- The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one’s feet.
~English translation of Lao-tzu: The Way of Lao-tzu
When I first set out to find this quotation, I was looking for the one that says it begins with one step. However, I read in several places that the “one step” version of the quote is actually a paraphrase, that what I’ve quoted above is a more literal translation of what Lao-tzu actually wrote.
Rather than emphasizing the first step, Lau Tzu regarded action as something that arises naturally from stillness. Another potential phrasing would be, “Even the longest journey must begin where you stand.”
~Note on http://www.quotationspage.com
Of course the journey under discussion on this blog is the weight-loss journey—or the journey to become a healthier me, one who will live longer and have fewer health problems in the future, one who will feel more confident and more accomplished the more success I find on the journey.
I started this odyssey almost two years ago, in the summer of 2007, after a visit to my new doctor when the nurse recorded my weight as 315 pounds. That’s permanently on my chart. I can’t pretend that I didn’t weigh that much. Because someone else wrote it down. So I decided I needed to try to lose weight. And then my back went out. Many of you may not know that I had back surgery in 2003 to repair a ruptured disc (L-4 vertebra), after living with excruciating back pain for almost two years. The cause for the ruptured disc? A combination of trying to do too much for myself and carrying more than 100 pounds of extra weight around all the time. Before my surgery, I was able to stick to the Atkins plan for about three or four months and lost almost 40 pounds. Afterward, I was never able to get that momentum back (though now having read some of the long-term effects of sticking to that diet, I’m glad I didn’t get hooked back on it). Over the next four years, I managed to gain back the weight I’d lost plus another fifteen or twenty pounds, even though I tried Atkins and Weight Watchers again a few times during that span. Then, as I mentioned, in the late summer of 2007, I started having back pain again. After a week, it was so excruciating that I could hardly walk the 30 to 40 feet from the parking lot into my office at work. I went to the doctor to see if we could figure out if I’d reinjured it or if it was a flare up of scar tissue impinging on the nerves. She sent me to get an MRI.
But I never got the MRI. Why? Because I didn’t fit into the machine. When the mechanism started sliding me into the tube, it was so tight around me, I couldn’t breathe and I started having a panic attack. (I’m starting to relive it right now!) They took me to another building in the hospital to an older machine that was supposed to be larger, but it was almost as tight, and by that time, I’d entered full-blown manic mode when I felt the tube pressing my arms into my chest and pushing down on me from the top. I’ve had MRIs before. I know I’ve fit into the tube and that I can handle being in there for twenty or thirty minutes, so that wasn’t the problem. The problem was that I had gained so much weight that I couldn’t fit into the one instrument that would tell us why I was in so much pain. So the doctor put me on a seven-day steroid treatment (couldn’t give me the good stuff because all prescr*ption pain killers—a.k.a. the ones that are narcot*cs—make me violently ill) and sent me to a physical therapist. This started in late July/early August. By the time I attended the ACFW conference in late September, I was still in constant, nearly excruciating pain. By November, I’d rejoined the YMCA so that I could walk on the treadmill and start swimming again, as the physical therapist had recommended. Slowly, the pain finally went away. (And has not returned, thankfully.)
Then, in January, my dear friend and coworker Georgina and I made a pact that we would start trying to lose weight in 2008, since both of us are the same age and wanted to get healthy by the time we turn forty. We started out by doing our food plans on our own but going to the gym after work together almost every day of the week. Our friend Melinda started going with us. But none of us was losing weight. So we joined Weight Watchers in April 2008. By that time, I’d managed to take off 20 pounds on my own, giving me a starting weight at WW of 295 pounds.
In the fourteen months that I’ve been in WW, I’ve allowed myself to bounce around, up and down, sometimes seeing a loss at the scale week after week, sometimes going consistently up, as I did from mid-March until early May, when I regained almost 10 pounds.
But as that quote from Lao-tzu says, the journey begins under my feet. I took the “first step” almost two years ago, so I can’t look at myself as taking the first step on the journey of a thousand miles. And because I have already lost weight and learned the program and know what I should be doing week in and week out, I’m not “starting over.” The journey to continue losing weight is already under my feet, ready for me to keep going. It may look like it’s 1,000 miles yet to go, but all I have to do is look back to see how far I’ve already come. That’s the stillness from which action springs.
All of that to say I was down 3.2 pounds at my weigh-in today, taking me back within 2 pounds of the lowest I’ve been so far on this journey, and giving me a total overall weight loss of 56.2 pounds.
- “Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.”
~Greg Anderson, The American Wellness Project