Saturday, April 14, 2012

Me? An inspiration?

My whole goal as a teacher is to be an inspiration.  I want to inspire kids to read, to write, and to think.  For some I know I am successful.  A few have even come back and told me that I had a profound affect on them.  One said I changed his life.  (He had amazing potential and was wasting away in 10th grade remedial reading.  I made them read Fahrenheit 451.)  For others, I can only pray that maybe some day in the distant future the message will sink in.

What I did not imagine was that simply living my life would be an inspiration.  I grew up experiencing several traumatic situations.  I had to cope with things many people cannot begin to imagine coping with.  I didn't cope very well.  I had a poor self-image.  If I'm being honest, I looked in the mirror and I saw something unflattering- something like the picture above.  The sad thing is that's how I felt too: every time I ate, I could almost feel my nose push up into a pig nose.

Then, I had my daughter. I did lose weight rapidly after my daughter was born, but that didn't have as much to do with it as the fact that for the first time, I felt strong.  I felt like I could do it all.I felt like...Wonder Woman.  I was working, being a mom, spending time with my friends, and spending time with my family.  I was doing it all.

Except, I'm not Wonder Woman.  And, I've never met a person that could lose 150 pounds and keep it off. In all honesty, I didn't think I would ever lose all the weight I needed to lose.  I haven't yet, but I am only 9 pounds from my goal weight.  That's more than many people can say.  The weight isn't what is so important though.  It's not even the weight that so inspiring I don't think.  Certainly it starts the inspiring.  It's how I look.

I went to visit friends where I used to work in Los Angeles early this week.  None of those friends recognized me upon first glance.  They all did a double (or even triple) take.  Instead of being the same tired, worn out 240 pound woman I was at the end of last school year, I was a healthy, energetic, smiling woman.  For the first time in my entire life, I looked happy; I looked healthy. I looked rested.

So, one of my friends told me that seeing these changes in me inspired him.  I have to admit I was surprised.  Many people have been very negative about the idea of losing weight through Bariatric Surgery.  Some people call us freaks.  Some people say we cheated and took the easy way out.  But you know what?  If there's a shortcut, why not take it?  I still have to  make all those changes in my life.  I still have to relearn how to eat healthily; I still have to make exercise a priority.    I took a risk that so many people are scared to take.  I dealt with family members, colleagues, and even complete strangers putting me down because of my choice.  The best part is that I did it all to take care of myself so that I could be there for my daughter.  When you think about it, I guess that really is inspiring.  That leaves one question to be asked:  How do I feel about myself now?

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