If You’re Happy And You Know It Clap Your Hands!

I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus the last few weeks. A few trips out of town, furniture market and preparation for my sister’s wedding in a few days had my brain in a million different directions.

After all this travel, I had a frightful reunion with the scale. But I did not fret…I did not panic. I didn’t decide to eat merely a tablespoon of lettuce for the rest of my life or vow to wear a trash bag around the house to sweat out the extra weight. I didn’t do ANY of the things I normally do.

Who is this girl and what the hell did she do with her old self?

I decided to take a deep breath and get back on track. Oddly enough…not stressing got me back on track much, much faster than I expected and even managed to drop some more….

 

 

Reflecting on my newfound reaction to adversity I realized something. I am changed. I am positive. I am happy.

Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it. – Groucho Marx

Happiness is often defined in different ways, which of course creates a fuzzy picture on what happiness actually is. There is no set standard for happiness. There is no specific explanation. I know what happiness is for me….

The sound of the ocean…the smell of honeysuckle in the spring…holding my love’s hand…cooking dinner for my family…the excitement in my dog’s eyes when I come home…Oyster Roasts with the family…my sister’s crazy laugh… my mom’s okra…my niece’s sweet smile…liking myself in a bathing suit…my Poppy Doc’s stories…my daddy’s 4-hour meal preparation…Fripp Island…the smell of hickory-smoked barbeque…feeling healthier than I ever have in my life…being in love…learning how to trust again…finally being proud of myself…believing in my ability… loving who I see in the mirror…these are some of the things that make up my happiness.

Don’t get me wrong…my mood isn’t always happy but knowing that I’m striving to live an incredible life with supportive, positive people around me keeps me in a state of pure exhilaration.  I am taking life one day at a time, and it is paying off.

I have discovered the life I always dreamed of having…and it really, truly has nothing to do with my dress size. I am eternally grateful for the people in my life, especially the ones that supported me when I was too weak to do it myself. I am grateful for the long journey I have been on, for if it weren’t for the hurdles I’ve been forced to face, I wouldn’t be who I am right now.

I am grateful for the lessons…I am grateful for the encouragement…I am grateful to be me.

 

Clap. Clap. Clap.

Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

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I Ain’t Missin’ You At All

We have hit another milestone….

80 pounds!!! E-I-G-H-T-Y!!!!! (Well…80.2 actually.)

80 pounds of excess…fat…sadness. Gone.

And in honor of the title of this week, here’s a little background music for the rest of this post:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I’ve had a lot of people ask me in the last few weeks what I miss about my former non-diet conscious life. My response has simply been, “Nothing.” There is no food that I miss. There is no habit I wish I could revisit again. There is no part of my prior self that I would prefer over the new and improved current version.

This photo was taken the day after I started this blog.

I don’t miss feeling out of control every time I ate. Was this snack of 18 chips going to turn into an uncontrollable binge on 2 bags of Lays, a batch of cookies and a liter of Coke?

I don’t miss the feeling of self-hatred after I had eaten far more than I should have.

15 pounds lighter...

I don’t miss that feeling that food was my only true friend and the kindest, most supportive part of my life.

I don’t miss the way my jeans dug into my stomach leaving an indentation that would last hours on end, because I refused to accept the fact that I might need to buy a size 22.

Losing...slowly.

I don’t miss the popcorn and M&M’s that helped me to not feel so lonely. I begged and begged for them to fill the void but they never did.

I don’t miss wondering if invisibility would be more comfortable. No one could see how badly I’d let myself go if they couldn’t see me at all.

I don’t miss the way my legs chafed when I wore shorts.

30 pounds lighter.

I don’t miss watching other people laugh and dance and have a good time, wishing with all my might that I could be that free.

I don’t miss the staring and the ridicule.

I don’t miss the breakup of my stomach and my brain. Once they stopped speaking to each other I didn’t know when to stop eating.

35 pounds gone.

I don’t miss wondering if anyone would ever really love me for the person that I am, or if all they’d ever see is my muffin top.

