“What are you trying to get to?” asks a stranger with a sweaty, kind face and muscles of steel.
“Excuse me?” I huff, having zero idea what he is asking.
He looks confused and points at my shirt. “How much are you trying to lose?”
I stare down at my shirt emblazoned with the Skinny Emmie character that proclaims I’m “down 110+ pounds, a lifetime to go.”
Taken aback, I look at my the ground beneath the moving ARC trainer and mumble, “oh, I don’t know. I’m just trying to keep progressing.”
“Yeah, but what’s the number?” he retorts.
In my haste to satiate him enough to go away, I indecisively reply “oh, I maybe need to lose, like, 225 pounds? I don’t know.”
Sweaty gym man gave a cursory nod and a “keep on going!” and went back to his stair runs.
My attention turns back to the ARC trainer screen, numbers flashing with my speed. My legs continue to move without hesitation, their strides in sync with the beat of my iPod. My mind, however, is whirling. Why don’t I know the number? How will I know if I’ve reached the “after?” How will people know when I’m a success story? How will I know I am a success story?
When will I be able to strut around in my “after” outfit and spout to the world that I did it – I conquered my personal Everest.
The encounter above happened a few months ago. It happens quite frequently from those who graciously give compliments and throw in the curious question, “how much have you lost NOW?”
For three months, my answer has been the same.
It’s like letting a scratched record skip over and over – the needle jumping the same section of vinyl repeatedly until the noise becomes a part of the normal rumble of the day. A frustrating stall that lingers as I continue to try hard every day.
I don’t fault people in asking – it comes with the territory of being a weight loss blogger. I am thankful people take an interest. My frustrations lie not with them, but with myself for not being able to answer their questions.
“What are you trying to get to?”
Under 200 pounds.
A 200 pound loss.
Fit in a size 10.
The finish line.
All of these answers have been with me through crash diets, prescription pills, maniac workouts and major bouts of depression and anxiety. Over twenty years of fighting myself to find the will to make it happen.
Now, however, those answers don’t seem right. That’s not what I’m trying to get to. None of it. It’s also not as much of a fight anymore. It just is. I just DO. It’s been maddening to try to figure out what the right answer is. What is the “end”?
Literally as I was writing these words and giving myself quite a mental beating, this comment came through on my blog:
“What are you striving for? You aren’t going to get there. You’re already there.”
*Cue lightbulb moment*
There isn’t a beginning and an end. There is a beginning and a DOING. The messy progress between what you had called the “beginning” and looked forward to getting rid of at the “end?” THAT is the goal. Continual progress, day in and day out. Progress that isn’t always a walk in the park, but progress that you’re choosing for yourself. I have gone over 1 year choosing to work every day at honoring my body. This is repeated progress, and dare I say, my new LIFEstyle.
What if we stop trying to define our achievements in numbers and define it in the NOW? Release the striving and longing and exchange it for celebration and living.
So I ask you: What are you trying to get to?