note to self

My sweet girl,

Of all the things that I passed on to you, this might be one of the hardest for me to bear. Because it was not genetic, not immutable; it was purely by choice. Or choices. Thousands upon thousands of seemingly unimportant choices that created a mindset around how you value your body. You deserve a better example.

It’s not too late. Not for me, and certainly not for you. We can change our thinking, change our habits, change our cravings, change our priorities. We can change the trajectory that we’re on.

We can. And we will.

I will, finally, lead by example. Before it is too late.




Last week, I had my annual physical. Despite the fun news that I was over five feet tall (hooray!), I was told in no uncertain terms that an extra inch should not weigh 40 pounds. I know, I was shocked too. But I was more shocked by the words “pre-diabetic.” Thankfully, I was shocked into action.

Pre-diabetic is a warning, not a sentence. It’s wholly reversible. And since I have to live forever, I have no choice but to reverse it.

On Saturday morning, I went to my first Weight Watchers meeting. I told Luau on the way out the door that I was prepared to stand up and say, “My name is Jess and I’m fat.” I needed the humor. I was more nervous than I cared to admit.

I chose Weight Watchers because it’s not a diet. It’s a framework for portion control and healthy eating. This isn’t something that I get to do for six months and be done with. I’ve gone that route before (and before and before) and it doesn’t work. Well, it works, but only until the lost pounds come raging back — and bring friends. This is for life. It has to be.

One of the first people who I met at the meeting lost fifty pounds seventeen years ago. She has come to a meeting once a week for seventeen years in order to maintain her health. I knew then that I was in the right place.

The meeting was every bit as cheesy as I’d feared and as helpful as I’d hoped. There were tips and tricks and success stories. There was encouragement. There was the certainty that this could be done.

When I got home, I decided that, once and for all, I needed to know what I really look like. Not the Cybill Sheperd soft-light version of my body that I’ve created in my head, but the real one. I needed to know where I was starting. I got into a bathing suit and asked Luau to take photos from three different angles. Looking at them was, well, eye-opening. And it hurt.

Later that morning, I wrote the following on Diary’s Facebook page.

So let’s just say that today was the day that you decided to ask your husband to take full-body, 360 degree photos of you in a bathing suit top and shorts in order to help motivate / document your weight loss. And let’s just say that right after that, you headed to the pool with your kid. And let’s just say that you’re now sitting in the locker room dreaming up schemes to avoid walking out there in a bathing suit.

Hold me.

When I did, a reader offered me the advice that I so often give to others. Chris suggested that I tell myself what I would tell one of my daughters had she just said what I’d just said. It was brilliant advice.

The lens of love and care and gentleness through which we view our children is so often absent when we look back upon ourselves. The soft touch, the understanding, the compassion, the pride in accomplishment are suddenly nowhere to be found.

That has to change.

I’m starting here.

This is what I would say to me, if I were my child.

This is what I am saying to me.

Dear Jess,

I’m proud of you.

I know that you’re in a tough place. I get it. I’ve been there too. But you are DOING something about it. See that. Acknowledge that. Take pride in that.

Yes, things got out of control. It happens. So what do you think you should do now? Dwell on where you are or focus on where you’re headed? Good choice. Eyes on the prize.

The body whose shape you lament is beautiful exactly as it is. All of its lumps and bumps are gloriously human and delightfully feminine. Please don’t forget that. Even as you move toward treating your body better than you have, don’t ever hate it. It’s done too much for you to deserve your ire. For the love of God, Jess, it has served as the vehicle for the creation of life. It has carried and nourished and comforted your daughters. It has borne witness to miracles. Pledge to care for it because you are indebted to it, NOT because you think that you can’t love it until it looks the way you want it to. You are better than that.

Yes, there were a lot of things you could have done differently. There always will be. You are human. All any of us can ask is that we learn from our pasts. That we evolve as we move forward. Please don’t berate yourself for being in this place. It’s exactly where you are meant to be. At the starting line of a new journey. Full of promise. Brimming with opportunities to make the right choices. Every moment. Every day. New.

YOU are worthy of being a priority on your own list.

It’s time.

You can do this. You WILL do this. You can do anything that you put your mind to.

I believe in you.

I love you.

– Jess

Ed note: I’ve lost three pounds (fine – 2.8 but that’s totally three) since I began on Friday. I promise not to proselytize – that’s Luau’s gig – but if anyone wants to join me, I’d be thrilled to have you along for the ride.

