Six months of constant pain can make a person a little crazy. It can also make a person a little hefty if the pain comes with reduced mobility, as it did when I had a recurrence of a back injury last year.
During my recovery, my goal had been to survive another day, to grimace as little as possible while attempting the most routine of tasks, like getting out of bed or sitting in a chair. But as soon as the agony subsided, I took a good, long look at myself in the mirror. Part of me rejoiced at no longer seeing that pinched expression from pain on my face. But another part recoiled at the sight of me—all of me.
It wasn’t until a month before I was heading to my hometown of Sydney during swimsuit season that I decided extreme measures were necessary. I hadn’t seen my parents in three years, and while my hair hadn’t started to go gray yet (thank you, genetics), the wrinkles were setting up shop at an alarming pace and I felt fat. So I signed up for three days of nothing but fruit juices, vegetable drinks, and clear broths. There was fatigue, fuzzy-headedness, and frustration, along with hunger headaches, carb cravings, and food fantasies—quite a lot of food fantasies, actually. I did lose five pounds for my efforts. Not too shabby.
But the shedding of weight turned out to be a side benefit of the experience. Mostly I came away with a welcome clarity. I found myself letting go of more than just those extra pounds. I cleared out my closet and ditched pants I knew I’d likely never wriggle into again. I tossed tons of paper files I no longer needed. I parted ways with a client I’d outgrown. And when my parents called me, post-cleanse but pre-visit, what I heard in their voices was how much they looked forward to seeing me. I’d been obsessing about what I feared they would see, namely a struggling freelancer pushing 50 who’d put on weight. But it was simply me, their daughter, that they wanted to see. All of me.
Oh, and when I was back in Australia recently, I bought a rocking bikini, complete with retro fashionable big-girl briefs.
This post originally appeared on Leite’s Culinaria. As you’ll see, I’m in good company.