Folding tables were set up in three symmetrical lines down the middle of the gymnasium. With a canopy of basketball nets and banners, colorful science boards stood erect proudly inviting others to explore students’ projects and to admire their ribbons. The wall clock looked as if it were sent to prison. It was incarcerated behind metal bars, slowly doing its time. It read 4:40 pm I turned my head and yawned, it had been a long day at school. I smiled politely greeting parents and chatting quietly with two other colleagues who had also volunteered to help.
My stomach was beginning to grumble, lunch was a distant memory. Usually, I have a snack left over to eat on my ride home, but the day had been longer than expected and there was only a bottle of water and some gum waiting in my car. When has it been long enough to stay… Ugh, look how happy the kids are showing their projects, don’t you feel terrible? A pang of guilt mixed in with my empty stomach. Well, at least I’m here and I do like seeing families celebrating their kids. I should have planned for an emergency snack. I wish I had a serving of pretzels or nuts… I hope my breath is ok… I cupped my hand and discretely (I hope) breathed in out. It seemed ok. I looked and my colleagues who stood immobile and decided it wasn’t quite time to go yet.
Later, on the ride home, I thought about a conversation I had with my fellow science fair chaperones. One had lost a great deal of weight. She is a very attractive woman (but we all know) it doesn’t matter what others think – it matters what you think about yourself, and she was unhappy about her weight gain. She had changed her eating habits over to an extremely restrictive diet. No sugars, carbs, only specific kinds of fats and proteins. When she had lost all her weight (I weighed a lot more than I do now) I had asked her all kinds of questions about the changes she made. While I admired her tenacity, I knew there was no way I would be able to make her plan work for me – I knew myself.
Knowing who you are is just as important as having a vision for where you want to go. Goals are powerful once they are informed by the life you want to live. Part of me feels a little afraid as I think about my colleague. I have first-hand experience with gaining back weight (although I never gained it all back) so I understand why she is struggling right now. She struggles because she knows two ways to live – one where she just eats whatever she wants whenever she wants it. The other, to eat foods that are harshly restrictive and controlled.
That’s not my story. The reason I am successful on Weight Watchers is that it is a program I can live for the rest of my life. If you don’t belong to Weight Watchers (or even if you do) that may sound overwhelming. Wait you’re saying I have to do this forever? Well, yes. This is my thing, I had to relearn (and keep learning) how to live healthfully. I had to redesign my eating habits so I can be my best authentic self. I’m good with that.