30 thoughts on “note to self

  1. You’re beautiful and you will be healthy. You do have to live forever. I’m proud to be your Mama, Jess!

    Love you,

  2. Great Job Jess you can do this. I started weight watchers in February after a similar situation and I am down 38lbs. It hasn’t been easy as it forced me to put myself first sometimes something I was not and stil am not used to doing. But we Can do this. I still have 8lbs to reach my goal and now the weight is coming off like .5lbs a week but non th less it is coming off. I feel so much better already. I kept saying that when I reached my goal I was going to go to the beauty salon and get a new look ect but last week I had an ah ha moment… It was after weigh in and I said why as I waiting? I am proud of my accomplish now so I did it. I cut my hair off in style and colored it and I feel wonderful and not one bit guilty about spending the money. My reward when I finally loose the rest will be a spa day followed by a shopping trip cause although I am now fitting into clothes I have not fit into in years… They are so out of style. Lol bottom line is I am in and I am here if you need any help or a shoulder to cry on a person to celebrate with!! You CAN do this!

  3. I’ve always wanted to try WW, but don’t have the extra money. I think printing this out will be excellent motivation. You have such a way with words. Thank you for inspiring me.

  4. Congratulations Jess! I’ll be 40 next month, and I was told the same thing at my check-up this spring. I’d been down every weight-loss road, and I grew up in a home where food was entertainment. I now have two daughters now and, like you, I want to lead by example. In June, I decided to begin the Ideal Protein plan, and I’ve lost 15 pounds so far. I love WW, but I needed a very strict plan, or I’d keep finding the loopholes. Now I feel I’m finally keeping my eyes on the prize. But in changing my daily habits, my daily more-positive and confident interactions with people, my overall health… I realize that, in some ways, this journey is the prize. I can’t wait to hear about your progress.

  5. Pre-diabetic. Unfortunately, as the mother of a child who has juvenile/type 1/diabetes mellitus that is all I could concentrate on when I read this post.

    Life is hard with diabetes. That’s an understatement. But luckily – even if you were to have past over that dreaded line into “diabetic” type 2 is reversible.

    I’m glad to hear that you are being preventative and that it was your health, not an image of how women are supposed to look that pushed you to take better care of yourself. As a sister to a woman who went through anorexia and bullimia in her teens, and as a mother to a 16 year old girl, it worries me when I read your status the other day. I couldn’t help but wonder how many “funny” self depricating comments you’ve made around your daughters that they have heard but not yet reacted to. i hoped none. there was a great article that went viral about a mother realizing that she didn’t openly, and often, say “i’m beautiful” enough around her daughters. i thought, yes – what a great idea! I’m still guilty of self depricating humour and even just putting too much emphasis on my appearance around my daughters, but I try to remember that article and say as often as I can: “I really love the way I feel and look in this (article of clothing). Or, “I’m so proud of myself for doing that, I knew I was strong enough”. Or smart enough, or independent enough….

    Anyways, yes – take care of yourself, but also take care to see that they are always watching – your daughters – and to them you have always been their image of beauty, but more than that – you are the image of beauty that they aspire to look like and assume that they do look like and will look like in the future.

    Side note: My husband and two of my friends did Weight Watchers and found great success very quickly, though – be warned – it should not be the only thing you rely on as without it I watched all three people bounce back to their unhealthy weights very quickly.

    They found that regular exercise and controlled eating (with a foundation from Weight Watchers) was ultimately the best way to control their weights. And they were able to stop paying for the WW service and get back to their ideal weights.

    Food for thought. 😉

    • This. Beautifully said. …”take care to see that they are always watching – your daughters – and to them you have always been their image of beauty, but more than that – you are the image of beauty that they aspire to look like and assume that they do look like and will look like in the future.”

      I try to always honor myself, no matter my size, as I know that’s how my children will learn to value themselves…

  6. Congratulations for making this wonderful decision for YOU and your family! Believe in your letter to yourself. Your body is strong and courageous and has carried your spirit well.

    I have a friend who has had great success with WW, and I looked into it but decided I would miss too many meetings with my travel. Lose It! and the supportive online Lose It! community is with me wherever I go (with my phone).

    I am on the road with you sister. I’ve lost 24 pounds with about 10 more to go.

    I know you like truffle oil… try making Kale chips with a tsp of truffle oil tossed in before roasting. So yummy! (Tear up Kale, toss in 1 or 2 tsp olive oil, 2 pinches sea salt, roast at 350 for 10 to 20 minutes, checking and mixing every so often so they don’t burn).

    Good luck!!!!!

    You got this. You can do anything you put your mind and heart to.


  7. I’m where you are in this whole wait loss, need to be healthy struggle. I ran a half marathon in May and since then my eating and exercise routine have gone kaput. It might be time for me to revisit WW too.

  8. You can do anything, Jess, and I have no doubt you’ll get to your goal weight. I had to lose 25-35 lbs. after each kid (I’m a member of the “short club” too, it was very obvious), and it was one of the greatest challenges of my life to do it both times. Since the last kid I’ve (mostly) kept it off, and I’ve never regretted all the work it took to reach my goal weight. Looking forward to reading about your successes!

