You can’t do this. You’re worthless. You have tried so many times before and failed, what makes you think this time will be any different? You’ve already messed up, why even try?
How many times have you heard any of those statements or questions run through your mind? How many times has the voice inside voiced these words to you? Worse than that – how many times have you believed it?
This week has been a setback for me. I have been doing great up until this week. I have been exercising and I have been improving my eating. I started with a small goal. Its always easier to work on one small goal at a time rather than one huge goal. Time’s up! Verdict is……fail! I did not succeed in meeting that goal. My first thought was to give up and give in. I had failed. Why keep trying? Why reach for another goal I am going to miss? Why get my hope up to have it crushed again? What’s the use?
I could continue to think that. I could stay as I am and not try. But as a friend said how do we know if we don’t try? Life is too short to wonder what if. The only way we can know is if we go for it. Sure, we may miss the mark. But we will learn from it. And what we learn can be applied to our next attempt.
This week I seriously backtracked. I lapsed back into my old habits, my old ways. But I did not give up. To give up is to admit defeat. To give up is to throw in the towel. To give up is to quit trying. And I’m not about to do that.
Tomorrow is a new day. And any given point all I have to do is tell myself, “It’s time, let’s go” and I’m back in the game. And I will get there. And some things I learned from missing my 1st goal?
- My body is noticeable different when I am drinking mostly soda vs. drinking mostly water.
- If I overeat I now immediately recognize it and feel miserable – but in a different way. I can just tell it affects my body differently. And I don’t like how it feels
- If I eat the wrong kind of food my body feels differently.
Notice a pattern here? I have already started to learn how to listen to my body. Something I never did before. Still a failure? I don’t think so. Learning experience? Definitely. Worthless? No way. Waste of time? Hardly.
When I fell off track I didn’t beat myself up. I didn’t give up because I gave in. I agreed to keep going. And that is exactly what I will do.
One more thing I learned. Above all, you have to listen to yourself first and foremost. A friend of mine told me they notice what I eat. This stuck with me. If they notice how many others do? It makes you wonder. And then a group of people go out to eat dinner and that friend is one of them. And you know they are going to notice. You know you are slacking and they are going to see that. You scan the menu and rack your brain. You panic trying to figure out what to order that isn’t too much, has enough protein, few carbs, etc. etc. Your brain goes dead and all you see is just food. Food you shouldn’t be eating. Your only option is to not eat. That’s the safest decision. Nope – this is fear driving you. This is where you realize I’m still okay if I make a wrong choice. I am still the same person. Will they notice your wrong choice? Of course? Will they encourage you to make better choices? Possibly. Will they call you out and tell you how horrible you are? I sure hope not! I made my choice and that was based on what I WANTED. Granted it wasn’t what I may have needed, but it was something.
And then you are having a group lunch tomorrow and realize once again this friend will see what you are eating. And you start to run through what you can do to avoid it. Or how you can get away without eating. Or what you can eat that will be the right choice. And again you realize that your choices – right or wrong – are just that. YOUR choices. No one else’s. Only you will know if they were right or wrong. Only you lives with the choices you make. So, even knowing they will be observing I will make my own choices and I will live with them. I may possibly learn from them, but life goes on and so do I.
That dreaded 4-letter word. (No, not that one!) Fear. We have all heard the word. We all know what it means. But do we realize how crippling it is? This word can either rule you or motivate you. What role do you let it play in your life?
Starting on this new journey was scary. Opening myself up to everyone was difficult. Letting go of habits I’ve had for years to embrace new ones is not easy. I’m not that far in and I have already wanted to give up several times. And that is where the road splits.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going. How many times have you heard that? Too many to count I would imagine. Easy to say, hard to do. I’m not just making a small change here, I am doing a 180 – or at least trying to. After all the journey starts w/ the first step, right? (Yes, I know – we’ve all heard that a few times as well!) If I am going to succeed in my journey, I have to change eating habits. I have had the same eating habits for as long as I can remember. Oh sure, I have had those momentary diets – and some actually worked – but as soon as you fall back into your old habits, you end up right back where you started. I have had to change my activity level. This is hard to admit out loud (or in writing as the case may be) but I am not exactly an active person. I realize some of you are not shocked by this realization but its something I had to face. Therefore, another change I have to make. This whole journey is almost nothing but change. And with that, at least in my case, comes fear. And with that fear are two main areas.
- Fear of Failing Others – There is a lot on the line here. Have you ever watched a professional sporting event, or one of those reality competitions, etc. and you see someone competing and they state how they can’t fail because there are so many people out there counting on them? I never understood that until now. In previous attempts at losing weight I never really shared it with too many people. I may have told some of my immediate family. I may have told a best friend or two. I may have shared with a close co-worker. But I never announced it to all who know me and many who don’t. By sharing this blog I am basically telling the world my intentions. And that is to lose weight, get fit, change my eating habits, and improve my health. That’s quite a bit to take on. And I have everyone reading this and everyone who knows me and knows of my intentions to hold me accountable. If I fail…if I fall back into my old habits…if I give up…I fail everyone who knows I am trying to lose weight and improve myself and my health. If that happens I will feel like I let everyone down. Most who know me will tell me no I didn’t let them down. Most will say I tried and that alone is great. Most will say they still love and care about me anyway no matter what size I am. And while that is likely true, I will still carry the burden of letting everyone down. I will still feel responsible for not holding myself to it. And that brings us to the 2nd point….
