It felt completely and awkwardly different this time around. For one thing, I can't currently make the same claim. It was a big deal to see the number on the scale that indicated a triple-digit loss. I maintained that for the better part of the year, but am currently up. By how much, I'm not sure, as I haven't stepped on a scale in two months other than during measurements with Mat. The obsessive tracking and weighing and restrictive eating I did to get there hasn't been my latest lifestyle. I've got to get back there. So, how I feel about that "milestone" today is quite different than a year ago: what I was proud of reaching then, I am now humiliated for having lost in a backslide, embarrassed because I couldn't hold on to that goal.
The other thing that made me uncomfortable with the deluge of well wishes was that it made it seem like I lacked humility. Like I had to re-post such a milestone because I haven't done anything since. Truth be told, I wasn't all that comfortable with posting it the first time, for the same reason. At the time, I wasn't blogging and I wasn't talking openly about weight loss or fitness. I needed to acknowledge it, somehow. Now, when I do talk about it, it is with the understanding that it's an ongoing struggle. It's really not often going to be "hey, look at me! Look what I did! Congratulate me!" It's just "hey, this is hard. And this is what I've learned or how I feel about it. Who's with me?"
It felt important to acknowledge that moment in time. A lot of advice columns in women's magazines suggest that you should celebrate every step of the way, every pound, every size, every interim goal. I didn't do that. I was internally proud, but I didn't outwardly celebrate. I'm not sure why. I have a friend who's on a similar journey and she reached her own momentous milestone recently. She'd been thinking for months about what she'd do to celebrate when she reached her goal, and at one point she asked me what I had done to celebrate 50 lbs, and 100 lbs. I think I now realize why I never did.
It's because the journey's never over. I couldn't let myself get so focused on a goal, small or large, to the point that I had a planned celebration, because I know that once you reach that goal, you don't magically stay there. Life fluctuates. When you turn 50, when you celebrate a 50th anniversary, it means you've crossed a threshold and leveled up and you are never going back. Weight loss is not like that. You don't reach the end of the game board and claim "I win!" and put the dice away. You keep playing, and sometimes you land on a square that sends you backwards.
I also don't want to over-celebrate weight loss as an accomplishment, and seeing the accolades and congratulations for getting less fat, it feels ... too much. Like it's all that I am. Like, all the other things I've done in my life and have been proud of are somehow less significant. It is just a tad too defining for my comfort. Surely, I have contributed more to the world, made more of an impact on people's lives, than by losing weight. Haven't I? Shouldn't I?
Milestones and goals are funny things in health. I understand why it's good to celebrate each step of the way. It is a long haul and a slooooow process. It's easy to get discouraged, so we celebrate victories along the way. Using other accomplishments which were also slow and time consuming as a comparison, I can see that it was one assignment at a time, term after term, that I earned three degrees. I celebrated after handing in each essay, after walking out of each exam, and after walking across each stage to get my diploma. The difference in those cases was that, once I was done, nobody could take it away from me. I still have the academic gold medal I earned doing my Masters degree. Those goals, once met, they are yours. And the process is a checklist of one thing at a time. Regardless of what goals you set for yourself in health, there isn't actually an end. No finish line until you're dead.
Perhaps, then, losing weight is more like a competitive sport. You win some races, and - once won - nobody can take away that medal or title. Well, until the next time the race is held. You probably have a lot of games, and some you win, some you lose. Athletes can never sit back and just say "yep. I'm the best." It's all about the next event. Even the greatest names in their sports eventually grow old, retire, get out of shape or injured, and are replaced by someone who's better, newer, faster. Life shouldn't be that kind of competition, but at times it feels like it, whether I'm competing against others (bad, bad idea) or whether I'm competing against my younger, fitter self. Or, in this case, competing against my first-time-around-the-block self, when the weight loss was slightly easier because there was so much to lose, and my body wasn't used to it. I'll admit, I have a bit of envy for those who are dominating their weight loss, hitting their goals, and doing so well. It's hard to step back and say "they are at a different point in their journey" because the part of me that liked the attention, liked how I felt at that weight, is stamping her foot and whining "but I wanna be back there and still have that feeling, too."
Most people need encouragement and congratulations. I'll admit, I liked a lot of it, too. I wanted to feel proud. I wanted to feel successful. And much of the praise was sincere and heartfelt. When genuine emotion was conveyed, I felt it and all of the comments - then, and now - were appreciated. The danger in being overenthusiastic about someone's body is that those words linger when the body changes. It's why I try not to comment on people's bodies, positive OR negative. I'd rather let them know how they made me feel, or how proud I am of something they said or did. I rarely even acknowledge haircuts unless the person brings it up first, and I try to be careful in talking about weight loss when it's raised in conversation. Because the over-exuberant praise when you're at your lowest size becomes a deafening silence when you put weight back on, and that silence speaks volumes.
I usually start with a point, when I blog. This was more of a ramble. There's no pretty little bow to tie this up with, no lesson to learn. (Other than, perhaps, Facebook is weird and people should pay attention to dates, read comments, or think about it for just a second before hitting "like"). Social media has changed our real-life privacy settings. Which means that I get to hear a lot more positive comments than I would have otherwise, and they are always there for me to go back to when I need a boost. I just don't get to control when that praise comes out of the blue or where it comes from.
And perhaps I needed the reminder that humble pie is always on the menu, and to never get cocky about the milestones I pass on this journey, because it ain't over yet.