It might take a village to raise a child. But I think it takes a village or two to support someone making a super-big, superfast lifestyle change like the one we embarked on as part of the 2014 Fittest Loser Challenge.
In fact, there's no way that I could've gotten this far without those who have mentally given me their arms to lean on, email space to rant, or simply just time to let me "be" when I was crabby and achy all over.
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For starters, my family is tops. I didn't shove most of my dietary changes on them … yet. But they have made it easy for me to go about my shopping, chopping and bagging without any problem.
My husband is a man of few words, but he has closely and protectively followed my progress.
And on occasion commented on why I should be proud. He even once called me a twig.
Me, a twig?
It was a compliment from him. While visiting, his dad called me skinny. Can I just say that neither term has ever described me -- and really still doesn't. But I appreciate their sweet words.
I am sure that I am morphing in front of their eyes. I haven't seen my extended family in a long while and fully anticipate their reactions to be about the same.
My youngest son used to get a kick out of playing with the flab on the back on my arms. (Of course, I found this to be unnerving.) He recently tried to do it until he realized that it didn't jiggle as much. So he moved on. That was a compliment in itself.
My oldest talked me out of wearing a favorite suit one Sunday. "Mom, why do you have that on?" He asked incredulously. He said it was way too big, and I guess it was as I looked at the sagging skirt waist and roomy jacket sleeves that now fell over my wrists.
There's a solid group of women who walk the track at my sons' school. On and off for the past three years, they have been eyewitnesses to my journey.
"You are so slim," one said the other day, using her hands to make vertical lines in the air.
Even when I have gone in to substitute teach, staffers have offered kind words to let me know that they've been rooting for me each week.
At 45, it's easy to think that if there are things that you haven't accomplished yet that perhaps you never will. Returning to my pre-marriage, high school weight certainly would've been one of those things for me had it not been for this journey.
Hopefully, others who are younger than me, older than me, larger than me, and smaller than me will be inspired to know that it really can be done, right now, right where they are -- especially if they have the loving, supportive arms and hands of others to encircle them.
• Weight loss is typically a private effort, but freelance writer and substitute teacher Lisa Jones Townsel is glad that she widened her circle to allow in the support of others.
Starting weight: 198
Current weight: 179
Weight lost: 19 pounds, 9.6 percent