The difference in a year.

What a difference a year makes. 

This is exactly the phrase I uttered to Scott last night during my birthday dinner (#1, yes there will be more celebrating this weekend!).

I was just totally awe-struck by how I approached this birthday versus previous birthdays. Yesterday was a celebration of life. It was full of experiences. And it did not center on food as the centerpiece of that celebration.

Quite a difference from previous birthdays where that day, nevermind the entire weekend that followed, was an all-out eat-and-drink-your-face-off-its-your-birthday fest. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy some delicious food and an amazing glass of wine or two last night. Not at all. Remember – I’m not on a diet, I’m not dieting, I’ve just made wholesome changes to my approach to eating, that has me swinging back into an amazing sense of happy balance. 

But it’s those wholesome changes that have made an incredible impact on me. Yesterday started with a killer 6.5 miler on the treadmill (my best yet on the darn thing, who knew?). I filled my day at work with healthy, balanced food choices, making sure to plan ahead knowing that I would be eating out and thus, the control I’d have in portion size, how the food is prepped, etc., wouldn’t be mine.

After work, Scott and I went to this awesome little bistro we’ve been meaning to try that’s near our house; it’s farm-to-table style which is my absolute favorite. <sorry, no pictures here, I was too focused on the experience, remember? 😉 >

We started with an antipasto trio – a wedge of blue cheese (which I actually liked, and I’m usually not a big fan); a spring roll (Scott ate most of that one); and citrus marinated olives (swoon!). I also had a small piece of homemade bread that was to.die.for. For my meal? I went with locally caught haddock broiled with a light topping of breadcrumbs; my two sides (which I had the luxury of choosing, love that) were mixed greens and sliced heirloom tomatoes. A-mazing meal. A glass of cabernet sauvignon (and one back at the house!), and my night was complete. There *may* have been a few m&ms to go with that wine back at the house – I chose that as my dessert because let’s be honest, how *good* is wine when paired with chocolate???

It was a perfect mid-week birthday celebration. But more than that? It epitomized for me just how “transformed” I am because of the barre n9ne challenge that began back in May. I have a whole new outlook on life – one that is far more balanced and healthy and happy than ever before. I was talking to a friend yesterday afternoon and she asked me if I can safely look in the mirror and say “I look good.” And I looked at her and said, without hesitation, “yes, I can.”

And to me? That open realization? That acceptance of who I am? That openly confident outlook?

That is the difference in a year.