The more weight I lose, the more people stop me and want to know how I’m doing it. I always smile and answer their questions with my usual pumped up cheerleader-on-espresso enthusiasm. I enjoy talking about this process (obviously, hello!). I like showing people it’s possible to lose weight and get healthy without special diets, surgery, or crazy pain filled workouts. Without trying to sound like a tree hugg’in hippy, I do believe that the one thing that has consistently kept me on track this time is the fact that I’ve insisted on keeping my process as organic as possible. What I mean is…I go with my gut instinct and I don’t settle for any of the old bullshit I used to feed myself.
Every time I’ve tried to lose weight in the past, I’ve tried to go from couch-laying-Twinkie-guzzling-fat-girl to fitness-crazed-water-drink’in-broccoli-lover in one day. Every time, I’ve failed. All or nothing doesn’t do it for me.
I have stopped trying to measure up to what everyone else says I should be doing…and I’ve stopped trying to hold myself up to everyone else’s expectations. When it comes to the fitness industry…or those “get rid of belly fat in 5 days” articles…and even the well meaning advice of friends and family, I tread very cautiously. After so many years of dieting and failing, I know what works for me and what doesn’t. If I hear an interesting tip or new bit of information, I may try it and adjust my plan as I go forward if it works. Bottom line, though…I do what works for me.
Imagine my amusement, then, when I had this conversation with a friend last week:
Friend: ”Hey, how’s your weight loss going? You look great!”
Me: ”Thanks! Everything’s going great…just humming along like normal.”
Friend: ”How much weight have you lost now? It was 45 pounds last time I checked, right?”
Me: ”Right! It’s still 45 pounds and going strong.”
(At this point, my friend gives me a sort of sympathetic frown like I’ve just told her my dog died.)
Friend: ”Oh, what’s wrong? Have you been working out?”
Me: ”Nothing’s wrong, silly. I’m doing great. I’m not working out consistently, no.”
Friend: ”Oh, why not? What’s wrong??” Now she seems really worried.
Me: ”Nothing’s wrong. I keep feeling like I have to force myself to workout…and I fail every time I try to shove myself forward too fast, so I’m trying to do what feels right instead of forcing myself to do it.”
My friend sits up straight with renewed energy and perches herself on the edge of her seat. Uh oh…I know what’s coming.
Friend: ”No, no…you have to make yourself do it. You just have to do it. You’re not going to succeed if you don’t just jump in there and make yourself do it. I know it sucks, but you just have to do it. You can’t lose all that weight with just a diet.”
She actually started smacking her hands together as she was talking. She was very emphatic. And clappy.
I’ve had conversations like this so many times I’ve lost count. How many of you can relate to this? As soon as you start making healthy changes, everyone you know becomes a personal trainer. I used to try and argue my point, but since frustrating the piss outta myself doesn’t burn any extra calories I’ve taken to following the advice of my imaginary husband Robert Downey Jr:
That’s exactly what I did with my friend in this situation as well. Hers is exactly the “all or nothing” mentality that’s tripped me up a million times before. She thinks it works for everyone, but she’s wrong. It’s what works for her. She’s a sweet lady, but she’s never had to walk around in a morbidly obese body. She’s never stared down the business end of a 200+ pound weight loss goal before. She has no idea of success…or failure…in this instance.
I want to just go back over what she said for a minute. I have to make myself do it. I’m not going to succeed unless I do that. I have to jump in there and make myself.
I can’t lose it all with just a diet.
That is a lot of eff’in negativity, yo.
Change is hard. Permanent change is harder. We all know the statistics on how many overweight people really keep the weight off, right? Why on earth would I want to make it worse by bogging myself down with drudgery? I’m sure some folks don’t care about such semantics, but I’ve noticed that they make a hell of a difference to me. And I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve had to remind people...I’m not on an effing diet!!!
I have changed. This is how I eat. Forever.
