Skinny Daily Post

Invincible.

I like the so-so-yellow Lance Armstrong bracelet. I like the idea of wearing a thing you can see every day, something always within your peripheral vision that serves as a reminder to you to think and care about something that matters to you. The rings many of us wear when we marry serve that purpose. Symbols of constancy and commitment. It’s an old idea and a familiar one.

I have a bracelet. My husband bought it for me after I lost my weight, regained my health, and just before my first road race. I never take it off. I wasn’t given this bracelet as a memento. I was given it because I loved it, because I was so thrilled, when the artist put it on my wrist, that it actually fit, that the bracelet looked pretty and my wrist pretty good. I hadn’t been able to wear bracelets for years, since beyond memory. My wrists were as large as most people’s ankles. I actually started to wear anklets on my wrists, but anklets kind of look like anklets.

I got the idea from a friend of mine who had a habit of dating women who were attracted to his looks but abhorred his personality. They set to work immediately to change him, wanting him less poetic, more prosperous. He would date them, dance for them, jump through their hoops, and then disintegrate when they gave up on him, leaving him in the most gutting ways. In one case she left him in, I think, North Dakota, taking his car, his money, his ego, and his pride. He meandered home, hitchhiking the whole way, and arrived on my doorstep hungry and chastened. He bought himself what appeared to be a large, silver wedding ring, very handsome, and began to wear it. He could see his own reflection in this ring, so when he met another woman like that last one, he would look himself in the eye in the sheen of this ring and remind himself that he deserved better.

The bracelet has come to serve as an emblem for me. It consists of a string of flattened Celtic knots I wear on my left wrist. When I see it, I am reminded of my work to restore my health, of the twists and turns, the doubling back and the progress. When I see it, I don’t think in metaphors, I just see it, smile inwardly, and sometimes put down the cookie or note whether I’ve exercised today and how much.

My bracelet, aside from being pretty and looking pretty good on me, reminds me to treat myself well. And by well, you know what I mean. Being good to myself now means getting my exercise no matter how stressed I am. It means getting my veggies no matter how inconvenient that may seem. It means waiting for real food rather than settling for fast. Going for the organic and fresh when the treated and packaged is so much cheaper.

I like the idea of a token, a symbol. It could be an item you keep in your pocket with your change, where you’ll lay your hands on it a few times a day. It could be a message you’ve taped to the underside of your watch, a special thread around your wrist. It could be a large, shiny ring.

It’s not an oinking pig on your refrigerator. You are not a pig. It’s not an insulting joke on the cookie jar. (I bet you don’t really laugh). Choose something that never insults you, but always reflects your taste and celebrates your choice to take good care of yourself. Make it something you wear out of respect for yourself, not out of shame. You don’t have to tell anyone what your symbol is or stands for. This is just for you.

But when you begin to wear or carry it, let it remind you gently and firmly that you deserve better health. And you are worthy of the time and effort you’ll need to reach it. Let it encourage your commitment and celebrate it. Don’t leave your good health behind in a run-down hotel in North Dakota, you know? You deserve better than that.

18 thoughts on “Band of Consciousness

  1. jane says:

    juju!!! are you SURE we weren’t separated at birth?

    i have a beautiful bracelet watch that i bought after i’d lost 200 pounds. it’s a little too big these days. it’s a constant reminder of how far i’ve come. but i’ve never considered using it in the same way you use your bracelet.

    but trust me, i’m taking your words to heart and will use it differently!!!

    thank you thank you thank you!!!

  2. Janie says:

    Great article Juju! I love the idea of wearing something everyday as a reminder to stick with the program. I used to keep a paperclip chain hanging on a nail in my bedroom as a reminder of how many pounds I lost, but wearing something everyday is much better. Thanks for the great idea! Anyone else have a good idea for a token or symbol to wear everyday?

