Tonight, I'm reflecting on the last several months of my life, so forgive me if this post wanders a bit, but recently I've stumbled upon something which I wanted to share with those of you who seemingly lack the motivation to lose weight, as I see a recent influx of posts by those whose motivation has deserted them. As someone who has found success losing a lot of weight, but needs and wants to reach near-historic numbers, I hope you continue reading this...
If you told me a year ago that I could go nearly a year without McDonalds, Burger King, or Pizza Hut, AND not exceed 2500 calories in any day, I would've bet my life savings. And lost..
My story, which is unique but no more or less important than any of yours, is far too long to replay here, but suffice to say, I've always been fat. I never though twice about losing weight, because I always thought it was genetic, as my mom was fat, underwent stomach stapling, but has never approached a "normal" weight. It wasn't until my late college days that I thought about trying to lose weight - I tried dieting and it worked for a while, but it wouldn't last, so I resigned myself to whatever fate awaited me. Through the years, I slowly put on more and more, not really concerning myself with any consequences. What I could never show to the world was the pain I hid. Not so much the physical pain, but the pain of being ostracized for not being thin, or for that matter, anything close to thin. Never being able to get anyone to go to the proms or balls, not being able to make a lot of friends, because who has time for fat guys? Never fitting in anywhere in life, because looks were everything growing up...and still are today. Trying to shut out the embarrassment of being called every euphemism for "fat" in the universe, some times within clear earshot of others. Having to go through the rigors of having to spend extra money on clothes at a "big and tall" store, then dishing out extra cash on alterations, having to shorten the legs on all my jeans. Oh, and all this was on top of all the things we all we through as kids and teenagers....acne, school, and growing up in general.
Simply put, food was my best friend, because I coudn't really find anyone else that made me happy. It was my girlfriend, my best friend, my shoulder to cry on, and something that wouldn't talk back to me. After a while, I figured that if I was gong to be addicted to something, food was better than drugs. Little did I realize that ANY addiction is unhealthy...
So I fast forward to 2010. For the sake of full disclosure, I've been suffering from depression since 2007 for reasons I will not fully get into here. But let's just say that there was a time where I didn't think I'd be around for life's curtain call, if you know what I mean. Last year, I began to gain weigh as I was feeling a little better about life in general. In the spring of 2009, I was around 320, and by early fall, 350. but I still didn't get the message. In January 2010, I stepped on a scale in my doctor's office thinking I might've gained a few pounds over the holidays. What I got back chilled me to the core of my being...385 pounds. How could this happen? Where is the weight going? I felt like a balloon being filled with water, except I'm not breaking....yet. Funny thing was, except for a little high blood pressure, I was otherwise healthy, even though I was a pack-a-day smoker, and had been for 30 years. Add that to the fact that there's a history of heart disease in my family, and had an aunt pass away from an brain aneurysm at 36, and suddenly I'm not feeling so bulletproof. It was a tough winter, physically AND emotionally...
Slowly, my mind was trying to put together the pieces. My body was screaming at me, trying to tell me to chill out with the food. I was huffing and puffing all the time. Walking 50 feet became a chore. I sweat profusely with even the slightest physical activity. The nadir of that became evident when I finished grocery shopping one day in February...as I put my groceries on the counter, I was sweating so much, the cashier asked me if I was alright and if she needed to call an ambulance. I was embarrassed on the outside, but mortified on the inside. I thought "so this is what I've become? This is what I have to look forward to?" A dark day indeed.
Fast forward to March 24th. As I do most every week, I start making out my grocery list, so I don't have to spend a lot of time shopping, and can figure my budget and what fits and what doesn't. As I'm in the midst of writing down my favorites, like Breyer's Ice Cream, and Kraft Mac 'n Cheese, and so on, suddenly, for reasons I still can't quite fathom, I stop writing. After a few seconds suspended in a trance-like state, what I can only describe as an epiphany washes over me. Like a Ouija board, my pencil starts erasing bad foods and starts substituting good ones instead. And during this time, it feels like something is controlling my pencil, but it is not me. By the time I was finished, I had a brand new list, and stared at it in awe. That night, I went to the grocery store, had probably the most fun ever shopping for reasons that fellow shoppers couldn't determine by the sheer joy I was awash in. And so began my diet.
