I received sad news today… a woman I first met on social media, asking for help to lose weight, has had serious complications from surgery intended to alter her stomach’s ability to hold nutrition (gastric bypass surgery).
After years of pretending she was concerned for her health, I watched her dip in and out of diets, always despondent when they didn’t work. She embraced (and had personal evidence) diets were never going to work, but she preferred to keep “trying”, rather than face herself.
Am I surprised? No. Not really.
This is the saddest part of my work as a professional weight loss coach.
I’ve helped hundreds directly with coaching and thousands through my online programs, but not everyone wants to lose weight, and lose weight permanently.
Anne (a pseudonym) gave me permission to share her story with you.
She called me for help, but never quite signed on to begin a coaching relationship. Or a class.
She had a million excuses.
Actually, she was waiting for something to force her to act. (We usually wait for something ominous to force our hand – by then, it’s too late.)
Anne wanted someone else to take away her excuses. The rock-and-roll and in-and-out of diets seems comforting after a while, always living in the future, living in hope with no action.
Of course, hope with no action is fantasy.
Anne knows that now.
Really, she didn’t want to change. Most of us don’t!
Many people cling to the thinnest shred of any possible reason NOT to take charge. It’s a big step. They know there are no excuses available after they begin to work with me – they sense I teach an ultimate form of RESPONSIBILITY. (After all, I teach a class in responsibility called Own Every Bite!)
I get it.
I could not have seen my own weight rise to 242 lbs., if I didn’t have to work through the same shit everyone else has to work through to get to a point of change.
And I’ve had more than one potential client decide not to pursue coaching or healing their food addiction, clinging to their “safe” world of food-as-problem-solver and food-as-soothing-agent, and wind up right back in my office a few years later with a breast cancer diagnosis or diabetes (excess weight is a major contributing factor to both). Even then, they don’t quite see the connection of what they have created in their bodies, but their doctor told them to get their act together.
I don’t really want to see you in my enLIGHTen Your Life! Mastermind Class or as an individual coaching client when your doctor sends you… I want you to show up BEFORE that… when there’s still time for you to make positive change and ALTER the path you are traveling, a path that leads to poor health, body breakdown, and loss of power.
I want to see you when you recognize you have choices and are choosing health and self-care over your old martyrdom story of “everyone else comes first.”
No job, no relationship, and even the kids don’t come before your health. If you don’t put the oxygen mask on yourself first, you can’t help them. You won’t be there to help them.
And you’ll have given them a piss-poor example of how to manage life if you can only cope by stuffing your face.
No, you are not hiding that from the kids either. They know fat. Just like they know if you secretly drink, or drug, or cut yourself.
Believe me, I was once in your shoes. I walked that walk, until I got a new one.
Here’s what I think keeps most of us from receiving help:
It takes some real humble acceptance to recognize and admit we need help, or need to learn a new way to cope.
We often feel, if we avoid getting help, we’ll solve fat alone, and no one will be the wiser to what we’ve been doing or (worse!) what we’ve been thinking about ourselves. Because we feel a lot of shame about our physical condition.
Here’s what I think encourages us to move beyond addictions:
Somewhere, deep inside, you have to know you are worth more than the scraps you are getting in life. After all, if you were getting what you truly need, there would be no drive to augment life with excess food.
- That boring job, with the stress and headaches? Yes, you can do better.
- A terrible parent or relative who constantly judges and puts you down? Yes, you can find supportive, loving new “family.”
- The ungrateful children or siblings, who don’t understand your needs? Yes, we all need to be understood and loved. It’s possible.
- A spouse or partner who doesn’t hear, see or revere you? This costs a fortune in esteem.
- The toxic relationship you’ve forged with yourself, where you berate or excuse (or both) yourself for your choices and habits… it’s time to release it.
Overeating is about making up for something, stuffing real feelings, hiding.
We all need to love ourselves enough to choose to live differently.
I witnessed violence at Starbucks last week.
Fists didn’t fly. No weapons were present. No blood.
But violence nevertheless.
When I arrived, I heard a terrible screaming and crying. A little girl – I would estimate her to be between two and three years old – was in a full-blown meltdown. If you’ve ever been around a child, you’ve heard that mix of scream and sob that sounds bigger than any adult can make.
The scene went on for over five minutes, but here’s part of what I saw:
As I celebrate my 15th anniversary of sustaining a 92-pound weight loss, I feel unimaginable sweetness in my life.
