Setting goals for your next five years

Where do you see yourself in five years? It is such an easy question to ask but much more difficult to answer. I can tell you this: If I were forced to answer the question five years ago, I couldn’t have begun to come close to what has unfolded. The time feels like both a breath and a lifetime.

On Aug. 18, 2008, Mr. Second Helpings and I walked into our very first Weight Watchers meeting. At the time I was tipping the scales at just over 275 lbs with a body mass index (BMI) of more than 50 (30 is the threshold for obesity). Only 26, I was in bad shape for a person of any age and on track to lose a whole lot of years from my life. I don’t have any other numbers to illustrate what all that weight was doing to my body, however, based on some lab work done about 100 pounds later it is completely within the realm of possibility that I was a type-two diabetic and didn’t know it.

My first 50 pounds came off during the first six months. In the very same week, we learned that The Little Helping was on his way. Adding a child to our weight loss journey changed little in the early days. Over time, his needs helped to reinforce our commitment to choose a life of good health and balanced nutrition for our entire family. As a family we celebrated reaching our goal weights. My big day was a few weeks prior to The Little Helping’s second birthday and Mr. Second Helpings balanced the scale a few weeks after. It was around that time that I realized the combined weight of our entire family was less than Mr. Second Helpings alone at his heaviest.

Losing the weight has effected our lives in ways we never imagined. I guessed that my clothing size would be reduced but was surprised when my feet shrunk too. Chores are more manageable and home improvement projects can be accomplished more quickly and confidently than before. Whether we realized it or not, as obese people we evaluated activities based on if they would cause physical pain or discomfort. Walking a mile to the grocery store would mean throbbing legs, racing pulse, sweaty clothes and aching joints. It was easy to justify hoping in the car with excuses like saving time or fitting in a second further-away errand. Ultimately, we just couldn’t do the things we now take on with a smile and a shrug.

People ask us if there is anything (meaning food) we miss from the days before we lost the weight. The question often sparks one of those life flashing before your eyes moments. I flash on life moments that passed me by in adolescence, the feelings of guilt and shame brought on by eating too far beyond the point of feeling full, crushingly low self esteem and reoccurring depression and the physical impairments caused by carrying nearly 150 extra pounds on, what I have now discovered is, a small body. Nope, I absolutely do not miss any of that.

As for the intent of the question, do I miss any foods? If there is something I have a hankering for I will have some, eventually and in moderation. My attitude toward food and life has relaxed significantly. Cravings no longer come with a sense of urgency and instant gratification is often a disappointment. I now know that good things will continue to come and enjoying something delicious a little at a time means repeating the experience several times over.

As much as things change after extreme weight loss, many things remain the same. We still need to pay bills and mow the lawn. Mr. Second Helpings’ sleep apnea improved but continues to require a CPAP machine to keep his airways open while asleep. And yes we still have to think about food. Multiple times each day we choose to eat or avoid something for the sake of our long term health. Some choices are easier than others, but knowing the goal is balance rather than perfection helps to keep everything in a manageable perspective.

As I look back on the past five years, my mind is boggled by all that has happened in our lives. More than 300 pounds have been shed but I feel like we have only scraped the surface of this new lifestyle we have chosen. In a world where not even the sky is the limit I can’t begin to conceive the answer to where we will be in another five years, nor do I feel the need to try. From where I stand, the possibilities are limitless and the joy will be in the journey.

What story do you want to be telling five years from now? Point your toes in the direction you wish to go, take a deep breath and move forward. You are worth it!

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