Recently, a close friend gave me a compliment. A compliment so grand that I couldn’t even accept it at the time, explaining it away as quickly as she could say it to me. I wish that I had received her kind words more gracefully- I get emotional every time I think about them. My sweet friend looked me in the eye and said, “Renee, you are a lighthouse. Your light and your compassion draw people to you, and inspires them to be better people.” What an amazing thing to say. I’ve never thought about myself in that way. Truthfully, I think I’m a deeply flawed, twisted person just doing the best I can with the hand I’ve been dealt. I fail, I make mistakes, I’m imperfect in pretty much every area of my life. Still, this beautiful moment has stayed with me and inspired me.
My weight was the one area of my life that I never thought I would conquer. It has been out of control pretty much my whole life. Most people don’t know that I had an eating disorder in high school. I was a binge eater at times, and I was anorexic at times. I ballooned up to a size 16, then dropped to a size 5, then back to a 16. I did everything to the extreme- either I ate everything or I ate nothing. Eating healthfully is still a daily struggle for me. Stress, hormones, lack of sleep, and crazy schedules sometimes make me want to go back to my old unhealthy habits like eating fast food and sweets or drinking soda. Even after losing 65 pounds, sometimes the temptation is there to eat for reasons other than hunger. I have learned how to recognize those triggers, prevent them when possible, avoid them, and resist them- but sometimes I still fail.
Even in my imperfection, something wonderful has happened all around me. My friends, co-workers, even my boss have made new commitments to their health. They are going to Zumba, signing up for 5Ks, and joining gyms. They are giving up soda and sweets, eating more whole foods, my boss is even considering a vegan diet! We all kind of check in with each other and talk about the changes we’re making- one of my co-workers pretty much gives me a daily rundown of what she’s eating, because it helps her be more accountable. My girl friends, who have been fit much longer than me, are asking me for weight loss advice. They want to know what I’m eating, how much I’m eating, and what I’m doing in the gym. It makes me feel wonderful, and it keeps me going. I love the way that we all support each other.
All of this has got me thinking about my future, and ways that I can continue to help others improve their health. I’m starting to think about going back to school to be a dietitian, nutritionist, trainer- something like that. Losing weight has been such an amazing journey for me- watching my friends changing their lives is even better than that. I can only imagine that helping people change their lives- even save their lives through better nutrition for a living would be incredibly rewarding. Maybe that’s what I want to be when I grow up…