‘tis the season to reflect, right? I mean, this time of year, you can’t help but look back on what you accomplished, what you didn’t, and what you’d like to do in the new year. A recent conversation with my bff made me realize how much I’ve physically changed this year.
A few weeks ago I had posted something random on social media. She asked if I was eating. I thought she meant at that moment because she was about to tell me something gross. She meant in general. To be honest, I’m no skin and bones and I’m happy with that fact. I’m a grown-up who has curves and I’m proud of them. However, after my text exchange, I hopped on the scale and was surprised by the number staring back at me.
You see, after college, my metabolism and I started having problems. It didn’t want to allow me to eat whatever I wanted. ::gasp:: so I gained weight, lost weight and started the dance we all know too well.
But after I lost Rasheed, my body didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t eat for weeks so I lost a great deal of weight very quickly.
Then I ate everything.
During our marriage, Rasheed loved being fit, and we loved spending time together so we began working out together.
I mean, my nickname for him was “Big Arms”.
We both loved our runs (my walk/jogs) to the Orlando Convention Center with our dog on the weekends. He’d either run slowly so we could chat or he’d sprint ahead and back to me to make sure he got in his intervals for the day.
That meant after losing him, working out was not only something I remotely did not want to do, but it was a trigger.
Every time I laced up my sneakers, I saw his face smiling back at me like that time when I beat him running up the stairs of the building we had sprinted to – even though I’m certain he let me win.
Last December, my little sister forced my mom and I to take some family photos.
I was miserable inside. It was my first Christmas without my husband and all I wanted to do was stay in bed, but I’m glad she pushed me to take the pictures. Not only was it a fun way to spend the day, but I now have a visual reminder of that point in my grief journey. I see the struggle in my eyes and the heartache on my hips.
But today, I also see the hope.
A year later, I’ve lost 30 pounds.
I wish I could say I worked hard and had an inspirational story to go with that journey. Truth is, I’m not quite sure how it happened. I’ve experienced too many changes this last year. From getting a new job to buying a home and starting a business. They’re big milestones that I know Rasheed is incredibly proud of me for doing because I’m pretty proud of myself. ::hands up::
However, the biggest motivation has been my health.
I’ve had more surgeries, scary tests and conversations with doctors than I care to admit in the last 20 months. And since the Holmes and Rahe Scale actually states losing a spouse is the most stressful situation a human can experience, my doctors forced me to care about myself.
But it didn’t really kick in until my husband scolded me – twice.
He visited me, telling me how much he knew I wanted to see him, but this wasn’t the way. I couldn’t rush it. He added I still have so much left to do here, but I had to help my body because it was falling apart and “I needed to pull it together.” I promptly yelled at him, and he kept explaining in his gentle and persuasive way. He finally reached me in the way that only he will ever be able to do.
You see, I’m starting to feel like me again. However, it’s weird because I’m no longer the me I was when that beautiful man was physically on my arm, but I’m also more me now than I’ve ever been.
God had to break me to make me strong, but in order to fulfill the destiny that lies in front of me, I must ensure the vessel I’m living in is up to the task.
I’ve slowly started eating better and moving more. It’s nowhere near the level of activity and discipline I had during spurts of fitness enthusiasm when Rasheed was with me, but it’s progress.
I’m starting to cook real food again. My little brother is actually a fantastic chef so his homemade meals warm my heart and help my waistline. The thing most people don’t realize is cooking is a big trigger, too. Rasheed got excited over just about anything I’d make – even if it wasn’t good, which means the idea of cooking now just makes me sad. It was easier to pick up fast food or takeout or just heat up a frozen meal. However, my heart needs veggies and protein – even if the other side of it initially felt sad because it remembered his laugh when he gobbled those items for dinner or that he would sometimes sneak away from work at lunch to bring me a treat and check on how my day was going.
And don’t think it doesn’t mean I don’t have setbacks. Heck, I had cupcakes and chardonnay for dinner on Friday, and I honestly don’t feel bad about it.
This new journey is full of ups and downs. I’ve learned to be gentle with myself. I’ve learned to love myself enough for me and for him. I’m also learning how to take care of myself in order to experience the joy that still exists in life.
Learning to live after loss takes work and patience. Sometimes you can’t see how far you’ve come until a friend forces you on the scale and your progress stares back at you in black and white. The numbers themselves are virtually meaningless, but they do help you see how far you’ve come and how much you’ve grown.
Taking care of yourself when you’re living with any of life’s plethora of burdens can seem like an impossible task. However, pouring your frustration into reps at the gym or eating more heart-healthy dinners can strengthen your body and help you heal.
If you’re walking the same journey or trying to figure out how to keep going after a devastating blow, just know it takes time. You will have good days and bad (I certainly do), but it all begins and is built upon those tiny baby steps.