First things first. If you want to lose weight forever, you must ADMIT you have a problem and you don’t want to do anything about it. You must admit it to yourself and to yourself only. You don’t need to admit it to a room full of people. Believe me, they already know. They’ve seen your stretchy pants and your blousy tops. They’ve seen you eat the frosting off two pieces of cake. To yourself, and only yourself, you must admit you have a problem over and over again. It’s no one’s business but yours. And by admitting it, what I mean to say is that you must sift through all the lies you tell yourself (and other people too). “I really don’t eat that much, I’m am active, it’s just my body type, I have no time, I’m just getting older, I can’t do it, why can’t I just have some fun?” When you get to the bottom of that giant heap of lies, the truth is sitting there saying, “hello there sunshine, I’m the truth, and the truth is you just don’t want to”. Yeah, you don’t want to. You don’t want to because losing weight is difficult, and you’ve failed miserably over and over again. If failure was a pizza, yours would be deep dish with extra cheese and crispy corners.
Now after the big admission, you must COMMIT to it. Stop whining about your body dissatisfaction and seriously, NO MORE SELF EFFACING JOKES. That was a big one for me. In other words, even if you can’t commit to a weight loss plan or a course of action at the moment, what you CAN do is commit to being honest about not wanting to do anything about it! This clear and simple truth gets you nowhere, of course, but once you start committing to admitting it, a little seed is planted. Deep down that little seed is saying “are you sure you don’t want to? Like, seriously dude? Are you sure this is IT for you?” And that little pesky seed starts to ask “what if?” Hey, what if you did something entirely different? What if, this time, you didn’t cut carbs or reduce sugar, eat tons of grapefruit, or make that disgusting cabbage soup on the regular? What if you didn’t go to group sessions to talk about it and earn stickers? What if you stopped buying cottage cheese and rice cakes? What if you didn’t do any of that for 17 days straight? What if you didn’t eat out of a vacuum sealed container? What if you didn’t heed the siren call of Valerie, or Kirsty, or Marie? Or, GASP! What if you didn’t call Jenny? That little seed becomes your little rebellious friend.
And then the hard part arrives. You must commit again. People ask me how I did it. Well, there is no easy way to answer this because I’m still doing it! I’ll be committing over and over again for the rest of my life. What works for me these days is HONESTY. I’m honest about my calorie intake and I’m honest about my exercise. I committed to a calorie counting approach, and it has worked. I was really HUNGRY for a long time. I found out what hunger actually feels like. Guess what? Hunger sucks. But then, once I committed to eating at very regular times, it tapered off. I committed to 1200 calories a day (give or take) because I felt like that approach was reasonable and possible. I had a little calorie counter book and I kept track. I still do – in my head. I didn’t worry about restaurants because if I went out, I always got a simple salad with protein and I estimated. And, let me tell you, getting a simple salad with protein EVERY TIME was never fun. I didn’t write down my feelings and I didn’t discuss my diet with other people (save a handful of close friends). Now, of course, you can’t shut me up. If I could write a Broadway Musical about my weight loss experience and life resurgence, believe me I would! But my resolve came from that little seed of truth: I don’t want to start yet another failed attempt, but what if I kept it simple? I don’t want to actually do it, but what if I go slowly? What if I stop caring about what I’ll look like “this” summer and just take it one day at a time? Stringing together one day at a time leads to months and months of success. I don’t want to fail again, but what if I don’t expect miracles? I don’t have to like it, but what if I can commit to it? What if I just do the work without excuses? My friendly little truth seed changed her name from “I don’t want to” to “what if”. And she massaged my shoulders every night and whispered, “you’re okay, you didn’t die, you got through another day, now go to sleep please, I’m tired!”
I clearly remember when I turned the corner. I had lost about 40 pounds in 4 months…a very big deal for me because in my twenty-two year yo-yo, roller coaster ride of a dieting “career” I had only ever lost 20 pounds. And boy those 20 pounds enjoyed their heyday! They begrudgingly left for a while, only to return for long periods of time. They brought their friends and made a real mess of the place. They smelled like booze and nachos. Those twenty pounds had epic parties…they lived it up only to be banned from the venue for squatting. Up and down, back and forth – through spiraling loops and turns…what a fun ride THAT was! I tried to give Jenny my twenty on more than one occasion, and even she refused and stopped taking my calls. So here I was – by adding a bit of exercise and counting calories religiously, I had lost 40 pounds! In my own time, doing it my own way! A personal best! Cue the marching band, I had broken my own record! I was feeling okay about it, but I was still buried in the trenches. By trenches I mean I literally wanted to eat my own hand by 3 o’clock every afternoon. I was BORED to death of the whole thing. I was eating the same stuff at the same time day in and day out. I was a calorie counting freak. While I had plenty of love from friends and family, I still felt very ALONE in my struggle. THIS, my dear friends, is the hard part. The hard part about changing your life, your habits, your weight, and your fitness level is that despite the support of the people who love you, despite some success, at the end of the day it’s just you and your damn self. The trenches are PAINFUL because you are always hungry, always tired, and you really don’t want to eat a bowl of vegetables or drink more coffee. “I don’t want to” crept up on me…it lurked behind every corner. And I was often a baby who wanted what she wanted when she wanted it. I hated questions! I hated when people wanted to talk to me about it because who the hell was I? The magical weight loss genie/guru/fairy? What the hell did I know? I wasn’t an expert. I just looked better. Around this time I started repeating the mantra: “what if I just kept going?” What I realized about weight loss is that it’s complicated, not because you don’t know how to do it, or what works. It’s hard because it IS work. It’s a blur of hard work, steep hills, and doing time in the trenches. It’s a blur of boredom, loneliness, hunger, denial, calorie counting, planning ahead, and of course, exhaustion. It’s a long, swirly blur of exercising when you don’t really want to, pretending you are okay with drinking club soda at parties, and saying no to just about everything. Don’t let anyone ever tell you it’s easy. It takes a very long time to change and a lot of resolve. “Going the distance” means staying in those trenches. You’re a punch drunk boxer, battered and bloody, but still standing. You’re a mountaineer still climbing with no summit in sight. It goes on and on like this, and feels like forever, but guess what? It’s not. Because one day, just like that, it becomes easy. Remember in the movie, Forrest Gump, when Forrest decided, just like that, to stop running? Well, that is what it’s like to turn the corner. It’s JUST LIKE THAT. I turned the corner at about 45 pounds…and went on to lose 40 more. I started to believe I could do it. Those mucky, feet-grabbing trenches became a bit more shallow with each passing day, until I slowly rose above them. When I finally turned the corner, I stepped out of the dirt into the sun.
Now it’s easy to say no. It’s easy to plan the week. It’s easy to figure out my exercise schedule. It’s easy to shop. Admitting is truth telling. “Committing to admitting” plants the seed. Committing again (and again) means doing the work, staying in the trenches, and fighting for your life. When you turn the corner, and you will, the skies seemingly open up, and it gets easy. It does, and it happens JUST LIKE THAT, so don’t give up. Easy is being clear and present each and every day, in every decision you make about food and your physical life. Easy is figuring out, finally, that you have no choice in the matter anymore, because your new fit body, clear mind, and sunshine-absorbing soul run the show. And your little seed friend called Truth is right there with you.