The Soundtrack of Loss

It’s impossible to overstate how important music has been to me over the past year of my weight loss. I think I could give up pizza forever more easily than I could go a day without music. And I really, really love pizza. In fact, music has always been a major part of my life. My brothers were both horn players, so I grew up going to their marching band shows and jazz band concerts. Church choir, school chorus, trumpet lessons, piano lessons, school orchestra and band, and show choir filled my days as a kid. As a teenager and college student, I went to an endless string of concerts, usually with my best friend Pat. We camped out for tickets in the days before Ticketmaster and saw amazing shows like Eric Clapton, dc Talk, the Monkees, and Amy Grant.

Not long after I joined Weight Watchers and began losing weight, I started compiling a playlist of songs that I would listen to in the car, on my way to and from work. The lyrics and the music itself inspired me to dream that this new way of eating might just work. I’d visualize what it would feel like to be at my goal, and how people would respond to me. I would brainstorm all of the things I would be able to do, like wear a non-plus size bathing suit or walk into my next high school reunion feeling proud and confident.

Once I had lost about 25 pounds, I started intentionally increasing my activity throughout the day. I took the long way around campus while walking back to my office from a meeting. I took the stairs instead of the elevator. I parked on the side of the building near my office, but walked around to the front entrance. Those small changes made it easier to begin exercising for real in the evenings when I got home. I walked the length of our street for a few days, then half the neighborhood. Eventually, I could walk the entire neighborhood (about 4 miles). I always had my phone and earbuds, which kept me going when I was tempted to stop. Wanting to finish a song, or get to the next song that I loved extended what would have been short workouts. The walking was just an excuse to get to listen to the music!

During our two-week Christmas break in 2016, I got on our home elliptical machine for the first time. It faces the TV in our bedroom, so I re-created my music playlist on YouTube, allowing me to actually watch and listen to the music. As The Struts sang, “I bet your body’s so sweet,” I would think “Not yet, guys, BUT I’M WORKING ON IT!” I knew I would never be hired as a bikini-clad back up dancer in Bruno Mars music video, but when he sang “Don’t look too hard, might hurt yourself, known to give the color red the blues,” my steps turned into a swagger. James Brown told me to “Get Up Offa That Thing,” and I obeyed. How do you say no to the Godfather of Soul? And when George Michael sang, “I think there’s something you should know, I think it’s time I told you so, There’s something deep inside of me, There’s someone else I’ve got to be,” I knew that I was becoming someone new. Someone stronger. Someone who believed in the impossible being possible.

About two months before I reached my goal weight, I took my daughter and her two friends to the Green Day concert in Duluth. I let them think that the tickets were for them and I was just the cool mom who was willing to drive them there. In reality, I had been a fan of Green Day since my college years when I would drive around in my Chevy Cavalier listening to a cassette-single (ca-single?) of “When I Come Around.” After the opening act played and a short intermission, the lights went down and the familiar opening thump of “Know Your Enemy” filled the arena. Remember that scene in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy steps out of the black and white interior of her witch-killing house, into the Technicolor Land of Oz? My world turned Technicolor for the three hours that Green Day played. I danced and sang, jumped and screamed, celebrating the fact that not only was the finish line within sight (16 pounds away), but I had found a new way of living where I could still enjoy the things I loved to eat while also feeling strong, fit, and in control of my body. The things I had dreamed of and visualized were now reality. This was my life. The knowledge and skills I had learned over the previous months in Weight Watchers, along with the dozens of failures and fixes to get back on the right path, made me strong. Those mental keys jingled in my pocket as I danced, and I smiled, knowing they were mine to keep.

I hope that this blog can inspire someone else to take that first terrifying step towards a better life. If music is what inspires you, then build your own playlist and let it motivate you to move.

Here’s a link to mine: