Life is a Roller Coaster

Something significant happened to me yesterday.  I rode a roller coaster.  I know, not a big deal.  Yet, for me it was.  For me it was the culmination of a weight loss journey more than a year in the making. Sure, I’ve successfully lost 100 pounds in 2018, but the fact that I rode a roller coaster, and why that’s significant to my weight loss journey is a longer story that started in 2013 when I went to King’s Dominion in Central Virginia.

On that day, close to Halloween, Heather and I decided to spend time together visiting a new (to us) theme park.  Having grown up in Florida, near the best theme parks in the world, we don’t spend a lot of our free time at these venues simply because they never seem to measure up to the ones from our childhood.  It’s hard to compete with the mouse and the wizard.  Still, we do enjoy them from time to time, and decided to take the chance.

One thing that has changed as we’ve gotten older in regard to theme parks is our preferences.  When we were kids, it was rides, rides, rides.  Today, it’s the show schedule.  We want to navigate the park in such a way that we don’t miss the stunt spectacular or the dancing water.  If we happen to come upon a ride with a low wait time while meandering from theater to theater then great, but our goal is never to ride anymore.

So, as we walked into the park, and planned our way to see the limited show offerings they had we looked at the rides.  Since turning 30, roller coasters have had a way of making me queasy and I generally avoid them, but on this day, for some reason, I wanted to give it a try. Heather was up for it too and we got in line.  Before long we were at the platform where riders sat down, buckled up and let the fun begin.  That’s when I felt a new roller coaster experience, I never thought possible.

I didn’t fit.  When I sat, I could feel the fat spilling out the top of the seat.  That wasn’t unusual.  Those things are always small.  When the harness was pulled over my head, I could barely get it down.  Then the belt that connects the seat to the harness wasn’t long enough to buckle.  And it wasn’t too short by three of four inches.  It was a millimeter too short.  I was barely too fat.  The attendant came over and basically shoved the harness down into my gut until we heard the click and I rode the ride.  It wasn’t enjoyable, and it had nothing to do with the uneasy feeling in my stomach from all the twists and turns.

I spent the rest of the day feeling horrible about the fact I was too fat for theme park rides.  I told my best friend about my experience and vowed I was going to lose weight and get back on that ride with no issues. Instead, I just stopped getting on rides altogether.  Three years went by before we even visited another theme park.  When we did return to a park we hadn’t been to since college, we did so knowing I wouldn’t get on any ride that required a harness or seat belt.  We rode the “Cat in the Hat” children’s ride and watched as many shows as we could.  I wasn’t even going to take the chance that a repeat experience would happen.

That’s what made yesterday amazing.  I walked through the turnstile looking for a roller coaster.  Queasiness be damned.  I didn’t care if I puked all over everyone on the ride, as long as that bar came down with ease.  I was ready to stand in line for an hour as long as it meant no attendant would have to help push, pull or slam me into the seat.  I wanted the experience to be so mundane to everyone else, yet so exciting to me.

And it was.  When I stepped into the ride vehicle and put on the safety restraints no one was looking to see if it would fit.  No attendant walked over to make sure it was properly in place.  I just put down the bar, it locked into place and we rode the coaster.  I loved every second of it.  I loved the loops.  I loved the twists.  I loved the turns.  I loved sitting in that car, riding the ride, without worry that I was too heavy to fit. I could just enjoy it and enjoy it I did.

When it was over, Heather and I made our way to the animal adventures show.  There was no rumbling in my stomach and no marks from a seatbelt that was too tight.  I snapped a pic of us with the coaster I’d just conquered and walked away knowing that I could ride anything I wanted.  (We did ride a couple of other things, but still the shows are more our style.)

When I started losing weight in January, I really didn’t think about the roller coaster of the fact that I might be able to get on one with ease after losing the weight, but when it happened yesterday, I remembered that vow I made to my bestie.  I remembered how speaking that goal into existence gave it power.  It may have taken me a bit longer than intended, but after 5 years I’d done what I said I was going to do.  Now it’s time to do more.

My word for this week is aspire, because I want to aspire to be the best each and every time I do something. I also wanted to spend this week thinking about 2019 and what I want to aspire
too in the new year.  If 2018 was the year I aspired to lose weight, then 2019 needs to be the year I aspire to try new things I wouldn’t have at 300 pounds. They might not be things weight related at all, but things I can with confidence try because I’m not thinking about my size or limitations I might have because of the self-conscious attitude I was carrying.

In 2019 I want to continue this healthy journey I’ve been on by getting my body fat percentage down to healthier levels.  I want to publish a book and write a new play.  I want to use my passions for military spouses and woman warriors to engage those communities in new ways.  There are a lot of things I want to do; I aspire to do.  Now it’s time to get on the roller coaster and do them.

It has been said that life is a lot like a roller coaster ride, and it’s true.  Twists and turns, highs and lows, starts and stops.  There are sudden jolts that wake you up, and slow crests that allow you to take a look over the whole park and all there is to experience.  Yesterday, when the ride ended and the locks released allowing me to exit the ride, all I could think about was how I fit.  Isn’t that how we should look at our lives?  When its over, when the adventure is coming to its conclusion don’t we want to say that our lives “fit” into this world because we “fit” into our place the best we could?  Now that’s something to aspire too.

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