done looking for the critics (week 4)

I made a decision to be thankful and grateful and not a Scrooge this holiday season. While it is difficult to not be with my parents, brother, and Nana to eat turducken and laugh around the dining room table, I want to enjoy the traditions I have with my husband and with my in-laws.

The beginning of Thanksgiving Day started with a new tradition. A tradition I decided on all on my own. A sweaty, 85-minute work out. With earbuds in, I completed my very own 5k on the elliptical and then pushed through an upper body strength work out. After the work out, I called my family to wish them a happy Thanksgiving. Then I came home and roasted butternut squash and brussel sprouts. By 1pm, we were at my in-laws ready to eat turkey and all the sides that accompany Thanksgiving.

It was the first holiday I wasn't sad. There's never been a time when I felt anything less than loved and accepted with my in-laws. They've always welcomed me into their family. Even when my husband and I were just dating. They made sure I had family to spend the holidays with and opened their home and traditions to me in case I didn't.

But I've always missed my family and our traditions. I've always struggled with how to combine my traditions with my husbands, and I spent more time wishing for my traditions instead of appreciating the traditions around me.

Not this year. I would have loved to wake up and drink a smoothie with my family before turducken. I would have loved to smell the homemade pumpkin pie my mom makes and eat a few too many of my Nana's potatoes. And I could have spent the day wishing for those things. But I didn't because I know I'll get to experience all of those things again at some point.

Instead I enjoyed the holidays here. I decided there was no time or room for sadness. I refused to do anything but enjoy every moment of the holidays. And I did.

I spent several hours thinking about what I was thankful for. There were the obvious things like food, clothing, shelter, and family. Those are things that not everyone has. I could have easily written a post about the things I was thankful for, and I almost did. But I wanted whatever I said about the holidays to hold as much honesty and emotion as it could.

So I'm thankful for those things. The food we had on the table. The clothes I bought on Black Friday. The family I talked to on the phone, the family I ate Thanksgiving dinner with, the family I shopped with. The house my husband and I live in with it's size and possibilities.

I am also thankful for this journey. It's hard navigating the table and the kitchen during a holiday that food is so much a part of. And I didn't do the best job. I ate too many mashed potatoes and not enough brussel sprouts. I drank too much diet coke and gave into momentary desires of buttery popcorn at the movie theatre. While I spent Thursday morning at the gym, I didn't make it on Friday or Saturday.

That's why it's a journey. If it were a straight path from overweight to in shape, it would be a line to walk and not a journey. A weight loss journey is going to include struggle and mistakes and bruised knees. It is also going to include successes and realizations and big grins. The holiday weekend had those things in it along with the difficulty I had navigating the table.

The holiday weekend also included time spent on the couch watching The Biggest Loser. It wasn't until the current season that I actually started watching the show. I've read books written by former contestants and watched Jillian Michaels' spin-off show. But due to an already full DVR, I had never taken the time to watch the past seasons. Then I discovered that Netflix has all of the past seasons available to watch instantly.

I haven't gone in order of seasons. Instead I've watched the seasons I've heard to be the most inspiring. I started with season 8. And I teared up during almost every episode. I felt connected to Shay due to my field of profession. And to Abby because of her faith. And to Danny because he was from Oklahoma. When the season ended, I wasn't sure what season to watch next. I remembered a tweet a friend sent me about a specific moment in season 11, and I decided that would be the next season.

Watching season 11 was therapeutic for me in many ways. Because I am the contestants. I have the fear of getting hurt that Sarah had. I have the feelings of nothing being good enough that Hannah talked of. And Olivia with her faithful and supportive husband was also me.

In the end, the final three were all female. And they all lost an incredible amount of weight. But what I loved the most was the friendships they shared with each other and how they all said it wasn't about winning the money or losing the most amount of weight. It was about changing on the inside, that change being reflected on the outside, and how they all then have taken that change and allowed it to impact other people. I also loved that they proved people wrong. There were people who said they couldn't and they responded with "yes, I can." And then they did.

I don't know if there is anyone in my life who has said I can't lose the weight. I don't know if there is anyone in my life who thinks I will gain in all back. For all I know, there are people in my life who are waiting for me to fail. But it doesn't matter. Because just like Hannah did, (if they do exist) I am going to prove them wrong. And just like Olivia did, I am going to prove to myself that I can finish.

I may never be on The Biggest Loser. And I won't lose weight as quickly as the contestants. I don't have one of the world's best trainers. My weight loss will not result in $250,000 or $100,000. I can focus on the things I won't have - the things Olivia and Hannah had - or I can think about what I do have and what will happen after my weight loss.

I think my life and my dreams start with losing this weight. I think this journey is the first step to the rest of my life. I think God has placed me in the place I am with a specific purpose. And while I've learned a lot and changed some, I know I haven't fully given into the process. I've held on my wants and desires more than I've opened myself to the opportunities God might be placing in my path.

So I'm choosing thankfulness. It's a choice I have to make daily and sometimes multiple times a day. Because it's easy to be thankful one minute and then feel like everything is crashing down the next. Something will go wrong every day. It might be something small like a speeding ticket or something big like losing a job. And when those things go wrong, I have a choice to turn to God and thank Him for being constant or to forget Him and turn into myself and wonder why this or that is happening to me.

I choose the latter most of the time. I say I won't next time, but I usually do. And it needs to stop. I need to be thankful always. As my husband says, nothing terrible has happened. And it hasn't; God always, always provides a way.

So today, on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, I am thankful for friends, for family, for a roof over my head, for my husband, for our two crazy dogs, for opportunities and closed doors, for weight loss and weight gain, for the The Biggest Loser and the contestants that touched me, and for a God who provides me with eyes to see the things I have to be thankful for.

(title from "f*ckin' perfect" by pink)

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