  3. marianne says:

    I was thinking about you, Juju, today, when I realized that I use your words/columns almost like a kind of meditation. When I get distracted by the stressful events in my life, or the trivia, and I want to go for my favorite high fat and high sugar comfort foods, I review some of my favorite things you have written–sometimes I can do this in my head but often I need to visit this blog or even unfold the crumpled newspaper-cut outs of your Grand Rapids column (I still love the “Pang, No Gain” message to remind me to pay attention to my body). But to wear something everyday– another form of meditation–a “mantra” to gently go back to the right place. You have helped so many of us find that right place. I can’t thank you enough.

  4. TS says:

    Loved your post. I’ve been meaning to get a charm bracelet for ages, each charm representing 5 pounds lost or every plateau passed — unfortunately, I hate all the charms I’ve seen… I just don’t feel like wearing miniature shoes on my wrist. But maybe I’ll just get a beautiful piece of jewelry. For me. Thank you. Please keep writing!

  5. Steph says:

    When I get down to my ideal weight, I plan to get a tattoo… a very specific one that I have wanted for a long time. It will be my reminder.

  6. rachel says:

    This was a great post. I carry different things at different times. Sometimes I wear a ring that belonged to my mother and know she is beside me on tough days. Sometimes I carry a small glass star and moon when I want to remember to look up, think up, feel up. I also have a beautiful blue marble I carry in my pocket with change – it sounds weird, but the heft and circular shape are grounding. So, either I’m a complete flake, or, I prefer to think – that different things inspire at different times. I just try to be flexible!

  7. Kris says:

    This entry made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Thank you. As always, you inspire me.

  8. Cassey says:

    I’m totally with you.

    I have this watch… it’s not an expensive watch… probably about $30.00. I bought it about 8 years ago when I was around 275 lbs. It barely fit my wrist, but I liked it and wore it. As I gained weight, the watch stopped fitting. I didn’t wear a watch for 4 years. At 390 lbs I didn’t care what time it was I guess.

    As I lost weight – I tried on that watch so many times. When it started fitting, I was ELATED to be able to wear it again. As I got smaller, the watch strap got bigger and bigger. My husband wanted to make it smaller, but we could never figur out how.

    So I left it big.

    Now – 215 lbs gone forever… and still wear that watch. Every day I put it on and I remind myself that I will never go back. It’s far too large and everyone comments on it. It drives my grandmother nuts.

    But for me… I know. I know what it’s like to not have a watch fit. I know what it’s like to have wrists the size of ankles.

    So I wear my old $30.00 watch like it’s a diamond tennis bracelet. Sometimes when I see it hanging there with about an inch of space making it dangly and strange looking… I think back to days when I cried over not being able to wear it… or any other jewelery… like my wedding rings.

    Maybe someday I’ll get a new one. But the reminder is too sweet right now. I’ve been at my goal for over 8 months and the novelty of it hasn’t worn off yet, lol.

  9. jane says:

    janie:

    i know someone who has one of those flat silver charm bracelets – the ones that you create with different symbols/charms. she used charms that represented her small son and the life she wanted to share with him. very very powerful. [who makes them? begins with a B… i suffer from CRAFT – and it’s too obscene to spell out here!! but the first three letters stand for Can’t Remember A ___]

    a special ring? hmmm. maybe we should put our heads together and come up with one of those colored ribbons, like AIDS, breast cancer, prostate cancer – the OBESITY ribbon.. i vote for rainbow stripes, because we’re all different, with different needs, different journeys…

    i’ll go away now…

  10. JuJu says:

    Hi guys. What great stories. Cassey! Thanks, so much for telling yours here. I love your watch and think it looks fabulous on you. What a fine story.

    Going to get tea to wash down that lump in my throat now…

  11. Janie says:

    Jane,
    I was thinking about one of those Italian charm bracelets. My daughter has one and each charm represents something that is important to her. I think they are beautiful but I only wear gold. That’s why I never started one. I’m not much of a jewelry person. I do love the idea of wearing something as a reminder to stay on program.