I don’t miss worrying whether or not I was going to fit in the booth at a restaurant if the table was one of those that was super-glued to the wall.

I don’t miss the feeling of regret when I ran into someone I knew from high school and wondering if they were saying to themselves when I walked away, “Wow, she sure let herself go.”

50 pounds gone.

I don’t miss feeling like I could not succeed at anything.

I don’t miss crying in the morning when I had tried on everything in my closet and nothing fit correctly.

I don’t miss feeling like a failure to my family.

70 pounds gone.

I don’t miss having a belly that stuck out further than my boobs.

I don’t miss the pain in my knees every day because of the extra ‘me’ I was carrying around.

I don’t miss the fear that a photo of me was going to be tagged on Facebook.

I don’t miss the feeling that no one would ever want you unless you were a size 2.

75 pounds can kiss my ass...

I don’t miss the rejection.

I don’t miss the shame.

I don’t miss hating myself.

I don’t miss waiting.

And waiting…

And waiting…

Waiting for my life to begin.

Waiting for my time to start.

Waiting for my true self.

But she had been there all along.

I found her there waiting off to the side…waiting for me to let her in.

And unlike all the other things that I don’t miss, I had truly missed her.

But she is here to stay…

The new and improved version!

“There is no right path. Only the one that lets you sleep soundly and wake up excited.” 

~ Jennifer Louden

Hello My Name Is…

For years of my life, and even when I started this journey with you all, I had a nasty habit of calling myself some pretty disgusting names.  The negativity I had flowing through my mind with regards to my self-image would be enough to make Fidel Castro cry.

I was certainly putting on a positive face externally, but the verbal abuse I was subjecting myself to internally was insane.

I wrote down a list of the titles I used to give myself.  Wow….Seeing them on paper really opened my eyes to how mean I was.  I am NOT the things I have for so many years repeated to myself:

I am NOT a slob.

I am NOT lazy.

I am NOT a jealous, ungrateful bitch.

I am NOT disgusting.

I am NOT gross.

I am NOT a screw-up.

I am NOT a failure.

Yes, these are the lovely pet names I gave myself.  It’s no wonder I had such a hard time seeing myself in a better light once I started to change physically.  I was still running the broken record of insults inside, despite changing for the better on the outside.

I discovered that in order to change the way I saw myself, I had to create a different picture…a different image of the person I think I am.

As a praise-driven individual, it sure did take a long time to get through my thick skull that cutting myself down was certainly not the way to self-motivate.

I certainly love all the praise and compliments I have received from those that support me. While they might have once gone in one ear and out the other, they are at least sinking in a little now.  I’ve got you convinced…now it’s time to convince myself.

I’ve obtained, created, supported, and enforced my negative habits the majority of my life – but now it’s time to undo them. It’s time to undo ALL of them.  It is time for me to reprogram my brain to think of myself in only an encouraging way.

I will post notes everywhere if I have to…I will stand in front of the mirror and say something positive every morning to break the habit…whatever work needs to be done, I’m ready and willing to reverse the destructive talk.

I’ve done an incredible thing and I need to remain focused on my accomplishment. I have conquered my most persistent demon: my weight. I no longer look in the mirror and think ‘I can’t”…because I did.

I have lost almost 78 pounds…I would say that constitutes accomplishment!

I did it without gimmicks, without pills, without lotions or potions, I did it without a weight loss show.  I did it with me and only me. That’s certainly not the feat of someone fat or lazy or a failure.

I have beaucoups of reasons to look at myself and be proud.   I must paint myself in a better light…

I am successful.

I am healthy.

I am happy.

I am loved.

I am the whole package.

I must give myself a better pet name…

 

Welcome to my amazing world.

Positive anything is better than negative nothing.” ~ Elbert Hubbard

The Phantom of the Fat Girl

Down a little bit more…not as productive of a week as I would have liked, but as it was another week on the go, it could have been a lot worse.

