Sunday, November 13, 2005

Happy, and fulfilled

I went to a meetup with some of my rugby message board friends yesterday before going to a game. Now we're into the international end of the season I'm meeting up with some people who I've not seen all year, who support other teams or who mainly travel for international games, or other big games.

As in any big group of people, there are some people I know really well and see all the time (Zoe, for example, who I see more off the board than I talk to her on it), and other people who I never really chat to or rarely see. There's not necessarily time to speak to everyone (not between the vital activities of the day such as drinking or blowing up an inflatable penguin), but I spoke to most people. The usual range of questions, had I lost more since I last saw them, what on earth was I doing (my favourite version of that one must be from someone who asked whether I was exercising, because "I look so toned"!)

Anyway, on the way out I got tapped on the shoulder by someone I rarely speak to and hadn't chatted to that day. I've probably not seen him since last November, so I'm guessing there's a big difference. I'm used to the routine by now, and am getting better at taking a compliment graciously, but still, I was a little shocked at his choice of words. "You look so happy, and fulfilled".

I started to wonder, is that a euphemism for "thin". Oh yes, I've come across lots of men who can't quite come out and say the word. But then I thought, maybe it isn't.

I told myself when I started losing weight that although it may make me healthier, it wouldn't necessarily make me happy on its own. If, for example, I hated my job fat (which I didn't, but it's an easy example), being thin wouldn't make me enjoy it any more. If something made me unhappy then I would have to work on that in its own right rather than just hoping that thinness would be a cure for everything wrong with my life.

But somehow, the whole process of losing weight does seem to have made a difference. Maybe if I'd woken up one morning a size 10, out of the blue, I'd have been happy about that, but only in a one dimensional way. I've said this before, but sometimes I think that what makes me proudest of this whole thing is the way I've done it rather than what I've done, the strength that comes from knowing that I've done something amazing for myself, and the confidence that I can do anything I set my heart on.

That belief sends me round a room to talk to people, and to have confidence in my opinions and thoughts. I suppose the reduced size helps, in that I don't feel like I need to apologise for my appearance or wonder what people are going to think of me before I open my mouth, but it's the self-belief as well as the appearance.

I always used to love rugby matches. I've never been the heart and soul of a party, and drift through life very much alone. I have some friends, but I choose them carefully and need to keep my personal space rather than spending my time as part of a group. But at the rugby, you can stand alone, but part of a crowd cheering for the same thing. The emotional rollercoaster of the game picks up everyone and takes them along with it, as a group. When you're cheering on your country or your team you're never alone. I like that. It always gave me that feeling of being part of something that sometimes I missed. It didn't matter whether I was fat or alone, I was part of something bigger.

And the internet, of course, was great. I could post on rugby message boards without needing to betray too much about myself, and I could be anyone I wanted. I was part of a bigger group of fans, and the person who was sitting behind the keyboard was immaterial.

Now I still have that, but I seem to need it less. I don't need to immerse myself in a group to feel part of the world, I feel like I'm accepted, and that my right to be isn't dependent on being a voice in the crowd or words on a screen. I still enjoy it, but it's no longer the only high point of my week. I fit the rugby into my life rather than the other way round.

All of which is a long winded way of saying that maybe he was right. I know I am happy, and maybe I am more fulfilled. I never thought of it that way, and I never realised that my appearance exuded happiness, but maybe it does. I just wish I could bottle this feeling.

3 Comments:

Blogger chaos said...

Wow, what a great feeling and compliment! Your exercise could have a lot to do with it. Exercise releases endorphins. I tell people that I work out because it's cheaper than prozac. On top of the endorphins, I get a real sense of pride and accomplishment with each run and trip to the gym.

1:08 AM  
Blogger kathrynoh said...

I think it can be harder for guys to give compliments - I mean really it's commenting on your body and that's going into an area a lot of guys aren't comfortable with. But what a lovely thing to say - much better to be happy and fulfilled than thin. There are a lot of thin women out there who don't have that.

Exercise is definitely the key. I recently noticed a woman at work yawning and almost nodding off during the afternoons and it brought back to me that I used to be like that. Now I'm full of beans.

1:48 AM  
Blogger K said...

"...what makes me proudest of this whole thing is the way I've done it rather than what I've done..."

Reading this post made me happy.

Zara was saying something today about feeling more of a sense of achievement from exercise than dieting, because exercise involves doing something, not stopping yourself from doing something. What you've written seems to chime with that too.

I've not lost that much weight myself (still less than a stone) but I feel a lot better about my body knowing that it can run 5K, walk for ages without tiring, lift things without injuring itself - and I made it do those things. I couldn't always do them, but now I can.

11:56 AM  

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