- Fear of Failing Myself – In the end if I lose this battle the only one I fail is myself. Am I proud of the attempt? Yes. Am I proud of myself for dedicating myself fully this time instead of trying the latest passing fad? Yes. Am I constantly encouraging myself trying to keep myself going? Yes. Are there days I feel I have failed? Too often. I can let the fear grip me and overtake me until I give in. I can let the voice of fear penetrate my thoughts until it takes over. I can let the wave of fear wash over me until I feel there is no hope as I suffocate beneath its weight. But what do I gain by giving in and giving up? How do I help myself if like every other time I decide it is too hard and I don’t want to try anymore? What changes will I see if I cave and quit? Nothing of course! If I am going to succeed, I have to let the fear motivate me. I have to face it, confront it, and guide it instead of letting it guide me.
The bottom line is this – you either conquer fear, or it conquers you. Each day I am faced with some type of fear. It may be fear of being the “fat” one at the gym. It may be the fear of looking stupid if I don’t have a plan on what I will be doing at the gym. It may be the fear of eating too much or eating the wrong thing. It may be the fear of going too far and becoming obsessed with trying to eat right and workout. It may be the fear of letting others down or failing myself. But each day I choose to rise above it. Each day I choose to face and confront it. Each day I make the choice to rise, not run!
We all know the definition of “perspective”. In case you don’t it is defined as, “a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view”. Sometimes our perspective is clouded or misguided. Sometimes we think other people don’t understand, but really if we look deep inside we see maybe it’s me looking at things wrong. Have you ever had that moment when you realize maybe you have been viewing things the wrong way? Maybe it’s not what they are saying, but the way you are interpreting it? That moment happened for me today.
The other day I was around some other women – most of them very fit or very close to it. And yet for several minutes their conversation was centered around the fact that they haven’t worked out enough. There were comments about slacking off on working out or skipping workouts, etc. The topic also centered around food. How much someone had overeaten, how many calories were in a certain food, how some had cut out sugar and what they substituted or made that was sugar-free, what foods are good to eat because they were low in calories, etc.
Being overweight most of my life this has always been a pet peeve of mine. Anytime I am around someone thinner than I am and they carry on about their weight, or their eating habits, or their exercise habits, etc. it has bothered me. This is the part that is hard to understand for people who aren’t overweight or never have been. But this is how it is viewed by someone in my position. (Hang on – we’re taking a trip inside my head which can be a very scary place to be!) 🙂 The thought process when Person A (who is much smaller and often fit, not overweight at all) is in the presence of Person B (who is overweight like myself) and they talk about how much weight they need to lose, how they need to work out, how they eat too much, etc. goes like this….Person B hears what Person A says but it is magnified 100 times in Person B’s head. In my case – if someone who is fit says they need to lose weight, my thought instantly is “Well if she needs to lose weight and she is already “x” pounds less than I am, then I definitely need to lose weight! If being “x” pounds is overweight then that means if I am “xx” pounds I am massively overweight. If this opinion is voiced out loud it is usually followed up by Person A saying something to the effect of, “Oh you’re not fat. I’m the one that’s fat.” Hmmmm…..does this seem logical to you? Let’s put this where we can understand….which of the following lines is longer? ____ or ________________? Clearly the 2nd one, correct? Well if you draw line 1 and someone says that’s too long, you’re definitely not going to draw line 2 are you? Because that has to be too long if the first one is. Same with talking about weight. If you are “x” pounds and say you are overweight, you are automatically saying anyone over “x” pounds is overweight. You are categorizing them by your self-perspective. The same applies to the other scenarios as well.
So, when I am surrounded by these women saying they need to work out, how many calories to eat, etc. my first reaction is to attack myself. Well, if they are “x” pounds and they aren’t working out then since I am “xx” pounds I need to be working out more. If they are watching “x” calories then I need to watch “xx” calories. If they cut out all sugar, I need to cut out all sugar and carbs and anything else that could lead to weight gain if I consume it. In my head it is instantly magnified to account for how much bigger I am than they are.
Naturally this got to me. I didn’t want to say anything to the ladies talking about it b/c then you get the “oh you don’t need to ‘fill in the blank here’ – you’re fine the way you are!” comment. So instead I messaged a friend and vented a bit. Well today this friend and I had a talk about perspective. They pointed out that:
1. I should not compare myself to others. Everyone is made differently and it’s just not possible to compare to others. Everyone has a different body structure, different metabolism, etc. Yes I understand this but sometimes it’s hard to get your head and heart to agree on something.
