My Daruma

The little red guy above that’s missing his left eye used to sit front and center on my desk back in Portland. He watched over me in our bedroom when we moved to Kaua’i in 2014, and went into storage while we traveled. He’s spent most of our time since we arrived on Kaua’i in our bathroom, but recently was moved out to our dining room table. He’s a daruma, one I bought back in December 2008 from the Mitsukoshi store in the Japanese pavilion at EPCOT. Made of papier-mache with two blank eyes, daruma are a symbol of perseverance and good luck in Japan. They’re weighted at the bottom, and their roly poly shape allows them to get back up if they fall over.

Following tradition, I colored in one of his eyes in January 2009 when I gave myself a goal of losing 30 pounds and maintaining the weight loss for at least a year. The other eye would be filled in when and if I kept the lost weight off for a year. That, as always, was easier said than done. Maintaining a weight loss has always been my biggest challenge, and I’ve failed every time.

I am not a naturally thin person, but I am also not a naturally large person. I have a small bone structure, and I don’t carry extra weight well. My body lets me know when I’ve gained too much, and will fight any attempts to adjust to an increasing size. The extra 30 pounds I brought back from our travels felt like much more. The bursitis in my hips came back. I had trouble getting out of our car. I got winded easily. I had trouble rolling over in bed. It didn’t matter that I bought larger sizes of clothing, or was wearing baggy/loose styles; my clothes kept getting tighter and more uncomfortable. I was flat-out physically miserable every day.  I didn’t hate myself for being overweight but I hated the way my body felt, and knew I couldn’t blame it on getting older. In spite of lots of walking during our travels, I flat out overate . . . all the time, and had no one but myself to blame for the extra weight I carried around.

Following my doctor’s advice to lose 30 pounds, last year I once again buckled down. Brett and I begin walking daily. I also began keeping a diary of what I ate each day and planned my daily meals in advance. I counted calories, and my weight began to decrease. However, for some reason along the way, something completely new occurred: boredom and frustration never showed up. Following the rare times I did overeat, I got right back on the wagon. I’ve been able to stick with my new way of eating, and with the record keeping and exercise. The pounds that I lost last year have stayed off this time, for a year now. And my daruma has finally earned his second eye.

I am never going to be what anyone would call slender or skinny; I’m not built that way and it’s never been my goal. I’m not on some nutritional crusade, or have any great insights in what and how people should eat. I try to do what’s best for Brett and me; that’s all. My daruma looks at me now with his two eyes and reminds me every day that I changed how, why, and what I eat to feel good again. And, I stuck with it, I didn’t quit, and I reached my goal! I feel better than good these days. My bursitis hasn’t bothered me in ages. I have more energy, and no problems getting in and out of the car. I don’t even think about rolling over in bed, I just do it. My cholesterol level is a healthy 165. That I can wear a size small is nothing more than an added benefit; it was never the goal.

For most of this past year my daruma has sat at the top our shower entrance. I’ve looked up at him daily for the past year and asked myself, “Are you going to stick with this and finally give that little guy his other eye?” The answer this time was yes, and permanent changes have been made. And to my daruma I say, “thank you for hanging in there for so long.”


16 thoughts on “My Daruma

  1. I love this. Having never heard of this little Japanese character, this is a great story. And kudos to you for sticking with the exercise and new eating habits. As I age, I think feeling good is the main impetus for my eating and moving habits, so I really hear you on that. I’ve not been as disciplined as you are, but I do know when I overeat or eat the wrong things, my body lets me know! 😬


    1. I had my doubts for a while whether I’d ever get that second eye filled in, but I just couldn’t part with the little guy, and here I am!

      I admit to being a bit worried about overeating once more when we start traveling again (so many good things to eat), but I hope this time we’ve learned a few new tricks to avoid that. I don’t want to feel like I did before.


  2. Good on you, Laura. Like you, maintaining a healthy weight and functional mobility is very important to me. I lost 15lbs in the past 6 months and I feel so much better for it. I went off my “see food” diet and ate more consciously. The biggest thing was to eliminate the snacking between meals. I will still have my favorite oatmeal chocolate chip cookie and fresh bread with butter and jam but not on a regular basis. I find that I sleep so much better. Good health is such an asset to living well.


    1. I feel very good these days, and more energetic, and I want those feelings to remain and carry me through our travels.

      The biggest change we’ve made is to allow ourselves to eat what we want but to carefully measure and watch portion sizes, as well as account for everything we eat. It’s made a huge difference. There’ll be more sharing when we do go out to eat, snacks will be monitored (one of the biggest and best things both Brett and I have learned to do), and things like tea and scones won’t be a frequent occurrence but an occasional treat so that we don’t erase all we’ve accomplished here.


    1. My little guy turned out to be a bigger motivator than I imagined. I just couldn’t let him go, and I found I really wanted to fill in the second eye.

      I plan to pick up another daruma when we’re in Japan next time and set a new goal!


  3. Congratulations! Maintenance is nearly always harder than the loss. And what a great visual reminder to keep on! And have all those Heath benefits.


    1. Maintenance has been my downfall Every. Single. Time. The difference this time is we have 1) denied myself nothing, just controlled portions sizes and tracked everything I ate; and 2) got serious about walking almost daily. For some reason it has stuck this time and been easy to do. My little daruma will go into my suitcase this next time as a reminder of what I accomplished.

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  4. This is not only a darling, inspiring story but also such a neat tradition to pass on. I hope you’ll never part ways with your daruma.


  5. Congratulations! What a lot of hard work you’ve done. I also love the story of the daruma’s eyes!


    1. I was surprised and happy this week to realize that I’ve been at my current weight for a year now. I have never been able to keep weight off, but this time everything came together and it worked. It’s a lifestyle I can definitely live with going forward.


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