When I was offered a job transfer to Arizona from Massachusetts over 3 years ago, my general attitude about it was “why not?” I wasn’t particularly thrilled with Massachusetts, I didn’t know much about the American Southwest, and it seemed like my skills would be better suited to the work in the Phoenix location (they certainly were). I started looking into it. Interesting landscape, crazy weather. Let nobody try to tell you otherwise: a dry heat is definitely more pleasant than a humid heat, but 115 degrees is murderously hot no matter what. You simply cannot do anything outside during the day in the summer and summer lasts from June until October (or November if it was this year.)
One of the first things I thought when I considered moving to Phoenix was “If I’m going to live somewhere that hot, I’m really going to have to lose weight.” Hot is so much hotter when you’re fat. In fact, this year I really did not mind the summer half as much as I did the previous two years, being at a healthy body weight.
Sometimes I feel like Phoenix was my own personal fat camp. Much like the contestants on weight loss TV shows, I was completely out of my element. I did not have any of my old family or friends around me. I had no obligations but work. All of the sudden there was nobody asking me to go out to the bar, nobody coming over for brunch. It was just my boyfriend and me. He wanted to join a gym, so we did that about 2 months after settling in. And the rest is history.
I know what an amazing advantage I had in this cross-country move. Many times it is our friends and loved ones who make it difficult to change ourselves. It’s not that they don’t love and care for us, it’s that they are used to us the way we are. I can’t imagine how infinitely more difficult this would have been around some of my best friends back in Philadelphia. Not that I blame them. They just made it that much easier to keep making poor choices… and in all honesty it was pretty fun. I’m not sure what would have happened if I had not moved. With not much else to put my effort into, changing my lifestyle became my main focus. And I had a helpful coach, my boyfriend. Thankfully, his best coaching technique was to let me do my own thing then answer questions if and when I asked. He never pressured me to lose weight at all, and he never tried to discourage me either. He’s the very definition of “supportive.”
Fast forward to now, I’ll be 34 in a few weeks and I’m saying goodbye to fat camp. I’ve had my current job for going on six years, and I’m transferring again to the SF Bay area in California. My general attitude about moving to California is “Oh hell yeah!” I’ve wanted to move to CA since I was about 13. Moving to Phoenix always felt like I made it 90% of the way to where I was trying to go. Just a minor three year detour. I’m really grateful for the detour. Now I’m moving to the place I want to be as the person I want to be.
On the left: me three years ago taking a photo of my new rental home in Phoenix. On the right: me 2 weeks ago taking a picture of my new apartment in Redwood City (which by the way costs quite a bit more than my house in Phoenix, but let’s not talk about that.)
I could tell you the reasons I don’t like living in Phoenix. They extend well beyond the weather. But I didn’t just lose weight in Arizona, I also found out how life-changing it can be to focus on the positive and let the negative pass me by. Overall, I have enjoyed my time here even though I knew it wasn’t permanently for me. So instead I will tell you the best thing about the place besides the extremely low cost of living: the sunsets.