirsty, I could just suck liquid off my upper lip.
I never really thought the whole diet thing would work. Only in hindsight can I even own up to being fat. I assiduously maintained plausible denial by shunning mirrors and other reflective surfaces and refusing to pose for any family pictures unless there was someone fatter in front of me. You can tell it’s me in photos. I’m the elbow on the far left.
The problem with denial-even those most meticulously maintained-is that it all goes up like smoke if you let your guard down even for a minute. My lapse happened at my doctor’s office when I thoughtlessly caught a glance of my chart while the nurse wrote down my weight. It was careless and I knew better. I had not memorized every inch of ceiling above that scale by being careless. Denial was no longer plausible. I told my doctor I was sick and tired of being fat and was ready to do something about it. I think she believed me just a little less than I believed myself.
I’ll be darned if the diet thing did work. The first sign came while showering one night about two weeks into my diet. Reaching around to wash my back side, I realized suddenly that I could SEE my back side. There it was. Just a little twist of the waist and there it was. For a minute I thought I’d fallen into a parallel universe, but then I remembered that I’d been dieting and getting smaller was what was supposed to happen when one diets. I’d heard the stories, but never put any stock in them. Things snowballed after that. One little taste of victory made me voracious for more. It was like Christmas Day every day, except for the days when I felt like I’d won the lottery. Lest I be guilty of overselling, not everything about my new small-sized perspective was good. Being able to look down on myself past the top of my belly I realized that while I was as yet free of grey hairs on my head, I had silvered up in other areas. Still, it was worth it to be smaller.
Shortly after the shower revelation, I was zoning out in the kitchen while my husband and son argued and noticed my size sixteen J Jill skort was kind of baggy. Out of natural curiously (or perhaps it was the show-off in me) without unzipping or unbuttoning, I pulled down on the skort. It came all the way off. Glory be! I was thrilled, but my son was somewhat alarmed. Mama needed some new clothes, baby.
New clothes, indeed. I needed new soup to nuts. Bras, panties, pajamas. Even my wedding ring got too big. Only by going to Wal-Mart was I able clothe myself through size twelve, size ten, and size eight. Size eight was where I figured I’d top out. That’s where I was before I got fat. But my new destiny was revealed to me in a dressing room at the mall by a size six pair of blue jeans.
Second only to the size six jeans, the most exhilarating purchase was a new bathing suit. No bikini-I am a sensible forty-something lady after all. But I did get an appropriately modest two piece with skirt and a supportive bodice. It revealed just a small strip of my very pale and newly-flat belly. Like my daddy used to say, if you’ve got it, flaunt it.
People congratulated me and called my weight loss an accomplishment, but I feel like I lost weight in spite of myself. I never in a million years believed it would actually happen. It dawned on me that there might be other heretofore impossible things I could do. There were, especially physical things like chasing a Frisbee, sliding gracefully between chairs in crowded restaurants, turning backward somersaults, to name a few. The best impossible thing I’ve done wasn’t physical, though. By far the best thing I’ve done is letting other people read my writing.
People often ask me for dieting advice. They want to know “how I did it.” Then, usually, the person tells me all the reasons they could never do those things. After awhile, I got tired of listening to excuse lists and began to feel a little self-righteous. I’m trying to sidle off that high horse. Most of my friends and family have gotten used to the new me and have stopped wanting to talk about diets. I’m settling into the new me, too. Maybe I’m almost back to being just me. I’ve kept the weight off so far. But, I swear, my thighs are looking kind of fat.