Picture it, you’re walking out of the YMCA with someone. While you are a member of a gym, you weren’t even there to work out. You were there to support an event. Yet as you walk to your vehicle, a car drives by. A passenger yells out their window, “I think you need to work out a lot more!” This person has just judged you on what they saw in a brief few seconds. But let me share what they didn’t see.
- You have already lost 40 lbs. (give or take).
- You are more active than you have been in as long as you can remember.
- Your muscles are growing.
- Your body is shrinking.
- The other night you ran for the first time in years. You didn’t even realize you could until you tried.
- You’re over halfway through meeting a challenge of working out 100 times in 6 months.
- You are able to consistently up your weight used when working out surprising yourself on how strong you really are.
- You are not lazy as you used to be. You now want to be doing things instead of lounging around.
- You are eating healthier than you have in years.
- You are starting to realize you really are worth it.
There are many more truths this person does not see. When it comes down to it, what this person said doesn’t matter. This person passed through your life in approximately 5 seconds. Is that a person worth listening to? Is that a person worth believing? Is it worth putting everything you know aside to believe what this one person said? No! The only person you have to answer to 24 hours a day is yourself. So stand tall, stand firm, and hold tight to what you know is true. Listen to yourself (those positive voices, not the negative ones), not the strangers who know nothing about you.
I was talking to a friend recently about losing weight. I said “You don’t understand what this means to me”. Their response was, “You are right that I don’t understand what it means. What does it mean?” The problem was, I wasn’t sure how to explain it.
Over the past few days I have been mulling this around in my head, trying to find the words to describe it. There is one word that keeps resurfacing in my head – Freedom. This is one of the most difficult things I have ever attempted to explain. It’s something you really can’t understand unless you experience it. Here’s my best attempt.
While this started out as a weight loss attempt, it has shifted to a journey to better health. That not only includes physically, but mentally as well. You’d be surprised at how much losing weight can affect the way you think – about yourself, about your eating habits, about everything really. A new world opens up to you. The impossible becomes possible. You see things in a different light. It’s empowering.
My body is moving in ways it hasn’t been able to in years. I have energy I haven’t felt as long as I can remember. I have a want to do things. Before it was do what I had to and then rest and relax (mostly just lounge around). I’m now pushing past that and doing more and sitting less. (Don’t tell anyone – but I was actually excited about getting out and mowing the lawn yesterday!) I actually want to be more active.
When you’re overweight, you can very easily get out of shape. You find it harder to maneuver in some ways. I had a moment just the other day at the gym where I walked between two pieces of equipment. Now, if you’re overweight, you may have experienced the “shimmy of shame” as I like to call it. You know the drill – you’re walking between two objects where other people just walk straight through. But you are unable to just walk right through. Either your hips are too wide, or your whole body is too wide. You have to turn sideways and side-step through. Sometimes sideways is just as confining as well, so you have to find another way. Well this time, I just walked right through. It was still tight mind you. But I did it. No turn. No shimmy. Just walking. I felt my face light up. I felt freedom. Freedom to walk through the way I wanted.
As I lose weight and begin to rewire my thinking, I’m learning to love myself. I’m learning to be proud of who I am. I’m learning to search for the gifts I have that I’ve never seen before. I used to doubt myself constantly on what I could do. I’m learning how strong I truly am. Why have I never realized all this before? The negative thoughts took over. They filled my head. I now have freedom from those thoughts to make room to focus on the positive.
I used to be a slave to food. I ate for taste. I ate too much. I ate the wrong things. I’m relearning how to eat. I’m learning to listen to what my body needs. I’m learning what is good for me and what isn’t. I’m learning how my body reacts to certain foods. I’m learning I like foods I never thought I would. I’m learning healthy eating doesn’t have to be tasteless and bland. I’m learning to enjoy natural sweetness. I’m learning I have the freedom to make the choice of what I eat and drink, and how much I eat and drink.
The truth is when trying to explain what this means to me, it’s hard to put into words. I’m not sure this writing is doing it any justice at all. But I hope it helps give you even the slightest glimpse into the freedom I am experiencing each and every day. With each new goal met, with each pound lost, with each weight and rep I can increase at the gym, with each new good choice I make on eating, comes freedom. The freedom for me to say “I CAN do this and I WILL do this. The freedom to say this is not the me I want to be. The freedom to look to the future and see a better me. The freedom of knowing I will get there no matter what anyone else says. I have a freedom I never knew existed. The freedom to believe. The freedom to believe, finally, in me!
Many of us have seen the movie Finding Nemo. And if you’ve seen it then you probably recognize when someone is singing, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming…” Well next time you think of giving up – on anything – I want you to remember this song, with a small tweak. “Just keep going, just keep going…”
Quitting is easy. Anyone, literally anyone, can be a quitter. It takes no effort, no skill, no planning, no muscle, no thought. It’s probably one of the easiest things in the world you can do.
I am quite skilled in quitting if you want me to be honest. I’ve quit more “diets” and workout plans than I’ve stuck to. I’ve quit jobs. I’ve quit friendships. I’ve quit trying when something hasn’t gone my way. I have a lot of experience in quitting. But I cannot call myself a quitter. Why you ask? Because this time I am not quitting.
