My daughter often tells me that I am not the same woman that raised her. She has a tendency to be a little dramatic, but she’s right. Ten years ago, I was a completely different person than I am today. Of course, the old Zana had the same passion for her patients and healthcare. She had the knowledge and the degrees to take care of people, but she was not taking care of herself. I would not be where I am today if the old Zana was still in charge.
Up until just a few years ago, I had spent my entire life taking care of others. I did my best to take care of my siblings when I was just a kid myself. I took care of my husband, my children, my parents, my patients. This is not to say that I’ve never done anything selfish – I have done plenty of things for myself and myself alone. But I never truly took care of myself – my physical, emotional, or spiritual wellbeing. I was tired, I was overweight, I was run down, I was constantly trying to please others and I felt like I was constantly failing.
Every past attempt I had made to lose weight and work on my health always resulted in failure and discouragement, but the last time was different. As I walked through the process of change, I chose to learn about myself instead of criticize myself. I realized that weight and self care was not about knowledge. If all it took was knowing the facts, many of us would not struggle to make such changes. The problem lies in the heart and the spirit. The problem is that we teach one another that the only way to make a change is to make things perfect overnight. And trying to be perfect is the best way to fail. It will not happen, and when we fall short of perfection we become discouraged and we choose to stop trying until we build up the courage once more.
So I began with the small changes – I chose to share the journey with my friends and family, I kept healthier options on hand, and I refused to hate myself for caving in every once in a while. With each day I felt a little bit better, and the better I felt, the better the choices I made. Instead of using my hatred for the way I saw myself as the inspiration to keep me going, I became inspired by how good I felt, how my body was changing slowly but surely, and how my appetite and mindset were evolving as well.
It has been four and half years now, and I am down 150 pounds. But more importantly, I have been able to maintain my weight through all of the ups and downs of the past few years, through stressful times and vacations where I’ve indulged, through my kids growing up, my business blossoming, and some of my plans and schemes falling through. And perhaps the most important change of all is that I like myself.
That is what I want for my patients. I want you to experience the little changes that make a big difference. I want you to like yourself, and to look forward to what the future holds. I want you to feel like more than just a number in the system, your weight, or the number of times you’ve failed. Because you are more than just a number, and you deserve to be treated as such.