If Change Is Good for You, Why Is It So Hard?

By: Jeanne Reynolds

Ever since we got married, my husband and I have shared a dream for our retirement that would combine our love of the North Carolina mountains and the South Carolina lowcountry. We’d have two small homes — one in the Asheville area and one near the coast — and split our time between them. We’d have the best of both worlds.

We searched for months and years and eventually bought lovely lots in beautiful areas: one in Mills River, between Hendersonville and Asheville, and one on Cat Island, minutes from Beaufort. Toward the end of the recession, thinking construction costs were about as low as they were going to get, we started building the first of these homes. If you’ve read any of my earlier posts, you know it’s right on the marsh and immediately became my happy place. We planned to build the mountain home several years later, when we retired and sold our home in the Midlands.

Everything is going according to plan, right? Well … yes and no. We soon found owning and maintaining two homes is a bigger challenge than we expected. And the final price tag of the new home was significantly higher than we originally anticipated. On top of that, the taxes, homeowners’ dues and road assessments on the other lot meant we were writing checks every year for the privilege of owning something we wouldn’t benefit from for many years.

So we made the difficult decision to let the mountain property go, and satisfy our summer cravings for cooler, leafy surroundings by renting from time to time. But during more than a year on the market, we didn’t get even the tiniest nibble of interest. It was so long, the listing agreement lapsed and we didn’t even remember our agent’s name.

That was until a couple of weeks ago, when out of the blue he called to tell us someone wanted to look at our lot. Within days we had a signed contract, with a closing rapidly approaching.

And now, suddenly, I’m sad. Relieved, but sad.

It’s hard to let go of a dream, even when you know it’s the right thing to do. It’s hard when your head and your heart are in different places. Sometimes it’s hard to admit when your dreams themselves have changed — that might mean admitting you yourself have changed, in a way you didn’t plan.

However, I’m making a conscious decision not to second-guess our decision. That means separating sadness from regret, because regret is a waste of time. Learning from past mistakes is one thing, but wallowing in the “what ifs” and “should haves” is unproductive, and constantly looking backward instead of forward can be dangerous (remember what happened to Lot’s wife).

Change may be good for us, but sometimes it’s just hard. And that’s OK.

How Weight Loss Changed Me

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

“Are you dating anyone?”

That was the third question my internist, Dr. Brad Word, asked when I stopped by Columbia Medical Group for some blood work.

His nurse, Teresa, shot him a dirty look and said, “Why do you ask that just because she’s lost weight? She’s still the same person she was before she lost weight.”

In his defense, Dr. Word always asks me that question; it’s usually about the third one. He is a family doctor in every sense of the word, no pun intended, and when one of us see him, it’s like we all see him. He always asks about the family first; in this case, he asked how my mother and sister were doing. Dr. Word isn’t hitting on me, nor is he a nosy doc; the question and my resulting answer, he says, gives him a barometer my mood.

Back to his question, “Are you dating anyone?”

I laughed it off and gave one of my usual flip answers: “No, can you believe it?” or “Why? Do you have someone in mind?” But later that night, I recalled his nurse’s reaction and wondered if I was really the same person I was before I lost weight.

To quote Madonna, “No matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter where you’ve come from, you can always change, become a better version of yourself.”  When I compare my self of today with my self from 85 lbs. ago, I’d say that I’m the same, but a little better.  Mary Pat 2.0, if you will.

My fundamental self, that person I am deep down, has stayed the same. I still root for the underdog, play Devil’s advocate and use humor to avoid familiarity. I procrastinate. I am competitive, obsessive-compulsive and rebellious. I don’t like the status quo, and heaven knows, I still have the same hips, just a little smaller.

On the flip side, since I’ve lost weight, I’m more direct and stand up for myself more. I am more confident. I take a few more risks. I’m more forgiving of my mistakes, not as hard on myself as before. While my sister would say that I still seek the spotlight, I’d say that I’m more comfortable staying behind the scenes and giving credit to others. On a superficial note, I’m smaller, and my clothes look better. And after years of short styles, I’m growing out my hair.

Not all of the changes have been positive. I find myself less tolerant of those with unhealthy lifestyles. Because I had such an unhealthy lifestyle for so long, I have a hard time understanding that one. I’m also less social because I have less free time and still haven’t figured out how to manage social events that revolve around food and drink.

As I move into the second year of this new lifestyle, the changes are evening out. I’m working on losing the last five pounds and building strength, but the physical changes are slowing down. The things that were first so challenging and disruptive at first – grocery shopping, cooking, working out – have become more comfortable routines. The overwhelming high of “finally losing the weight” is being replaced by the steady satisfaction of attaining wellness and enjoying the resulting benefits. Finally, I’m getting used to the person that I see in the mirror.

But am I dating anyone? Why? Do you have someone in mind?

How have you changed as a result of a lifestyle change? Was that change temporary or permanent? Were the changes welcome or disruptive? What advice can you give someone who goes through a significant lifestyle change?