Today marks one year since I started Operation Healthy Stacie. It has been a ride, that's for sure. I can't believe it was 365 days ago that this journey began. On day one, I weighted 269 pounds (twenty pounds lighter than my heaviest weight in 2006). On day one I was lost, broken, afraid and full of doubt. But somewhere in me there was this tiny glimmer of hope - hope for something more, different, new in my life. And so I began this journey believing that it was going to be about losing weight and being healthy. (See the youtube video I posted on day one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8Zn4RpsFLk) I had the goal to lost 89 pounds in one year so that I could be a healthy mom some day and to meet my husband (believing no man could love me at 269).
The first six months of my journey were quite exciting. The weight seemed to melt off and I hit every goal I set before I needed to. This gave me confidence in myself and helped me to push myself to do more in the gym. I lost fifty pounds in the first six months! There was a huge tragedy in my life just two months into my journey however. My friend, my brother, Jim passed away from cancer. This was devastating and still is difficult at times. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of him. I miss his laughter and joy in my life. And I know he would be so proud of me and would say, "Oh, Stacie Brown! You so skinny!" And we would both proceed to crack up. His passing was a huge challenge for me to walk the walk of what I was learning about having a healthy relationship with food. And I realized that even though I am an emotional person, food had been a way of numbing and coping for me. And to not use food in that way and to truly grieve, was one of the most difficult and most freeing things.
Then in May of this year my grandfather passed away, losing his battle with cancer. My grandpa was the hardest working man I've ever known. He was stubborn and funny and a great grandpa. I was the only granddaughter for a long time and I will always cherish that he never treated me differently than the boys. Every time I see a pair of bibs or suspenders or a pipe or a clematis flower or a western shirt, I will think of my grandpa and miss him. This loss has been more difficult than I imagined. And I relapsed a bit. I used food and alcohol to cope, to numb myself, to deal with the fact that I will never hear another dirty joke from my grandpa, that he will never see me marry, my children will never know him. I had a rough couple months with food and gave myself a free pass to just eat crap. And I realized that I can get better at this whole emotional eating thing, but I will never be delivered from it. It's always going to be a challenge for me.
The second half of my journey was much more challenging than the first. The weight did not come off the way it did the first half. I only lost eighteen pounds the second six months of my journey. And if I were to look at it from strictly a weight loss stand point, I would be very disappointed and discouraged. BUT, the weight loss isn't the only thing that has happened this past year. This past year I have learned how much my body is capable of. I have learned that I am strong! I'm actually a beast :)! I dead lifted 190 pounds. I ran a half marathon in 2 hours 54 minutes. I ran an eleven minute mile for the first time ever. I am learning to push myself past the point of discomfort, to not listen to the voices in my head that say "this is too hard, you can't." I have dealt with a lot of inner demons that I had been stuffing for a long time or that I had been allowing to define me. I let them go, forgave and found freedom. I've learned to be confident in who I am, to embrace my uniqueness and to be proud of who I am. I'm discovering who I really am more and more each day - sassy, fun, bold, strong. And probably the biggest thing I have learned this past year is that I am beautiful. I have always been the girl with a pretty face. But I truly now believe that I am beautiful - all of me - flaws and all. Sure, I wish my stomach were smaller and that the skin on my thighs and upper arms wasn't so loose and jiggly. But those things are just proof of my hard work this past year. I love my shoulders and chest and that I can see my collar bone. I love my legs and how muscular and strong they are. I feel sexy - something I never would have said a year ago. I find myself walking taller, dressing to be noticed, speaking my mind more, feeling like I deserve true happiness and the desires of my heart. And I can honestly say I love myself.
My biggest take aways from this past year are that no one can place limits on me unless I allow them to. I will always be stronger, more beautiful and more amazing than I think I am. I am not alone in my journey. I have inspired others (who knew?!). I get to be whoever I want to be. I will never be perfect and that's okay. There is nothing more freeing than forgiving yourself. A lot can happen in one year. I am worth it.
So what's next? A new year of Operation Healthy Stacie begins tomorrow. I have twenty-one more pounds to lose to reach my goal weight. I want to be able to run a ten minute mile. I want to run the Borgess Half again and beat my time. And I am committed to falling more in love with myself every day!