  9. I’m more than willing to go along for the ride. I’m 24 lbs into my 40 lb drop. The health issues were different, but very much present. Progress is slow, and there’s still much to do, but learning to appreciate yourself as you are now is probably the first and most important lesson! BTW, a great FB page for humor and encouragement is Honey, I Ate the Fridge – it’s run by a pair of women who *totally* get it! Good luck, hang in there, and feel free to give me a yell if you need help when the Oreos are calling your name!

  10. My doc told me I was pre-diabetic a year ago. Thanks to a wonderful med that helps control my sugar, along with a MUCH better diet, I’m down 20 lbs. Only 30 to go! You can do it, Jess!

  11. Jess, you will feel so much better. I recently became aware I was eating way too much sugar and carbs and changed my eating habits. Surprisingly, to me, I gradually lost my cravings for those things and started enjoying fruits and veggies so much more? You can and will succeed. Heck, you already are!

  12. I am on this road with you, have been for years. It IS a permanent change and you ARE capable of doing this. One pound at a time. When I look back and think how did I lose all that weight?…One pound at a time, that’s all you have to do. I am in maintenance and have to remind myself, there is a secret to this. Shhhhh, listen to this amazing advice I once received “No Quitting”. That is the only key to success, any plan will work if only you don’t quit. Funny, because I tried quitting for so many years and never made any progress 🙂

  13. Dearest Jess,
    You do this for you and no one else. It’s a health thing more than anything else. I’m in the exact same place! Teaching your girls to love themselves NO MATTER WHAT is a wonderful example to lead with…more than beauty or skinniness or outward appearances or what the magazines say or the tv/movie stars look like. That, darling Mama, is the BESTEST gift you can give your girls.
    Love you. Just as you are. Because of your soul and your mind and your kindness, generosity, strength, insight and the promises you keep to your girls every single day. THAT’S what matters. A few extra lumps here and there don’t matter to anyone but you. So if you do this…you do it for yourself. Because YOU want to. That way…if and when you make a mistake, you have no guilt. You haven’t let anyone down. Your girls still love you and have you at the center of their world, lumps or no. 🙂
    Feel good…take care of YOU….eat well for health, not skinniness. Take those breaks when you need to.
    You’re special as you are.

  14. I’m posting this on my mirror…

    “Pledge to care for it because you are indebted to it, NOT because you think that you can’t love it until it looks the way you want it to. You are better than that.”

    I am soooo guilty of this…a lifetime of THIS. Your letter was a great reminder to keep shifting my thinking about myself. Thanks.

  15. Jess, I’m glad to hear that you are taking care of yourself and starting the little steps that will lead to lasting changes. There are many wonderful tools for lifelong change to eating and exercise habits, including tons here in internetland. I hope that WW is the right fit for you. I found that was the right tool for me, and my husband is a fan of fitocracy (though I think that would be more up Luau’s alley).

  16. I just had my gallbladder removed and am the dreaded “f” word so in more ways than one I need to learn a new way to eat. I could use some lightening up, both emotionally and physically. How do we join you on the journey? I want to be healthy, vibrant, and comfortable for my little boy who needs me a LOT.

  17. As a WW lifetime member (as of a little less than two years ago), welcome to the club! It is really the only plan that makes sense. Good for you, girl!

  18. Hello Jess
    I am not sure if this is the right or wrong place to ask for votes for my nephew Sam.
    Sam is just a beautiful teen, both inside and out. He has a wonderful smile, loves to sing and draw, loves the beach.. He is also autistic. He is my sister’s son. We all love him very dearly.
    Not too long ago he got a puppy. Sam decided to name him Mr Dog.
    Well you can imagine how attached they have become. First thing in the morning and when Sam returns from school, its Mr Dog!, Mr Dog! With a smile that is wider then his face. Sparkle in his eyes and the two become an explosion of love and hugs. Sam used to come home tired, drained from the hour and a half ride home in the way back of the transport van. Now he is brighter.
    So, more than anything Sam would like to see Mr Dog win this months Dog of the Month Contest.
    Would it be alright to ask the lovely parents and friends on your page to vote for Mr Dog? It would make Sam very happy to see a picture of his Mr Dog when he gets to Nantucket next week.

    Click on the link and then click “like” for Mr Dog, the brown pup with sand on his nose! Voting ends tomorrow morning at 11:59 AM sharp!
    ( Jess if this is inappropriate please delete this post, I will understand)
    Thank you, Thank you<3
    Sam's Aunt irene

    2013 Nantucket Dog Contest
    004 Submitted by: Janet Amorello
    Mr Dog
    Voting ends Thursday July 25th at 11:59 am. Most likes wins … title of 2013 Nantucket Dog Contest Winner.
    By: Townpool Nantucket

    • oh how i love this. i’ve had the pleasure of meeting sam (and janet) and adore them both. i’m on it. xo (and you’re a wonderful aunt!)

    • Done! Mr. Dog is adorable, and I love the story. Good on your Auntie Irene. Wish all kiddos had aunties like you.

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