My journey to my own sweet spot began as a tiny girl when my grandmother and I would sneak candy as a secret.
I couldn’t admit to my mother I had developed a taste for candy, cookies, cake, pie, brownies – the list was endless – because my grandmother was diabetic and was not supposed to be eating sugary things!
Not only did I get the message that sweet things weren’t good for you, it had to be hidden. It was shameful!
As I developed a serious sugar addiction, I felt an outright fear around sweet foods – I craved them and I loathed them – quite a double message – and I hated myself for loving sweet things so much.
This Thanksgiving week, I feel especially grateful for my health and happiness.
Often, when I’m giving a speech or presenting a workshop, I make this statement:
“Today, I’m grateful I struggled with excess weight for thirty years.”
It seems I always have at least half an audience who become incredulous at that statement, but, now that I’m on the other side of struggle, it’s quite easy to see the life lessons I learned on my way to success:
You are actively pursuing weight loss. You feel great about your efforts, which have led to noticeable results. But, on the way to meet a friend for lunch, you begin to get a niggling feeling in your belly. Something’s bothering you, but you don’t know what. As soon as your friend settles in the car, the first words out of her mouth remind you why you were apprehensive.
“Please don’t tell me you want to go somewhere boring and diet-y again. Olive Vine has all-you-can-eat pasta bowl at lunch!”
This is a common situation for people making change. It can cause your mind to go into overdrive.
1. begin to make excuses for her
2. remind yourself she’s your best friend
3. pretend you didn’t notice the negativity and judgment dripping in her voice
4. go along to “Olive Vine” and valiently fight to order something that doesn’t lead directly to a nap
Today, our culture is big on doing.
It’s also big on measuring, judging, denying and overindulging.
Research shows the incredible rate of weight regain after a diet resulting in a 30-lb. loss to be 97-99%.
Doctors are so desperate to make change, the American Medical Association has reclassified obesity as a disease, so they can justify highly invasive and expensive weight loss surgery which, by the way, causes complete regain in between 66-78% of patients, depending on the statistics you read.
Despite extremes taken to lose weight:
1. Via exercise: injury ends roughly 65% of weight loss efforts made with exercise, usually because exercisers are going beyond their fitness levels to excessive amounts of exercise.
2. Via fad dieting: look at cleanses – can you think of a more ridiculous idea ever suggested to a food addict, that they simply and suddenly STOP eating?
The fact remains YOU CAN’T DO ANYTHING TO LOSE WEIGHT.
That’s because losing weight is not a DOING thing. Witness the things we DO:
- We adopt our employers’ idea of how much we should overwork and overstress.
- We overfill our schedules when every sane person knows they should only book 60% of the calendar because STUFF HAPPENS.
- We think we are more valuable or important when drama reigns in our lives, driving excessive eating, drinking and drugging.
- We take prescription drugs instead of addressing WHY we are anxious, depressed or overweight.
So, losing weight isn’t about food, or calories, or the gym.
It’s about WHO you are BEING in your life.
Whether you’re being what (you think) society expects you to be, or being the important big wig at work, or even being the subdued wallflower who never voices her needs because she doesn’t want to bother anyone, or using all your precious energy taking care of everyone else… it’s the state of BEING that needs addressing.
- Living truthfully about your needs means you don’t choke them down with a donut.
- Expressing emotions clearly and truthfully means you don’t medicate them with a box of cookies.
- Refusing to hide or pretend is a positive fat melter.
It’s time to stop DOING and start BEING thin.
What a year!
I will never forget 2013!
It was a year of huge transition, growth and learning for me. Some years sweep by in a blurr, a flurry of activity, like when you are pregnant and anticipation is carrying you forward to an inevitable conclusion.
Some years crawl along like the slow, tortuous screeching sound on a blackboard, like the third year of weight loss when you’ve lost 55 pounds and know there’s more to go… but it’s just not happening. Those are the years when a huge opportunity arises: the opportunity to face yourself and refuse to do what you’ve always done before… which is give up.
But this year didn’t crawl or whirl.
As a former food addict, and someone who’s wrestled more jeans than all the supermodels around the world, Fall brings a special challenge.
Call it a test.
The jeans test.
The softer summer clothing gets packed away and the brutally honest denim emerges.
Since I rarely weigh myself, every year, I wonder if living in the stretchy fabric of summer has given me permission to regain a few pounds.
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