  12. Melissa says:

    Hi Juju. Nice to see you back writing. I, too, wear one of the Lance bracelets. I had the privielge of hearing him speak at a fundraiser last fall. Regardless of what is happening in his personal life, he has made an unbelievable recovery from a devastating illness. And gone on to have a family. And won the Tour de France not once, not twice, but SIX consecutive times.

    He has never been overweight. He has to eat massive amounts of calories to maintain his energy supply for his training. So, what does he have in common with those of us trying to lose weight? Lots, as it turns out. He had to face a seemingly insurmountable obstacle and tackle it, one inch, step, pedal stroke (meal) at a time. He realized he had to keep going, no matter how crappy he felt that day, because his life depended on it. He had to keep moving, even riding his bike around the block, to remind himself that the “real him” was still inside and just needed time and patience to come back.

    This is how I think of my weight loss efforts. My life depends on it. I know I am inside there somewhere. I was not born fat and I am not going to die fat. I am just going to keep plugging, every day, trying to move a little more, drink a little more water, listen to my inner voice and not my stomach. And every day I am going to wear my yellow bracelet. Just as a little reminder of Lance and me.

    Thinking about you and your parents.

    Melissa

  13. Mariannapher says:

    I’ve lost around 55 pounds now, and my wedding ring no longer fits my finger at all, it is WAY too big. I wear another ring on top of it to keep it from falling off. Sometimes I think to myself that I should really get around to re-sizing it, but then I think no. I think I’m going to keep it just like it is. Not to remind me of how fat I used to be, but to remind me of how far I have come. Thanks for the post, it was a good one!

  14. Suzanne says:

    Thanks for this article. I love the idea of wearing something to remind me to take care of myself! I make jewelry, so I have the advantage of being able to throw whatever I want into a piece, depending on my mood. Lately I have been wearing a two-strand bracelet that says “Believe It, Achieve It” in silver alphabet blocks, surrounded by silver and crystals. It’s a pretty reminder that I need to believe in myself and my goals. Now, if I could only remember to LOOK at it during those key moments of weakness…!

  15. Quinn says:

    We were a military family. Dad was twice stationed “overseas” for a whole year without us. And that wasn’t the only time we were separated. It was the 1950’s and 60’s. [shrug] We all know how that went.

    So Dad did what all of the rest of those guys & gals did. He bought us stuff from those far places. Sent home for Christmas instead of him. Pretty nice stuff, too. Jewelry for us girls, and lengths of thai silk, among other things. Symbols of love and loneliness and longing for a better life.

    These days only earrings I feel like wearing are the ones he sent home. Pearl studs. Sapphire studs. Jade studs. Gold hoops. They are reminders to take good care of myself, the same kind of good care that someone else once wanted to do, tried to do, from thousands of miles away.

  16. Debbie says:

    I used to put a sticky note on my ATM card and a note in my wallet where the dollar bills go, it read “Do you really want that”. I used to eat fast food daily and it was to get me to stop and think. It usually lasted for a while then got lost. I will be buy a bracelet for my right hand (the one I reach for food with) to remind me of what’s important to me. Thanks for such a great idea.

  17. JoAnn says:

    1 year after i lost my weight and had my surgery..i bought a nomination charm bracelet and i had saved over 300 dollars on lunches n junk food i would of ate during the day..i bought diffrent chartms that i thought represented my life now and wear it everyday as a reminder of my new life
    one of the best charms i have are
    healthy
    life
    happy
    plus a bunch of others
    i also wear my old wedding ring on my thumb nbecause it fits there and keeps me in line when i want to eat junk ill look at my thimb then my ring finger and say..nope

  18. Anne says:

    Just found this site and read this post and boy, it resonates. I buy good jewelry to mark specific passages in my life, even if I’m the only person who knows about them. There is a gold San Marco bracelet that I bought that wasn’t able to get around my wrist for a long time when I was at my top weight. Now it’s loose and I wear it often, and the weight and shine remind me that I’m worth more than whatever it is that is tempting me at the time. I touch it and it anchors me. Thanks for the reminder – I’ll wear it more often now 🙂

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