From Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul

The First Day of the Best of My Life

One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important.

Bertrand Russell

I smiled at the memories of the previous night’s dinner. I had met some friends at one of our favorite restaurants and we’d had our regular Monday night supper of grilled double-cheese and bacon sandwiches. I savored every bite of my sandwich—determined not to miss a bit of the experience. From the sound of the crisp crust on the grilled bread to the feel of the gooey cheese to the salty sweet taste of the maple bacon, I fully enjoyed my favorite sandwich.

But that was Monday night, and it was now Tuesday morning. I bounded out of bed in the morning. I had been overweight for years. Way overweight. But things had changed. I had decided that I was tired of observing life. I wanted to be a participant, but at 260 pounds, participating was a struggle.

I made a conscious decision to begin my new lifestyle on a Tuesday. In the past, Monday had been the day I would start a diet or return to the gym. In the past, I had always ended up giving up at some point—usually by Friday. I knew that this time was different, and I was determined to start it differently.

I laughed and sang along to the radio as I drove into the office. I greeted my coworkers with a smile.

“Charmi, we need you to come over to Human Resources.”

I smiled as I made my way across the building. I was due for a raise and had just worked myself silly on an international project. I hadn’t expected the recognition to come that quickly but I was happy that I was going to be rewarded for my efforts. And what a day for it to happen!

“Sit down, please.”

I looked into the face of the HR representative and continued to smile. Finally, payoff!

“Charmi, there’s no easy way to say this, so I’m not going to beat around the bush. We’re letting you go.”

It wasn’t until later that I could actually recall what the HR representative had said during the rest of our meeting. My mind took in what my heart couldn’t hear at the time. I walked back to my desk, retrieved my purse and left the building. The first day of the “best” of my life had taken a sudden turn in an unexpected direction.

I don’t remember driving home. I don’t remember changing out of my business suit. I don’t remember a thing between leaving the office and standing in front of my TV. Much to my surprise, I found myself standing there in the living room watching the start of my new exercise video. I glanced over my shoulder toward the kitchen, and in that moment I made the decision of my life. I turned back toward the television and began moving to the music. The sweat pouring from my face mixed with angry and confused tears. When the video was over, I sat on the floor and cried some more.

With that one simple decision to exercise rather than get something to eat, I took full control of my future. As the days wore on, I held fast to my decision to honor myself by honoring my new lifestyle. Maybe I did it out of desperation—it was the only thing that I felt I had any control over in my life. Maybe I did it out of fear—what if I couldn’t get a new job because of my weight? In the end, all that mattered was that I did do it. More importantly, that I chose to do it.

There were several ups and downs—both emotionally and on the scale—over the next sixteen months. But in less than a year and a half, I had moved back to my hometown, found a fabulous job and had lost 127 pounds.

That was several years ago. Since then I’ve changed jobs a few times, moved twice and have gained weight. A lot of weight. I woke up one morning not too long ago and found myself back where I had been, both physically and mentally, on that Tuesday many years before. I pulled out my exercise videos and got them ready for when I got home from work

After a very healthy breakfast, I headed for work with a renewed attitude. Shortly after lunch, HR made an announcement.

“We will be experiencing staff reductions over the next few weeks.”

I couldn’t help it, I had to laugh. That announcement— and its timing—let me know that good things lay ahead.

Charmi Schroeder

“Is there any way you can lose weight without having any less to hug?”

Reprinted with permission of Jonny Hawkins.

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