Thursday, January 22, 2009

Of Accountability and Weight Loss

One of the things that happens when you lose a lot of weight fast is that people think you are 1) judging them, their weight or their eating habits, 2) a great weight loss coach or 3) stuck on yourself.

I've lost 100lbs in a year. A hundred. Pounds. That's a lot of weight, really fast. People notice.

I can't do much about number three. When you look better, you feel better so you carry yourself with a little more pride and you dress better. Actually, I was more stuck on myself when I was fat: I was the hottest fat chick in the room, damnit. Anymore, I kinda feel like just a so-so medium sized chick. If people won't try talking to me to see whether or not I'm a snot, sadly, I can't help change the perception.

The first two are a different thing entirely. People I barely know feel that they have to justify what they're eating for lunch just because I happen to stop by their table to say hello. It's none of my business and I'm really not judging. Who am I to do so?

I'm not a great weight loss coach either. What I am is someone who is going through something big and who has made lots of mistakes on the way to AND from. I might have some perspective for you but serious people need serious help. Doctors, therapists and Weight Watchers are probably better bets for coaching than me. Even so, there are several people who IM me at work, email or ask for my phone number.

I had a long conversation yesterday with a lady about what she's doing to try to lose weight. She wants it very much and on the surface, she claims to be 'trying' to make good choices. Unfortunately, everything in her life is someone elses fault. She ate pizza because that's what the kids wanted, her husband forced her to have McDonald's at the mall food court with him. She couldn't say no to the donuts her boss brought to work because that would have been rude, so she had three.

THIS POOR WOMAN!!! She must live in a gulag. Her children must keep her imprisoned in a cage with a small slash in the door just tall enough to permit a slice of pizza to be shoved through. Her only recreation was a trip to the mall with Warden Husband, shackled to his side with no choice but to eat what he's eating. Even worse, when she shows up here to work, her supervisor pries open her jaws, using a medieval torture device and shoves in DONUTS!

Let's come back to reality here: this is a suburban middle class working woman, very much like me. She lives in a suburban neighborhood very much like mine, with lots of access to good restaurants and health food and grocery stores, even some specialty markets. While her family might choose to eat those things, there's no good reason she could not find something more appropriate to her weight loss goals to eat herself.

I don't know her very well, so I tempered my response, but bottom line, tough love answer: this isn't everybody elses fault. You are not fat because people forced you to eat the wrong things. You, like me, have access to and the ability to obtain healthy, appropriate food choices.

Does that mean I might have to cook 2 dinners sometimes? Yes (but that is why you teach your children to cook).

Does it mean I can no longer purchase junk food? It means I no longer purchase junk food that I like. I purchase crap I hate but other people like all the time. I don't eat crap I hate, so it works.

Does it mean I might have to buy special food, just for me? Yes. Think of it as spoiling yourself; go for things you've always wanted to try but never had the courage before.

Does it mean that I eat things that don't taste good? NEVER! I do not eat things I don't like. Period. If you are going to eat small portions and things that are good for you, make them the best tasting small portions of healthy foods you can find.

Does it mean I might have to say no to things I like? Yes, but how much do you want this? As long as you want smaller pant sizes more than you want french fries, you can do it. As long as you want to be free of diabetes more than you want that piece of cake, you can do it.

Some days the french fries are more important and some days you want chocolate cake more than anything else in the world. Those days are not the end. On those days, that's what you want. If that's what you want, eat it. Eat it and then move on. As my friend Janice Taylor says "All is forgiven; move on." As long as your overall goal doesn't change, you can have those days and still remember what you really and truly want. You can still have what you truly want because you will still work for it.

My weight loss has never ever been easy and I don't have all the answers. I lost 1/3 my body weight on Phen Phen and put 2/3 back on. I drank a Slim Fast Shake for Breakfast, another for Lunch and EVERYTYHING IN THE FRIDGE for afternoon snack.

My weight got so out of hand and my resulting health problems so bad, that surgery was the best option for me. However, after a long time and a lot of therapy, I know that the things that led up to it were driven much more by my choices than by unseen forces shoving food down my gullet. I spent years in denial, thinking I could hide under food: hide from men, hide from tough choices, hide from food that doesn't taste as good as french fries.

As long as I continued to hide and deny, to blame everybody and everything but my own actions, then my weight continued to go up. Even before surgery, the day I took charge and took responsibility was the day I knew I was in control. A figurative weight was lifted from me: my shackles fell off, the bars to my cage flew open. Knowing that this is my choice is liberating: nobody can force me to do anything. I am in control of my destiny, I can set my own goals.

Surgery is helping me attain my goal. Helping. My weight was so high that I felt it was the best option to rapidly change myself. However, surgery is only a tool, surgery can't make good choices for me. At the end of the day, I. Am. Doing. This.

Most of us do not live in a gulag, most of us have access to a plethora of food choices. Before any of us can take the step and lose the weight permanently, we have to decide that we are making the choice. I am. Myself. Making this choice. For Me.

If you are thinking about losing weight, if you are already trying to make lifestyle changes, you must hear this. Therapists will say it, Weight Watchers will say it and if you ask me, I'm going to say it too. We all know what we're talking about. Weight loss begins and ends with you. Only you can make the right choices for you. If you fail, you are the only one to blame, true. Don't think about failing. Do not allow yourself that intention.

Intend to succeed and you will. Think about this instead: WHEN you succeed, when you take responsibility and you are accountable, YOU get all the credit.


Melody said...

Christy, You are a seriously gifted Fairy Godmother. Your writing is incredibly entertaining and literate and you are giving out the most direct sage weightloss wisdom I have ever read anywhere!

Melody said...

AND OH MY GOD on your weightloss!!!!!!!!!!

Eric said...

OMG!! Look at you go!! :D

I am so totally not hung up on looks. But for the self esteem and health factors involved, I am so happy for you!

What a great thing to peek in at after so long adrift from my daily blogwalks.


SomedayQuilter said...

Fantastic and congratulations on your successful weight loss. I read your piece with great interest and you are right on. If it's to be, it's up to me. No excuses or whining. I need to lose 30 lbs. and buying the big sack of m&ms at costco isn't going to get me there.