The going is getting tough. I’ve lost quite a bit of weight, but I can tell it’s not coming off as quickly anymore. I could quit. But I won’t. Revamping my eating habits is very difficult. I’ve admitted it before and I will admit it again – I LOVE food. It’s hard to stay away from what I really want and sacrifice for what I should be eating. I could quit. But I won’t. There are days when I just don’t want to go to the gym. I don’t feel that great, I’m tired, I just don’t feel like putting in that much work. I could quit. But I won’t.
If I’m going to be bluntly honest, I have considered giving up on this blog. Not many people are reading it. My last post only got 1 view. I wondered why I’m even doing it. The reason is because someone out there is in my shoes. Someone has tried to improve themselves and has quit so many times before. Someone out there doesn’t have anyone to support and encourage them. Someone out there doesn’t have the answers and has no one to ask. Someone out there is looking, searching for someone who understands – so that they no longer feel alone on this journey. That someone is me. I could quit. But I won’t.
My point is simple – Just.Keep.Going. No matter how tough it gets. No matter how tired you are. No matter how much you would love that donut so much more than that banana. You can rest. You can pause. You can even have a siesta if you choose. But whatever you do – just keep going! Do not give up. You are the only person who can hold you back. Don’t let that happen. “Just keep going, just keep going, just keep going…”
When you’re involved in weight loss, one thought usually tends to come up quite frequently – food. If you’re going to change your life, you more often than not change your eating patterns – you eat less, you eat better, you count calories, you diet, or try any combination of all of the above. And while making those changes, hunger can be a huge part of your life. If you cut back too much or make the wrong choices, you may have to suffer from hunger. That’s the bad hunger. But that’s not what I’m focusing on with this post. I want to focus on the good hunger.
The good hunger is the hunger inside. All the motivation in the world will not drive you. It takes determination – the hunger deep down within. You have to WANT it! As I’m typing this I’m watching Survivor and they just showed a great example of that. Cirie first came on the show a few years ago as a self-proclaimed couch potato. They were doing a challenge in the water on tonight’s show and Cirie was struggling. After swimming from one station to the next, she couldn’t climb up onto the dock. So a fellow teammate came out and helped her up. The next leg of the obstacle was a balance beam over the water. She tried, and fell. She said those fateful, harmful words, “I can’t do it”. Those words will change your actions. Even though the challenge was over (the other team won) Cirie didn’t give up. Her whole team swam back to meet her and help her. They encouraged her. The told her to believe. They rallied around her. And she made it successfully across, then jumped into the water to swim the final leg, and finished the course. She didn’t have to – she wanted to. She had the want – the hunger.
Food hunger doesn’t matter. It may drive you, but it’s often going to drive you in the wrong direction – right to food. Usually the wrong foods. If you truly want to change – if you truly want to make a difference in your life – if you want to lose weight like you’ve said so many times before but never followed through – its going to take hunger. It’s going to make motivation, determination, and the want to do it.
See where I’m going here? Do you have that want? Do you have that hunger? If so, let it fuel you. Let it drive you. Dig deep. Let it change you. The best is yet to come!
Are you driven by motivation or determination? At first you may think they are one in the same. Or you may think they both drive you in the same way. Perhaps you think it doesn’t really matter which one drives you as long as it does. Do you think along these lines? I sure did. Let’s take a closer look.
Motivation is defined as: “the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way”. Another way to define it is: “the general desire or willingness of someone to do something”.
Determination is defined as: “firmness of purpose; resoluteness”.
Do you get it now? Motivation drives you. It’s the reason why you do what you do. It’s not the action itself. But it’s determination that keeps you going and puts that motivation into action. See, all the motivation in the world will not change a thing. If you don’t follow through, if you don’t act on it, then that motivation will not change a thing. I learned that the hard way today. But it was a lesson worth learning.
This past weekend, I slacked off – BIG TIME. I went back to eating what I want, drinking soda instead of water and unsweetened tea, and didn’t work out. And I felt miserable in more ways than one. I realized that wasn’t what I wanted. What I really wanted was change. What I wanted was to feel good again and not aching everywhere. What I wanted was for the outside of my body to match what I feel like on the inside. I convinced myself that because I took a few days to “get my head straight” that I was ready to get back on the wagon and hit it hard!
I’ve gotten back on track with eating, and I’ve been working out. I even had a friend join me (working out is so much easier when you don’t have to do it alone!). I went in to the gym today determined that there would be no more whining, or complaining, and I’d be hitting it 100% full throttle from beginning to end. As time and the workout went on, I felt a struggle within. It only intensified as the workout went on.
What I didn’t understand was why, if I had so much motivation going into this workout, was I having such a difficult time? Why did I feel like I did every other time? Why was I ready to slack off and not put forth the full 100%?
