I was five or six when I learned how to ride my bike without training wheels. We lived in Lutherville, Maryland in a cute Cape Cod style house on a corner lot. It was summer and I had been begging my parents to take my training wheels off my bike so I could learn to ride just like some of my friends who no longer needed training wheels. I was so excited when my dad took them off! My mom was the one I remember holding the back of my seat and running beside me giving instructions and helping me maintain my balance. I tried and I tried and I tried and I fell over and over again until my mom got tired and told me we would try again another day. She went back into the house. I was not ready to give up. I continued trying and falling many more times before my mind and my body finally realized what they needed to do to keep me on the bike in an upright position and off the ground which resulted in a glorious fifteen to twenty second ride without a fall. I was on my way! I continued to practice, sometimes falling but each time gaining more and more confidence and longer and longer successful rides until I could ride with confidence. I wish I could say I never had another fall but that would not be true. I can say when I did fall there was usually not as big of a scrape because I had learned to catch myself or even to lay the bike down in the grass where my landing would be softer, but I would continue to have the occasional spill. Did I ever think I should stop riding my bike because of those spills? No way! Several years ago I got a bike for Christmas. I had not ridden for MANY years but my mind and my body remembered. Labor Day weekend of the next year my husband and I rode our bikes thirty-four miles on a trail called the Virginia Creeper. I fell once and scraped my arm but I didn't quit. I would have missed out on so much if I had!
So why am I writing about my childhood memory of learning to ride my bike? I am writing to tell you that the experience of learning to ride a bike is no different than the experiences I have had losing my weight. I know VERY FEW people who were able to get on a bike and pedal away without practice and falls and scraped up knees and elbows. Many more people have memories that match mine; of a parent running beside them holding on to the seat to steady them helping them learn to simultaneously balance and pedal. They will tell you about falling and trying again and again and close calls where they caught themselves before they fell and they will tell you about tears and scraped elbows and knees and wounded pride. They may even smile as they recall the experience and yet they all learned to ride a bike.
This is my experience with Weight Watchers. I had a leader and a room full of members just like me in various stages of discovering why we eat and how to eat and portion control, and healthy choices, and even exercise. The leader was there to help us steer and show us the way; to encourage us to pick ourselves up and get our balance back when we stumbled. The members cheered for each other and celebrated the successes and understood and even cried when someone was lost. Each of us had to make the decision to continue trying or to give up and go home. Those who chose to continue to try, like me, were successful. It was not easy and all of us stumbled and fell occasionally. We beat ourselves up and we cried but we also laughed and cheered for the others who were becoming successful and for ourselves. We lost weight and we made friends and we rejoiced! A few, like me, found themselves buried under all of the extra weight and like a caterpillar came out of their cocoon to discover they had become a butterfly!