Just sitting here thinking about my experiences and journeys over the years, and the struggles that we all go through as human beings. So I’m feeling inspired to share a story with you that I haven’t shared with anyone else because I was too embarrassed and ashamed to even talk about it. Now that the years have passed, however, I’ve put everything in perspective and am able to look back at all I learned from the experience and so I’d like to pass along the lessons I’ve learned.
In my late twenties, I developed a whopping case of mercury toxicity that went undiagnosed for 3 years. And in those 3 years, my thyroid conked out and I gained 20 pounds. I’m only 5’3″, and have a medium frame, so 20 pounds is a lot for me to pack on–especially in a short amount of time.
I had no idea what was happening because nothing like this had ever happened to me before. And boy did my ego and my self-esteem take a hit. Years prior to this, I began regularly weightlifting and got extremely lean and strong and was very proud of my physique, so to watch my body pack on the pounds and transform into a heavier version of myself was pretty traumatic.
Back then I was very hard on myself and veered on the perfectionistic side, so I was not too happy with myself. And it all came to a head when I was getting dressed to go out.
One night in the late summer, I was getting ready to go to my cousin’s wedding at the Central Park Boathouse in NYC. If you’ve ever been there, you know it’s a beautiful venue right in the heart of Central Park, right on the water. It had been pouring rain all day but miraculously stopped two hours before the wedding was to take place.
My parents swung by my apartment to freshen up and get ready before the wedding. Now, I had known that I’d been gaining weight prior to the wedding, but just did not want to deal with it, so I did not bother to try on any dresses beforehand to make sure I had one that fit. (Boy, did that bite me in the ass!)
My mother helped me cram myself into a simple red dress that was made of a stretchy fabric. We could barely get the zipper up! Feeling like an overstuffed sausage, I took one look at myself in the mirror and burst into tears. My mom was so lovely and picked out a cardigan I could throw over the dress to make it work. She talked me down from the tree and told me not to worry because the focus would be on the bride, anyway. So I did my best to pull myself together, and off we went to the wedding.
Things were looking up so we grabbed a taxi cab. I lifted my leg up to swing into the cab, and RRRRIIIIP went the seam at the bottom of my dress, creating a looooong and very steep slit up the back of my dress. O…M…G!!!
Thinking back on it, I’m smiling at how ludicrous the whole situation was and how I would NEVER put myself in that type of situation at this point in my life. But clearly, the Universe had some lessons in store for me
So, back to the story. My mom grabbed a sewing kit in the Boathouse bathroom, sewed up the slit in a jiffy, I did my best to be present in the moment of the wedding and celebrate the happy couple, and sucked it up. But it was truly a painful and defining moment for sure. I felt like I wore my unhappiness and my weight like a big banner across my face.
When life gives us challenges, it’s easy to play the victim card and ask “Why me?” But if we can step back and instead ask ourselves “What is the lesson I’m supposed to learn from this?” it can cast a totally different light on the situation.
I am so grateful to have had these struggles in my life because they’re not only a part of who I am, but also enable me to dig deep and share with you the tools I use in my life to create greater change.
So I wanted to share with you three lessons that I learned from this situation:
1. Just because you’re having a bad day/week/month/year, your life will not end.
Life is very strange and bad things can happen to wonderful people. People have brain hemorrhages, suffer with cancer, get hit by cars and regularly face natural disasters. But in the end, life goes on and we can get through our challenges, no matter how big they seem at the time.
I’m a big fan of giving yourself time and space to grieve the situation or having a pity party for a short time. But then we all have to get back up, dust ourselves off, focus on rebuilding from within, and move forth.
Overcoming obstacles happens by putting one foot in front of the other. So when the chips are down for you, reduce the amount you have on your plate and air yourself out. Take time each day to just be present in your life. All you have to do is get through each day – that’s it. Sometimes you’ll thrive and other times you’ll just survive–and either way is perfectly fine. That’s what the journey is all about.
Which brings me to my next point…
2. The numbers on the scale do not define me.
I know I talk about this a lot, but we need the reminding. The best day in my life was when the batteries in my scale died I took it as a sign and never replaced them. And I’m so much better for it.
As I like to tell my clients, you know EXACTLY what you look like naked at your current weight and at a lighter weight–you don’t need a scale to tell you. You also know what weight you need to be at to fit into your skinny jeans. So toss the damn scale and move forth with your day. All the numbers do is put you in a state of mind of feeling good or bad about yourself–and that’s a crummy way to start the day.
The numbers on the scale never interfered with me meeting my husband (which happened when I was at my “heavier” weight, btw), writing 4 books, helping people change their lives, or contributing to society as a whole. None of these attributes had a size or a number on the scale attached to them. So remember that your thoughts will dictate far more about your size than your size will dictate about itself.
3. Buy clothes that fit your body and look good on you.
Remember the show “What Not to Wear?” One of my favorite take-home messages I learned from that show is that just because the clothes you try on don’t look good on you doesn’t mean you’re fat or have a terrible body–it just means the clothes don’t fit.
One of the greatest gifts I’ve had was to work with a stylist to figure out what colors and styles work best for my body and personality. Understanding how your body actually looks in clothes makes the shopping experience far more objective and so much less traumatic. When you find clothes that make you the best version of you possible, the size becomes irrelevant.
(But if the size really still bothers you, just cut the labels out of your clothes and don’t sweat it )
As always, I love to hear from you and want to know your stories, so keep ‘em coming! Have an amazing day today.
PS> For those of you who didn’t snag your spot in the 4-Week KISS Program last week, just a quick reminder that enrollment is open today thru Thursday! Spaces are limited so grab your spot now. Details here.