Katrina and Mary Claire

Since January 1st, I’ve lost ten pounds.

It should be a celebration, really. Ten pounds is a dress size. It’s substantially less belly fat. It’s buttons on my jeans that don’t feel like they’re going to leave a permanent scar.

It’s an accomplishment. And still, I’m frustrated.

I’m frustrated that I had ten pounds to lose in the first place. More frustrated, still, that I have about 40 more to go.

Two short years ago, I’d just finished my first full marathon. I was happy, healthy, fit. During my year of training, I’d lost nearly 70 pounds.

Then we moved.

And I ate.

In many ways, I’m a lot like Oprah. Except I don’t have the extra-fat bank account and that beautiful mocha skin. But yo-yo dieting? Yeah, I’ve got that one mastered. Emotional eating? I co-authored that book – probably with a lot of you out there.

When you’re four states and ten hours away from everyone and everything you’ve ever known and loved (except your four beautiful kids and fabulous husband who are all trying desperately to adjust to the tailspin as well), life gets a little unbalanced. Adjusting to new schools, a new house, new jobs, new terrain, new grocery stores, new Southern accents, new ways to miss home… it all combined to throw me for one eighteen-month doozy of a loop.

I’m an emotional girl – always have been, always will be. I laugh loudly and cry with abandon. I scream and yell and hold people tightly. I’m up and down and sideways and diagonal. And where my mood goes, so goes my mouth. (Yes, with the F-bombs, and yes, with the fork.)

Food has always been a comfort to me. When I was a young, 3-sport athlete, my emotional eating didn’t show itself on my belly like it does now. And when it started catching up with me, I’d throw it right back up or take diet pills and laxatives to tamp it down.

Food has been my comfort and my nemesis in equal parts.

Recently, I sat down in a movie theater with my husband on a rare and welcome date night. I could feel my thighs pressing up against the arm rests, hyper-consciously experienced the discomfort of no longer being able to slide inconspicuously into the seat beside him.

“Do you ever feel like you take up too much space on this earth?” I whispered in his ear.

He looked at me – as he often does – like I had three heads.

“No, Honey.”

But it was the way I felt then, and I knew it had everything to do with my physical state. I want to be larger than life in the personality department, in my ability to love, but not in the size of my pants. And I don’t need my body to be perfect (thank heavens!). But I need it to be strong and healthy and ready for the long haul.

My beautiful Mom – the one who used to model and had a social life more vibrant than a movie star’s – now has MS and heart disease and diabetes. I watch her struggle every day to feel good. And I know I don’t want to invite any of those things needlessly into my life. I want to be here, healthy, vibrant, for my kids, my grandkids, my great grandkids.

Chris and I have a great deal of living left to do.

These past eighteen months, I’ve learned a lot about myself. In the silence of a world in which I was no longer surrounded by gaggles of girlfriends and friendly neighbors and parties every weekend, I learned to listen… to the inner workings of my own heart. I cried my way through a great deal of it, ate my way through the rest, and then – with a closet full of dresses that didn’t fit and a propensity to stay in my pajamas for far too many days in a row – I registered what I heard.

You are good. You are kind. You are beautiful.

You are enough.

I know Abilene said it to Mae Mobley first: “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”

But I needed to hear it from myself.

You are enough.

It’s the only gift I could singularly give and receive.

When I decided to honor who I was, everything started to shift. My house was big enough, our bank account was fat enough, my kids were zen enough (well, sometimes…), and I learned to love myself… for real.

For certain.

And with renewed courage and conviction, forever.

You’re probably wondering what, specifically, I did to lose the ten pounds. (Get to the nitty gritty, girl!) That’s the easy part. I stopped eating what we like to call “The White Devil” around here: sugar, white flour, white potatoes. I filled my plate with fresh veggies instead of carbs. I drank water like I invented it. I chose differently, chose health and happiness instead of convenience and comfort.

And I began wogging a little more regularly. Wogging is a form of exercise that involves my extensive iTunes playlist, a great pair of running shoes, and goes like this: Walk through Dave Matthews. Jog through Michael Jackson. Walk through Adele. Jog through Rihanna. Walk through John Denver. Jog… no, RUN… through “Moves Like Jagger.” (Really, is there any other way??)

In a perfect world, I would have given up my beloved red wine, too. After all, it contains a bit of the white devil. But I’m not worried about perfection anymore.

Just happiness. And contentment. And health. And being here for my beautiful kids, my beloved husband. Staying strong for my Mom when she can’t necessarily do it for herself.

I have friends to love, hands to hold, worlds to travel, books to write, babies not yet born who’ll need to be rocked

Food no longer rules my world.

I’m choosing beautiful.

I’m choosing healthy.

I’m choosing me.

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