I’m trying to stick to my every-day writing plan, but of course I’ve already missed a couple of days, and like any new routine, regimen, or diet, after you’ve slipped once, it becomes easier and easier to do it again. “No one’s really reading it anyway, so what’s the big deal if I don’t write today?” is just as easy to say as “I’ve already broken my diet today, so what’s the big deal if I eat another 10 or 15 cookies?”
I have a very hard time being accountable to myself. I will remind, berate, and nag myself to death about things I want or need to do until I complete them. In most cases, this keeps me ahead of the game; I tend to work faster than I need to, finish sooner than expected, and end up on the other side of the coin, looking for more to do because I’ve got time on my hands. My boss loves it. B appreciates it. Personal accountability, on the other hand, is a very weak point. I’m a true-blue slacker when it comes to accomplishing my own personal goals if I have no one but myself to answer to.
I spent most of my life hating myself. Like most American teenage girls, I grew up thinking I was so fat. Part of that came from a childhood spent watching my mother hate on herself in her bedroom mirror every morning and listening to her talk about her “thunder thighs.” She put me on my first diet when I was 9 years old, when I was in gymnastics and playing softball and really didn’t need to diet. She would tell me I had to watch my weight while I was young, because “once puberty hits, if you’re fat, you’ll stay fat!” In high school I weighed 160 pounds in my freshman year, which sounds like a lot until you consider that I have a fairly large frame and am 5’8″ tall. And I have big boobs, which doesn’t help. However, depression kicked me hard over the next 4 years, and by the time I graduated, I was up to 195. In college I went on the Jenny Craig diet plan, and after 9 months of weekly weigh-ins and planned meals I went from 195 to 167. Then I dropped the program, got married, and promptly resumed eating like it was going out of style.
My first husband was always supportive. He loved me “no matter what” and thought I was “beautiful.” Four years into our marriage, I was over 220 pounds. A friend and I began walking every day, and she was a go-getter; she would hound me if I tried to beg off and would push me to walk a little farther every time. I didn’t want to disappoint her, so I kept at it, and I lost 15 pounds. Then she and I both got pregnant within a month of each other, and the walking stopped. We moved to Florida, where I knew no one but my husband, and for the next 5 years, I was a stay-home mom. I still hated myself, but in my boredom and isolation I took comfort in eating. Then, one day, when we were coming home from somewhere (probably a restaurant) and I was bitching as usual about how fat I was, my husband said the most surprising thing: “If you think you need to lose weight to get healthier, I will support you.” It was the closest he had ever come to saying, “Yeah, you could lose a few pounds,” and I ran with it. A week later I’d signed up for Nutrisystem and started walking again. A neighbor began joining me on my walks, and soon she became the driving force behind them, never letting me slack. Over a year’s time I went from 235 to 205.
Between 2008 and 2011, a lot happened in my life. I made a lot of new friends and started going out with them as a group. A few of them became close friends, and we would travel together or go dancing or have “girls nights.” My marriage ended during that time, and I became more attentive to how I looked and started taking better care of myself so I would be attractive. In short, I had people to impress, so I had a reason to watch my weight, to buy new clothes, to get my hair done. Things I hadn’t really had a reason to do when I was just “Mommy” all day. Then I met B, who is nothing if not blunt. Comfortable in our new relationship, I started to gain weight again until he told me point blank that I was becoming unattractive to him. Horrifying, right? No, I didn’t stand up for myself and tell him to love me or leave me; I went back on Nutrisystem again.
Accountability is the key, for me. In order to do what needs to be done, I have to be responsible to someone or something else. I did freelance work for years, but I really only pushed myself hard when the project had a tight deadline. Otherwise I’d work a little here and there and slack off the rest of the time. Same with dieting. Unless I had a program or a person to report to, I never really fully committed to my goal. When we moved to Virginia in 2015, my new health insurance plan sent me a very basic FitBit as part of their wellness program. I’d always scorned the idea of counting calories and tracking everything I ate, but the FitBit app made it so easy to do. I became addicted to making my step goal each day. I would tromp up and down our stairs to meet my flights goal. I would drink water constantly, cutting back my soda habit to one a day. In a year I went from 225 to 185. I got below 200 for the first time since I’d graduated high school.
I’ve been using my FitBit every day for almost 6 years now. I promised myself once upon a time, in the years when I was struggling, that if I ever got below 200, especially if I ever got into the 180s, I would learn to be happy with myself. I’m never going to stop loving food, and I’m never going to be the kind of person who spends hours at the gym doing pilates or lifting weights. But I knew even then that the 180s were my most realistic weight goal. I never thought I’d meet it, but I did. I give myself cheat days now and then, but I’m not sure they’re really cheat days, because even if I do eat more than I usually allow myself, I still log it all into the FitBit. I’m on my third one now, and it holds me accountable. I have to answer to the smartwatch on my wrist and the app in my phone. But when I see myself in the mirror now, I’m happy with what I see. Yes, I still have big thighs and big boobs. I have curves. I have a little “pooch” of stretched skin on my belly leftover from my pregnancy. But I don’t hate them. I have a defined chin line. I can see my collarbones. If I lift up my boobs, I can even see my rib cage. These are marvels to me.
Last fall I finally admitted I needed new bras, and I had my measurements done. I’d been wearing a 38. I figured I was probably down to a 36. I measured at 34. I had NEVER been a 34 band size before. Even my first bra ever had been a 36. I was stunned.
So what I need now is someone or something to hold me accountable to my other goals. Something that will make me write in my blog every day. Force me to start the voice lessons I’ve always wanted. Push me to find new hobbies and make new friends.
Have they invented a smartwatch that can do all that yet?