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:
As I celebrate 14 years on the permanent weight loss road, my own little “self” anniversary, I’m making it a point to look back as well as forward.
Reflection is only useful if it brings greater awareness. Speaking from the beginning stages of weight loss, one of my newer clients asked me, “Oh, don’t you look back and feel bad for those days when you could enjoy eating anything you wanted?”
She was earnest, and honest, but looking through the lens of her own fears. And, no, the pleasures I feel and create today don’t even compare to pepperoni pizza. They couldn’t come close to that meaningless little chocolate truffle. No, they’re not even on the same planet.
Sure, food can be a pleasure but, when your senses are tuned into life, you are constantly creating heightened states of energy, ecstasy, and expansion — within your soul, not just your body.
(Regarding The New York Times article “The Mental Strain of Making Do With Less.”)
I spoke on NBC15 news last week about persistent problems that threaten our daily intelligence – the inspiration for this segment was an article published in The New York Times, entitled “The Mental Strain of Making Do With Less.”
What happens when we have an issue, problem or condition that constantly takes up a good deal of our available “bandwidth” – the energy, attention, focus, emotionality, and thought processes that go on beneath the surface?
We actually have less capacity to handle the important things in life: Career, relationships, environment, meaningful connection, pleasurable pursuits, and personal fulfillment.
These often unexplored topics are where we feel scarcity in our lives, or where we feel ourselves lacking, like esteem, intelligence, money, weight. And what do we create when we run the energy of scarcity in our lives?
I was once fat. Many people prefer another word but I like “Fat” and, since it was mine, I figure I get to call it any name I want.
In the year 1996, I weighed 242 lbs.! That’s quite a bit of fat, no matter what you like to call it. Like most people, I wasn’t fond of my fat. I desperately wanted to change it, and I had tried for over 20 years to solve fat. My first diet was at age 10. And, when you try to solve something for 20+ years, and aren’t successful, you get pretty pessimistic about the whole damned project.
The way I saw it, Fat got in the way of finding a career I loved. It got in the way of relationships. It affected how I felt about myself.
And, by 1996, I was seeing it pretty much as UNSOLVE-ABLE!
This wasn’t just an obstacle – it was the biggest obstacle of all time in my eyes. No matter what I had tried, and I had tried every diet, intervention and exercise modality known to wo/man, the excess weight always came back.
Like a stalker!
Like it had FAT GPS!
And I thought I was the only one in the world who had this problem!
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One of my fabulous clients described her journey towards permanent weight loss this way: “It’s like I was on a rollercoaster when I was dieting, now I’m in the driver’s seat, driving change.”
I thought this was a great metaphor for dieting v. lifestyle change.
When you are on the diet rollercoaster:
1. You feel out of control.
2. It’s scary.
3. Emotions rage with good days and bad days. Emotions always lead to emotional eating and comfort food.
4. The number on the scale can send you on a binge.
5. Disappointment, sadness, anxiety and other daily occurrences set off eating sprees, followed by food restriction and new promises to diet all over again tomorrow, next Monday, or next month.
6. You follow someone else’s plan – might be a diet, a book, a program. These plans never address your personal body’s needs, but are generalized approaches.
7. You “wake up” with an empty plate, a candy wrapper, a cookie box, or other container in front of you and no idea how it got there or where the food went.
8. You try to control the crazy momentum by counting something (calories, aerobic output, anything at all).
9. You think poor choices say something about your personal character.
10. You struggle. Struggle diminishes your effort, your success and, ultimately, your dreams.
9. You constantly fluctuate between weights, yo-yo-ing up and down the scale. Ultimately, you wind up back at the beginning, where you started, at the “loading zone” of the rollercoaster ride.
You know you are making a lifestyle change, and you are driving change, when:
1. You are the authority on what food is the best fuel for YOUR body and you know exactly what makes great energy for your unique physiology.
2. You consistently fuel your body for optimal energy.
3. You make decisions easily, without mental combat occurring.
4. You address any emotion, obstacle or event DIRECTLY, without buffering it with food.
5. You never make excuses, but OWN every decision and action.
6. You feel empowered. You are driving. You are choosing the route you take.
7. You treat yourself with respect and love in all circumstances, no matter what you ate that day.
8. The ride leads to new places, new discoveries, and wide-open vistas because you aren’t on a “track”, you’re in ever-changing life.
Getting off the diet rollercoaster isn’t just about losing weight. It’s about quality of life. It’s about living a fully empowered life, instead of giving power away to a plan, a diet, or anything that’s not organic to your amazing physical body.
Non-diet weight loss is the kind that lasts too. Isn’t that what we ultimately want when we think of lowering the number on the scale, anyway?
This month’s book contest features the “Just Tell Her to Stop: Family Stories of Eating Disorders“ , by Becky Henry.
This fascinating book offers a different perspective on eating disorders. If you have experienced disordered eating, or have children who might be susceptible, it’s a must read. Parenting a child in today’s world, which is focused on controlling food, food addictions, setting up bizarre behaviors with food, binge eating and food struggle, isn’t easy. It’s a food focused and foodcentric world. This book helps you understand the struggle for control.
Two ways to win!
1. Go to America’s Weight Loss Catalyst Facebook Page by clicking here and hitting the “Like” button. You’ll be the bonus of tips and motivation every morning from the facebook page!
2. Visit any other blog post right here on this site and post your comments, opinion or questions. We’re always happy when you share the blog posts by using the buttons at the bottom of the page too!
You get one entry for every action you take!
Share the Catalyst experience on social media and you’re automatically entered to win this month’s book: Just Tell Her To Stop: Family Stories of Eating Disorders by Becky Henry!
Hard Truth: The more we focus on losing weight, the more we gain. It’s true – dieters regain at an average rate of 108%.
Today, there are more “diets, “fixes”, “cures”, “pharmaceutical relief” and “apps” for weight loss than ever before in history. But our society weighs more and has MORE health problems associated with weight too.
It doesn’t add up, does it?
One year ago, I celebrated 10 years of sustained weight loss after losing 74 lbs. Even though permanent weight loss is measured at 5 years, and I had passed that milestone years before, I had not let the magnitude of what I had accomplished seep in.
When I set out to achieve permanent weight loss, I knew only 1% of people who lose more than 20 lbs. achieve it. Once I lost those 74 lbs. and started “the countdown”, I created a sort of tunnel vision.
Then, at a celebration last year, I was surprised at the emotion that hit me as I spoke to the group of well-wishers, friends and clients.
Claiming something is powerful.
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