Ten years ago, when I was at my heaviest weight, my favorite word was “later.”
“Later, once I lose some weight, I’ll donate my old clothes and buy some new things that I really love…”
“Later, once I lose some weight, I’ll book a beach house and take the kids on a big, amazing trip…”
“Later, once I lose some weight, I’ll do a photoshoot, launch my website, and start lining up clients…”
At the time, all of this made perfect sense to me. I mean, helloooo? I was nearly 40 pounds overweight! Obviously (I thought to myself) at my current size, I didn’t deserve to have pretty clothes. I didn’t deserve to take a nice vacation. I didn’t deserve to have an exciting career. Obviously not! I was too fat! Fat women don’t deserve nice things or nice experiences. Fat women aren’t allowed to be happy. Fat women need to focus on getting less fat, and then, and only then, maybe… they’re allowed to start enjoying life.
When I type it out like that, you can see why this type of thinking is absolutely batshit crazy. And yet it’s what I believed for so many years. Deep down, it’s what you might believe, too. (Millions of women do.)
Think about the last month of your life. How many things did you politely decline or postpone because you didn’t think your body was “thin enough” or “the right size”?
Maybe in the last month, you ducked away from the camera or hid in the back row. Maybe you decided not to post your online dating profile because you’re still working on losing those last 5 pounds. Maybe you declined a friend’s wedding invitation because you didn’t want to run into your ex, not at your current size. Maybe, without even realizing it, you held yourself back from a business opportunity because you felt self-conscious about appearing onstage, on camera, or speaking in front of a boardroom filled with men. Maybe you bookmarked a Caribbean cruise vacation and told yourself, “Next summer, but not right now.”
There are 3.5 billion women living on planet earth. If we got together and made a list of every single experience that we’ve chosen to postpone because of body-shame, that list would probably encircle the globe fix or six times. It would reach to the moon and back.
Postponing is a dangerous habit. Postponing steals our lives. It keeps us stuck in a bored, unhappy place. It sends us to our graves filled with regrets, unfulfilled wishes, untaken vacations, unlaunched businesses, unrealized potential. It’s quietly killing us.
I wish I could travel back in time and sit down with the woman I was, 10 years ago. If I could, this is what I’d say to her:
Susan, honey, first of all… please put down that giant bag of Lay’s potato chips. It’s not going to make you feel better. An hour from now you’ll feel sick and you’ll regret it. That’s it. Put it down. OK. So, here’s what I want you to know…
Your kids are tiny right now but they’re growing up fast. Take them to the park. Take them to the lake. Take them hiking and cycling. Take photos. BE IN THOSE PHOTOS. Do not delete yourself from your family’s photo albums. Put on a bathing suit. Swim and sunbathe with them. Do not wait. Go today.
Do not wait for anything. Do not wait for a permission slip. Do not wait for that number on the scale to move downward. Whatever you crave most—fun, laughter, connection, pleasure, more free time, more money, a different morning routine, a new career—it’s up to you to create it. You have to make the first move. You have to take the initiative. And you have to start right now. Not “on Monday.” Not “next summer.” Now.
That’s what I wish I could’ve said to myself back then. And that’s what I want to say to you, to your mom, to your daughter, and every woman who stumbles across this post.
Make memories, not meal plans. Count blessings, not calories. Start creative projects, not diets. Focus on making your life bigger, instead of obsessing about how to make your body smaller. And for God’s sake, go shopping and invest in two or three outfits that make you feel confident, that feel nice on your skin, and that fit your current shape. If you wind up losing weight and those clothes don’t fit anymore in a few months, oh well! You’ll just have to donate, sell, or tailor those clothes and then go shopping again. (Not exactly a tragedy.)
If you want to have a picnic in the park, wear bright yellow shorts and a bikini top, let your bare stomach feel the sunlight, go on a hot date, visit the Grand Canyon, start a YouTube channel, start a family, or start a new project that’s part of your legacy…
The right time is right now.
The right size is whatever size you currently are.
It’s always the right day to create the life that you crave.
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