 

For the last 14 months I have undoubtedly gone through some pretty significant physical changes.  Having lost almost 75 pounds, you can’t help but have changed a little bit.

But despite all the physical transformation I’ve gone through…despite the fact that I’ve dropped from a size 20 to a size 10…I still have a hard time seeing the new me occasionally.

I still compare myself to the Giselle’s of the world…to the Kate Upton’s. I wish for a flatter stomach and a firmer ass. I want toned arms and 1 chin…I want to look in the mirror and stop seeing fatter Hannah.

Don’t get me wrong…I do see very clearly that I’ve lost weight. But I don’t think I’m seeing myself as I presently am.

It’s like I’m on a 35 lb delay.  My brain still thinks I weight over 200 pounds.

 

Uhh, hello?!  What the hell? Where is the confidence I was guaranteed? Shouldn’t I be wearing a bikini for the first time in my life? Shouldn’t I be able to get dressed in the morning and leave the house in the first thing I pick out because there is no longer such a thing as an unflattering dress that makes me look like a refrigerator? Yeah…not so much.  To me, I look almost exactly the same. And yes, I’m still changing clothes 100 times. No bikini. On occasion, refrigerator status.

I’m putting on medium shirts and convincing myself that the sizes must have been manufactured incorrectly. My size 10 jeans fit comfortably and I’m telling myself that it’s just fluke.

How does one change that? I do I overcome the ideals of perfection thrown into my face daily by the media? How can I be proud of the fact that I’ve dropped my BMI 14 points (true story) instead of the regret that I don’t have the belly for a bikini? How do I get over the fear that every time I sit in a chair, it’s not going to buckle beneath me?

 

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The quality of that video is bad…but you get the idea!

 

Believe it or not, this distortion has an actual name:  ‘phantom fat.’  Apparently, after a person experiences weight loss, their perception of themselves can sometimes take its time to catch up to the body’s physical changes. Experts have compared it to the feeling of the phantom pains that amputees feel long after a limb is gone. Yes…I said experts. As in people-who-get-paid-to-analyze-the-brains-of-others agree with this distortion….I’m not crazy after all! (Ok…I guess that’s technically up for debate.)

Who would have thought that body image would be something I’d have to worry about once I got here? I figured my insecurities would vanish with the weight.

So now begins a new battle… I’m working on recalibrating my image of myself. Surrounding myself with positive people is certainly helping. People that don’t necessarily know the way I used to be, but see me as I am right now, and appreciate all that this person is. People that truly believe in my beauty, and not just in comparison to what I was…I am trusting the compliments for the first time in my life, instead of convincing myself that there’s some ulterior motive behind them.

But why put in all this work if I can’t see anything changing?

I know I’ve got to give it time. Staying on track towards my ideal and happy weight will help.  My brain will see and celebrate the new me eventually.

I also need to stop being unrealistic.  I’m not going to wake up tomorrow rocking the physique of a Victoria’s Secret model. Losing the weight won’t necessarily turn me into a stick thin, air brushed, Hollywood honey… No one is perfect. I’ve got to try to focus on an ideal that is realistic for me given the bones and genes I was born with.

I have come a long way mentally…it’s time I take a good hard look at myself and see the long way I’ve come physically too.

Years and years of beating myself up has left me numb to how mean I’ve been to myself…It’s high time I appreciate my body. Flaws and all…imperfections and all. It’s time for me to look into the mirror and say, “Damn, the new you is absolutely astounding.”

 

“Mirrors are perpetually deceitful. They lie and steal your true self. They reveal only what your mind believes it sees.” – Dee Remy

Love Is A Four Letter Word

I’ve done a lot of reflecting this week…on where I am, where I’ve been….where I have yet to go.

My weight is continuing to drop (I can’t believe it’s this low…when was the last time I weighed this much?!) and so is my clothing size.

I am by far in the healthiest place mentally that I’ve ever been in. I have conquered many demons and learned to love the one person that I seemed to have the hardest time having an ounce of respect for: myself.

