Monday, June 27, 2011

"Those People"

You know "those people" who talk in meaningless sounding platitudes and talk as though they know everything about losing weight and living healthy lives? Today I realized that, even if I'm not yet one of those people, I am totally on the verge and I need to step away from the ledge slowly. I am so glad I caught myself, and I hope that if I ever start sounding like one of those people you will all let me know and TELL ME TO STOP!!

Today on Twitter, a blogger was talking about his/her struggle with healthy living and feeling really discouraged about where he/she was. You all know I've been there. Trust me, I. HAVE. BEEN. THERE!!! He/she was sounding desperate, lamenting the number on the scale and basically begging for advice.

Do you know what I twittered her? "It's not about the food."

Do I believe that? Yes. Pretty much whole-heartedly. I stand behind my thought.
Was it helpful to her? No. That's not helpful to hear.
Should I have said it? No. Not if it wasn't helpful, and it made me sound really like a smug ass -- which is not what I wanted to be and certainly wasn't helpful to anyone, least of all someone who is struggling.

In losing this weight, I've come to believe that for many of us -- and certainly myself -- that this is absolutely not about losing weight. Is it a part of the puzzle? Sure. Is it a way to measure our progress? Undoubtedly. It is objective and easy to track. But is it the end all be all? For me, the answer is no.

I think that the mechanics of losing weight -- barring some health problems like a thyroid issue -- is really pretty easy. Move more. Eat fewer calories than you burn, but not so little that your body thinks it's starving. Get the calories from healthy sources (e.g. 100 calories of string cheese or fruit >>>> 100 calories of twinkie).

So if we know all of this stuff, why are we fat? I think that most of us who want to lose weight know HOW -- it's the action and the follow through that is the hard part. For me, I know that years of food abuse and disordered eating caused some really poor choices on my part -- and some I did so long that they even became reflexive. And for me? THAT'S the hard part. Relearning how to deal with stress in ways other than eating. Deciding when to pass on that "I just can't live without it" treat. Realizing that sometimes, food's just not worth it. It's not that I don't KNOW (whatever not-stellar food choice) is bad for me -- it's that I decide that I don't care. I think it's that way for many of us. And THAT'S not about the food -- that's about dysfunctional food thinking.

These are things that I know are true for me. I think these things are true for many of us, and for many people who are still struggling with food.

...but I don't think sharing this stuff is helpful, unless people ask or genuinely care. And broadcasting it from a mountaintop or accosting anyone who will listen with the message? It's not helpful, and it probably won't be well received. But it will make you one of those people.

When I lost 60 lbs five years ago, I talked about saying goodbye to the fat forever. I said I would NEVER go back to the life I led before. One thing I've learned this time around is that I'm certainly not above a relapse, and that all-or-nothing thinking is a surefire shortcut to disaster for me. When I regained the weight, if someone would have told me it was not all about the food? I would have either rolled my eyes at them, argued, or felt even more like a loser than I already did. And really? None of those are good outcomes. So why would I say that to someone else?!?

Even though I talked about how I'd permanently changed my life and freed myself from the shackles of being overweight, compulsive eating led me right back to the old habits -- eating to deal with pain and loneliness. And with the old behaviors, the weight returned -- with a bonus, the way it always seems to.

And although it sucked, I am actually pretty glad it happened. I learned a LOT about humility from that experience. I learned that I am an addict and if I do not use God's help to overcome my addiction, it will suffocate me and eventually take my life. I also learned compassion, and the importance of consistency.

Part of me wants to share the "experience, strength, and hope" (OA buzz words) that I've gotten from this -- but not at the expense of sounding like an ass, or making someone feel bad when they're down. I don't want to be one of those people. I've been on the receiving side of that, and it is not fun so why would I do that to someone else?

1 comment:

  1. Excellent words of wisdom. You are an terrific writer.


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