My dictionary defines “comfort zone” as being “the level at which one functions with ease and familiarity.” I’d say that pretty accurately describes where I found myself. I was overweight, and out of shape.
I’d always been strong enough, and stubborn enough, that my weight didn’t slow me down – or so I thought! Thankfully, the impetus wasn’t a dreaded diagnosis – just a realization that change was needed. I was living life with a one-foot-in-front-of-the-other kind of existence; functioning with ease, and something had to give. But, could I do it? Was I too old?
It wasn’t without a ton of skepticism, but I stepped way outside my comfort zone, and committed to a lifestyle change! And, the good news is, it thoroughly changed my life, and the life of my husband, too!
Change is hard! We are habit-driven human beings, living in a hectic, fast-paced world, and we’re often stuck in a rut, doing whatever is normal – whatever is comfortable!
Our ‘rut’ involved eating out – a lot. It wasn’t always that way, but as empty-nesters, we found ourselves able to do so, and almost forced to do so by time commitments! We were always running errands after work, or visiting a fast food drive-through on the way to a grandchild’s game, or spending time with friends at a favorite restaurant! And, of course, after every grandchild’s concert, there was the obligatory trip to get an ice cream sundae with the kids and grandkids! Our social life – our comfort zone, really – revolved around food! Sound familiar?
Though my attitude wasn’t the best, and skepticism was at an all-time high, I somehow found the courage to step outside my comfort zone and commit to change.
And, it was tough, in the beginning – committing to a new lifestyle, learning new recipes, trying new foods, planning ahead, and prepping lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. I felt as though everything I knew – my ‘normal’ – had been ripped from my life, and replaced by these foreign routines and alternate behaviors and unheard of meals! I was much too old for this and too comfortable with the way life was!
But, remember, I said I was stubborn! Well, that served me well!
Even shopping was new to me! A farmer’s market? Fresh produce? Asparagus? Fish? Cucumbers? You’ve got to be kidding me! (I tried them – still don’t like them, but I tried!)
I’m a meat and potatoes kind of girl. Almost every meal had potatoes – baked, fried, mashed. It didn’t matter, I never met a potato I didn’t like!
I started reading ingredients in everything, determined to stay away from sugar, sodium, and all those food industry additives and preservatives. You know the ones. Those multi-syllable words on the label that you can’t pronounce, nor can you identify! If I don’t know what it is, or can’t even say it, we don’t eat it! Simple as that!
Next, I hosted my own private grocery party, inviting my daughter and daughter-in-law to come for free food I had pulled from our kitchen cabinets. Chips. Pasta. Pre-packaged, one-skillet meals. Crackers. Salty snacks. Sugar-laden tidbits. Spice blends and barbecue rubs. I gutted the kitchen, all in an effort to make this step outside my comfort zone more successful. You know, out of sight, out of mind – right? Wrong! I sometimes missed what I’d given away, but I don’t now.
We bought a food processor to slice and dice all sorts of fresh vegetables. Next came a steamer. How did I get along without those in my kitchen for decades? I don’t know!
Our life changed drastically as we left our once comfortable lifestyle and traded it for a new one – a healthy one. I’ve learned to enjoy a cold drink of water – often! And, I’ve learned I really can survive without the soda I was once totally addicted to! I’ve found I can eat at our favorite restaurant and not partake of the basket of complimentary chips – amazing, but true! I’ve learned to make wiser choices and to get a to-go box early, since portions are often more than I need.
I’ve found energy that I thought was a thing of the past. I’ve regained motivation to do landscaping (plus a lot of other things that had been left undone for years). I no longer drive around looking for the closest possible parking place when I visit the store.
I don’t refer to my weight as something I’ve ‘lost’ because if you lose something, you want to find it. Not a chance!
When I made it to the 50-pound mark I asked my husband to take a picture of me carrying the 50-pound bag of dog food we had just bought. It was going to be one of those pictures worth a thousand words! Well, I tried to maneuver that unruly bag and pose for a picture, but quickly discovered it was a difficult task. Finally, by resting my foot on the running board of the truck, I wrestled the bag to one knee and he snapped the picture! It was mind-blowing to realize I’d carried that much extra weight under my own skin, every day, all day long, 24/7, for years! Actually, for decades!
That picture truly was worth a thousand words.
But, now, I’ve made it to the triple digits! I am 100 POUNDS lighter than I was just 286 days ago! AMAZING! Things have slowed down a bit, but I never imagined in a million years I’d ever lose anywhere close to that much weight!
This new lifestyle is quickly becoming our new normal, and it’s a good place to be! I’m learning to be comfortable in my own skin, comfortable with who I am. And as the pounds disappear, a newfound confidence appears. Motivation and energy are replacing end-of-the-day exhaustion.
I guess you could say I’m functioning with the “ease and familiarity” described in my dictionary. And, believe me, this is one comfort zone I don’t EVER plan to leave!
Elaine, what a beautiful story and testimony to what can happen when we go outside the box and when we take the Lord with us on the journey. Through your journey the past 285 days I have thought often….is she really giving up her pepsi? What about Carlos O’Kelly’s ? Didn’t worry about you giving up cinnamon rolls you never would eat them at work! You have inspired so many to wake up and take care of our bodies through what we eat..so thank you. Just bought a 155 piece sack of candy bars for Tuesday night, sure hope 155 kids show up! I just keep thinking of your beautiful photos and what you have done and with God’s help will curtail my love of sugar. Enjoy your new life as a retiree, an author, a skinny minnie, a beautiful wife,mother,mother-in-law,grandma,aunt,and friend.
Marge, thank you for your kind words and encouragement! I hope 155 kids show up, TOO! (Just make sure there are still 155 in the bag at the beginning of the night!) I still go to Carlos – just make wiser choices. I’m not hurting for ANYTHING — well, once in a great while I might get a hankerin’ for something but not very often! And, I’d rather be the me I am than eat the junk I ate! I appreciate your comment, Dear Friend!