Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Letter to My Skinny Self

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Before I started this journey (THIS time...remember, I'm a repeat offender...this is my last chance - after this they're locking me up and throwing away the WW keys) I would always look at the huge amount of weight that I had to lose and it seemed so insurmountable and overwhelming that I couldn't even begin to imagine getting even close to goal.  Now, here I am 20 months and 108 pounds later and I'm just over 27 pounds from my goal.  Wow.  I never thought I’d make it this far.  Part of me doesn’t even remember the “before” me.  This I find strange…especially since when I look in the mirror, I still don’t quite SEE what other people see (don’t worry, I’m working on this and it is getting better).

Do you ever wish you had written a letter to your "skinny" self or recorded a message to your "skinny" self before you began your journey like they do on Biggest Loser?  I sure wish I had.
If I can offer a piece of advice for those of you just starting out, please, please:

  • Take your measurements (have someone help you), take photos before you begin (from all angles) - these don't have to be for public viewing, but you'll be surprised at how they will motivate you - I've seen some people do progression photos in the same outfit from start to finish, which is neat (so long as your pants don't fall off!).  I did not take measurements from the start, nor did I take a before shot.  I did find measurements from about 6 months before I began that I am using as my “starting point” and I’ve found photos from about 2 months before I began that I am using as my before shots.  Since beginning, I’ve been much better about letting people take my picture ;-)
  • In addition to your food diary journal (yes, this is a must – otherwise it is TOO easy to lie to ourselves or forget something, no matter how good you think your memory is!), keep a diary (or blog) of your journey - you never know who YOU might inspire (even yourself); and
  • Last, but not least, write a letter to the new you to come (or record a video...this might be more poignant) - in that letter/video tell your new self how you are feeling at your heaviest - the struggles you have, why you want to get healthy, what things you want to do then that you can't do now - remind yourself of where you've come from.  Seriously - if I had it to do over again (please, Lord, I don't REALLY want to go back!), that is one thing I would do. 
Again, these things never have to be for public viewing/reading, but do it for YOU.  YOU are worth it.  Do everything you can to encourage yourself through this journey.

Even though I’m almost “done” this journey, I am going to attempt to write a letter to my transitioning/future skinny self, thinking back to how I felt before I began (as best I can remember) and reminding myself of why I’m doing this, among other things.  You may think this letter is mean and ugly at times, but these are things I think I must remember to keep me from going back to this place again:

Dear Transitioning and Skinny Tanya,

Remember sitting on that plane in London headed to Dublin?  Remember how uncomfortable the seat was and how hard it was to buckle the seat belt?  It was hard.  You almost cried in front of a plane load of people in a strange country.  Don’t ever let yourself get to that point again.  Remember the fear you felt at going new places and trying new things?  What will people think of the fat girl walking into the room?  You want to try new things – hang-gliding maybe?  Zip lining?  But some of those things have weight restrictions (at the very LEAST you have to reveal your weight…up until this point, something between you and Dr. Val…)  Remember going shopping with your “skinny” friends and having to go to the fat girl store by yourself?  You are lucky that you have such great friends who are willing to shop with you in those stores, but still…remember how it feels to be the only one in a group who can’t fit into anything in a store.  Remember going for walks with your skinny friends and feeling like you were going to die from lack of oxygen?  Walking up that big hill from Kearney Lake Road to Dunbrack Street and your friend asking you if you were OK?  Remember sitting on that chair in Zellers and the legs buckling underneath you?  The chair was faulty, but still…remember that feeling – always.   Keep these feelings in mind when you want to reach for that chicken wing or extra piece of birthday cake (notice I said EXTRA – take the time to treat yourself, but just know your limits). 

Remember that this is a marathon – not a sprint.  You didn’t gain the weight overnight and you will not lose it overnight.  You’ve always figured you could lose this weight in about a year once you got started.  This will likely NOT be the case.  Aim for a healthy weight loss rate (1-2 pounds per week).  The slower you take it off, the longer it will stay off.  A longer weight loss journey will also give your body and mind more time to adjust.  Remember that this is a LIFESTYLE change, NOT a diet.  Remove the diet mentality from your mind.  You will be doing this forever.  This will not END when you reach your goal.  Find and develop a good support system.  Do not be afraid to ask for what you need – whether that’s from a waitress in a restaurant, your family or your friends and co-workers.  People DO want to see you succeed.  There may be naysayers out there, but in reality, remember this – they are just jealous or insecure themselves – YOU are not the problem, THEY are.  Those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter.  

You will have ups and downs along the way.  Don’t let weight gains derail you, but rather make them inspire you to do more or examine your week to see what you did differently or what you could change for the upcoming week.  Everyone has a different rhythm to weight loss, so make sure you look at the BIG picture.

I am so proud of what you have accomplished so far.  You are doing awesome.  Your friends and family are proud of you and you are an inspiration to others.  I hope by the time you get to your goal weight you have stopped worrying about what people think of you.  I hope that you really ARE happy in your new body.  Enjoy the new clothes and the new stores you can now shop in.  Enjoy the compliments you are getting right now, but don’t let them go to your head J  Pay it forward.  You didn’t get here alone – you had so many people help you along the way - so many encouragers and supporters.  Take this journey and make something of it.  I hope that you DO something productive with this journey – I know you’re not much for public speaking, but I think you might have something to say to people.  Perhaps writing might be a more comfortable avenue for you, but whatever you do, don’t let this fade into the background.  Make a difference in people’s lives.  Encourage others like you’ve been encouraged.  

