Years ago, Oprah Winfrey popularized a nearly century-old phrase first coined in a 1939 psychology text-book; the “aha moment.” By 2012, this locution had became so popular that it was officially entered into Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary as:
“a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension.”
I somehow pictured the great epiphany of the aha moment to occur in a flash of terrific fanfare and deep connection with the Universe. Little did I realize that my aha moment would occur in the small hours of the morning, in the pitch-dark of my bedroom.
It was November 12, 2013, and I couldn’t sleep, though I certainly didn’t lack the general feeling of exhaustion. Every joint in my body ached and the only thing more pronounced than the rapid pounding of my heart in my ears, was my labored breathing. At nearly 230 pounds, I was the heaviest I’d ever been.
The past decade had brought a barrage of changes and strife that began with appearance of my youngest daughter’s bipolar symptoms; psychosis, depression, hypo-mania. Because she was too ill to attend school and had to be constantly supervised, I took leave from my job of 16 years to care for her. For six months, other than for medical appointments, I only left my home, once every two weeks, go to the grocery store. There, I would fill up my cart with an oxymoronic combination of extremely healthy foods for our meals, mixed with a plethora of high calorie sugary snacks for me. In those horrible days, food was my replacement for all of the pleasures that it felt like life had taken away; sanity, personal freedom, healthy relationships, and general happiness. In truth, my youngest daughter seemed like a stranger and my oldest was acting out. She’d shaved her head, pierced her tongue, and even threatened to quit high school. My husband, who, at that time, had limited understanding and experience with mental illness, was constantly out of sorts. Add the financial burden from me no longer working, my unexpected isolation as an extrovert, and a family history of addiction into the mix and it’s no surprise that I reached for food as my drug of choice to numb chaos of my situation.
Eventually, our tribulations passed. My daughter was properly diagnosed and medicated. Within two years she was back to her old, sweet self. Looking back it seemed that in the blink of an eye she finished high school, then college, and found the perfect job. She also found a terrific guy. My oldest, thankfully, decided to stick out high school, then college, and finally medical school; in five months she’ll graduate to be a family doctor. Last year, she married her high school sweetheart. My husband and I joined NAMI (the National Alliance for Mental Illness) and attended their support groups. The hub became much better educated about mental illness and its effect on the family. He’s not only one of my daughter’s biggest cheerleaders, he’s my complete partner in our happy marriage.
With the deviation of my tale passed, I return to the night of my epiphany with the thought that perhaps the old adage is wrong. Perhaps things don’t feel brighter after the storm has passed. Maybe the storm tosses us about a bit too long and makes us confused about who we are, and what we want, because on the night of my aha moment, I was certainly at rock bottom. I tried one last time to finagle the mound of pillows behind my head, only to find myself unable to breathe from my suffocating neck fat.
“I hate myself. I can’t live like this anymore!” I mouthed in the dark, as hot tears exited the corners of my eyes and pooled in my ears. I covered my face with my hands to stifle my sobs. I wiped my eyes with the sheet and grabbed my tablet from the bedside table to type this:
THINGS I MUST DO TO CHANGE MY LIFE:
- Lose 95 pounds
- Regain my health
- Find something I love to do
The next morning I called the bariatric center to register for an informational session about Optifast on December 12, 2013. After that session, I took their first available appointment.
January 16, 2014, my very first day on Optifast, was the beginning of my new life. The days, weeks, and months that followed were full of work, discovery, and living. Nearly a year later, my days are exponentially as filled with happiness, harmony, and health.
My aha moment didn’t occur on the day that I’d won a great prize, or made a deep connection with the Universe, as I’d once suspected it would. It happened under the shroud of night, on a pile of tear-stained pillows and twisted covers. In spite of my lofty visions of enlightenment, crushingly uncomfortable neck fat was my tipping point, my catalyst, and my spur. I realize now that aha moments aren’t often those that sparkle. They’re messy, dirty, gritty, painful, and even, fat. It’s that split second directly after an epiphany that life begins to twinkle, and once you set your change into motion it begins to shine.
Have you had an aha moment that’s changed your life for the better? If you’ve lost weight, what was the catalyst that set your loss into motion? Tell me about it in the comments below. 🙂