I’m obsessed with reading the Before & After Weight Loss Success stories on MSN. During the course of the workday, I think I re-read them at least twice each. I only read about the women, though. Because it’s practically a sin to be a woman and be overweight in this country. Just ask Tony. Or any other man who will unfailingly tell you the truth.

The absurdity in this is that most women, if we are fat, KNOW we are fat. We don’t need a man to tell us. We ask the question, “Does my ass look fat in this dress?” because when we look in the mirror, our ASS LOOKS FAT IN THAT DRESS! We only asked you because we wanted to see what you’re made of. I believe in being 100% honest with myself, and that is why I refuse to ask Tony if I look fat in anything. I mean, I really don’t want to know if he’s made of an empty tin can. This also saves me the trouble of snipping the tip of his nipple off with nail clippers.

Because I am a good sport and I need motivation to get off my ass and move, I am going to tell you how much I weighed ten months ago. Last year at this time, I survived on a diet of McDonalds, Burger King, Macaroni and Cheese and Coke. Every. Day. My cholesterol was dangerously high and the doctor wanted to put me on a diet. I refused. I was embarrassed. I was 28, lazy and 165 pounds. Maybe this doesn’t seem like much to some people, but when my average weight the majority of my adult life had hovered around 125-135, this was 30-40 pounds of fat that was threatening my life span, not to mention my joints, my back and my self-esteem. It wasn’t so much about how I looked, but more about how I was stealing away years of my life from myself. I didn’t exercise, I didn’t drink water, and I didn’t realize how much damage I had already done.

The sugar and acid from the soda has eroded my teeth. They are now overly sensitive and several of the roots are exposed so that I often get shooting pains that seem to skyrocket through my brain if I eat something sweet or cold or bite into something hard. Because my stomach muscles have gotten so weak, and the extra weight accumulates around my waist, I can’t bend over to put my pants on without my back spasming, and sometimes it brings me to my knees. Also, because this is where my body stores most of it’s fat, I am at a greater risk for heart disease. My father had his second heart attack this past year, and when I went to visit him, I realized that it could’ve been me, and it would be me, if I didn’t do something about it.

And so I made the decision to make it right instead of making excuses. Yes, I was divorced, and then I was depressed, and then I was living the single life with the parties and the drinking and the late nights, and then I was in school and working full time and who has the energy to work out or cook dinner, blah blah blah blah blah. God, shut up, Nikol. That’s what I finally said. And then I cut soda out of my diet and dropped five pounds. And then I stopped driving through that convenient little window that might as well be selling crack with their billions of burgers sold. Five more pounds melted away.

Since then I have made a conscious effort to eat less chocolate and sweets and more fruits and vegetables. I lost seven more pounds. For the past two weeks I have faithfully been walking/running on the treadmill and I am down to 148 pounds. Today I signed up for a 5k to motivate me further, and I am determined to get to my normal weight by Christmas.

Why am I telling you this? Because I’m not ashamed to anymore. And because I was too young to have all the health problems I was having. And there is probably someone out there with the same bad habits who is unaware of what they are doing to their body. It’s not all about being skinny and beautiful and rich like the celebrities. Okay, it totally is all about that. But really, I just want to make it to thirty-five…with all my teeth.

Reading those Before & After stories got me thinking about my own, and because I am a complete cheeseball I will probably post Before & After shots of me in a few months. Believe me, I don’t want to be that person who all of a sudden gets on their “Praise Jesus! Let’s Get Healthy and Work Out and Eat Lettuce!” pulpit (trust me, sometimes I think I live with that person and I have visions of blowing grains of Splenda in his eyes). I’m just finally ready to look in the mirror and see me.