Remember that the only person you can change is yourself…and baby, you’ve done that in spades!  Live life as an example and hope and pray that others will follow.  Never forget where you’ve come from.  Don’t ever, EVER judge others by their appearance.  Don’t ever judge someone else’s journey – until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes, you have no idea what their circumstances are.  Be grateful every day for the opportunities you have had – a workplace that offers a wellness credit that has helped you pay for WW, gym members and personal training over this journey – not everyone has these opportunities and without them, this would have been a much more difficult journey.  Be grateful for the WW class you found on Saturday mornings with an awesome group of men and women who encourage you.  

Now get out there and set some NEW goals.  Run a race, climb a mountain.  The possibilities are endless.  As your Mom often reminds you, you can do anything you set your mind to. 

Your fat unhealthy self,


debkhershberger said...

I totally agree!! I wish I wouldve taken photos and measurements!! I still have a long way to go, but, Id love to compare. I did take measurements a few weeks ago, and am looking for forward to my next ones, but a start wouldve been nice! And like you I AM NOT GOING BACK!!! COngrats on how far you have come!

Tanya said...


Donna Huskins said...

Tanya...this is beautiful, and so well written! I agree with others, you definitely ARE an inspirtation to others!! You go girl!! We're not even close, but I'm so proud of you, and what you've accomplished! Having worked at weight watchers myself for about 15 years, I know how hard it is to stay focused, and you've done it girl! BE PROUD OF YOURSELF, and your ACCOMPLISHMENTS! You should honestly think of working for Weight Watchers! You're living breathing proof that with help, they CAN achieve this too! You can help them! Plus, the added bonus of working for Weight Watchers is that you can, and have to keep an eye on your own weight, so you never lose focus! They have staff weigh-in!
Good luck girl, and I know how hard you've worked at this, BE PROUD!!!

Tanya said...

Thank you Donna! I forgot you used to work for WW! I am seriously considering the WW thing (if they REALLY want me, that is...I dunno, maybe they ask everyone close-ish to goal if they've thought about it...). I'd have to check with my FT employer to make sure there are no independence issues (the joys of working in an accounting many hoops!)

How are things? How's Bob?

Donna Huskins said...

Things are good with know, same old same old. Bob's still as active as ever. He's 71 now, and has more energy than I do. He keeps saying one of these days he's gonna retire, but I don't think he will untill he can't work anymore. He works 6 days a week, at work, and then goes all day Sunday here at home, just doing stuff that needs to be done eitehr inside or out.
As far as you working for WW, I doubt if they would take you, until you reach your goal weight. Plus you have to be a lifetime member. Maybe you are already, but if you're not, that's one of their requirements. But that'll just give you one more thing to work for...and then yesss, if your real job doesn't have any issues, then by all means, go for it. They'd love to have such a great 'success story' working for them, I'm sure!

Tanya said...

Oh yes, I knew I would have to be an at goal, lifetime member ;-)

Amber said...

Thank you for sharing this thoughful post. It really is encouraging.

Miss April said...

Hi, new follower. Thanks for sharing this and it is such an inspiration. I struggle getting started thinking I'll never get there - but I'm tired of wasting my life. Thanks for sharing and being a motivator and a real life story of people who are doing it every day. The letter is an awesome idea - I'll be working on mine soon!

Kris said...

Stopping by from FMM - what a great letter! I reached my goal weight in April 2010 (107 pounds down, yay!!), and have been able to maintain.

I do wish I had my before measurements, and some real before photos - I went looking for some, and really don't have any. Even the one I posted on my blog is actually from after I'd lost about 20 pounds.

This is great advice - never forget what it felt like, who you were, or why you did this. On days when I don't want to run, or when I've (completely!) fallen off the healthy living eating wagon, it helps me start again the next day, rather than surrender and go back to who I was. :)

Tanya said...

Thanks Kris! Congrats on reaching and maintaining 107 pounds lost - that's awesome!!! Maintenance frightens me to be honest...I've gotten darn good at the losing (well, for the most part) but I've never reached a point of maintaining (at least not intentionally!).

Bella said...

I really like the idea of making the letter into a video. I think I'm going to do that this week.

Denise said...

Congrats on how far you have come. This is a great post and a good reminder for those of us who are just starting on thier journey. Stopping in from FMM.

Nina Patricia @ The Adventures of Nina Patricia said...

stopping by from FMM. I'm so glad you link this, I have been failing miserably and gaining weight that I'm so ashamed. I'm currently 194lbs and cannot even grasp how long it will take in this journey, but post like yours remind me this is a life change that I need to embrace. Thank you

Tanya said...

Thanks Denise :) Sometimes we do need to remind ourselves too...even when we're almost done the journey :)

I can understand Nina Patricia - I'm fighting the up and down battle right now - it's a tough battle especially the closer to goal you get.

Lisa said...

That's a beautiful letter, Tanya!
I love your progression pics at the bottom.

Stopping in from FMM.


Tanya said...

Thank you Lisa!

Welcome to everyone who stopped by today from FMM!! So nice to have new visitors :)

Kim said...

Saw you on FMM. This is such a powerful letter. It's amazing how many of us share the same experiences. I was the one who DID cry on the plane when the man next to me asked to be moved. To say I was devastated would be an understatement. You've offered such great advice. You look AMAZING. Continued success to you :) I will def be back. great blog!)

Tanya said...

Thank you Kim!!

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