Rachel Goes Rogue

0514rachelschiffI am one chubby bunny. I have struggled to be a single digit pants size my whole life. I feel like the weight goes beyond my body, but is a part of my spirit as well. It is a mental obstacle as much as a physical one. It has been engrained in America, through pop culture, that women should have beach bodies, fit and slim. I’ve had too many bagels and lox in my lifetime to fit that image. This has been my battle since I was a kid.

However, the past two years (September 20th 2013 being my “anniversary”), have profoundly changed my outlook and provided me with a desire to not “look the part,” but make the “healthy change” for a longer life.

The epiphany happened when I lost my friend and colleague, Patricia Hadley, in a mountain climbing accident.  She was the most active, positive and radiant woman. At her funeral, it was clear that she had two separate groups of friends: her coworkers and her weekend warrior enthusiasts. Sadly, I could see that one of these groups was fit and radiating, while the other was clearly less active.

It was at this moment when I looked at my over-200lb body and decided my personality could stay large, but for my health and happiness, the body had to change. I wanted Pat’s legacy of a healthy lifestyle to continue in someone; so, I guessed it was going to have to be me.

I had a list of health reasons that fueled my fire. Every woman in my family has diabetes due to weight. By forty, no woman in my family has been able to keep her gal bladder. Every person from the generation above me is at an unhealthy weight, which might explain many of the medications on the kitchen counter. I don’t mean to say this callously, but in reality, it is true. I was still seemingly unscathed by my poor health decisions and I still had time to avoid continuing them.

Between spin (thank you Full Psycle and bike2thebeat for supporting me), running with friends (many of you in the community at some point or another), road biking, and my new found love for United Studios of Self Defense (karate), I have lost 50 pounds. Yes, I have also broken my left foot twice and my tailbone, but who is counting? I have also changed my diet dramatically (with the exception of cheating on egg whites with gummy bears).

I still struggle. Every single moment I smell french fries I have a struggle. I have more weight to lose and I am sure the yo-yo will continue. I have learned that I like me this way. I’ve gained more confidence. I feel sexier than ever before, and I continually laugh at obstacles because I’m a fighter.

I may not be where I want to be yet, size wise, but I also know I am not the only person in Orange County on this journey. We can’t all be slim and fit. Nor should we make impossible standards. But we can strive to be healthier and happier people, one day at a time. My friend Pat would always say, “You can do it!” Two years after she’s left us, I wish I could tell her, “I’m doing it, Pat! I’m doing it.”

Rachel Schiff is an English teacher who graduated from Cal State Fullerton. She was president of Hillel, a representative of World Union of Jewish Students and a YLD intern. Currently, she is a master’s degree student in American Studies with emphasis on Jews in America.

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