2. It boils down to accountability. If these women missed their workout, ate something they shouldn’t have, etc. and they voice it out loud, its not voicing the opinion of what they think and thereby grouping everyone larger into a worse category (as I always magnified it to be). They may be voicing it out loud – in a way admitting to others – to hold themselves accountable. If they don’t say it out loud and admit it then they may blow it off. Yet when they do voice it and admit it they are confronting it and therefore holding themselves accountable. We all know its much easier to hold yourself accountable if you have others to hold you accountable as well. To be honest, that is another reason why I started this blog. If I announce it to the world (so to speak) then I have to hold myself accountable to it. And for those of you reading, you now have the authority to hold me accountable to it as well.
And that’s where it all clicked. That’s where it all changed my perspective. That’s where I realized all this time I thought they were in the wrong for making me feel this way (whether intentional or unintentional) but I was actually the one in the wrong b/c I was looking at it the wrong way. I had to change my perspective. I see now that they don’t mean any harm by it (although I never thought they meant harm by it intentionally just to clarify. Even though it hurt it’s never a direct accusation in these instances). I just could not understand how they could not see it my way. I couldn’t see why they didn’t understand. Funny thing is I was so upset at the fact that they couldn’t see my point of view that I never tried to see theirs. Maybe it does all boil down to accountability. Or maybe they are just as insecure as I am. Maybe they are just holding themselves accountable by saying it out loud to others who will hold them accountable. Whatever the reason, I can now view it in a different way. I have a different attitude about it and see it from their point of view. I now understand because I now have a different perspective. And all this time I thought they had it wrong! What an eye-opener perspective can be!
For those of you that don’t know, the gym is not the friend of someone who is overweight. Shocking, I know! There is a very important reason for this. And it all leads back to comfort! But we can break it down further than that.
- The Stares. When you are overweight it can be scary going to the gym. Being large, rounded, pleasantly plumb, horizontally challenged (however you like to put it) when you walk into a gym you expect all eyes to be on you. Even if they aren’t you can still feel them on you. It is all in your head but it sure seems real. The irony of it is my eyes usually end up on everyone else expecting their eyes to be looking at me. So I guess that completely flips things, doesn’t it? By feeling like I’m the one being gawked at, I in turn end up being the gawker. Well…..that’s not entirely accurate. It’s more like scanning. I am just scanning the area to see if anyone is looking at me. I expect them to be looking at me in disgust, in judgement, in pity, in disbelief. Yet honestly, the looks aren’t there. The funny thing about gyms is if people are there it is usually for a purpose. Everyone is there for a reason and they are focused on what they are doing. Not on you. Whew! One challenge down.
- Fear of Looking Stupid! Overweight and regular gym attendance just don’t seem to go together. Generally speaking many people who are overweight don’t have much gym experience. Gyms have a lot of equipment. If you’re not familiar with it, then you can be overwhelmed! Worse yet, you already feel like everyone is staring at you and now you’re about to attempt to use gym equipment and you have no clue what you are doing. Sure – that sounds like a party waiting to happen! Well, entertainment anyway for everyone else there. The good news? Let’s refer back to what we found out in point #1 – everyone is involved in what they are doing. They likely won’t even notice your first attempt. In addition, thankfully, gyms have personal trainers and staff who know the equipment and are there to help you. I know, I know….refer back to point #1. You think they are staring and judging as well. This is their job though. They are there to help. They help people of all shapes and sizes. Why would you be any different? Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Fear of How You Look Exercising! We’ve all heard the “fat” people cliches….it felt like an earthquake when they ran; the fat was rippling like waves on the ocean; etc. So when you want to put in a little more effort the fear can grip you like you gripped that last doughnut you ate! If you run on the treadmill it will sound like a herd of elephants and those around you will have to hold on for dear life to keep from being bounced off of theirs. Your fat is going to flap around like a flag blowing in the wind. Guess what folks – refer back to point #1….everyone is too busy w/ what they are doing to notice you.
The truth of it is going to the gym can be very frightening for someone like me! Take today for instance. I went to the gym during my lunch. I saw several familiar faces that are usually there around the same time. Most there were women (and they were kicking butt might I add!). I knew those that were there would not pass judgement upon me. I felt safe. Then I went back after work and everything changed. This time there was only 1 other female (not overweight by the way – very toned) and several men with large muscles and well built (not the usual familiar faces). They were in the free weight area and I was on the treadmill. And I was intimidated. I felt unworthy to be there. I felt like I didn’t belong. I felt out of place. I was ready to be done and leave as quickly as possible. But if I gave up and left the only person I hurt is me. If I give in to my fear, I am the one who loses. I had to hush the voices in my head – the ones who have been with me most of my life – and realize I was the one making myself feel that way. It wasn’t them that was looking down on me and insulting me. No, I was doing that to myself! That can be hard to face. The bullies aren’t always on the outside. They are often on the inside as well.
Yes, going to the gym can be very frightening. But it can also be worth it. You see, every step I take on the treadmill, every weight I lift, every moment of my effort at the gym is worth it because I am making progress. Progress I have never made before. Progress I could be missing out on. Is it scary? Yes! Is it worth it? Yes! I leave feeling better, more energized, and accomplished. When I complete a workout and I leave for once the bullies in my head are silenced. They are silenced by the pride I feel for having done this. To gym, or not to gym. That is the question. And for me the answer is simple – hi ho, hi ho, it’s to the gym I go…..