Eight days later, on April 1st, I was having a cigarette watching TV late in the afternoon, when I realized that I was down to my last three cigarette, and probably needed to go get some more within a couple of hours. But I stared at the nearly-empty pack, then at my lighter, then at my ashtray, and it came to me...if I was going to lose weight and be healthier, why not double down? So at exactly 7pm that night, I took a very long drag from my last Niagara Menthol Light 100, looked at the slowly extinguishing embers, closed my eyes, wished for the best, and extinguished the butt. An hour later, I gathered my lighters and ashtrays (even the one in the car) put them in a plastic bag and put them in a drawer. And a funny thing happened....actually, two things. One, I didn't immediately gain weight, as you're supposed to do after quitting cold turkey. In fact, I kept losing. And two, I didn't have any withdrawal symptoms, which amazed me since with the exception of a three week period in 1987 when I fractured my leg and had to stay at my grandmother's house, I had been smoking since 1980. Not even an urge for another cigarette after smoking for 30 years...absolutely true. How do I explain it? I have no idea, but who am I to argue with success?
Fast forward to May. I'm recalling talking to my therapist about a goal in mind, as far as how much I waned to lose, back in May of this year. At 5'8" and fireplug-like, I thought 225 would be a good number to shoot at. But as the discussion wore on, I thought, hell, why not go all in....let's shoot for 150. But when I got home, I started to wonder if I was truly nuts. I haven't weighed a buck and a half since my doctor cut the umbilical cord, or so it seemed...
Finally, fast forward to today. Here I am, on November 10th typing this. And a funny thing has been happening. Yes, I'm thrilled that I've been able to stick to the diet, by and large without exercise, and thrilled literally to tears at having broken through the 300 pound mark for the first time in years (currently just under 293), and celebrating 222 days nicotine-free. I'm ecstatic that I can walk without pain and without huffing and puffing. I still sweat, but not the profuse kind that once made me look like someone threw a glass of water in my face. I'm elated about the flexibility I now have, the newly-discovered pep in my step, and the clothes that used to fit me years ago are now welcoming me back. I'm humbled to be able to look into a mirror and actually see the metamorphosis happening to my body. It's tangible - I can see it and I can feel it. The face is getting thinner, along with my neck and my legs. And yes, my car's suspension and I are back on speaking terms. All the things that one hopes for as a result of weight loss are happening, albeit slowly. I can only imagine what the final results will be, and wish at least several times per day that my goal date of March 24th 2012 (exactly 2 years on the diet) were here and now, but anything worthwhile is a marathon, not a sprint, and can be savored that much more at its final fruition.
As I speak, as it were, I'm about 7½ months into this amazing journey, and have shed more than 91 pounds to date. I will call my own number and admit how exhilarating that looks....and feels. My goal is to get to 150 pounds, which is a loss of 234 from my starting weight, and am on schedule to get there by 3/24/12. And to accomplish this without the crutch of a fad diet, or unproven supplements, I feel, will be nothing short of miraculous. But as I talk with my therapist, a truism has reared its head...
Being overweight has always retarded my self-confidence and given me a poor self-image. I can't love others if I can't love myself. So when I look at the issues I have, and go backwards from there, I end up in the same place every time...I've hated myself and have hated my life because of my weight. My weight has cost me many opportunities, and far too much happiness that I deserved, and curse myself for not having the maturity to realize this sooner. But it's not too late for me...
For those of you who are fretting over a few pounds here and there, I cannot identify with you, so I do not give you advice. The same goes for posts involving strictly female issues; as a male, it's impossible to identify with such concerns, so I pass on those. For the young among you, who fear that being a few pounds overweight is somehow a major issue in your development, I cannot identify with you, since you'll likely never know what it's like to be nearly 250 pounds overweight and have a BMI pushing 60. I only hope that your individual situations don't turn bulimic and/or anorexic, as that is the polar opposite of what I and others like me are going through, but it just as life-altering. In fact, on the surface, I really can't identify with most of you, for various reasons. Most everyone here is female, I am not. You challenge each other to lose in months what I aim to lose in weeks. A few of you put up alarming posts if you have one bad day; I do not and cannot, because my self-discipline is so honed and battle-hardened, that I know that one bad day cannot and will not displace me from my goal. This is not to criticize; it is to illuminate the path I travel to get to that place in my life that I envision...reaching a "normal" weight. I must get there and I will get there, no matter the cost, no matter the sacrifice, no matter how much armor I must cast away in pursuit...there simply is no other choice for me.
