I was steadily gainingI was a skinny kid complete with knobby knees, glasses and a bowl haircut (we called it a Dorothy Hamill. If you aren’t old enough to remember it then give it a quick Google search). This physical body was mine—albeit gawky—and over time, I grew comfortable in it. Puberty came, and I was pretty okay with who I was and how I looked. Throughout high school and college, I was physically active and maintained a healthy weight. I read Seventeen magazine and later Vogue and slightly idolized the models. I loved how the clothes looked on them. Thin was in. All of that changed in my mid-twenties and early thirties. My weight was out of control. Have you ever heard the term, “size denial”? That was me. Over many years, I was steadily gaining weight. I knew that I was shopping in the plus size section—hello Lane Bryant—but somehow that did not connect with the logical part of my brain that knew that I was not healthy. My reality was warped.
Make conscious choicesThe change came in a room at Mansfield General Hospital. My grandmother was dying from complications of diabetes. She spent several weeks in the hospital, and I came home from Florida to be with her. My usual coping mechanism had been to eat my way through a crisis. Food was a comfort for me. This crisis was no different as I spent hours in the hospital cafeteria. One day when I was sitting by her side, a nurse came into the room with a scale. I had not measured my weight for years so I decided to step on. Size denial no more! The numbers don’t lie. I decided right then and there that I needed to make swift and severe changes. I did not want to spend my last days suffering in the same way as my grandmother. I immediately started to make conscious choices about food, and as soon as I returned to Florida, I joined a local Weight Watchers group. My weight loss journey was a fourteen month one with the end result being a loss of 75 lbs. I went from wearing a size 20 to size 6. I tell you this only so you can get an idea of the change. I faithfully walked 30 minutes a day and eventually added other forms of exercise. Most importantly, I was healthy. It wasn’t about a diet. It was about a lifestyle change. Yes. The scale was my new best friend, but I viewed it more as a tool and not the judge and jury. I maintained my goal weight and stayed within a healthy range for 15 years.
Be your best selfThe topic this month is about sharing challenges and triumphs, and I’ve had my share of both in regards to health and fitness. At this moment, I am challenged. I am having a tough time controlling my weight and prioritizing regular exercise. Although I eat mostly healthy foods, attend yoga classes, ride a bike and enjoy other outdoor activities, there is room for improvement. Recently, I was scrolling through Instagram when a post caught my eye. It was a picture of a pair of feet on a scale. The scale read 180.4 lbs. It was a post from Olympic Volleyball player, Gabby Reece. Gabby is not only a professional volleyball player, but she is also a sports announcer, fashion model, and actress. She also happens to be my age. Here is what she wrote: “Scale talk. I’m 6 foot 3 in and don’t fit into any of the typical measuring modalities. Just a reminder. Be your best self. In my case, I’m going with “one big bitch.” Just concern yourself with being healthy, feeling good, sleeping, and connecting. Not ready to talk about cellulite yet.” This was, as Oprah says, an “Ah Ha” moment for me
Discovery and triumphI am discovering that my body is changing and I am needing to embrace new strategies as I move through middle age. As I approach my fifties, I am realizing that health and fitness are more important to me than the size on a label, and I want to live my life in such a way that I am physically able to have all the experiences that I choose to have. I have all of the tools I need to achieve success and this feels like a triumph. I also feel strength and support from my tribe as I embark on my newest journey. This is my health and fitness story, not my life story. I will do this! The closet that you peered into at the beginning of this blog does, in fact, contain a variety of sizes. The story my wardrobe tells is that the woman who lives in my house and wears those clothes is a real woman with real challenges. She buys organic food, is a little bit crunchy, sometimes struggles to live her best life and, through it all, she is enjoying the journey.
Jennifer Blue is the Operations Director for Mind Body Align having joined the team in August of 2017. She studied political science at Otterbein College and the University of Louisville. She returned to Mansfield in 2005 and is excited to be a part of the positive changes occuring in our community.