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Keep the Journey in Focus

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Friday, May 20, 2016

In getting ready for my kiddo's graduation next week and her open house the following weekend, I have been scrolling through the bazillions of pics on my computer and in my Facebook albums, trying to compile some semblance of a slideshow of embarrassing childhood snapshots of her to aptly humiliate her in front of friends and kins. This is my job as a mother, and I intend to do a good job of it! She does not currently have a boyfriend, so at least those naked-baby bathtub photos won't ruin her love life or scare off any future potential sons-in-law who don't want a sappy weirdo for their mother-in-law. In scrolling through these pictures though, eighteen years' worth of a mama's-and-daughter's life, I have realized something: There sure as heck aren't a lot of pictures of me between 1990-something and 2003, or 2005-2014. Why? Simple. I didn't want to appear on film when I required a wide-angle lens. In fact, Autie sightings for most of my adult life have been as rarely captured as that proverbial run-by of the Sasquatch...and, frankly, I felt like that elusive large beast for much of my life. This got me to thinking about my weight loss journey and the pictures I have captured during it. I must take a moment to give a shout-out to my early Spark friend JICKEE here, because I recently read one of his blogs encouraging people to take pictures along the weighs. I have to say that he couldn't be more right. The trouble is, many people on a weight-loss adventure don't know how to focus their lens on the journey instead of merely the destination. I don't have a lot of "befores" from 2013-ish and earlier, prior to my journey start. The ones I do have are blurry, snowy, and pretty much me in the background, because that was how I always lived my life. I wanted no part of freeze frames or selfies because I was too embarrassed of my looks. As my weight-fixing journey has waned on, though, I've tried to do something I've never done before: I've tried to be thankful and proud of myself for the successes I've had, both large and small. I've tried to see milestones even in mere small steps. Today, I encourage you to do the same. Today, when every gadget, every i-this and e-that is equipped with a camera function, here's really no excuse for you not to take pictures of yourself along your journey. When I was growing up, it was more of a hassle. First, we had no way of knowing if the pics we were taking with our Kodak Disc cameras were going to turn out. Second, we had to go through the hassle of hauling those rolls of film in to the photo developer, then wait three or four days to get the pictures back. Third, there was the embarrassing reality that some stranger in a photo lab, usually a very bizarre guy in a vest or smock and thick trifocals, was going to see all of our pictures, as we didn't have the choice to only share a few, a luxury Facebook now affords us. Fourth, there was no photoshopping, unless you wandered into the mall and paid a fortune for a Glamourshots session, complete with big hair, pastel eyeshadow, airbrushing, and other tweaks that our home technology just didn't offer. Nowadays, it's as simple as picking up your phone. In many cases, you don't even have to push a button; my phone, cheap as it is, snaps a pic if I simply blurt, "Say 'Cheese!'" (By the way, why does it have to be "Cheese"? For the sake of us who are watching our cals, shouldn't we say something else? "Peas"? "Sugar-frees"? Taking a snapshot should NOT be a trigger to pre-muenster syndrome, but saying "Cheese!" just might be for me!) In any case, there is no reason you cannot capture evidence of your journey, and you should be thankful and proud enough to do so. Why should you take pictures though? What's the point? Simple: It will allow you to see the differences in yourself, will help you to be more thankful for the successes you've had, and someday, those along-the-weighs photos will be your weapon in your maintenance arsenal, to keep you from wandering backward. A picture really is worth a thousand words, and before and during pictures can really help you ensure that your after portraits will look better for a long time. If you happen to look at my photos on Spark (which I don't encourage if you have a weak stomach, as some of them are quite awful!), you will see some that I took between 2014 and as recently as this month. You might notice that in some of those during pictures, I'm actually smiling. The odd thing is that I didn't used to smile in pictures, but I could smile along the trek, because I felt like I was making progress. The even odder thing is that when I look at those pictures now, pictures of me being proud of myself, I think, "Gee, Autie. What was with that grin? You were still so big!" I distinctly remember taking a photograph in a smaller size of jeans, on Halloween, in 2014, and being so proud of myself for fitting into that size. I thought I looked hot, even with a very noticeable muffin top, because that muffin top used to be more like a whole three-tier wedding cake. I was proud that day in those jeans, but not half as grateful and proud as I was on April 11 this year, when my jeans were half that size and the muffin top is closer to a pancake, albeit still a somewhat lumpy one. I am glad I took that October 2014 picture, because to get into those jeans, I had to lose 100 pounds, which I accomplished in 10 months doing nothing more than letting Spark's nutrition tracker boss me around and keep me in check. I was thankful for how I looked that day, and now, it makes me even more thankful for how I looked 74 lbs. later. I highly suggest that you do three things to help you in your journey and beyond: -- Be thankful for EVERY milestone, even if you feel like it's more of a centimeter. Even if you are on a plateau or a weight climb, the fact that you are here, on Spark, proves that you are taking an interest in yourself and your health, and you can be thankful for that. -- Dig up whatever old pictures of yourself you can find at your heaviest weight and keep them handy. Someday, you will want to show them other people and to yourself, so you can say, "Look what I was! I'm never, ever going there again." -- Take new pictures along your journey, as often as you'd like. I even encourage you to keep a few of your "fat clothes" and take pictures of yourself in them as you progress. I'm a bit of a cheapskate and a hoarder of clothes, so I've held on to many of my things and still wear them, albeit in a different way. For instance, this Size 28W tank-top thing I barely squeezed into for a sushi-making session in 2013 is actually now a dress on me. I couldn't get rid of it when I already have shoes to match, and I'm glad I didn't, because the comparison picture is inspiring to me. You will find it surprising, as you move along, that the weights you were so proud of two months ago, six months ago, or a year ago will look "large" to you now, and that will only encourage you more to get to your goal and maintain it. So, get that camera out, smile, say "Peas," and take a picture of where you are right now. If you are bothered by others seeing it, don't share it with anyone but yourself. Grin in that picture, because where you are right now is either someplace you had to work to get to, or else it is the springboard for where you're going, and that is something to be thankful for. Belt out a few choruses of "I'm Too Sexy," and wear something you intend to keep for a while, so you can repeat the photo shoot later and see the changes you've made. You may not feel like a centerfold, but you ARE worth being captured on film, and you can smile in those pictures, knowing that you are doing something positive for you!
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