Real Simple to the Rescue

real_simple_logoLast night at the gym I was desperate for some reading material and I’d read pretty much everything on the shelf.

I spotted a REAL SIMPLE issue that looked vaguely familiar, like something I’d read a long time ago.

I started reading it, and immediately knew I wasn’t reading it for the first time. Also realizing the ads seemed dated (everything was for 100-cal packs and I recognized the fashions from Ann Taylor Loft — my fave store — being a couple years old), I flipped to the spine of the magazine to catch the date.

March 2005.

No wonder it seemed familiar — I’d read it (per usual) cover to cover, four years earlier, at my old gym in D.C.

Suddenly all these thoughts about where I was four years ago came back to me.

In March 2005, I was still living in D.C., working at a trade association in the energy industry (i.e., “the dark side”) — a dead-end job I wasn’t passionate about at all.

In March 2005, my then-boyfriend (now husband) had just been deployed the previous month for an 8-month tour of Iraq. For a few years, we’d been struggling with the challenges of being in a long-distance relationship (him in El Salvador, me in D.C.) and wanting to be together, trying to get our futures aligned, so the unexpected deployment changed everything.

Back then, I was scared for his safety, and scared for how we’d handle being so far apart for so long. I didn’t know then if it was going to be a real turning point — or breaking point –for us.

(Fortunately, everything worked out great — he had a great position at the American embassy in his region as a liasion officer, and we got enagaged that fall when he returned).

In March 2005, I was at “goal” and yet I still wanted to be thinner. Funny how now, that goal seems so out of reach (it’s not maintainable anymore for me, I know), but it also seems crazy that I was obsessing so much back then, when I genuinely felt so good in my own skin … compared to now, when I admittedly don’t feel that way all the time.

Worse, back then, I was doubling-up on gym routines and skipping social functions, all in an effort to “preserve my body,” so to speak (though I didn’t recognize it as such at the time).

It’s totally cringe-worthy to share that, but it’s true.

It got me thinking. Isn’t it crazy how much can change in four years? Four years is how long I was in college. It’s a long time. So much can happen in four years.

So reading the magazine again, cover-to-cover, my past and present had a little mid-air collision and I couldn’t help but smile as I re-read each page.

I might not look as good as I did four years ago, but I’m in love with my husband and so happy we’re together after all those years apart.

I have a great job now that I genuinely enjoy waking up for.

And though I still struggle with over-exercising at times and emotional eating, I don’t shun social functions and I don’t double-up on workouts like that anymore.

Sometimes I guess we just need to be reminded of the good, of how far we’ve come, to really see a clearer picture.

Oh – and I noticed a quote on the spine of the issue that jolted me that I wanted to share.

“Life must be aromatic” – Gwendolyn Brooks.

How appropriate for me to read this week. I’ll keep that in mind, for sure.

How about you? Where were you in your life four years ago? What has changed for the better?

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14 thoughts on “Real Simple to the Rescue

  1. What an appropriate topic for my birthday!! 🙂
    Four years ago: I was almost 260 lbs, dating my now fiance but it wasn’t serious… I was working in a job I said I loved but couldn’t stand most of the time, and well, I wasn’t thrilled with life. Now? While I may not be the weight I ideally want to be, I’m healthy, in much better shape, and more importantly, HAPPY!

  2. For me 4 years ago I was unhappy and unhealthy at approximately 260+. I didn’t own a scale but hated my body and thought I couldn’t do anything about it. Exercise was hard, food was comfort and life was busy. I was applying to seminary, working as a teacher and volunteering at my church.

    In about six months I would take on the lifestyle that would change my life. I became health conscious and learned to love exercise that brought me to be where I am now. I’m not at goal and still working towards it but I’m much healthier, happier and just loving life. Wouldn’t change it for the world.

  3. I was just thinking about how much my body and eating has changed since 4 years ago, when I was teaching and training for a marathon. The sad thing was that I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was highly restricting my diet and doing almost 1.5 hours of cardio a day. NOT GOOD.

    I’m so happy to say that some of the foods which were once forbidden to me (like my love…peanut butter!) are now a part of my daily eats. I no longer have to do 8 hours of cardio a week to feel “fit,” – in fact, I feel so much healthier and happier with my body now.

    It’s interesting to me to think how I will be treating my body four years from now. I would like to think kids will be on the horizon then, and I really, desperately hope my current unhealthy habits that I fall back into at times will be long gone. I’d like to think it’s possible, since I’ve come a long way already. 🙂

    1. Holly, it sounds like you’re in a much better place now. And like you, I hope to be a mom and have a good relationship with my body. In a way, pregnancy/becoming a mom will be the ultimate test of body love for people like us. In a way, I can’t wait 🙂

  4. Four years ago was college for me, I was struggling a lot with some secondary trauma and my depression deepened immensely. My body was not at a place that I liked, though I had little time for exercise. I spent most of the time at a hospital with a friend, doing homework, in classes, or drinking excessively with whoever was around.

    Now I am still unhappy with my body, but I am eating healthy and know that I am being active at a healthy level. I have a job I enjoy most of the time. I am still struggling with depression but it has come along way in the past couple months. And I have a loving boyfriend who is trying hard to make the move closer to me.

    I wonder where I will be four years from now?

    1. I’m glad to hear you’re eating well and not over-exercising, Kahuluaabba! 🙂 Hopefully four years from now, you’ll be fully recovered and happy and feel good!

  5. Where you were 4 years ago I was 1 year ago. At a super low and unmaintainable weight that I worked like a madwoman to keep.. exercising too much, eating too little, missing important events, etc. I feel like Im in a much better spot now. Although not totally eating intuitively, I’m working on it, I’m working on accepting the body I have even though I’m overweight. Interesting to think that just a year ago I was so far from this and so unhappy.
    4 years ago… I was in the last 15 days of a 2 and a half month trip around Europe by myself. When I think about how happy I was, yet still bingeing, but with all the exercise I wans’t gaining weight. I was definitely feeling fulfilled but I was still lonely and my bingeing was related to that and the rebellion versus my neverending diet mentality.

  6. Goodness, 4 years ago… I’m only 19! So I was 15. Going into sophomore year of highschool at my homeschool co-op. About to begin the 3-year Quine curriculum (worldviews of the western world), and scared to death from all the horror stories of the kids gone before me. No food worries. No weight worries. I had a job at the local petting zoo. Hurricanes had not hit our area at all (we’ve had 3 or 4?). My baby sister was not born. My brothers were 4 and 7, my sister 11. I had just come back from my 1st ACTS retreat, and was incredibly happy and filled with the Holy Spirit. Not to mention, I was invited to be an assistant at my dance studio the coming school year. Actually one of my most important summers. 4 years ago. Thanks for the thought!

  7. In 2005, I was thinking about having a child and worrying that I couldn’t carry to term because of my ED. At the time, recovery wasn’t thought about. The only goal I had was eating enough to ensure the safety of my unborn child. I think back and realize it took me three years to admit my ED and want to really recover.

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