“Something very profound happens as you start losing weight. You start to realize that you have to identify as a little bit of a different person because you become, physically, a different person. Especially people who have a lot of weight to lose. They don’t like the idea of thinking,
I’m going to be a different person when I’ve physically lost weight.
~Fred Connors, Self-Esteem Expert
I heard that on the episode of X-Weighted that aired on Discovery Health this afternoon. I actually had to run it back a couple of times to get the full quote (how did we survive before the DVR?). I had to think about that statement for a few minutes because something in it resonated, but I had to chase it down to really be able to figure out why I identified with that statement (beyond the “people who have a lot of weight to lose” part of it).
I think that in the battle to lose weight, my resistance to change—dare I call it fear?—is one of the major factors holding me back. The truth is that I’m not really thinking about the physical changes in my body or in others’ perceptions of me if I start losing sizes (after two years, I’m only down about two sizes). It’s more about the lifestyle changes I must make to do this. I must eat less. I must choose healthier foods and bypass the foods to which I’m addicted (high fat/high carb). I must become more active.
One of my biggest cop-outs when it comes to why I haven’t lost more weight by now (and why for the past year I’ve been yo-yo-ing within the same ten-pound range) is because I’m doing this “by myself.” I had the best run of consistently losing weight every week when I was working full-time with several other people who were also on Weight Watchers. We had lunch together every day. We went to the gym together after work. And we went to Weight Watchers together every week. So I had that daily support and daily accountability. Even though I still attend WW with one of those friends, that’s only once a week, and for less than an hour.
But now that I’m working at home, I can’t use the excuse of not having anyone here who’s giving me support/accountability (i.e., “nag” me) about what I’m eating as an excuse. I’m not losing weight for anyone else. I can’t use the excuse of living alone as justification for why I’m failing/sabotaging myself.
I have to stop being afraid of/resistant to change. I have to make the choice—by myself and for myself—to do the things I know I need to do to get myself healthier, to respect myself enough to stop choosing to do things that aren’t good for me.
I have to want to do this. I have to want to do it for me. And that’s the selfish part of losing weight. I can’t worry about others’ perceptions of me—either of the size/weight I am now or about how/what I eat. I can’t worry about pleasing anyone else but me. No one helped me put this weight on. I did this to myself. Which means I am the one who needs to change.
Me. I must embrace the change. Because, honestly, if I had someone pushing me to do it, that deep-rooted stubbornness inside me would well up and I’d sabotage myself just out of sheer orneriness and the desire to do exactly the opposite of what someone was telling me I should do or needed to do (just ask my mom about the reaction I had when she once again asked me if I’ve ever read The Shack). By having someone else there, someone who’s being your food police or hounding you into exercising, you get to the point where you’re only making the change on the outside for those people who’re pushing you to do it. (Though I wish I could afford to hire a personal trainer like so many of the participants on X-Weighted do—someone who would encourage me to push myself just a little harder every time so that I don’t just settle into a routine and stop seeing progress.)
Losing weight is, on the surface, a physical and mental challenge—becoming physically active, making better food choices, choosing smaller portions, learning all the guidelines of healthy eating. But that’s actually only a small portion of what goes into losing weight. The biggest portion of it is emotional. Most of us who are extremely overweight got to be this way because there’s a large emotional element to it—whether it’s finding comfort in food, turning to food after a tragic event, depression or other clinical mental disorders that lead us to sabotage with food, eating disorders, and self-esteem issues. That’s not saying that every person who’s obese/morbidly obese has a bunch or even any of these problems. But there is such an emotional toll that constantly having to “watch what we eat” takes on the psyche that if we haven’t embraced the physical, mental, and emotional changes, while we may be successful for a while when we first start, eventually, we’re going to fall right back into our old patterns—because we never truly changed.
It’s one thing to say, “I want to change.” It’s another thing to really embrace it and make the necessary changes. I know one of my problems does come from living alone and working from home: I spend way too much time inside my own head, with my own thoughts, and thinking about myself. This isn’t healthy. So I’ve got to figure out a way I can still get all of my work done and yet have some kind of quality interaction with others—face to face—every day.
My challenge for myself is to be down one size by Christmas. Since I went yesterday to C.J. Banks and tried on a bunch of clothes for the fashion show I’ll be participating in on Saturday, what that means is fitting into a size 20 top and a size 22 pants. And in a few weeks, I hope to have a little disposable income with which to go purchase a top and pants as my goal outfit to wear while I’m in Baton Rouge at Christmas.