While every fiber of my being wants to belt out “Two, four, six, oh, ooonnnne!” at the top of my lungs in answer to that question, I am not Jean Valjean.

The honest answer, which might seem weird, is that I’m not entirely sure most days.

I can use a plethora of adjectives and phrases to describe myself, but that tells you what I am. Not who. It’s a fine line, but an important one, I believe. Not merely a question of semantics.

I don’t think “Who am I?” is the easiest of questions to answer. Simple perhaps, but not easy. More on that in a bit.

I used to subscribe to the notion of “after.”

Out of college and in my first TV job, it was, “I’ll focus on my personal life after I make producer.”

I’ve cycled through several afters since then. More recently — who am I kidding, it’s been years — that morphed into “after I lose weight.”

I was fairly certain that was an after I would never achieve.

The thing is, though, I’m not sure “after” really exists. I’ve suspected it for quite some time, but I wondered if it might have been flawed thinking. I’m pretty good at flawed thinking. Welcome to the human race! Flawed thinking is one of the things we, as a species, do best.

Earlier in the summer, when I was just a couple of weeks into my SWLC program, a dear friend (and source of unending support) posted a link on her Facebook page to a blog post she deemed “worthwhile.” Because I trust her and her judgment implicitly and because I was intrigued by the post’s title, I immediately clicked through.

I learned that I am not the only one questioning that mystical state known as “after.”

LisaK87, "Can Anybody Hear Me?"

LisaK87, “Can Anybody Hear Me?”

LisaK87’s post, “The ‘After’ Myth,” resonated with me because I don’t necessarily expect to “find myself” by losing weight. I used to. I’m not exactly sure when that changed, but I’m fairly certain it’s a recent development born of changes on the outside that aren’t triggering the hoped-for changes on the inside.

Anyway, once I hit my as-yet undefined goal, I’ll still be me. Whoever the hell that is.

Losing weight isn’t magically going to make everything OK.

I’ll still have to acknowledge and address the underlying issues that brought me to this point. That means I have to figure out exactly what those issues are.

While some of those issues are not readily apparent — at least not to me — one is glaringly obvious. For years now I have allowed one violent incident from my past to define me and inform pretty much every decision I’ve made, every action I’ve taken. Or not taken.

I cannot do that any longer. More importantly, I won’t.

It’s in the past. While it has helped shape who I am today, I don’t have to let it keep doing so. That was then. This is now. And I am in control of my future.

But just as I have to be careful about looking back, I can’t look too far ahead either. If I do, I won’t be focusing on the time that needs — deserves — my full attention. Now.

LisaK87 gets that.

“There’s no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow of weight loss because the rainbow has no end,” she wrote. “There is today. There is now. There is during. There is life.”

Gregg McBride conveyed the same general ideas in his brilliant memoir Weightless: My Life as a Fat Man and How I Escaped

I’m not exaggerating when I call McBride’s book brilliant. I read it in less than 24 hours, and it crystallized some things that have been bouncing around in my head.

One of the most most important and yet most difficult things to achieve is acceptance. I’m not there yet. Clearly.

Sure, I accept that I let myself get fat. I don’t blame anybody but me for my predicament.

What I have not accepted, what I’m not even sure how to accept, is myself. Again, whoever that is.

I look at myself, both literally and figuratively, and all I see are the flaws, a habitual failure who is not worthy of love — my own or anybody else’s.

LisaK87 struggles with that, too, I think.

“I’ve lost the weight, but I’ve failed to uncover and learn to truly love myself in the process,” she wrote. “Truthfully, I have no idea who I am without ‘needs to lose weight’ being one of the primary parts of my identity.”

I get it.

“Progressing on the outside while regressing internally,” is how she described herself.

Yep. I think that’s why I’ve allowed myself to slip back into some old habits. That’s something with which McBride is intimately familiar. While often destructive, such familiar habits are comforting. They can offer the illusion of control.

It’s a vicious cycle called life. No before. No after. Just during. Now.

If you’ve seen “Rent,” either on stage or on screen, there’s a good chance the song “Another Day” is echoing in your head right now.

There is no future. There is no past. I live this moment as my last. … Forget regret or life is yours to miss. No other road. No other way. No day but today.

That pretty much sums it up, yes?

I think in recent weeks, I’ve let my perspective become a bit skewed. OK, more skewed. I think I forgot what I was working for, my ultimate end game. I’m pretty sure the number on the scale was supposed to be a manifestation of a grander goal.

LisaK87 hit the nail on the head when she said her blog is not about weight loss, but rather “life gain.”

Yes! That is my goal. Life gain. Acceptance. Inner peace. Actually being happy, not just acting happy. I’m good at putting on that happy mask. Really good. But it is exhausting, both physically and emotionally.

Bottom line: What I need to do is learn to be happy, content with who I am. Regardless of my size.

Sounds simple, right? It might be, but it sure ain’t easy.

I finally got my shrinking butt to one of the SWLC classes designed to help us soon-to-be former fatties cope with the mental and emotional aspects of rapid weight loss. There are many.

This particular session focused on dealing with plateaus and weight regain. Timely when you consider how I’ve been stumbling along the past couple of weeks.

The instructor, Dr. Lisa Galper, talked about mindfulness, which is key to weight loss. To anything, really.

She used the phrase “simple but not easy.”

simple-not-easyI wrote it down and put a little star by it. “Mindfulness is simple but not easy.” There was an audible click in my head. It made all the sense in the world to me.

Looking around, I could see the wheels turning in the heads of my classmates, light bulbs hovering the air. I don’t think we had ever heard anything stated so succinctly before.

Speaking for myself, it had never really occurred to me that some of the simplest things in life are also the hardest. Simple should mean easy. But it doesn’t. Simple and easy are not interchangeable, at least not all the time.

Back when I start this blog, I said my new current adventure is me. I think I’ve been a little too focused on the numbers Tanita spit out. Don’t get me wrong, those are some extremely important numbers.

But this whole journey isn’t about a number on a scale. At least it shouldn’t be.

It should be about moving forward and accepting myself for who I am and who I will become. Simple. But not easy.

One thing I know for certain is that I am a work in progress, and not just on the outside.

PS Speaking of my outside, I am wearing a new pair of jeans today. Size X-1. I was hoping for X-2, but when it comes to sizes, jeans are exceedingly weird. Ask any woman. #AmIRight?

So, it’s official. X = X-1.

PPS Listen to “Another Day” (Download “Another Day” from Amazon.com | Rent – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2 Disc))