When I was probably seven or eight years old I was over a cousin’s house and an aunt looked at me in front of a room full of family and very loudly exclaimed that I was getting as big as a house. I wanted to cry and run out of the room but instead I chose to laugh and pretend like I thought it was funny.
I remember in eighth or ninth grade there was a boy at my bus stop who was asking everyone how much they weighed. When he got to me I very clearly remember being embarrassed that I weighed 145 pounds and I lied and told him that I weighed 130 pounds.
In college some girls were all sitting around talking about what diets they were doing. I wasn’t doing anything but felt like surely since I was the largest one in the room that if I wasn’t on a diet too, people would think…well, I don’t even know what I thought they’d think but I know I thought it’d be bad. So I made something up.
Then there's the driver's license. I think the majority of women at least round down, right? Some to the nearest 10...some to the nearest 50.
Even today, when I hear of someone who is succeeding in losing weight, no matter how happy I am for them, there is a small part of me that feels like slinking away from the subject for fear that they’ll say something like, “You can do it…it’s not that hard” or “All it takes is a little effort.” When I try and fail to lose weight, there is a deep sense of shame over the fact that I have been unsuccessful.
Weight loss is such a deep and multi-leveled struggle. It is never the same for every person. And because the root of the weight problem is not the same for every person, there is not one perfect way to fix it.
We listen to what works for everyone else, then we try it. It doesn't work for us so we feel like failures. We feel ashamed. We feel like we didn’t try hard enough. Another failed diet. Another genuine attempt to improve ourselves that is met with the reality that we just don’t have what it takes. We tell ourselves why even try? So we have a week or so where we just say screw it all and eat whatever we want. We gain a few pounds. The cycle continues. We are really going to buckle down this time. A different diet or supplement that worked for someone else. Or maybe the same diet again – just more strict this time. We try different variations of the same thing over and over again without even realizing it. And before we know it, we weigh more than we did when we first began.
So. Much. Shame.
The only cure to the shame is so cliché that it’s almost pointless to write about it and the only reason I am is because I know from talking to so many of you that it’s not just me. And sometimes just knowing that you’re not nuts is motivating in and of itself.
The cure(s) –
- Don’t pay attention to other people’s opinions about what you are doing right and wrong. Find something that works for you. Even if (gasp) it means eating carbs on occasion.
- Find your worth in something bigger than your body. I’d suggest God – but that’s just me.
- Believe that you are worth the effort and hard work that it’s going to take to succeed, because no matter what the commercials or your best friend tells you, it’s going to be difficult at times and if you don’t feel like you are worth the fight, you’ll quit.
- Stop setting goals that make you feel bad. If your goal is to lose 2 pounds a week and you go two weeks in a row where you only lose 1 pound and you feel like a failure, then maybe that’s not the best measuring stick for you to use. Try saying that you’re only going to eat 1500 calories a day. Then weigh in after a month and see if it’s working. It’s better to take a long time to lose it than it is to get so frustrated that you quit.
I know that the mind is a terribly hard thing to beat. It’s my biggest struggle. I have knowledge in my brain that my heart sometimes refuses to believe. But just because I don’t believe it doesn’t mean that it’s not true. There are certain things that if done, WILL work.
Just make positive steps forward. Then take another step and then another. And then another. It’s a long walk that I've been told gets easier the further you go.
Your walk is going to look totally different than mine. With every step tell yourself that there’s nothing to be ashamed of. There is no shame as long as you're trying, there's only shame in giving up.
Man, I am a cliché’ machine today.