beth woolsey

mess maker • magic finder • rule breaker • kindness monger

My Before

Last week, I wrote about Feelin’ Groovy, or choosing to be in a groove instead of in a rut.

One of my current, generalized, I’ll-have-no-idea-when-I-actually-achieve-it goals is to live a healthy, active life.

That’s been a particular challenge and something that has taken an incredible amount of head space.

I was a healthy weight as a child.

Then I was an adult, and I wasn’t a healthy weight any more.

Oh, how I’ve wished to be someone for whom weight isn’t an issue.

Someone who doesn’t think about what I get to eat next.

Someone who loves, just LOVES, to exercise and get that rush of endorphins.

Someone who gets excited when friends want to hike, shoot hoops, or even go for a walk.

I’m learning to be that person.

Well, other than the shooting of hoops.  Did you know that takes simultaneous arm and leg coordination?  As opposed to flailing and flinging, which are apparently my strong suits.

Um, and other than the fact that I still think about what I get to eat next.  I have a toffee milk chocolate bar calling my name right now.  I’m trying to shush her, but chocolate is always so sultry.

OK.  What I’m trying to say is, I don’t completely detest exercise anymore, and sometimes I buy whole wheat pasta.

Baby steps.

When I became pregnant with my twins, I was already pushing, oh, 50 pounds of extra weight.

One prenatal nurse called me fluffy.

My doctor said I’d established “a good feeding reserve for my growing babies.”  That was very proactive of me.  I’m such a good planner.

When I delivered my twins, I managed to reach my pre-pregnancy weight fairly quickly.  That’s the good news.

The bad news is, if you’re talented like me, you can manage to gain at least 25 pounds back by the time your babies turn two years old.

Talk about a rut.

In case you’re bad at math, that’s 75 pounds worth o’ rut.

That’s much, much harder to type than I want it to be.

Fast forward two years.  I’ve lost 35 pounds.

I have a lot of work to do until I hit a healthy weight again, but I’m on my way.

More importantly, I’ve learned a valuable and genuinely surprising lesson.

Here it is:

My rut was an important place to be.

I guess I used to consider my rut wasted time.

Turns out, it wasn’t wasted at all.

My rut was preparation time.  I spent a lot of time thinking about who I was and who I wanted to be.

It wasn’t stagnant.  It wasn’t lazy.  It was a slow, almost imperceptible movement toward health.

You know how all those weight loss commercials show you people as a Before and an After?  Well, I’m not an After yet on my weight loss efforts, but I’m not a  Before anymore, either.

And the thing about my Before?  She was an amazing person who didn’t deserve the bad rap I always gave her.

I wrote a letter to my Before a while back.

I felt like it was a way to give myself some retroactive credit, to acknowledge the rut, and to love myself a little better.

It feels entirely too personal to share on a public blog, but you know me… I’m always too personal anyway.  Here ya go:

Dear Before,

I owe you an apology.

Turns out, I haven’t been a very good friend to you.  Certainly not the kind of friend you deserved.

Through the years, I alternately discouraged and berated you.  I whispered cruel words in your ear.  I beat you down, and I was embarrassed of you.

I treated you in ways I’d never, ever treat a friend.

I’m sorry, and I’d like to ask you to forgive me.

Here’s why I think you might consider it:

You were better, brighter, tougher and deeper than I knew.

You were strong.  You carried my heavy burden for years.  You did it both gracefully and graciously.

When you realized that the physical weight was too much, you took the steps to change it.  I criticized you for not taking those steps sooner, but you persevered.

Those first steps were the hardest; they were slow, and they didn’t come with praise because no one knew the healthy choices you were making.  You operated in secret.  The results didn’t show yet, but you kept at it .

You found motivation, and you pushed yourself.  You did it to save my life, because you thought I was worth saving.

You loved me.  You protected me.  You had my back.

No one else could have done this for me, so you stepped up.  You threw yourself in the gap, and you made it happen.

I have it so much easier than you did.  People notice me, compliment me and encourage me.  They spur me on to continue.

I have advantages you didn’t have; a body that works and moves, clothes that fit, and the confidence that comes from strength.

And my strength started with you.  Somehow, you managed to work and parent and be married every day with a 75-pound pack on your back.  I’m not sure how you managed, but you did it.

You’ve given me the life I have today.  You made a decision to love me more than I knew how to love you.

I want you to know that I’m proud of you.  Of every hard choice you made.  Of every step you took.



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7 responses to “My Before”

  1. Oh dear lord, there were tears. I’ve been working on figuring out some why’s before I try to take the Now Me that used to be an After Me and turn her into a Before Me again. Sometimes I’m not very nice to the Now Me – thanks for giving me something to read aloud to her.


  2. I love how you said you aren’t the After yet but you aren’t the Before either. I need to remember that in a lot of aspects of my life. Thanks for being so personal I think it helps me see things in myself that I don’t quite know how to express.
    Thanks again and good luck in the rest of your journey I will be joining you very soon.

  3. What a great post. I think I was saying something similar to this (about myself) to Kristi last week. Why are we so bleeping hard on ourselves??

    I think you are gorgeous and would love to hear more about what you’re doing to stay healthy.

  4. Like!
    The weather is becoming more spring-summerish every day and I have no good-weather-pants that’ll fit me… So I’m wearing jeans that are killing me because they’re meant for winter. Sheesh. It’ll be okay, I have to believe that. And I do, somewhere deep inside 🙂
    Thanks for this one, Beth!

  5. Oh, boy can I relate. Ten years ago, I was in the best shape of my life. I’d started running, and was actually liking it. And I was thin, for what I feel like was the first time ever. Then I met my wonderful husband, and we had a beautiful baby boy. And now I weigh 100 lbs. more than my best weight ever. 40 of those lbs are post-pregnancy. I can’t stand looking at myself in the mirror. The vows I used to make refusing to buy clothes in a larger size have been broken many times over. I am embarrassed to be seen. So if you don’t mind, I’m going to steal parts of your letter, and pretend that it’s written to fat me. (And pretend it’s FROM me, too, because that would be weird if it was from you.)
    Anyway, Thank You.

  6. Love you, Before, Now, After – always.

    I bought more whole grain pasta for us this morning because of you.

    And lots and lots of coffee, in three different forms, for you because of our five kids.

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