At the end of the workout, a new challenge came up. Planks. Not a big deal for some. I have done(ish) by myself. But this was doing it in front of someone knowing I’m not that great. After a challenge of fighting through the rest of the workout, I wasn’t ready mentally or physically (or so I thought). With gentle prodding I was encouraged to try. The more encouragement from outside, the more the struggle inside. And then I reached it – my breaking point. It was fight or flight time. Every ounce of my being wanted to run. I felt the tears building inside. I was telling myself I couldn’t do this. I was ready to give up. I felt weak. I felt discouraged. I felt worthless. I felt like I would never succeed. I felt I would never beat this. Yet, when push came to shove – I set my feet, I planted my arms and up I went into a plank. I held it for a bit. Then down I went. But when this friend said one more – I followed through with a lot less about it this time and acted a lot quicker.
After the workout I started to beat myself up for the struggle, the wanting to quit, wanting to cry – the whole range of emotions. I still didn’t understand why this all happened. I had the motivation. What went wrong? I lead with motivation, not determination. But in the end, I found it.
I wish I could say it was a once and done moment, but it’s not. There will be more moments like this. There will be more struggles to face. There will be more moments of doubt, and more fight or flight challenges. This was just the first of many hurdles to come. But guess what? I know I cleared that first hurdle. Which means I can clear others that come my way. I just have to stay determined with each hurdle I face!
Support. Sounds pretty good, right? Sure it does. But what we fail to realize is that as wonderful as support from others can be, it can be a handicap as well. Stay with me here. Let’s explore the different sides of support.
- The Enabler – this can be one of the sneakiest ones because they are smooth. They are smooth because they seem like they have your best interest at heart, but they will help you stay off track. Many are well meaning of course. They don’t intentionally derail you, but they will keep you from staying the course. While trying to be supportive, they tell you it’s okay to cheat once, and once more, and once more and so on. It’s often those who you are closest to, so you let them sway you.
- The Temporary Supporter – you start out and they are extremely supportive. They offer encouragement, they follow up on you, they may join you for a workout or two. But somewhere along the way they stop. It can be a huge boost, but then what when they start slacking on following up with you? Do you lose the motivation to keep going as they lose the motivation in encouraging you? If they don’t follow up on you and don’t help you out, will you stop putting the effort in?
- The Buddy – this is the one you need on your side. They will put your arm around you and lead you down the path. They will join you for workouts. They will follow up on you (continuously, not temporarily). They may help you with workouts. They may guide you in doing it right if you are unsure what you are doing. Most importantly, they will not give up on you.
The one thing to keep in mind though – no matter what type of support you have – is that you have to do this FOR YOU and not for anyone else. It is always easier with the right type of support – I’m not gonna lie. But the wrong support can be just as difficult and can lead you astray just as easily as no support. Sometimes when we have someone cheering us on its easy for us to lose our way and to start doing it for them rather than for us. That can be quite unhealthy too. If you’re seeking praise instead of seeking to be proud of yourself, you’re barking up the wrong tree. Keep your focus. Find the support that matters. Find the support that will keep their arm around you leading you forward, while kicking you in the rear at the same time keeping you in line when you need it.
So this is where I get real. This is where I lay it all out there. My goals when starting this blog were: 1. Hope I reach someone going through the same thing as me so that they know they’re not alone. There are those out there who understand. 2. Hope I can shed some light to those who have never gone through this so that they may even in the smallest way understand what someone like me goes through on this journey. So here’s a glimpse into the me in this step of my journey (keep in mind as I venture through this journey there will be new insights at each step). The following are in no certain order.
- I am excited. I’m ready to see what will come next. I’m seeing progress. I hope to see more – much more!
- I am still doubtful. Even though I see progress, I have failed so many times before. The negativity tries to hold me back by trying to show me I will fail again and trying to convince me not to believe it can happen.
- I already notice changes. Some movements are easier now. I have more energy. I am more willing to get up and move around and do things. I want to be moving more. I walk a little taller and a little quicker, with more purpose.
- I don’t feel “fat”. I never have. That’s the clincher. Pictures show it. Some movements have made it obvious. But I honestly have never felt fat. Seeing a picture of myself never matches what I feel like. It’s like a slap in the face every time.
- I have a constant battle in my mind. The negativity often tries to take over. It tries to convince me I am not worth it and will fail – regarding working out, eating right, having confidence in myself, etc.
- I am scared. As excited as I am to be on this journey – I am scared as well. I am afraid I will fail. I’m afraid I’m not gonna look good when I lose a lot of weight (look older, excess skin, etc.). I’m afraid of the confidence going to my head. I’m afraid of the positive attention becoming my new addiction.
These are just a few things in my mind at any given time. This journey is NOT easy. Don’t let anyone tell you it is. You need will power. You need determination. You need drive. You have to be ready to change your exercise level, your eating habits, and perhaps most of all, your mind. You need to be ready for the challenges you will face. You need a support system. You need to rely on yourself to lift you up, not constantly turning to others to do that for you. You need to find the dig deep within yourself, not letting high-fives or positive compliments or a workout buddy to keep pushing you on. The push needs to come within for you to truly change. This road will not be easy. It’s not meant to be. It’s meant to be life-changing. If you’re not doing it for yourself, you’re likely to lose motivation. You’re likely to give up. You’re likely to let distractions steer you from your plan. But you can do it!
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!