When I started out this year—overweight and disillusioned yet somehow determined to make a change—I promised myself one thing: If I hit my goal weight, I will post a picture online of myself in a bikini.
I couldn’t tell you why this motivated me. Perhaps since the dawning days of Facebook, I’d seen other women my age boldly share photos at the beach, on the lake, in the pool, or simply modeling teeny-weeny polka dot bikinis in their mirrors at home. I’d envied their curves and their confidence, their flat stomachs and slender thighs.
Unlike these women, I’ve never been comfortable in a two-piece swimsuit. Being at the beach meant hours spent trying to figure out how to sit in a chair while hiding my stomach at the same time. It meant sucking in and being as absolutely still as possible. It meant feeling my thighs rub, butt jiggle, and belly bounce for all to see as I walked down the sand. There weren’t enough towels in the world to make me feel adequately covered up in a bikini.
That is until this year, when January rolled around, and I decided for the ga-zillionth time to lose weight.
I didn’t want the decision to feel like a fad diet or a weight loss scheme or a New Year’s resolution, so instead, I called it an opportunity.
When I first passed on bacon-garnished bloody marys and gravy-smothered biscuits during a Sunday brunch (and my friends cocked their heads in disbelief), I explained, “I have an opportunity…to take better care of myself this year. I’m giving it a shot.”
And just like that, opportunity became my mantra.
This year, I’ve had the opportunity to choose salads over spicy chicken sandwiches. The opportunity to go for a walk, a jog, a run. The opportunity to invest time each day into myself. The opportunity to feel proud. And to not go another summer avoiding the water that I love so much.
I marked successful gym days off on my calendar, tracked food with MyFitnessPal, monitored my heart rate with a Fitbit, only allowed myself on the scale on Wednesday mornings, and measured my red wine pours by the ounce. Some days I went decidedly off the rails, but I quickly got back on—always with the echoes of opportunity encouraging me forward.
By August, I’d lowered my blood pressure to healthy levels I hadn’t seen in years. I watched my BMI drop from “overweight” to “normal.” I went from a snug size 8 to a roomy size 4. And I lost a total of 40 pounds.
Now it’s October and the opportunity continues, although in a different capacity. Today, I have the opportunity to be strong, the opportunity to live life more comfortably—more fully, and the opportunity to love me, every day, both inside and out.
This morning, I decided I would keep the promise I made to myself in January—even though I don’t even fully understand why I made it to begin with—and post a photo of myself in a bikini.
Maybe just because I can. Maybe because I’m proud. Maybe because I think I’ve earned it. Maybe I just want to know what in the world it feels like.
Or maybe somewhere inside I know that if I never did anything that made me uncomfortable, I’d still be 40 pounds heavier and already dreading the summer of 2016.
So here’s to pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones…