Book Excerpt: Chapter One
MAYBE YOU CAN’T BREAK THROUGH UNTIL YOU ADMIT YOU’RE BROKEN
I once weighed 265 pounds and had a body mass index of 43.
To clarify, the National Institutes of Health labels as “overweight” those people with a body mass index (BMI) of between 25 and 29.9. Those who have a BMI of between 30 and 39.9 are considered to be “obese,” and those with a BMI of 40 and above are classified as having “clinically severe obesity.” I was, by medical definition, what is more commonly labeled morbidly obese. I now weigh 145 pounds and my BMI is 23, which is smack-dab in the middle of the “normal” range. Considering the drastic change, it’s no surprise that people ask me all the time how I did it. I can see the longing in their eyes, a desperation that I too once felt.
Some people just want a quickie five-word answer (“I did the ______ Diet”), but others actually want the whole story.
They want to know how I transformed myself from someone who had been morbidly obese for decades into a marathon runner who enjoys a vigorous, active lifestyle and preaches healthy living to anyone within a fifty-foot radius. Even more, they want to know how they can channel some of that mojo for themselves. They want their own body makeover, and they hope I can help them figure out how to do it. This book is my answer to these questions: How do I transform my body? How can I improve my health?
A transformation as dramatic as mine suggests visions of a grand epiphany: the heavens open up and beams of glorious light shine down. People imagine that the lucky recipient of this euphoric enlightenment is filled with a wellspring of self-awareness and suddenly evolves into a more perfect version of herself. She magically transforms from a fat, slovenly failure into someone who always wants to eat right and goes to the gym. Always motivated, always on top of her game, the subject of this divine conversion is the picture of health and happiness forevermore with nary a care in the world.
Hmmmm, maybe that’s what weight loss looks like for some people, but my own conversion was somewhat less than awe inspiring.
After a life spent as a fat kid, then as a manic diet-crazed teen, and finally as a morbidly obese adult, by the time I’d reached my forties I no longer dreamed of such glorious revelation. In fact, my own life-changing turning point was less Hollywood cinematic splendor and more hitting rock bottom and realizing there was nowhere to go but up.
In the spring of 2007 I was an overwhelmed full-time working mom, with four active kids between the ages of seven and nineteen and a husband who was the attorney general of Washington State. To say we were stretched thin would be a gross understatement. Our days moved at lightning speed; our evenings were at full throttle. Weekends were no better. My girls, at nineteen and sixteen, were launching into young adulthood. My boys were eleven and seven at the time, both active in school, Scouts, and various sports, depending on the season. The minivan was perpetually running on empty, and so was I. On weeknights I’d dash in the door at 6:00 p.m. after working a full day, throw dinner together in order to get all the kids fed by 6:15, and race out to whatever evening activity we had planned. Saturdays there were back-to-back soccer games, and during them I’d find myself asleep in a folding chair while I was supposed to be cheering my boys on. My husband was plugged into our lives but completely absorbed in managing his offices, traveling around the state and country, and planning another statewide reelection campaign for the coming year. It was difficult, if not impossible, for him to be hands on at home.
Back on the front lines, I was in a state of near-constant panic. I was getting things done as best I could, but not doing anything well. There was no way to prioritize which tasks were most important because there were so many in front of me that were absolute emergencies, and I only had time to deal with those. Everything was urgent. Everything should have been dealt with yesterday. There was no planning—hell, there was no thinking! There was only the never-ending demand for doing.
I recall one day sharing with a coworker my frustration at trying to balance these countless demands, and she suggested I make a list of all the household tasks that needed to be done and who was doing each. Once I had a list, she calmly advised, I could begin prioritizing and delegating. Aha! Division of labor! That seemed like a brilliant solution, so I set about making a list. Four single-spaced pages into a list of tasks that were mine alone, I stopped. It was too depressing. I felt completely hopeless about making a dent in the problem. My husband wasn’t going to get less busy. In fact, I knew that he would only continue to get busier as we ramped up to his 2008 campaign. My kids were trying to help, but I was manning the ship. I was the captain.
And I was going down…
To read more, go to amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com to purchase Eat Like It Matters: How I Lost 120 Pounds and Found My Inner Badass (And How You Can Too!). The book will be available in print and as an ebook on Friday, August 14th.