Friday, March 26, 2010


This week I went to a second WW meeting, since the first one I went to this week was such a bust. Normally I go to one on Wednesday at lunchtime, but I went earlier in the day so that I could have more of the day to spend with my brother. I was very sad to learn that there was a different leader than the meeting I usually go to. This leader was -- how to say this -- geriatric. And BORING. I left 0% inspired and 90% resentful about having wasted an hour and $$ going to the meeting.

Anyway, because I felt gypped and because I have been struggling so much this week on the food front, I decided to go to a second meeting this week (that is the great thing about WW -- once you pay your weekly meeting fee, you can go to as many as you want). At the second meeting, I had a pretty big realization.

The leader asked if any of us had inspired anyone on our WL journey. Let me tell you, the people at the meeting (probably about 15-20) were QUIET!! They were not quick to speak up on anything. Worse than that, they really didn't speak up at all! Being a professor, I know what it is like to be left hanging so I generally try to speak up if no one else will, but I do try to wait and give others a chance first. No one talked about being an inspiration, so I reluctantly raised my hand.

I don't talk much about it, but one of the ladies at work (probably my very favorite, although not for this reason) consistently tells me how great I am doing and how I am really inspiring her. The other day it somehow came up how I was nervous about gaining this weight back. I believe I have mentioned it before, but I have lost 60 lbs one time. I did it the right way -- the way that I think is healthy, by eating less and better food and by exercising. The stress of my grandma dying and the busy-ness of finishing my dissertation and traveling around the US trying to find a job led to poor decisions and shifting priorities on my part. In a year and a half, I gained much of the weight back. When I started my new job and sunk into a very deep and dark year of depression, I gained the rest of the weight back, along with a bonus 10 lbs.

Although I didn't share all of the details with this coworker, I told her that I had lost but regained 60 lbs. She said -- in a way that she genuinely meant to be supportive -- that she would not let it happen again. I had come too far to make those decisions. By the way, I agree with her, but if you would have asked me last time, I would have agreed then too.

So back to the WW meeting -- the leader asked me how it makes me feel to have inspired someone else. I think she was expecting an answer along the lines of, "IT FEELS GREAT AND I FEEL AMAZING!!" However, my response had to surprise her. It actually really surprised me too, and helped me to put something together that I had not realized before.

I told her "It stresses me out. I feel if I fail at this, I will not only fail myself but also the people at work. I don't like the pressure it puts on me.", and I started to cry. Although I was slightly embarrassed at my reaction, it was worth it to make that realization.

This journey to get healthy should be and always has been about me. I function better physically and emotionally when I am eating right and exercising. I am more fun to be around, and can think quicker on my feet. I have more energy. Others benefit indirectly from this, because by making time for myself and my health I am happier and better adjusted, and I have more to give. Mostly, though, it benefits me.

Although it is great to inspire others, I cannot let that become a weight on my shoulders. Although I want to help them to live healthier lives, my primary responsibility is to me. This reminds me of how flight attendants tell parents that they must put on their own safety masks before they can help their kids put on their masks. The logic for my situation is the same -- if I put the needs of others before my own, it is short sighted. By taking care of myself, I will make myself better and hopefully in the long run be able to free up some mental energy to help others. However, my journey is still at the point where it requires constant vigilance and effort on my part to help me to meet my goals. If I'm not working the program for me, how can I possibly help anyone else out on theirs? The answer is that I can't, but that I cannot carry this burden around for others. If I allow myself to carry this (or other) burdens around for other people and let that trump my efforts to get healthy, I will fail all of us.

I need to help myself first and foremost. That is initially why I started this blog. I needed a place where I felt safe sharing my feelings and my struggles because I felt alone and unsafe in many arenas of my real life. Ironically, I feel safe amongst the masses in cyberspace, particularly among the caring and supportive niche of WL bloggers I've found. I appreciate everyone's support. I VALUE your support. I love to have a place where I feel safe sharing this stuff which is incredibly personal and sometimes even painful for me -- but I have to remember that I am getting healthy and blogging for me. If I inspire others along the way, that's stellar.

...but, I have to remember that I am doing this for me. And while I certainly don't want to let anyone down or disappoint them, I have to worry most about not disappointing myself. I want to live my best life. I need to remember that when the chips are down. This is for me. There is no need carrying anyone else's burden but my own while this is still such hard work.

I guess this realization was worth the meeting fee after all :)

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