I let myself go. In a big, big way (pun intended). When I look at this picture on the left it breaks my heart. The girl in this picture was desperate. She was severely depressed. There was no joy in her life and she had to force herself to get through every day.

It’s a weird dichotomy – the way I relate to this girl. I can look at her and see that she is me. I can get back into that dark place and feel every ounce of pain, rejection, loneliness, fear, panic and hopelessness that she felt.

I can remember the way she isolated herself – walking away from friendships, letting relationships fall apart – all because she didn’t want to be seen. I can still feel the rawness of all of that and I’m crying right now remembering those awful, overwhelming feelings.

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On the other hand, I can feel like I hardly know her, like I never met her. Who is that girl? How the hell did she get so out of control and where the f*ck was I when that happened? Please tell me that I fell asleep and  like a fatted calf I was massaged and tube fed twinkies and beer for a year!

Why did I let myself go? It wasn’t like I stopped caring about my body and resigned myself to be fat but happy. I was miserable. I hated the way I looked and I was embarrassed. I stressed over food every day. So how in the world did that happen? Why did I let myself go?

Instead of controlling my emotions, I let my emotions control me. It sounds benign enough but it’s deadly. It’s letting go of the reigns and being a passive observer of your life.

My emotions were real so it was easy to initially justify letting them take over – I was legitimately sad. I was legitimately overwhelmed. I was legitimately frustrated. It felt good, at first, to give myself a pass because life was hard. My job was stressful so I deserved to treat myself. I was making financial sacrifices to pay off debt so a reward was justified. I was lonely so it was ok to embrace the one thing that made life feel a little less desperate.

Cloaked in the disguise of “letting myself feel”, I became a victim. There was no joy in my life. My mom would ask me what makes me happy and the honest answer was “I can’t think of anything”. Anything.

I had completely isolated myself from everyone in my life and the only thing that brought me solace or comfort was food. I could be alone, turn everything off, not think about my problems or my future and be totally in the moment with my pint of salted caramel ice cream. In those moments, it was just me and my mind-numbing substance of choice – food. For those few moments, nothing else existed.

The thing is though, food didn’t provide solace. In hindsight, it was a numbing agent. A distraction.

I wrote here in detail about the turning point that made me take back control and start to transform my life. It was not easy. Of course I knew I needed to change and I desperately wanted to change but it was hard to admit to myself that I was the problem.

It wasn’t anyone or anything in my life, it was just me and the choices I was making. I despised the idea of characterizing myself as “lazy” but the cold, hard truth was that I was lazy. I wasn’t in control.

I had no self-discipline, no self-control, no motivation. But how do you just choose to love yourself enough to take care of yourself? When you’re deeply depressed how to you motivate yourself to pull up out of the hole and work towards a better tomorrow that you don’t yet believe in?

You get selfish.

Hear me out! Selfish is not a dirty word! You start getting focused on what YOU need first. And before you jump in with arguments about being a wife or a career woman or a mom and those things coming first, let me just say that you’re not your best at ANY of those things if you aren’t bringing your very best self to the table. You’re not. Yes, I still worked a full-time, very demanding job throughout this journey. Yes, I was still a wife. Yes I was still a sister, daughter and friend. But I decided that getting my life back on track required 100% dedication to myself. Building that initial momentum in my fat loss journey required time, attention, laser-focus and lots of practice.

Where I’m at in my journey today, I am motivated by the changes in my body and how far I’ve come. But when I first got started, I didn’t have any of that. I built my confidence and momentum one meal, one workout, one day at a time. I would pass by the donuts at work and think “Good job, E. Right this moment, you’re building a healthier body”. I’d push through a tough workout and think “In this moment, you’re becoming the woman you know you can be.” I viewed every small choice as a building block – a step closer to the life I knew I deserved.

I wrote out a personal mission statement. It was a description of the type of woman I wanted to be. I wasn’t that woman, gosh I was so far from that woman, I didn’t even always believe it was possible to be that woman, but I claimed her. I asked myself what choices that woman would make. I asked myself if I wanted to take a step closer to my old self or towards the new woman I was creating. It was a practice. It was a singular focus. But it got easier every day. And it wasn’t long before I started to see results. The results became my new substance of choice. The pride I felt. The excitement I felt. The eagerness to see what would come next.

Yeah, I let myself go. Thank God, I got myself back.

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