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Nov
3
2011

A Perfect Ten

in Nonfiction Writing

This is my story, “A Perfect Ten,” that was released in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Happiness. Enjoy.

 

A Perfect Ten

By Jamie Anne Richardson

At 303 pounds, my size 32 frame was beyond fun-size… I was fat. Three kids into an 11-year marriage to a happily obese man, I still identified more with the princess fairy tale than the image of the queen.

My husband loved me, I loved him, and we loved to eat. And we did. Ice cream sundaes, endless enchiladas, bottomless pasta bowls, cheesecakes; we were not choosy. We enjoyed the flavors as they tantalized our taste buds and danced ballets on our lips. Food was more than a life source; it was a passion.

Before weight loss picture

This is my "before" picture. This one is about the 285 pound mark.

And it was intimate. We truly enjoyed food… the chopping and preparation, the cooking of it, the succulent aromas that lingered in our home, the taste of it, the sharing of it with friends and family; food was a central part of who we were. Bread from scratch to share with new neighbors, homemade chocolate chip cookies to wish a friend a speedy recovery, fudge for Brent’s co-workers at Christmas and the occasional cupcake “just because”; food was our bond. It was like a drug that the Feds just hadn’t caught onto yet. People needed food, and we were the go-to neighborhood pusher.

Our lifestyle was interrupted annually with the preparation for my husband’s summer trips. Around March he would enter a whirlwind of getting into good enough shape to lead hikes and adventures prior to his first pilgrimage with Wonder Voyage. He did not have to look good in a swimsuit, just being able to trek a 5-mile trail with a group of eager teens without dying along the way was all that was necessary.

But a couple of years ago this health “kick” stuck like a muffin in an unprepared tin.

We set a treadmill in front of the TV and rather than enjoying a hot fudge sundae with Redi Whip and caramel sauce at night, we took turns walking, then jogging, and eventually running while our favorite shows entertained us and took away some of the dread associated with dripping sweat and the odors and stains it left behind.

Several months in, we invested in an elliptical so we could exercise together and hold each other accountable.

And we started rewarding the successes with a new dress here and new pants there. Before I knew it, the weight was melting off like a stick of unsalted butter.

Two years later, I am 140 pounds lighter.

As people started noticing the changes, they were in awe that we did this without diet pills, a diet plan, a gym membership, or surgery. We did it with good ol’ fashion calorie counting and exercise. And we did it with three kids 6 years old and younger hanging off our arms and doing jumping jacks beside us. We taught the importance of fitness and healthy food choices along the way and having a 7 year old daughter that can now do more push-ups than me thrills me.

After posting my latest success on Facebook one day, a neighbor friend and I had the following text conversation:

Her:  Hey skinny minnie I’ve got a pair of Lee jeans, size 9/10 medium length. Wanna try them on for keeps?

Me: Ha! Can’t fit yet but I’ll get there!! Thanks!!

Her: I bet you could they’re stretch fit. Lemme know!

Me: I would love to take them if you don’t want them. If I can’t wear them now… I’ll get there. Funny… I don’t see myself as a size 10 at all.

Her: They’re yours. And they will fit. If not now, then soon!! I’ll drop them by.

Five minutes later, a knock announced her arrival and my two underwear clad super heros-in-training stopped wrestling long enough to follow me to the door. As soon as she left, I slipped them on, buttoned them, zipped them, and ran out to the curb doing a victory dance that would make even the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders proud.

I was a size 10!

I was always the girl with a cute freckly face and a good personality… now I was a size 10 full of self-confidence and joy. For the first time in my life, my outside matched my inside.

But the joy was not in the scale or in the jeans; the true joy, the true happiness was about accomplishing such a huge task on my own terms. It did not take a death sentence from the doctor, forking over thousands for a surgery, or selling my first born to a gym… I did this. Just me. This was my victory, and no one could steal it.

And I did it without giving up my passion for food. Now instead of sharing homemade bread, I make hummus. Instead of fresh chocolate chip cookies, my kids get smoothies to die for. Company gets homemade fajitas and pico de gallo that dances the salsa on the tongue. I gift flavor, not fat.

When a person cuts their weight by the measure of another adult human in just 18 months, you feel invincible, empowered, and truly in charge of your life. I love sharing that strength and sense of accomplishment with others who are struggling beneath the bondage of food.

Happiness isn’t in the numbers; it is in finding the will to set a goal and achieve it. No matter how small or big that goal may be.

 

 


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