Over the years, I have realized these three words bring me an immense amount of anxiety. I hate it in every single context of life. Before bed, I align every pillow on my sectional in its place. I make sure the dirty dishes are all put away in the dishwasher and counters are wiped down before I call it a night. Before my morning coffee, I make my bed and throw in a load of laundry. I take weeks deciding on how to decorate my mantel for each season, making sure each item has a distinct identity, purpose, and placement of its own. I bought a new label maker on Amazon and it was honestly the biggest thrill I've had in months. You get the idea.

Everything and everyone have a designated place in my life. I like things compartmentalized as it makes me feel a sense of control and direction in an often uncontrollable world. In my day to day life, I thrive in situations that are well-organized, well-planned, and well-prepared. I have made a name for myself professionally in going into situations that have no organizational structure, getting in there, and whipping things into shape. It's how I've built my career over the last 4 years, and it's how I am able to lead the lifestyle that I do.

It took me a lot of time and a lot of hurt to realize that I am the same way when it comes to my thoughts. I am an extremely extroverted and outgoing person - I love meeting new people, hearing their stories, and learning from their paths. I love having long and deep conversations with my friends and family about the intricacies of life. But at the same time, I have always been a very private person. For better or for worse, I believe that my struggles and victories are my own to work through, and that if I share those with others before I have processed through them on my own, it's an unneccessary burden to place on them. My family and friends always know when I am struggling with something internally, because I tend to retreat into my own world for a period of time. They've learned that all they can do is wait for me to process through it, then ask questions later. I've just recently realized that my need for organization and clarity in my own mind is what causes me to retreat to work through the mess. Work through the struggle. Work through the pieces not exactly fitting into place. I'll come back, I always do. Just give me the time and the space to work my magic, and I'll come back a more peaceful, calm, and centered version of myself.

I feel myself doing that whole retreating dance right now, and it has been one of my biggest struggles during this entire weight loss process. People are starting to notice my weight loss. I am not sure how to address their questions and have found myself being very vague with my answers like:

"Yep, diet and exercise!"

"It's a total lifestyle change!"

"No more gluten!"

Right now, I'm still in the midst of processing all of these changes in my life. I don't want to talk about it yet with those closest to me because I haven't yet compartmentalized what it all means. I'm still fat. I'm still considered obese by my BMI. I'm still struggling with what it means to be an active and healthy person. Does that mean I work out every day? 5 days a week? 3? Does that mean that I say no to all food temptation? Some of the time? Indulge once a week? Does that mean that I meal plan for the rest of my life? Will I eventually be able to go grocery shopping without having a shopping list down to the ounce and gram? What happens when I go on vacation or go out to eat and can't track every calorie going into my body?

To be honest, going into week 5, I still haven't reached the point where all of this feels natural to me. I'm starting to think that maybe it never will, which is fine. Right now, it's a daily choice to live a healthier and happier life. I have some major weak moments almost on a daily basis, but I have stopped beating myself up over them, as they are all a part of the process. As silly as it sounds, my mentor when I first started my career used to tell me: "Fake it til you make it." What she meant by that was that you need to put your mindset into the place of, "How would someone who is X act in this situation?" When you first get started with anything new, of course it won't feel like it's the easiest thing in the world to do! But, to keep myself going, I always go back to that and it really helps me re-focus and get back on track. I've finally decided to start living out of intention instead of out of habit, and that's made all the difference.

So this week, if you're beating yourself up over having that piece of red velvet cake for your roommate's birthday (guilty), or not going to the gym on Saturday (guilty again), or not giving it everything you had on the rower (yet again, guilty), remember that every day, every hour, every minute is an opportunity to readjust your sails, and get right back on track. In this time of trying to identify where I am at in the process, what these changes mean in my life, and who I am through all of this, I think what I've landed on is that I am at the place where I am training myself, both mind and body, to be a healthy and active person. I'm not there yet, and continue to have minor setbacks in the process. But a person who loves themselves, loves their life, and loves their body would not let these minor setback completely derail all of the progress that has been made. So I'll keep readjusting, keep pushing, keep evaluating, and eventually, I won't have to fake it anymore. I will have made it.