Wednesday, July 14, 2010


52 is a strangely random number to have cultural significance, don’t you think? It’s the number of cards in a deck, the number of weeks in a year, and how many white keys there are on a piano. Add a “B” and it turns into a mighty war plane (or a kooky but bitchin’ Atlanta based house band). Exhaustive research (a.k.a. 5 minutes of exercising my master googling skills) reveals that 52 is the atomic weight of Chromium, and the name of the only fully licensed bathhouse in Newcastle’s vibrant “Gay Quarter”. It’s the 66th & 67th (and 172nd and 173rd) digits of pi, the percentage of marriages that will eventually end in divorce, and the Psalm where David uses the simile “like a green olive tree in the house of God” to describe himself (I don’t know what it means either). The number 52 even has its own Facebook page, is the title of a comic book, and is the numerological value of the word “INFINITY”.

52 also happens to be the number of days that I’ve been back on my game. IN A ROW! Which, given that for nearly 14 times that number of days that came before I couldn’t seem to stay 100% on program for even two days (heck, sometimes two HOURS), makes that whole “infinity” numerology reference seem pretty accurate.
It was 52 days ago that I woke up ready to get back down to business, and it’s been 52 continuous days of practicing the mechanics of weight loss. 52 days of journaling everything I’ve eaten, increasing my activity level, and making mindful choices. 52 days of being back in control. And it feels good. Really, really good.

It turns out that 52 days is long enough to see some real progress. On day 7, I saw my first payoff at the scale. On day 18 I graciously accepted the premise that pizza is an entrée and not a full meal and enjoyed one slice for dinner. On day 20 I realized I was already using my inhaler less than I had been just a few weeks before. On day 36 I didn’t break a sweat while hooking my workout bra (resistance bands have NOTHING on that lycra monster!), and on day 51 I was comfortable enough with how things were going to change the status of this recent leg of my weight loss journey from “fluke” to “status quo”.

From day 1, I’ve been enjoying a level of commitment that has been what my battle with the fat rarely is: EASY. I’ve spent 52 days back on program without having to wrestle my natural inclinations to the ground. I’m not sure just who to thank for the relative peace of the last 52 days, but I’m not sure it matters why the sailing has been so smooth thus far.

I think that the biggest mistake we can make in this whole weight loss thing is buying into the idea that it’s finite in nature. If we believe that we’re working toward a magical finish line off in the distance that marks the and the beginning of a new life, then our weight loss efforts are a temporary discomfort that buys our admission into the fabulous life that the fat’s been denying us. It seems so simple: be good, get to heaven. Conventional weight loss terminology encourages this mindset: Follow a set of rules, reach your “goal” and then sail on into “maintenance”. We throw in a little lip service about the key to weight loss being permanent lifestyle change, but deep down we’re pretty sure once we shed the weight that we can kiss this weight loss thing goodbye and finally start to LIVE again.

For me, giving up the idea of the imaginary finish line was the death of a dream I’d had since my very first diet attempt way back in the second grade. It took me nearly 30 years to realize that if I kept waiting for three magic numbers on the scale to appear before living my life, that same life was going to pass me by. It occurs to me that maybe the prize isn’t at the end of the road, but at every stop along it. I don’t know what waits for me at day 60, or 420, or 6,932. But I know that day 52 feels a lot like success to me, and that it’s the first day of the rest of this journey. 52=Infinity indeed.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Sara - I am continually inspired by what your brain gives out. You have written before about the starting over daily / never ending / there is no finish line aspect of our journey and i keep those thoughts with me. When I have a hard day I try to remember that there will always be hard days. When i have an easy day I am grateful and try to remember how it feels to be in control so i can pull that feeling out again on hard days.