Friday, June 24, 2011

30-something going on 13

Today, I’m going to share a story with you. A story about a 13-year-old girl who fell in love for the first time (two love posts in a row! Yay!). Her love was divided among five guys, but one in particular captured most of her attention.

My bedroom circa 1990.
She’d sit in her room, covered with their pictures, and dream of meeting them. She’d listen to their music and just know they were singing about her. Oh yeah, she had the right stuff, all right. And step by step, she’d find her way to make these boys love her as much as she loved them.

To say the New Kids on the Block were my life as an adolescent would not be an overstatement. I knew all their birthdays. Their brothers’ and sisters’ and parents’ names. I have dozens of VHS tapes filled with their appearances. I bought shoes that looked like the ones they wore (black shiny tie-up ones). My room was covered in posters and pin-ups. But Donnie was the only one who had a framed photo that sat on my nightstand. Obsession.

The New Kids kept me out of trouble, as silly as it sounds. While our other high school peers were out drinking, my friends and I were watching our New Kids’ videos. Perfecting our dance steps. And planning our weddings.

A few years ago, the boys reunited. I couldn’t have been more excited. I never really lost my love for them. I followed their solo projects—but to have them back together was a dream come true. I got to relive my childhood.

Donnie Wahlberg club show in 2009.
Their first reunion show in 2008 took me right back to my teen years--when I was carefree, though I didn’t realize it. When I had my whole life ahead of me. When I could be anything I wanted to be. When I still had my mom. When I still had my dreams.

After that show, as giddy as I was, I sank into a deep depression. Had I become that person I dreamed of being when I first fell in love with them? I felt unaccomplished. Fat. Lonely. It sent me into a tailspin and into the rock bottom that eventually led me to start this journey.

Fast forward to Wednesday. The New Kids (and the Backstreet Boys) were coming to Children’s. I could barely contain my excitement. Could it be that 20 years of dreams were finally going to come true?

Patty Gregory, the Children's Manager of Public Relations, made it happen. She asked me to help her greet the boys when they arrived. My inner teen was screaming, but my outer professional tried to be cool as a cucumber. I think I ended up somewhere between the two.

Then, finally, it happened, thanks to my friend and co-worker Meg Flynn, who grabbed Donnie for a photo opp. Donnie Wahlberg, my very first love, put his arms around me. Cheek-to-cheek, we posed for a picture. I talked to him about inane stuff. I told him how great it was that they had come to visit the kids. He thanked me. He called me darlin’. I tried not to faint.

Then it was over. I started thinking about the woman that 13-year-old girl wished she could be. And I thought maybe—just maybe—I’m starting to become her.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Beach blanket bingo

Hey everyone! I’m sorry I’ve been MIA for a bit, but I’m back and ready to share some major news. You ready?

I’m in love.

With a bathing suit.

At this point in my life, I’m not sure if it’s more profound for me to be in love with a person or a swimsuit, but either seem like huge milestones.

So yeah. I found a bathing suit (at Walmart, of all places). And it doesn’t make me want to hide under a towel or shorts and a T-shirt. It makes me feel curvy, not fat. And confident, not freaking out about what people think.

I’m pretty sure it’s some sort of magic suit. It sucks me in and holds me up in all the right places.
In the past—in fact, every single time I can remember trying on a bathing suit—there were tears and bitterness and sometimes even laughter as I struggled to get a suit up my long torso. I’ve tried the suits with skirts. The suits with shorts. And even just a long T-shirt to try to mask my insecurities.

Most of my past bathing suits? Black. Or at least a really dark shade or something. My new suit? Red. Fire engine red.

Now, I’m not completely delusional. I’m not out there in a bikini. But I grew up loving the water. And I realized I’ve spent far too much time inside.

So this summer, instead of curled up on my couch with a book, you’ll most likely find me spending lazy days by the pool.

Those lounge chairs have been calling my name for years. I’m just now choosing to listen.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Team everybody

Overwhelmed. Humbled. Blown away.

Those are just a few words to describe how I felt about my lovely party last Thursday.

I spent many anxious hours wondering how it would go. Would people show up? Would I be able to stand up in front of those who did and speak? Would I start crying and blubbering like an idiot?

I walked into that room Thursday and I couldn’t believe my eyes. Balloons. Streamers. PEOPLE. So many of you turned out just to say hi. And I couldn’t be more grateful.

It was hard for me to express everything I wanted in just those few short minutes. I wanted to say thank you. I wanted to make sure you knew you’d saved my life, just by supporting me and reading my blog. I wanted you to know that if you are struggling with your weight or with food addiction, there is hope.

Eloquence is not really my thing. I tend to stand up and speak whatever words come to me. My knees were shaking and I was sweating from the adrenaline that came from speaking in front of a crowd. So I hope I got at least those points across.

I loved meeting so many of you after the party. A few of you told me of your successes. Those should be shared, too. (In fact, I’d love to feature a few of you here on this blog. Email me and let me know if I can highlight your story.) I have to say one of my favorites was the woman who told me she had been secretly competing with me to get to her 100 pounds first. At 96 pounds down, she’s almost there. I love that I had a covert competitor out there.

Thank you to each of you who came to the party. An even bigger thank you to those who planned the event. And a special thank you to my dear friends who made “Team Erika” signs and waved them—a reminder of those who have been a part of my life long before I started this journey.

I’ve often shared about how hard it is for me to take a compliment. Last week you guys made me feel so special—loved and supported. And that’s a feeling I never want to forget. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.