I don’t care for the all or nothing message either: the idea that I’m not going to succeed if I don’t do this right now. I beg to differ. I already have succeeded. I have 45 pounds worth of success under my belt, with more to come.
Look at the difference in our thought processes. She perceives success as my goal weight. Wanna know how I perceive success? Here ya go:
6 months, 15 days of no sugar/junk/fast food
6 months, 5 days of no diet soda
My first pound lost
My first five pounds lost
My first ten pounds- oh, you get the picture!
Dropping 10% of my excess weight, thereby significantly lowering my risk of heart attack and stroke
Hitting 349, dropping into the “below 350 category” and getting closer to 299…and farther away from 400
Wearing jeans for the first time in 2 years
Having a face-off with my first plateau…and winning :-)
Losing 27 inches
Dropping 1 size
I just have a different way of looking at things than she does. I’m not looking to make this a struggle. I’m looking to make this a continued success. I think I’ve done right by myself so far, wouldn’t you agree?
I think this is why I hate the over dramatic “FEEL THE BURN!!!” crap about most workout programs. I hate the overenthusiastic, bouncy instructor in the fitness class who has to yell “Oh YEAH!!!! Doesn’t that feel good? YEAH!!!!”
No. No, it effing doesn’t. Call me crazy, but I don’t enjoy pain. I don’t like my ankles screaming from the stress of holding up a 336 pound body. I don’t like my back muscles ripping because my abs, which are in here somewhere, are useless. Just day to day moving around is hard enough in this giant body – so forgive me if I’m not too keen on gett’in jiggy with a “shred-your-ass-with-total-insanity” workout video. Not for me, thanks.
I blame the Biggest Loser for this mentality, by the way. While I can appreciate the motivational aspect of the show, I really don’t care for the fact that it’s raised the bar impossibly high for the 99% of us fatties who aren’t picked to star in a reality show. It seems that if our workouts don’t include flipping tractor tires end over end down the street or towing semi-trucks with the sheer power of our multiple asses, we’re not really pushing ourselves. I’m grateful for the treadmill that allows me to walk in privacy…because the last time I tried to get some cardio outside, a passing ass-hat in a Corolla yelled “Go on a diet!”
That kind of idiocy will always astound me. I was on mile #3 and he’s speeding by with a cigarette in his mouth. I wonder who was in better shape. I bet it was ME.
As for my treadmill, I use it when I want to. I don’t make myself get on it. I’ve tried multiple times and I backslide every time. Because I know myself, I know this will not always be the case. I will get to a point where I want to workout consistently…but that time is not right now.
Let me just clear up one more thing for those of you who may be struggling with something similar: there is a difference between being afraid to try and not wanting to do. There is no lack of courage behind my not wanting to workout. There is no fear of failure. There is “I’ve got all I can handle right now…I don’t want anymore”. On the other side of that coin, though, there is also “Wow, I only have 3 more pounds to the next set of tens…I’m gonna get on the treadmill right now.”
When I try to force myself into a workout routine, I hate it. When I try to mentally power through it and just get it over with, I don’t enjoy it at all. I can’t build a healthy habit like that. When I get on the treadmill because I want to, I sink into the music and just go go go…most of the time with the goofiest smile on my face. There is a world of difference.
I look forward to the time when I can get on a bike and ride it without being afraid I’ll need a proctologist to remove the seat when I’m done. I’m excited for the day when I can strap on a pair of rollerblades and go flying down a bike path. Those types of exercise are FUN to me…and I know they’re waiting for me when I’m ready.
The moral of this story: don’t hold yourself to anyone’s standards but your own. Find whatever experts you need or want, talk to your doctor, sit down with yourself and come up with a plan of attack. Decide what you’re going to do and don’t listen to anyone else who comes along and tells you that you’re not going to succeed unless you do it their way. Try what you want, evaluate, adjust, try again…keep going.
When it comes to your standards, the only person who should be saying “My way or the highway” is you…to yourself.