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Sandi Falconer/The Globe and Mail

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I never imagined that someone telling me I looked skinny would anger me and yet, I was enraged when a colleague pinched my waist and squealed, “You’ve lost weight. You look great!” The truth is, I was run down and not taking care of myself. I decided to embark on a proper weight-loss program, one that tackled the quality of the weight, not the quantity.

The first to go would be an ugly pound of negativity that was pushing my frown lines deeper into the folds of my face. I control my negative thoughts now by switching them out the way a child changes hats in a dress-up corner. Wearing nit-picky, negative thoughts is as uncomfortable as wearing a wool hat on a hot day. When the pessimism begins to feel heavy, I visualize reaching into a toy bin and pulling out a new thought; a pretty fedora or a soft beret. The more I practice this, the lighter I feel.

Without these negative thoughts feeding off each other, I am left hungry. So I feed on a serving of positivity, which is less dense and leaves more room for the light that gives my eyes that spark they’ve been searching for.

The next to go is a solid chunk of road rage. Not only is it heavy, but it’s hot and slippery, like a boiled egg, peeled and fresh from the pot. I am in far less control of this poundage than any other. I live in a wind tunnel of speed, a life in constant motion, that leaves me blinking and huffing and when something gets in my path, I rage! I need to lose the road rage, and fast! No, no more speed. Instead, I now repeat the words: “I am not in a hurry. I am not in a hurry.” Because really, I’m not. This year, I will drive safely, allowing “stupid” to happen all around me. The temptation to fly off the handle will live on the end of my tongue like a diver waiting for her cue but I will keep her waiting.

From that, I hope to gain patience and even a bit of dignity.

Next is the heaviness of guilt. When guilt drives my conscience to do better, it’s functional. When it presents as an internal dialogue that goes nowhere – it’s useless. This year, I would like to stop feeling guilty for not keeping a cleaner house, for spending time away from my children to be with friends, for not baking everything from scratch, for not attending every party because I would rather be at home, for watching TV when I should be reading, or baking something from scratch. I will no longer feel guilt for putting my pyjamas on early on a Sunday, like midafternoon early, or for not going to the gym. My image and performance is not top of anyone else’s mind but my own. I surrender my ego and release myself from this guilt. Excuse me while I put my slippers on.

From this, I hope to gain freedom, freedom to be myself. Freedom, I expect, will feel weightless.

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This one is embarrassing and adds weight in a subtle way. I am hopelessly in love with being an underdog; a relationship that is heavy and slows me down. It is a comfortable position to hold and it is getting me nowhere. I am non-threatening, and at times, this makes me likeable. I no longer want to be adorable and non-threatening. If I allow myself a shred of confidence and throw my hat in the ring more often, will I really lose my likeability? Everyone loves an underdog, but perhaps this year I will concern myself a little less with being loved. I will be proud, not boastful, and I will not undersell myself anymore. I can’t lie, this confidence feels a little uncomfortable but I figure it’s like a new pair of jeans; it will relax and feel like a second skin soon and before long, people will be checking out my butt as I walk away. I could get used to that.

The last pound is fear. Fear has held me back: fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, fear of rejection, fear of regret. If I can lose any one of these fears, I stand to gain experience. Fear of failure has prevented me from being a writer. Fear of embarrassment has prevented me from giving an opinion. Fear of rejection has stopped me from aiming higher in all aspects of my life. Fear of regret has lead me into situations that made me uncomfortable and created in me a misconception that impulsiveness is cool when really, it’s just impulsive.

So, if I can shed some negativity, lose the rage, the guilt, the unhealthy attachment to underdog status and take a chunk of fear off my plate, I stand to gain positivity, patience, freedom, confidence and experience. Pound for pound I have not lost a thing but I will be much lighter. Next time, I hope my colleague looks me in the eye to see my glow instead of pinching a part of me that has nothing to do with how great I really look.

Carol Sloan lives in Toronto.

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