Monday, July 12, 2010
The Deseret News has published this post.
We’ve heard the story dozens of times from dozens of women. In my case I heard it because I chased my skinny friends down, demanding, “How did you lose all that weight?” Years ago, after baby number three, I came into my own thirty pound story.
I’d been nursing or pregnant for years and the inches crept on, making themselves comfortable. Like most women sporting a little chub, I wasn’t happy. Every time I saw a mirror my countenance would fall. But I would be happy! It was inevitable. When I weighed thirty pounds less, I’d really be the smiling, cheerful angel everyone thought I was.
Weightwatchers.com and I worked very hard to shed those thirty pounds. Learning that our Sunday dinners had enough calories to feed a family of five for a week helped a lot. Soon I was at the point where the pay-off moments began to trickle in. There was only one that wasn’t disturbing on some level. I was shopping for new clothes when a sales clerk chastised me like I was the silliest creature in the world, saying, “You’re too small to shop in Women’s. Let me show you our Misses section.” That felt good. It felt good as I hid behind a rack of blouses, wiping a happy tear. It felt good all the way home. It felt good as I wore my new clothes on Sunday… And that’s just about all the feel good mileage I got out of it.
The problem was, I’d spent fifteen weeks losing thirty pounds, thinking that at the end the happy fairy would come tap me on the head and all my dreams would come true. As I stood in front of the mirror I realized, it was still me. I may have looked a little different, but it was still just plain old me in the mirror. I was living the same life, with the same wonderful people, day in and day out.
It hit home when a neighbor came by to drop something off. She jokingly said, “I hate you. You and your skinny butt, your perfect house, your perfect children. You make me sick.” I laughed it off nervously, not knowing what to say to that. When she left, I sat down and had a good snorting chuckle. If she could have seen past the entryway that day, she would have seen the laundry piled in the hall and my usually stud-muffined kids, in their rag-a-muff glory at two in the afternoon, wondering why lunch was two hours late.
If I wasn’t getting that warm, fuzzy happy feeling from people noticing my new weight, where was it going to come from? It dawned on me that I did live with a wonderful little gang of people, in a nice home, surrounded by a lot of friends. I had wasted fifteen weeks waiting to be happy. I could have chosen to be happy every moment of those fifteen weeks. I could have chosen to be happy thirty pounds ago. Doh! I collapsed onto the one clean couch in the house and rubbed my hands across my face. Happy wasn’t about size. It was about choice, (not that I minded being thirty pounds lighter).
My husband and I had hammered out this whole concept on a different level, years before. We’d even named the phenomenon “The As-Soon-As-es.” We’d be happy as soon as I had this baby or that one, and could stop waddling. We’d be happy as soon as we were in that new home. We’d be happy as soon as the car was paid for. We’d noticed somewhere along the way, that if we were together, that was plenty of reason to be happy. Happy was something to feel on the journey, not just a spurt of emotion to revel in at the destination. Besides that, what do you do after reaching a destination? You start another journey.
I promise you, wherever you go in life, whatever goals you reach, it will be the same old you that you’re seeing on the other side of the mirror. You’ll reach those goals with the same disposition you journeyed there with. Your disposition can color the moments of your life happy. Your disposition is the most valuable thing you own. The awesome thing is that you can choose that disposition, moment by moment, thought by thought. Choose happy. Don’t wait.