That was my reaction when I saw the side-by-side of my #DecadeChallenge.
I sent it to my friend Hanna who promptly replied “WOW” and then insisted I used photos of two different people. Nope. Both are me. Swear it.
I knew there would be a big difference when I compared 2009 to 2019. In the last 10 years, I’ve lost a lot of weight and picked up a very different lifestyle. Still, I was genuinely floored when I saw the results.
The physical differences in these two photos are substantial. This wasn’t my heaviest. I was at least 20lbs lighter than my highest weight when the 2009 photo was taken. But more than the physical changes, the life differences bowled me over. I think we’re all guilty of wishing, at least on some level, that something was different in our life – that we were thinner, further along in our careers, married, living in a different city… These photos served as a reminder of how far I’ve come – and to take a moment to take stock of where I am instead of wishing time would hurry up.
Patience? Not my strongest character trait. The Universe likes to remind me of that on a pretty regular basis.
2009 Sarah (pictured here on her way to a Risky Business sorority mixer) was overweight, unhealthy, and while not entirely unhappy, not living her best life either. She was dead set on being a music journalist and creating a life in Nashville post college. She had never picked up a barbell or gone to a barre class, let alone a group fitness class. When she did go to the gym, it was to spend 30 minutes on the elliptical, followed by walking laps around the track while listening to whatever new album she needed to write a review on. If someone would have told her she would be a certified personal trainer coaching women across the country and a competitive athlete in ten years, she would have laughed.
She would have laughed A LOT.
2019 Sarah is about half of 2009 Sarah physically, but twice or maybe even three times more confident. A whole lot of “stuff” happened between 2009 and 2019. I did the whole music journalist in Nashville thing. But I also saw a Weight Watchers commercial and decided to commit to a diet once and for all. That led to weight loss which led to exercising out of “necessity” which led to exercising because it was fun. A barre class turned into a job and that love of coaching turned into becoming a personal trainer.
There was the discovery of a barbell along the way, and the realization that, after years upon years of working towards being thin, I was built to move weights. That brought along with a type of confidence that I can’t adequately put into words. I also learned a lot about what longterm restrictive dieting does to the body, how important food is, and how to find and maintain true balance.
2019 Sarah won a second place medal at the North Carolina State Championships. I wrote ‘Qualify for the American Open Series’ on the 2020 Goals board at the gym. I launched my first group coaching program, eat more day-to-day than I’ve eaten in years, and for the first time in a long time, don’t feel guilty about it. A hell of a lot of mindset work has happened in those 10 years.
But you know what I tend to do? That whole thing I mentioned above about wishing life forward.
I’ve been very future-oriented lately. That’s not a bad thing. I’m a big believer in having goals to work towards, targets to aim for. But I can find myself wrapped around the wheel of “it’s not happening fast enough” and “why hasn’t this thing happened for me yet?” in a big way, and often on multiple fronts, all at once.
Seriously – patience? I’m not good at it.
It’s fun to look back on my Decade Challenge and see the physical differences. It’s incredible to think about the differences between that Risky Business girl and today’s version of who that Tennessee sorority girl became. It’s powerful to stop in the midst of rushing towards the “next” thing and wondering when “it” might happen, whatever that “next” or “it” is and realize how far I’ve come and what I’ve got going for me right now.
Once upon a time, I would be embarrassed to share 2009 Sarah’s photo. Years ago, I went through Facebook and scrubbed it as best I could of my “fat” photos. I untagged countless photos from college, took down so many photos I uploaded myself. I didn’t want people to see *that* version of me. I forget why.
But I’m pretty proud of 2009 Sarah. She took initiative. She packed up her life a year before this photo was taken, moved to a new state where she didn’t know a soul, and just went for it. Then she made a lot of lifestyle changes and took a lot of personal risks. She learned from both the ones that failed and the ones that succeeded.
I’m proud of 2019 Sarah, too. I’m doing things. I’ve had a year that’s been up and down and around and around. I lost her mom, threw in the towel on a business because it was the right thing to do, took on new responsibilities at work, set my eyes on new lofty goals. I no longer tries to hide the “fat” photos because I get it now. That’s a part of who I am. It’s a part of my story that’s meant to be shared, not hidden.
This Decade Challenge was eye opening, but perhaps not for the reasons you might think. I expected to see the physical changes. I didn’t expect to see the mental, emotional, and spiritual changes. I didn’t expect to be reminded to be grateful for where I am right now, and what led me here as I look to the last month of 2019 and an exciting 2020.
I wonder what 2029 Sarah will think of 2019 Sarah?
I bet she’ll be pretty proud of her, too.