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What has changed?

How has my life changed? How has it not changed?

I thought "I'm so happy and my life is so full, my weight doesn't matter." Now looking back I can tell you a different story.

I used to be invisible. People wouldn't look at me if they could help it. You can't go through life without noticing that. The shame of my size was ever present.

My hips and knees hurt so much in the morning that I had support myself by holding on to the walls on the way down the stairs in order to take the pressure off my lower body. My husband woke me up several times every night to try to stop my snoring.

I hated eating in front of people because I felt guilty - even if I was eating a salad. I had managed to avoid being photographed since my wedding 15 years ago.

I was driven to over-achieve in every other area of my life to compensate for being so heavy. I was PTA volunteer of the year, little league registrar, top performing employee, gave perfect dinner parties, and never forgot someone's birthday. Clothing shopping was depressing and shameful. Nobody reading this needs me to elaborate. I had cute clothes and hair, but you can't cover up obesity no matter how much you spend. It was exhausting being me and I rewarded myself for all my accomplishments with more and more food as the years went by.

I didn't play with my kids at the park because my body hurt and I didn’t want to be observed running. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to do it anyway. I didn't want to swim with them because I was afraid of being seen in a swimsuit.

I took a health class and learned that I was very likely to develop diabetes, heart disease, and/or chronic pain within ten years. I learned my likelihood of having cancer was increased by overweight and inactivity. I sat in my living room that night sobbing because I was afraid my children would grow up without a mom.

So here's how it's different today:

People seem more friendly now but I think it's because I'm smiling today and not trying to avoid being noticed out there in the world. I feel confidence because I finally did something about my weight and that shines from inside.

Today men of all ages flirt with me at the grocery store, chat me up at the bank, and look me right in the eye. My husband has always been very loving and accepting and that hasn’t changed, but our relationship is even sweeter now because I am a more accepting of myself and comfortable in my body.

I don't snore and I zip up and down the stairs without pain. My husband says I move through the world in a completely different way.

I’ve learned how to shop, cook, and plan to support healthy eating. I still see rich fatty foods as a treat but I also recognize the cost of eating them and can be happy eating just a little or something else.

Shopping is a BLAST! Everything looks great on me and I love looking at my new body in the mirror.

I give myself (and my dog) the gift of a long brisk walk almost every day and with it comes a wonderful feeling of power and accomplishment.

I can cross my legs!

The best part is being able to honestly say I love myself and my actions back it up.