Now that I have learned to love myself unconditionally…can I truly love another the same way?  Years and years of a detrimental self-image also lead to years and years of looking to another to fill the holes that I had created in myself.  Looking elsewhere for fulfillment I should have been getting myself only created bigger voids and more confusion on what it was I really truly wanted.

While thinking this week about all the things I may have done right or wrong in past relationships…I kept asking myself:  What is true love? Does everyone really have a soul mate?

I certainly think this to be true. I yearn for it to be true for me.  I choose to believe that there are 2 people that are created with the other in mind.  I also feel like many of us go through life trying to force the wrong person into that mold…or never finding it at all.

My sister found it.  She found the one made with her in mind.

Her wedding is going to be a blast, and enormously emotional all at the same time….my baby sister…married. The girl who crawled in my bed when she was little because she was scared of the dark…the girl who refused to leave the house without her infamous stuffed animal, a lamb named Stuffy Puffy…The girl who I’ve seen grow from a precious pigtailed girl to a beautiful, talented, brilliant woman.

She found what I and so many others have searched for their entire lives…her soul mate.

If I had been given the task of crafting the most perfect man for her, I could not have asked for more than Dan. He is her perfection. He flawlessly balances her quirkiness, and is patient with her sensitivity. He loves her without question, as she loves him the same.  They are amazing together.

Sarah and Dan...the soon to be newlyweds!

Watching her this weekend at the wedding shower being thrown for her, it was evident, even without him present how excited she was to be marrying her best friend.  Not just about the guests, not just about the presents or the dress…she is truly 100% excited about meeting him at that altar to begin the rest of their lives together.

I’ve certainly searched for that one special person that would make my life complete. Plenty of times I thought I had found it.  Society (and Nicholas Sparks) has made it hard for people to live up to the expectations of the fairytale relationship…the fairytale like my sister and Dan have…the fairytale my Grandmommy and Poppy Doc have.

I am grateful that I am starting to uncover this fairytale…that I am learning that my perfect person may truly exist after all. But I think this notion that finding my true soul mate is possible has more to do with me than it has to do with ‘him.’

As I’m sure it’s obvious to you now, I’ve had a strong inability to find the perfect relationship.

During a counseling session a year or so ago, my therapist asked me to write down what my ‘ideal’ relationship looked like and to describe my perfect partner. I don’t remember what I wrote specifically, but I do know one thing was very clear regarding my perception of what a healthy relationship is…it was a lot about me and what I was demanding from a partner.  I believed and required that someone make me happy…without any effort on my part. My ‘ideal’ was all about what I needed, not about what I can offer.

And trust me, figuring out what I have to offer hasn’t exactly been easy.  I was only able to do so in finding out who I really am.  Finding who this person is was scary initially. I struggled with the constant fear that I might hate who the real me actually was.  It’s hard to take a good look at yourself when you’ve been running from it for so long.

As I discovered the real me and started to find peace in myself, I realized that I had often times felt uneasy in nourishing, communicative and emotionally involved relationships because I had NO IDEA how to be in one. (Obviously given my track record.)  My confusion in myself was evident in the relationships I was attracted to. If we’re unable to have a healthy relationship with ourselves, how can we expect to have one with someone else?

I truly believe that I have finally found my true self.  The self that wakes up happy and goes to bed with a smile on her face….the self that doesn’t look to validate herself by the actions of others…the self that can finally, after many years and many rocky relationships, say that she knows what it means to be fulfilled.

And while not every relationship was devoid of love and happiness, without being able to accept what it was supposed to feel like, I couldn’t experience true unconditional love… complete acceptance…total devoutness and trust.

But that was then…

I am starting to experience true happiness and give it in return. I am starting to understand what it means to trust 100%. I am discovering I have a lot to offer…I am discovering what this so-called life is supposed to be about…

I am starting to write the pages of my fairytale…and it is certainly time for my happily ever after.

“People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself.  But the self is not something one finds, it is something one creates.”  ~Thomas Szasz