Step 6 – Rewards. I love rewards. I truly believe that as we set out to accomplish something, small rewards along the way give us the stimulus to keep going, as opposed to one big reward at the end. While the end result was its own reward, losing 100 pounds, I chose to do things for myself along the way. It made the journey that much more palatable!
As I began to exercise, I found my body was sore, and the more I pushed it, the longer it took to recover. I decided after the first few months that I would treat myself to a monthly massage. I signed up for a monthly membership at Massage Envy. And, to pay for it, I traded getting my nails done each month. The massages were more important!
As I mentioned, one of the fun things I did was to buy new clothes as I lost weight. I didn’t go crazy, but it is a wonderful feeling to buy a new shirt, or a new pair of pants, and was even exciting when I went into my closet, and tried on clothes I had recently bought and were already too big!
I also rewarded myself each Friday by eating out at a restaurant with Kevin. This was our date night, and our reward for our hard work along the way. After my first 75 lbs, Kevin decided to join me in losing weight. Each Friday was our reward – we gave ourselves permission to eat whatever we wanted. However, we had one caveat. We split our entrée. If we were still hungry, we could always order more. Interestingly enough, we never have.
Finally, I have to be completely honest. After losing 100 pounds, my body was not the same. Even though I lost the weight slowly to give my body time to adjust, my skin didn’t. After four kids and 100 lbs gone, I had hanging skin. Some I could tone and tighten with working out, and some would tighten with time, but I hadn’t mentally prepared as well for this as I should have. I was glad the weight was gone, but hated the hanging skin around my stomach. Kevin and I had talked about this possibility, and he had assured me that were I to get to that point, we would take care of any residual problems. When I reached my goal weight, I scheduled a tummy tuck. I know not everyone can do this, and even if I couldn’t, I wouldn’t change anything, but I am so grateful for the transformation and self confidence that has come with being able to look at myself in the mirror and be pleased with the end results of a journey that ended up taking over one year. Some may think this is vain, or unnecessary. Each is entitled to their own opinion. For me, it has given me a boost in confidence that I lacked for many years. And let me be clear, this came AFTER the hard work, not instead of it!
Step 7 – Selfishness vs. Self Help. This really wasn’t a step, but more of an actualization after the fact. During the last two years, I have spent an awful lot of time working on myself. I decided early on that I could feel guilty about this, and use that guilt as an excuse, and stay the way I was, miserable, depressed, void of self-confidence, or I could focus some of my time and energy on me, and feel better about myself. I knew the latter would have a residual affect on my friends and more importantly my family, who have been incredibly supportive throughout this whole process. In fact, some of those life skills I have learned along the way have rubbed of on my family, including inspiring my husband to lose weight himself. As a family, we have become more health conscious, and understand the role that healthy eating and exercise play in our lives.
I spent a couple hours a day, early on, working on myself. I walked, ran, worked out, read articles on fitness, researched skin elasticity, and focused on getting me well. You may think you don’t have the time, or you may even think that spending that much time on yourself is selfish. I beg to differ. Guilt is an excuse. Ask my children if they like being around me better now or when I was heavy. There has truly been a change in my outlook and disposition that only this concentrated time spent on myself could have brought about. Doctrine according to Amber: Self improvement brings about self esteem, and when we have self-esteem and self-confidence, we tend to be happier. When we are happier, we treat those around us better. That occurred in my case, anyway.
Step 8 - Maintenance. One of the biggest mistakes I made when I first lost weight a couple years ago was that when I got to my goal weight, I didn’t have a plan. What I have realized since is that there really is no finish line like there is in a race. Before I treated it more like a race, with a finish line, but now I have mentally prepared for a journey that is going to last the rest of my life. As I mentioned before, I am not on a diet. I have changed my lifestyle. Portion control and exercise are a part of my life now. I have also set goals past weight loss. My husband and I recently watched a few friends cross the finish line of the St. George Marathon. Kevin and I walked away from that event committed to running a marathon. To be honest with you, I hated running. Now I like it. Will I continue running after the marathon? I don’t know. Remember the best exercise is the one you’ll do.
Every accomplishment in life starts with a decision to try. Nearly two years ago, I made the decision to lose 100 lbs. It hasn’t been an easy journey. Thomas Carlyle wrote: “Endurance is patience concentrated.” I knew that I would need a great deal of concentrated patience to endure the path that this journey has taken me on. I am also a realist. Like Churchill uttered years ago: “Success is not final. Failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” I’ve lost the 100+ lbs and have accomplished the goal that I set out to do. I consider that a success, but not a permanent one. I failed multiple times along the way. I have also realized in writing this story that I have accomplished something else that two years ago I never thought I would have accomplished.
By my estimation, since I began this journey, I literally have walked and run over a thousand miles. Confucius was right. Two years ago I never thought I could do it – a journey of a thousand miles. But here I am. I am so grateful to my family and friends for their support, love, and encouragement along the way.
And I am grateful to Jenna for encouraging me to share this story. I hope that the thoughts that I have shared here may help or inspire someone else to begin their journey, or at least encourage you to lend support and love to someone you know is.
A Note From Kevin
I’d like to add my own perspective to Amber’s story. It truly has been a remarkable journey. I am proud to be the husband of a woman who has accomplished such an incredible feat. Amber knows that I love her and have always loved her regardless of anything. I am truly grateful for the inspiration that Amber has been to me and to countless others through her example. She has inspired me to start on my own journey, and has given support, advice, and encouragement to me along the way. She is my running partner, my inspiration, and the love of my life. We are partners in everything, and her journey has indeed been long, but I could ask for no better company.