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Flying the Happy Skies

I experienced a major breakthrough this week -- one that had me so happy that I had to share my joy with a total stranger who, quite frankly, was a little freaked out by my exuberance. (Hey, it happens.)

To understand what happened and why this was a big deal for me, I have to take you back to this time last year.

I had been doing a lot of speaking across the country -- travel that necessitated hoping on and off quite a few airplanes.

During one of these trips, I discovered, to my horror, that I couldn't get the two halves of the seatbelt to meet across my belly.

I had heard about the dreaded seatbelt extender. But knowing that such a thing exists and having to actually ask the flight attendant to let you borrow one are two different matters entirely.

I felt like every single person on the airplane was staring at me when I was forced to make that request.

Now fast-forward to this week. I needed to take a flight to a journalism conference in Nashville. For days before my flight, I kept thinking about the seatbelt extender -- wondering if I would need one when I took my seat onboard the plane.

I need not have worried. The three inches I have lost off my hips since the beginning of the year made all the difference: I was able to snap the two halves of the seatbelt together.

I have to tell you: that click made a beautiful sound. 

I Told My Husband My Weight And The World Did Not End

I told my husband my weight this morning -- and the world did not end.

In the entire time we have been together (8 years of dating plus 26 1/2 years of marriage), I had never told him my weight.

This lovely man has been with me through thick and through thin(ner), and yet I have always carried this secret dread that, if I divulged the number on the scale, he would look at me; repeat the number, pack his bags, and be out the door in a flash.

Guess what? it didn't happen that way at all.

We were out for breakfast at our favourite local diner when the subject of my weight loss came up. He asked me how much weight I was planning to lose. I told him I was hoping to reach about 175 lbs. -- the weight I had been on our wedding day.

The moment the number exited my mouth, I realized the gig was up.

My weight was no longer a secret.

He simply had to add two and two together. Well, to be more precise, he simply had to add 175 lbs. (the weight I hope to achieve) to 111 lb (the amount I am trying to lose) to calculate my starting weight.

Then, if he subtracted how much weight I have lost to date (21 lbs.) he would know what I weigh right now.

I'm not sure he was even aware that any of this information was available to him (clearly there was a certain amount of paranoia at work on my part), but I figured I might as well put the numbers on the table so that dreaded number on the scale would no longer have the same control over me.

What happened next did not play out like the horror movie script in my head.

The world did not end.

My husband did not run screaming from the diner.

He simply told me what I have always known, but refused to believe (until now):

"Your weight has never mattered to me."

We continued on with our meal. And everything was good.

This marks the achievement of a major milestone for me.

One of my biggest fears no longer has hold of me by the throat.

What will I do with this heady new freedom -- the freedom to live my life without being in fear of being judged unlovable by the person I handed my heart to oh-so-many years ago?

It feels great to luxuriate in the possibilities and to feel calm and at peace with myself because I have allowed myself to accept the gift of unconditional love.

Passing the Stress Test

Some people lose their appetite when they get walloped by stress. I start craving carbs. I want to pump my body with carbohydrate-rich foods in order to trigger the biochemical release my body is seeking.

And yet, over the past few weeks, I've managed to find other ways to cope with the types of stress that would have had me diving into the cracker cupboard not so long ago.

  • I have allowed myself to feel what I need to feel. Instead of running away from painful feelings, like anger, frustration, sadness, and grief, I acknowledged and experienced each emotion. And then I moved on.
  • I have asked for and received the support I need. I am fortunate enough to have a large circle of friends and allies -- people who share my passion for various causes and who are there to support me when I need a pep talk or a listening ear. I tapped into those sources of support and wisdom on a number of occasions over the past few weeks.
  • I have tapped into the stress-relieving powers of exercise. I hit the treadmill to burn off my frustration. The treadmill can take it! Not only do I benefit from the instant release that comes from working out frustration on the treadmill; I am better able to cope with the next stressful event. 

The scale continues to show steady progress. But I am convinced that the most significant progress I am making is the change that is occurring inside my head. I feel calm, centered, and like I am nurturing myself rather than depriving myself. This is how it should have been all along.

My Million-Dollar Idea for Tackling Obesity

Here's my million-dollar idea (valuation approximate) for tackling obesity.

More public washrooms.

Think about it.

How often have you stopped to use the washroom at a fast-food restaurant and, out of a sense of obligation, forced yourself to purchase something off the fast-food menu that you neither wanted nor needed?

I thought about this today after (foolishly) drinking 28-ounces of water while driving between Toronto and Peterborough. It's a two-hour drive and, by the time I was one hour into my trip, I really, really needed to use the washroom.

That left me in an uncomfortable position, to say the least.

  • I didn't want to stop at any of the fast-food restaurants on my route.
  • My gas tank was already full, so using a gas station washroom wasn't an option.
  • There wasn't a public washroom nearby.

This left me with no other choice but to drive home with a bladder filled to overflowing. I started having flashbacks to the prenatal ultrasound I had with my first child. I remember the ultrasound technician telling me that my bladder was too full -- hey, no kidding! -- and that he wanted me to pee just a little -- something that is much easier said than done....

I managed to make it home -- but just barely. (I sprinted from the car to the washroom.)

Then I started thinking about how many calories I have consumed -- and how much money I've wasted over the years -- just to gain access to a washroom. I know I'm not the only one in this situation, either. Washrooms are the bait that lure us into fast-food restaurants on major highways, are they not?

When I was a parent with young children, the public washroom shortage used to infuriate me. Once my children were toilet-trained, the issue slipped off my radar screen. Now that I'm trying to make healthier choices for myself (drinking more water; making conscious food choices), I'm back to feeling annoyed with the washroom status quo. Seriously annoyed.

Going to the washroom is a basic biological function. It's not okay that we've privatized our washrooms: defaulted on our societal obligation to ensure that every citizen has reasonable, timely access to a washroom.

Washrooms operated by private businesses are anything but free. Such access comes at a cost:  to our pocketbooks and to our health.

Oh yeah: just for the record, this is not exactly what I have in mind. (A public-private pay-to-pee partnership? I don't think so.)

Related

* * *

And now a quick update from me. The past week was incredible on so many levels.

  • I had an amazing, life-changing conversation with someone really important to me -- one that will contribute to my weight loss success and overall health and happiness.
  • I discovered that I am now able to walk on the treadmill at a fairly hefty pace for over 30 minutes without even noticing the time.
  • I have lost an inch or two in areas where a person might wish to lose some inches.
  • And the scale dropped by four pounds. That means I've bid farewell to 15 pounds so far.

Pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.

The Declutter Diet

When I first started on this journey, I didn't actually know I was on a weight loss journey.

I thought I was on a journey to declutter my office and my home.

But, at some point along the way, something shifted.

This is going to sound a little crazy unless you have experienced this for yourself, but, when you start making changes to your physical environment, sometimes other things shift, too, like your mindset and your ability to tackle other challenges.

That's what's happening in my case.

There's also been an added benefit. Because I've spent hours and hours doing the hard work of heaving boxes and otherwise decluttering large portions of two buildings, I've built up a fair bit of physical stamina -- stamina that served me well when I reconnected with the treadmill last week. (That was a happy surprise.)

Apparently, I'm not the only one who has noticed that there's a link between losing clutter and losing weight: my friend Ida Mae told me about the work of an organizational expert named Peter Walsh, who has written about this connection. Interesting stuff.

Related:

Pancakes and French Fries: The Fitness Drawer

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
— Lao Tzu