Back when I wrote Big Love: Dating While Losing Weight, y’all pretty much told me off.

I mean, let’s be real, here. Few issues are as thorny, on this blog, as ones involving dating and relationships. Let’s just say that y’all are very protective of your dating prospects and the ability to pursue them. I ain’t mad at it… I am confused by it.

I wrote the following:

How do you handle dating while losing weight? I’ve already admitted that after a break-up in the early part of my journey, I became abstinent and didn’t date. I was not only vulnerable, but working through insecurities that would’ve only made dating an embarrassing experience for myself. I valued having time that was mine and mine alone because, quite frankly, I’m dope and interesting when I actually pay attention to myself and learn about me.I mean, I can understand a desire to date – if for no other reason but the sake of company and being sociable – but I wonder if there’s a part of a woman’s journey (and I specify gender there for a reason) where, if it’s extensive enough, she’d benefit from not dating. My journey was like literally demolishing a building and rebuilding it from scratch. Would you let anyone set up their home in your building, knowing that it wasn’t completely solid, sturdy or even able to provide adequate shelter? If a house is still being actively rebuilt, I wouldn’t rest my head in it.

People kept assuming that by referring to “rebuilding,” I was referring to their bodies… but I wasn’t. I was referring to their minds. I was referring to the reality that in order to live a more fit lifestyle, you have to demolish everything that gets in the way of developing that in order to do what you have to do. And really, no shade, but I’m generally of the mind frame that most people need to take some time off to reassess themselves and what they want before they go out and date. Most people need to know what it feels like to put themselves first and treat themselves right before they dive head first into treating someone else “right.” Most people need to know what it means to love themselves before they commit to loving someone else.

When I write, I write with myself in mind. Everything I’ve ever written on this blog, I’ve written for myself. Writing in my moment of clarity gives me something to look back to and read when I may be struggling. I write a lot about compassion, because I find myself involved in an environment where there isn’t much compassion, and my writing serves as a reminder. I wrote a lot about getting over sabotage because I found myself encountering people who didn’t have my goals and best interests at heart. I write a lot about body image and learning to love myself because I struggled with the idea that I could simultaneously love myself while wanting to change myself.

That last sentence is important. I learned that a huge component of loving myself is accepting that I am not perfect, I am worthy of love even in spite of this nonperfection, and that I’m even worthy of love during this process of change because I’ll always be changing. I stopped chasing perfection, and instead decided to strive for excellence. At least with excellence, there’s an implied understanding that the goal isn’t “working so that I never have to work anymore.” There’s not some finite point that I should feel guilty about not reaching. The goal post is always moving when one strives for excellence, as you are constantly learning what’s possible as you progress forward.

Why am I saying all this? Because these are the things that I addressed that made me a different person. Addressing these things changed how I approach life. How I approach relationships. And while I understand that for the woman who only wants to lose 20-30lbs, the issue may be far more topical like food changes, a godawful soda habit, or learning to cook a little more… for the woman who’s in a strange place, like I was, who needed to lose upwards of 75lbs altogether? You might have a challenge that is as much emotional as it is physical.

For me, I dated during my weight loss journey. I dated a couple of men – some who’s intentions were more noble than others – but there were lots of time between them, because there were specific parts of my journey that all out demanded time for self-reflection. I advocate for that approach because as I reached new hurdles, I needed to allow myself to be vulnerable enough to jump over them… and that’s not something that can be done with everyone. However… there was one man who not only supported my self-reflection as a friend, but encouraged it. When I admitted my experiences with sexual assault and binge eating… when I snotted up his shirt sobbing about things that I was thinking and feeling… he was there, wanting to be trusted, wanting to be caring and wanting to help me grow. He saw how I was learning to love myself, and he contributed to that love by adding some of his own. He was just… always there, and always enjoying it. He wanted to be there.

And then, when he came to my house a week or so ago… when he knocked on the door… when I opened it, holding back two huskies who obviously smelled him on the other side of the door and were excited to see him… he was there. On one knee. With The Ring in his hand.

So, yeah. I’m currently engaged. Squeeeeeeeee!!!!!!

Back to seriousness, though.

Suffice it to say, I think that there’s a genuine connection between where my head and heart were, how I treated the relationships I was in and how I understood care and love. And once I changed how I approached those, it became easier for me to find what I was looking for… or, rather, for it to find me.

It is not my intention to talk about this as if it is “the ultimate fairy tale.” It is my intention to talk about this wonderful addition to my life that I wouldn’t have been able to experience without reassessing my headspace. I know myself. The old Erika would’ve made a man like my current fiancé take off running in the opposite direction. I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate him for who he is if I were the old me.

I bring this up in conjunction with the Big Love post because so many women claimed that it was unnecessary to “assess their headspace” during their journey because that wasn’t a legitimate reason to not date. If anything, it made it easier for me. It made dating easier, for starters, because some men simply weren’t on my level. It made it more enjoyable, because I was more able to speak up for myself, felt less desperate and felt more capable. I didn’t have to struggle so much with being a people pleaser, and believing my desire to be a people pleaser would be the most important thing (or the only thing, for that matter) to make a man stay with me.

This won’t be the situation for every woman who embarks upon a weight loss journey, but this is how it was for me. And though every woman isn’t on a weight loss journey, I think that it should be a goal for everyone to be, at least, emotionally solvent… to be able to give as much as they get. My journey not only granted me that peace… it’s brought lots of joys along the way, one of those being the man I’m going to marry. If all it takes to bring a little light into your life, is to reassess oneself emotionally… there’s absolutely nothing to lose, and a lot [of love] to gain. The changes I’ve embraced along the way have changed my life for the better, now, in more ways than one. And I couldn’t be happier.

Squeeeeeee!!!!! 🙂