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This is a long post, but I hope that some of you will take the time to read it in its entirety. Most of all, I hope to inspire those who wish to make changes in their lives, but fear failure.
Today I celebrate not only the beginning of a new year, but also the 1 year anniversary of the best New Years Resolution that I’ve ever made.
A little over a year ago, I was at the heaviest weight that I had ever been - 240 lbs - which was even heavier than I had been when I was 9 months pregnant with my son. Although I genuinely felt beautiful and comfortable in my own skin, I knew that I was not healthy.
For over a year, I had been experiencing intermittent vision loss, which had become increasingly severe and frequent by the end of 2016. When I first began seeing doctors, I was told that my symptoms “could" be caused by something as benign as low blood pressure, or something as serious as MS or a brain tumor, but that further testing was needed. As you can imagine, I was absolutely terrified! I was eventually diagnosed with a condition called Idiopathic Intercranial Hypertension (IIH), which causes the body to produce too much cerebrospinal fluid and in turn creates elevated pressure within the cranium. The symptoms caused by IIH are often likened to that of a brain tumor; the old school medical name for the condition is Pseudotumor Cerebri, which literally translates to "fake brain tumor". Due to damage done to the optic nerves as a result of the elevated pressure, the condition can lead to permanent vision loss and a myriad of other issues if left untreated over time.
IIH is an extremely rare condition which occurs in approximately 1 out of 100,000 in the general population. Although it has never been directly proven that being overweight causes the condition, research shows that it most commonly occurs in overweight women of childbearing age (AKA this girl right here).
I decided that I simply HAD to lose weight, there was no way around it. My eyesight literally depended on it. I started my journey small at the beginning of 2017 by cutting out sugar and adding more vegetables to my diet, and did my workouts in my basement at home. I started to lose weight little by little, and by the end of March 2017, I had lost 20 lbs. Throughout the year I made more and more changes to my diet, and intensified my workout regimen.
Fast forward to today. I’m 56 lbs lighter than I was when I started this journey, but that’s just a numeric value. The true measure of what I’ve accomplished lies in the physical changes that I see and feel. My visual symptoms are gone, and a recent ophthalmic exam confirmed that my optic nerves are no longer swollen from excess intracranial pressure. My hearing has even improved — I didn’t even know that it was being affected by the IIH until one day I stopped hearing constant ringing and whoosing noises. I honestly used to think those were just normal sounds that everyone could hear! I have 10 times more energy now than I’ve had in the last 8-10 years, and I can even think and speak more clearly. In the past few months, I’ve smiled more, laughed harder, danced more freely, and felt more myself than I have in YEARS. It’s crazy that this condition had affected my life in so many ways that I wasn’t even aware, and that this worn out, dulled down version of myself had become the new normal. In the words of the Mad Hatter, I had lost my “muchness”. In losing weight, I’ve regained my muchness and so much more.
Has losing weight been easy? HELL NO! Has the hard work and sacrifice been worth it? You bet your ass it has been. I know that many of you reading this will roll your eyes at what I’m about to say, but seriously — if I can do it, just about anyone can. I’m a mom, a wife, and a friend. At one point during 2017, I was holding down 3 jobs. I’ve been a singer with 3 different bands this year, and have been actively involved with various organizations in my community. I even get a chance to sleep once in a while. I’ve had so many chances and reasons to give up, but I didn’t. So again - barring any significant physical or mental impairments - if I can do it, YOU CAN TOO. You simply have to decide that you’re going to do it. You are 100% WORTH IT, and you are infinitely stronger and more capable than you've ever imagined. Whatever you wish to accomplish is within your grasp, if only you should choose to employ the courage and tenacity needed to pursue it.
I still have a ways to go before I hit my goal weight, but I’ve already come so much further than I’d ever imagined that I actually would.
I said all of that to say this: New Years Resolutions really can last all year long. What positive life changes will you be celebrating one year from now?