A few weeks ago, I stood in front of my bedroom mirror and saw the condition of my life staring back at me.
Just a little extra pudge on my arms, more on my stomach and some on my thighs, too. A little overweight at 167 on a 5-foot-7-inch frame — but still much thinner than I had been in my late 20s.
I decided that the woman staring back at me in the mirror looked OK. And that gave me a horrible feeling.
What else was just OK? Here I was — with an extraordinary career, active in my church and community, blessed with a great family — and feeling very…mediocre.
It wasn’t that I’m not content. Or grateful.
I just looked at myself in that moment and realized my physical appearance was a reflection of something bigger: Somewhere along the way, I had settled.
I had stopped pushing to live my best life and started just getting by.
As I shared my thoughts with some trusted friends and colleagues, I realized I was far from alone.
“You want to lose how much weight — 10 pounds? Girl, who doesn’t?” a friend told me over lunch, shoving a piece of buttered bread in her mouth.
Everyone I quizzed had plans they kept putting off, goals they said they’d start working on but never got to, or pounds they spoke wistfully of shedding while standing at the vending machine waiting for a bag of potato chips to drop.
With my 33rd birthday quickly approaching, and the extra push of a few transitions in my personal life, I concluded that getting in better shape was as good a launching ground as any for a personal revolution.
I decided to give myself a birthday gift — a five-week stint at the boot camp Hard Exercise Works in Palm Beach Gardens. I’m starting today, my birthday, with five-day-a-week workouts.
On a visit to the studio last week, owner Darby Annunziata startled me with a simple, but profound question.
“Are you ready for this?” she asked, staring directly at me.
I didn’t have to tell her that I’d already tried to talk myself out of this. She saw it in my eyes.
She said my fear was normal, and she aims to teach me how to permanently change my habits.
I’ve had a lifelong journey with weight and body-image issues. I grew up in a Haitian-American family of divorced parents, and in hard times, like many of us, I looked to food for comfort. I played sports in high school, but I was rarely satisfied with my body.
As an adult, I used food to alleviate work stress, soothe the pain of heartbreak and generally procrastinate at life. As long as I had this weight I needed to lose, other areas of my life that needed fixing could wait.
When I began working at “The Palm Beach Post” in 2006, the cycle continued. I covered the court system in Martin County and began attending City Church of Stuart, where my Pastor Ricardo Weaver doled out spiritual and practical insights in helpings as generous as the scoops of macaroni and cheese that filled my plate at our Sunday potlucks.
Two years ago, my pastor started a health ministry at the church and kicked it off with a weight-loss challenge. By then, I had ballooned to 206 pounds. I didn’t even pretend to live a healthy lifestyle. I had simply given up.
But there was something about the challenge, and my pastor’s constant insistence that this was more a spiritual process than a physical one, that sparked within me a desire to change. I won the four-month challenge on a strict 800-calorie diet and running regimen that helped me shed 58 pounds.
I took on a leadership role in the health ministry and started to help others do what I did. All the while, the pounds slowly began to creep back on me.
In hindsight, I now realize that although I’d lost the weight, I was still making the lifestyle choices of the 200-pound woman I thought I’d left behind. When I tipped the scales at more than 180 pounds again in December, I knew I was in trouble.
Now, with the public accountability and the eyes of all of you watching me, I have no room to turn back.
When I think about quitting, I remember a college student at my church — bright, beautiful, and full of dreams of how she wants her life to be. And I know I should do this, because I never want her to settle for anything less in her life than her best.
I think about my colleague Susan Spencer-Wendel, who mentored me on the courthouse beat even as Lou Gehrig’s disease deteriorated her body to the point where she could only type with a couple of fingers. And I know I can’t quit, because she never has.
I begin this journey knowing that it’s about much more than the 10 to 15 pounds I want to lose. It’s about, as my pastor always says, refusing to live beneath my living privileges.
If you’re living beneath your dreams, I invite you to stand before your own mirror and ask yourself: Will I be truly happy living my life for the next 20 or 30 years exactly the way I’m living now?
If not, then today is as good a day as any to do something about it.
At 33, she feels her weight is just OK. Her life is just OK.And she wants MORE.
Follow Daphne on Twitter and in Tuesday Accent
Daphne Duret will be updating her fitness journey over the next five weeks in Tuesday Accent. And you can follow her on Twitter: @dd_writes, where she’ll provide diet and exercise tips, recipes and words of inspiration that are motivating her to go from “OK” to “fantastic.”