Everyone who knows me, knows that I have struggled with my weight since college. I left home at 5’7 weighing about 135 pounds. I graduated 4 years later weighing…well let’s just say, weighing a lot more. About 8 years ago I finally got serious and did something about it. Through focused diet modifications and a lot of exercise, I managed to lose 25 pounds over the course of a year. I plateaued and stayed there for about 5 years.
A few years later, I got serious again and was determined to get the last twenty pounds off. I started working out with a personal trainer and eating better. I was in the zone. And then, one day, I got a phone call that threw my life a major curve ball.
The call was from a friend of my dad’s. She had been trying to reach my dad for a couple of days but, he wasn’t answering. I had just seen my dad that Saturday; at 84 he was pretty independent and it wasn’t unusual for him be “busy” so initially I wasn’t worried. But a little voice started to tug at the back of my mind and I thought “I should go check on him.” My husband and I went over that night and found him dead on the floor.
I can’t describe the feeling of emptiness that comes from losing your second parent. It’s like a chapter of your life closes for good, never to be reopened. There are resources, books and people to help you deal with the grief. What there is not help for is the overwhelming responsibility of closing another person’s life: paying their bills, selling their possessions, wrapping up legal loose ends. I became the executor of my father’s estate and spent the next 6 months of my life immersed in wrapping up his life.
After that things in my life continued to be chaotic. We sold a house, bought a house, and my son moved to another school. Each life change brought with it more time commitments, new responsibilities, and a constantly changing schedule. One day ,I got on the scale, and saw all of my hard work has been washed away. I had gained back all of the weight I lost. In spending so much time and energy taking care of other people and handling other responsibilities, I had forgotten to take care of myself.
I tried to go back to what had worked before. Things didn’t go so well. My personal trainer was dealing with his own life changes and wasn’t taking clients anymore. My body had become so accustomed to doing Zumba that it wasn’t helpful in my weight loss and I didn’t have time to teach 3 days a week anymore. The dietary changes I had made before didn’t fit into my current lifestyle. I was angry, I was sad and I felt helpless. And for the next 6 months I wallowed in my despair.
Until finally, one day, I realized the true source of my sadness. I was trying to return to a life that didn’t exist. I wanted things to be back the way they were. If I could go back, follow the same diet, work out with my trainer, teach my 3 Zumba classes a week…if i could be that person again then I could be successful again.
Life doesn’t work that way. As we age, we have to learn to let go. We always talk about letting go of bad and negative things, but we also have to let go of longing for the “good ole days.” Its easy to fondly reminisce about the past and think “if I could just go back…” But you can’t. So what you have to do is face the reality of your life now and boldly set a new direction.
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”