(July 2017 and January 2019)
Losing Tim changed me on a molecular level. I have said this before. I cannot say it enough. The physical and emotional shifts that I experienced in the early grief phases of 2017 transitioned me from a quiet, comfortable, sometimes mundane married life into the hell-scape of early widowhood. I went from being a stay at home mother and wife of my college sweetheart to a broken, crumpled mess of a woman, still breastfeeding her baby while mentally fighting for emotional and physical survival. My worldview, sense of self, physical location, home, relationships, and aspects of my personality underwent profound transition in the months post-loss. I became a different person. A stranger to myself. A trauma survivor.
For over a year after losing Tim I focused on getting by. I struggled to function, yet I was still responsible for my children and the mountain of emotional and logistical challenges that Tim’s death left behind.
In August of 2018 I made the conscious choice to change other key parts of my being. My relationship with food, my fitness, and my attitude towards my life moving forward. This transition has been slow, but deliberate. It has been one of countless miss-steps and moments of self doubt. It continues to be a work in progress, but I have found myself coming into a place of ownership over this new life, mindset, body, existence I have created for myself.
And you know what?
I’M DAMN PROUD.
I haven’t really put much of this journey on this blog. I did not want this space to become some sort of sad, awkward weight loss journal. I did not want my inner journey to be boiled down to pounds and inches. I did not want to have my changing body be seen as a sign that everything was somehow magically better for me. Though I have fought my way into a healthier existence and holistic healing, I still struggle at times. I have much growth ahead. I’m not where I want to be. I’m trying. I’m doing it.
(Pictures from September 2018 and March 2019)
My relationship with my body had been strained for the majority of my life. As a child, I began gaining weight at five and hit 200lbs in 7th grade. I was accustomed to being the fat kid. I was teased, bullied, and made to feel inferior on countless occasions. A constant in my life was the sentiment “you would be so beautiful *if*…”. If I lost weight. If I got in shape. If my cheekbones showed. If I changed.
I can remember becoming aware of my food consumption around age 11. I started actively trying to lose weight at 14. Through high school, college, and young adulthood I exercised regularly and counted calories. I did cleanses, diets, fasts. I saw fat and flesh with hatred and distain. I literally dreamed of cutting it off. I spent one summer forcing myself to burn no less than 1000 calories daily on the elliptical before I allowed myself a small dinner. I went through phases of self hatred and self defeat, always wishing that somehow I could make my body change into one that better fit our society’s standards of beauty. With Tim, I found confidence in myself, but I continued to feel insecure in my skin and excess flab. My body was not a reflection of who I was, it was separate from myself.
I took up running in 2011, which allowed me to lose weight and changed my body composition. I loved running before dawn, and the feeling it left in my muscles throughout the day. I loved the confidence, mental clarity, and swagger it gave me. I continued running until well into my second trimester with Jack Byron. Then came the realities of a postpartum body and the onset of hypothyroidism that left me feeling like I had been hit by a truck. Then a second pregnancy with Claira that forced my feet to grow a full size in 41 weeks. Then another period of postpartum existence, chronic foot pain, two babies, life. I worked hard to tackle my body demons while nourishing myself appropriately. I began to find new footing.
Then Tim died.
And everything, mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, went to shit.
August 2018 began the transition. And in one month, I lost 10 pounds of grief weight.
It started with a sense of inner urgency. I had spent the summer of 2018 moving into our new home, setting up and decorating every corner with colorful pieces of a life old and new. I was eating a lot of crackers and sweets, and drinking a fair amount of alcohol. Not so much that it was a problem, but enough that I felt the need to keep myself in check. So, going into August with a will to change and a bit of personal motivation, I made the decision to cut out added sugar and alcohol entirely for a month. It was not easy at times, and I did go off track on a few occasions, but I had made the decision that I was tired of being fat. I was a person I never imagined I would have to be. My lover of 12 years was suddenly gone from this earth. My entire life had changed. It was time for my body to change with it.
So I did it.
In September 2018 I began working with a wellness coach who helped me find a nutrition and fitness routine that fit my new life as a single working mother. I began to feel fitter and lose weight through sustainable lifestyle choices. I began to learn more about what dietary choices worked best for my individual body, and how to stay focused through periods of stress and self-doubt. I learned to transition away from emotional eating patterns. I learned what I needed, and how to provide that for myself.
I am now 56 pounds into this new phase of life. I still have around 25 to go, though my goals go beyond a number on a scale. I’m confident in my body now. I love the woman I have become on every level. I feel physically and mentally stronger than I have ever been. I have the energy and focus to care for my children (most of the time). I’m embracing this new life and the forced and chosen transitions it has brought.
I’m truly excited to see where this life will go. I am transitioning into a body that reflects the woman I am now. I am embracing these changes and challenges that come, with the knowledge that nothing is permanent, everything changes, but I still have some choice in the matter. I am feeling the power I have earned and growing and expanding by the day.
This journey of self-discovery, awareness, clarity, and wellness, is far from over. It will never be over. But each day I make the choice to love and care for myself. It’s my choice.