It would sound downright idiotic to say that I don’t count attending college, getting my Master’s or securing a job as noteworthy achievements. I do, of course, count them because I am not an idiot. But these things were always going to be parts of my life experience; in some ways, I’d been preparing for them since the womb. Still, I don’t recall expending directed energy every day of my life to ensure that I was accepted to school or worked at a publishing house. I never sat down one Monday and said to myself, “Self, today is the first day you will start getting into Swarthmore.” (That was more like the day I made the decision to take AP Latin. Stupid.)
People set goals for themselves all the time–specific, reachable goals that they chip away at slowly or act swiftly to attain. What goals have I set for myself in the past 25 years? Well, other than the major stuff, I don’t know that I have. Maybe there were little goal-lets: a tennis match here, a term paper there. But until this dang diet, I have never campaigned for a life change so strongly. It’s not as if I have written a book or committed to being a better person (though I could use that) or even managed to survive all of Lent. Now, though, I know what it feels like to want something so bad that you overhaul your entire existence to make it happen. And although you may think me no Gandhi–and I think me no Gandhi either–trust me when I say that it really is overhauling. You try getting up early to go to the gym. You try resisting cheeseburgers and Snickers bars. YOU try abstaining from free party buffets because there’s not a veggie in sight. Obviously, many of you have done these things and more; you know what I’m talking about. It’s a different way of thinking and eating and living. It’s a commitment, a new direction, a break from years of ingrained habit. It is a huge pain in my ass.
And yet, this has been worth it in a serious way. I’ve done the thing I set out to do. I said I’d do it and I did it. Yay me. No one should underestimate the difficulty of losing weight, and no one should underestimate the satisfaction. It is a beautiful thing to decide you are going to diet and then actually follow through. It might not be a college acceptance or a job offer. But for me, at times, it has felt better than that. Not because losing weight is nearly as important as those other achievements, but because, for once, I have put my head down, shut up and put up. Not without complaint or tirades or whining, I grant you. With a promise to myself and my friends and my family that I’d come out on the other side as a less fat bridesmaid. And so far I have done that. It’s probably my biggest Biggest Loser moment yet, and yes I am going to go there: I am proud of myself. Anyone who does something like this deserves to be proud. It isn’t a small accomplishment. It isn’t small at all.