Thursday, May 4, 2017

Series Post #3: A Slippery Slope

*- This series is based off both my husband and I's personal experiences of having lost 225 and 190 lbs respectively and how what you go through physically can also affect you mentally. Your experience may be very different.  As a reminder, I am not a health professional. All physical and mental health issues should be discussed with a medical professional before making any changes to your current routine.

If you haven't read the first two posts in the series, you can read them here and here.

When people finally do notice your weight loss, you will inevitably get the same question over and over..."what's your secret?"  Be prepared for the look of disappointment when you tell people "diet and exercise" if that's how you lost it because that's not what they want to hear.  They want to hear you took a pill or you did some fad diet (without considering if it's really for them or not) or basically anything other than what we know it takes to lose weight.  I get it, I used to be there for many years.  Even when you're told diet and exercise, you tend to think others have some kind of superhuman willpower that you aren't capable of.  It all comes from a place of self doubt and lack of confidence.  You may also get people who are serious about weight loss pull you aside and really talk to you further and want specifics.  You've inspired them and that's a wonderful thing!  Because I've always said even if I never lose another pound, if sharing my story has helped one person it was worth it.  I encourage you to have that initial talk if you are approached and end it by telling them you're there for them if they need a little support because it will get rough and that's when they need it most.  Then leave it at that.  You may be tempted to "check in" on them and while your heart is in the right place, if they never successfully implemented their program or started and fell hard off the wagon, a check in from you could make them feel worse.  The Mr has witnessed this a few times with co-workers who came to him for advice and now avoid him like the plague.

When people are always coming to you for weight loss questions or advice, it's very easy to feel like you're a health and fitness expert.  You may even be tempted to run up to a person who reminds you of your old self and tell them how you used to be like them and you can help them.  Don't do that, however well intentioned.  I have seen people lose large amounts of weight and then go through some pretty ugly transformations.  I have seen people lose anywhere from 80-200 lbs and suddenly think they have the right to judge people who are the same size they used to be.  I've seen them write mean hearted and hurtful things that just months or a year earlier, they were complaining about those same things being said to or about them.  I thank them for that hypocritical viewpoint though because I swore at that moment that I would never lose my empathy for this journey and for others no matter what stage they were in theirs.  Being successful in any way at weight loss screws with your head in all kinds of ways.  But if you lose your empathy for others in your former situation because you think your crap doesn't stink now, you are going to get bitten HARD by karma.

I have seen those same people who bragged on themselves, put others down and acted high and mighty fall hard.  Several gained back not just everything they lost but more and we're talking hundreds of pounds.  I have gone through other starts in my life where I've lost and regained but I've never approached it from a place of feeling like I was better than someone else or trying to force my way of doing things on someone else because I know how crappy that feels.  So if you take one thing from this as you approach or are in your journey, take the word empathy with you.

Remember what it was like to not be as mobile as you'd like.  How you couldn't shop where you wanted.  How you had to stalk restaurants online to see if you'd fit before committing to a social engagement.  Turning down social engagements because you didn't feel like getting the up and down side glances.  Think of all of the worst things about being at your heaviest and never forget how they made you feel.  When you see a morbidly obese person, smile at them with kind eyes.  I assure you that they are not used to being acknowledged and when they are it can be rare it's with kindness.  At the core of this journey should be kindness not just to others but to yourself.

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  1. I'm liking this series. These are lots of things that you've said/comment about over the years, but all in one place.

  2. LOVE this series. Empathy is the word of the year.....

  3. I have lost a significant amount of weight, and I have had people come up to me and ask me what my "secret" was. I always hesitated mainly because it seemed so cliche to say "diet and exercise." Truthfully when I started my journey, I detested the word "diet" and decided I was changing my lifestyle because this was something I was going to do the rest of my life. Diet to me sounds short term and something that ends when you reach your goal. For me, it was not so much about reaching a goal but really changing all the bad habits I had. I also felt uncomfortable many times because it felt like they almost wanted me to say I had some kind of weight loss surgery (can you blame them when you see it on television so much?). Again I was uncomfortable only because I didn't do weight loss surgery or diets or weight loss programs, etc. My only wish is that everyone can find the one thing that will motivate a healthier lifestyle because I found mine and somehow made things click for me.

  4. I agree 100% that everyone needs to find their own program of what truly works for them. I have a group I see on Saturday mornings and each person has their own thing that they do. We share that with the group, and anyone is free to try whatever seems like it would be a good fit. But it's never presented as "this is the only way and you must follow these rules". The whole mantra is "take what you like, and leave the rest." And "don't give advice unless you're asked for it." Those two concepts feel like safety nets to me. It means I'm free to try different ways of eating healthier and exercising for my fitness level, without the pressure of trying to do it someone else's way and feeling like a failure if it doesn't work. So I applaud you greatly for putting that message out there to remember where you were at the beginning of your own journey and how you needed time to get things mentally in order before taking that first step, and how you didn't need anyone pushing their way on you, even if it was coming from a good place.


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