I was contacted recently by someone who was compiling weight loss success stories and asked for mine. That made me stop and think.
I don't consider myself a weight loss success story. Since I began running again in 2000, I'm down about forty pounds (interrupted by having babies), although I tend to say "Yeah, BUT....". I'm still not anywhere near my ideal body weight, so I still consider it a work in progress. I'm on the slow and gradual and hopefully permanent weight loss plan, not on the rapid makeover lifestyle change and temporary yo-yo weight loss plan. I don't diet and I rarely deny myself foods that I truly want.
Even if I were still at my top weight, I'd probably still be doing road races and triathlons today. I'd just be doing them at a slower pace. I enjoy them and they keep me motivated to keep working out, regardless of what the scale says today.
I know lots of people that I do consider weight loss success stories: Linae, Tory, and Holly are good examples.
I'm not a weight loss success story. But I am lots of other kinds of stories.
- An aspiring triathlete success story? Maybe, maybe not. It's certainly something I'd like to continue to pursue, although I'll probably never be someone who stands on the podium in open or even age group competition. But every race I finish feels like a successful achievement to me.
- An academic professional failure story? Maybe, maybe not. I worked hard for years to earn a Master of Science degree and a Doctor of Philosophy degree by age 27. I worked as a college professor for fourteen years and although I ultimately was not awarded tenure, mostly because I was unable to raise sufficient research funds in my area of study, I directed, authored, and published a body of world-class research, and taught hundreds of students. I'm proud of that.
- A later-in-life marriage success story? I hope so. We got married in 2001, when I was 43. My first, his second. And so far, so good! We're happy. Of course, that means that prior to that I had a quarter-century of many questionable relationships, some of them abysmal, many decidedly unsuccessful.
- A later-in-life fertility success story? Yes and no. I had triplets in 2003. Anna died at six months of age, due to the complications of extreme prematurity. Heartbreakingly sad, but that was one of the risks we accepted when we decided not to "selectively reduce" her (i.e., abort her) when we found out I was carrying triplets, a very high-risk pregnancy for a 45-year-old woman. We have two gorgeous two-year-old daughters that I cherish every day.
- A parenting success story? I sure hope so, but the jury will be out on that one for another couple decades.
- A success-through-hard-work story? I hope so. I'd like to be that.
Life is complicated. Hopefully life is long, and every life has lots of stories behind it. Perhaps it's that I don't look at it as a binary, simplistic, black-or-white success or failure thing any more. Life stories aren't told in a before-and-after photo. Life isn't the movies. There are no happy endings in real life. Life just goes on, or it doesn't.
Or perhaps I've learned that each of us makes tradeoffs in life, and for every success story, there's also some kind of failure story. Maybe that's just a teensy touch of maturity finally sinking in after all these years.
I've also stopped thinking that it's all about the weight. If I really want to do something, these days I just go ahead and do it, regardless of what I weigh. I like the attitude of Jayne Williams: pursue your athletic dreams in the body you have now.
That's what Run Big! is all about.
Are you a success story?
(Some previous comments on this topic are here.)