I was a little apprehensive walking in. After all, no one knew I was coming. I’d tried to call but the phone number, like the website, was outdated.
Perhaps, I thought, there wouldn’t even be a meeting today. Perhaps the group was defunct.
Then I spotted an older woman in the parking lot.
“Hello!” I said bravely, “I’m here for the weight loss meeting, do you know anything about that?”
“Oh yes,” she answered, “me too. Come in with me, I’ll show you to the room where we meet.”
The church was old, the parlor outdated. And as I looked around, I chuckled to myself; the ladies in this room were as dated as the furniture. I was surely the youngest person by ten if not twenty years.
My thoughts were interrupted as Nancy, the woman I’d met in the parking lot, introduced me to Lou, the leader of the group. Lou was much older, how much I didn’t know, but by looking at her, I’d have guessed her to be in her seventies (turns out she is 87).
Drawing my hands into hers, Lou looked directly into my eyes, “We are so glad you came today and we hope you’ll decide to join the group.” Her eyes danced as she winked and added, “I think you’ll find we have a lot of fun.”
Fun? What does fun look like when you are 87? I wasn’t convinced.
As we began the meeting, Lou introduced me to everyone in the group. Shyly I smiled at the ten or so ladies. Each had a greeting for me, each extended a sincere and warm smile. Frankly it left me in a quandary. These ladies were nice and all, but I really needed a group with women my own age.
For half my life, I’ve lost and gained the same 15 pounds at least six times. And though at times I get tired of the game, I’m not giving up. I feel better, have more energy and (bonus!) my clothes fit better when I’m at a healthy weight. But recently I’ve had trouble with motivation. I decided to join a weight loss group because I needed accountability. But was this the group for me?
10 years ago I’d have walked out before I walked in, and would’ve never looked back.
But there was just something about these ladies. There was an energy in the room that intrigued me. Surely I could sit through one meeting.
I’ve been to other weight loss groups and this one is structured much the same. We start with a weigh-in, talk about how we did and then discuss a specific strategy for staying on track. We ended the meeting with a chant.
A chant? This is new…
The words of the chant remind everyone why we are here, why we do this, why we want to strive to stay healthy. I am trying to follow when the lady to my left grabs my hand; soon we are all holding hands. As we chant, one member starts a little dance, another kicks her leg up, a la can-can style. Another one gives a courtesy. I find myself giggling. Cheesy? Yes. But does it make me smile? Yes. I feel a bit like a kid.
So often in life we are drawn to those who are similar to us. People of the same age, people in our same stage, people we believe we can relate to as we journey through life. But lately, I’ve been wondering: is this limiting?
Can we not learn more from those who are different from us than we can from those who are similar?
I don’t know the answer, but I know one thing. God is directing my path, and lately I’ve been paying more attention to where that path is taking me. So in essence, I figure if He has allowed our paths to cross, well then, maybe there’s a reason. I am striving to keep an open mind, even when things don’t seem to make sense.
And guess what? After just a month of weekly meetings, I’ve discovered I love my older lady friends.
I love their positive spirit.
I love their welcoming and non-judgmental demeanor.
I love their smiles.
Most of all I love how they encourage me each and every week.
Am I losing weight? Yes, the weight is (slowly) coming back off.
But in truth, I’m not sure that’s why I keep showing up every week. It’s really because when I’m with these women I lose my edge.
I bear in mind that while some days are stressful, they will indeed pass.
I remember that life is more fun if you can laugh at yourself.
I consider that while weight comes off ever so slowly as I get older, every loss (and even every non-gain) is a victory.
I’m reminded that every day is a gift, a new day to start over again.
Or, simply a time to kick up your heels and dance, a la can-can style.
So bring on the scale, the vegetables, the workout gear. I’m ready, willing and thankfully, able.