COMING CLEAN: Celebrating Victories (Even the Seemingly Small Ones)

Before we start a new month, let’s celebrate a small but awesome milestone: climbing the stairs.

fall
On the eve of the last night of September, I’m reminding myself to be proud of the seemingly small moments of success.

It’s a beautiful autumn evening, and I considered briefly sitting on the deck or in the gazebo in the shade of our young maple tree, which turned fiery red almost overnight. My natural instinct is to sit or lie down after a long work day or day full of appointments, even if I’ve been sitting all day.

But as we know, sitting all day isn’t good for our bodies — even for those of us committed to regular workouts. Mayo Clinic researcher James Levine, MD, PhD, even deemed “excessive sitting…a lethal activity.” (Dr. Levine is one of the pioneers of the standing-desk movement: see his WorkWhileWalking.com site for more.)

So instead, Chloe and I took a walk, following the loop we’ve been doing each weeknight before dinner since last Monday. From my front door, it’s about 1.5 miles, and takes us about 25 minutes to walk or 20 minutes to walk-run-walk-run. It also feels very doable, so even when I’m short on time, I don’t make excuses.

Chloe and I have made a deal, you see:

Once I feel like we’re running the loop easily in a swift fashion every day, we’ll move on to running around the nearby lake, which neighbors say is about 3 miles around. (There’s a larger lake, roughly 6 miles around, a bit farther away, but I’m sticking with these two goals for now.)

As I walked, I thought about an exchange I had recently with a reader who’s working on her How I Did It story for our January issue: She was at the gym and noticed that the towels were much easier to wrap (and stay put) on her body now that she’s lost more than 60 pounds. She said it seemed small, but it made her so happy. To me, it didn’t seem small at all as I had the same challenge. (Since the towels stretch when they get wet, I would usually wrap a towel around my waist and wear my sports bra to the shower. The stretched-out towel served me better on the walk back to my locker.)

I pondered my other seemingly small victories, and remembered one that’s come to light recently.

stairwell
Passing people on the stairwell.
There are two main stairwells in our office building: one main large flight in the center, and a narrower side stairwell. I usually take the back stairs, mostly out of habit, and I realized it’s often because I would feel like I’m on display in the main stairwell. The walls are glass, it’s completely open, and I assumed that everyone would see me huff and puff as I climbed the stairs. My body can handle stairs much better than it used to, but still, I head to the back.

At my old weight, when I’d use the narrow stairwell, passersby would stop and let me walk up first. I know they thought they were being kind in letting me go first, but all I could think was, I must be too fat for them to walk beside me. I can’t fit on this flight with another person. Not only was my body hurting from walking the steps, my heart was hurting, too.

But today, and for the past few weeks, something remarkable happened: I climbed the stairs without panting, without being winded, and as I trot up and down the flights, no one stops to wait. People walk right past me — and they don’t even have to turn sideways! Golly, I bet would could stand three adults wide in that stairwell!

I knew all the big reasons for why I wanted to lose weight, but I couldn’t have expected the joy of the small celebrations. It’s a great reminder to keep me motivated as we get ready to start a new month.

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