In my opinion, being overweight coincides with a poor self-image, and the two feed off of each other, creating a vicious circle, which seems almost impossible to break. So I can only offer this in trying to conclude this long-winded post...if you need any...ANY....motivation for losing weight, I can tell you from first-hand experience that when you lose weight, your self-confidence goes up, and vice-versa. When you see the success, you feel better about yourself, you become that much more determined to lose more weight. Suddenly, the two concepts have turned into an exercise in self-manifestation.
Losing weight isn't just about fitting into that pair of jeans sitting in your closet, because you think it makes you look good. It isn't about pleasing your significant other, because he/she should like you for who and what you are, not what you look like. Those are fairly superficial things which don't address what's underneath the surface. It's about something much, much deeper. You need to turn yourself inside out and realize what makes you unhappy, find a way to fix it, and start loving life again. For me, and I expect most of you here, what's holding you back is extra weight and the inability to make the sacrifices needed to lose it. We see how far away the finish line is, but are afraid to run the race. We can see the brass ring, but can't take the journey to grab it. We can eye the prize all we want, but who among us has what it takes to take that journey? Look at Frodo in "Lord of the Rings" - that's who I identify with.
For me, it's been ridiculously easy to lose the weight. Too easy at times, I fear, but anything worthwhile takes time. I'm giving myself two years to lose the weight - and at this rate, I'm on pace to get there, but if I need a few extra weeks, so be it. I've simplified the process for me: 1. Consume less than I burn, 2. When I get hungry, take those energies and put them into something else, 3. Repeat as necessary. It's no accident and it's no rocket science; I'm living proof! No eDiets, no Weight Watchers, no Slim-Fast, no Hydroxicut, Xantrex 3, no paid C-list celebs shilling for a few bucks, no Pilates, no Jillian Michaels, no Curves, no nothing...just me and my will to succeed...and survive. Just me, face to face with my rotund frame, and with all of society wanting me to 2-for-$20 this and dollar menu that. Society wants you to eat all the time, grow happy and fat, and take a pill to lose all the weight you tossed on, and at the end of the day, read the news and find out that the government is pissed off because we're too fat. Duh! Welcome to the concentric circle of weight-gain Hell we live in. When you pack on the pounds, you make a deal with the devil without reading the contract. On March 24th, I purposely breached that contract. I refused to dance with that devil anymore; screw that, I've got my own gig now.
You seek motivation, and get it here at times, but you can't be here 24/7, so it's inevitable that you'll slip up at times. Many of you come here seeking a voice in the wilderness, propping you up because those around you cannot or will not fathom what you're thinking and feeling. I offer up these posts to you, who seek motivation, from someone who is rising above the madness of societal mixed messages and losing the weight. If I could bottle my success, I'd give it you free, that's how badly I want to see you all succeed. But I receive very little feedback to my attempts to motivate. Such is the way of the world. For those of you who have acknowledged my posts, your responses are my validation. If you haven't, well, either I'm boring you to death (very likely), or I'm not connecting like I hope to. In any case, this is one of the very few things in my life that I have found myself to be any good at, so I try to be a good citizen and pass the torch. If you want it bad enough, I'll gladly pass it to you....just let me know. I'd much rather see you feed off my success, and not feed off a half-gallon of Ben and Jerry's, y'know?
"You can't love others if you can't love yourself."
"Learn to love things other than food."
Those have become almost mantras for me, two of several I live by these days. And each day is one more day closer to my goal. I join the 100-pound-lost club on or around December 2nd and how cool is that?. And these days, each day seems a little bit better than the last, because I've found the real reason for me to lose weight, and it has nothing to do with physical appearances, or finding love, or fitting in; it's more basal that that. it has everything to do with self-image and self-confidence. If you can ever get to the point where you can go for what you want not for tangible reasons (like clothes, or friends, or relationships), but for intangible ones (like self-confidence, self-image, self-discipline - notice that "self' is the common thread here), and be successful doing it, anything...and everything...is possible...
Reason: Stickied 2010-11-15
Wow, I'm impressed! That's a hell of an achievement! Well done! Hats off to you!
All the best
you will have to take some exercise along with light food and great motivation certainly lose your weight.
Your post has such a familiar feel to it. It really is about motivation. I saw a film once, Cracks, where a teacher asked a group of students what was the most important thing in life and her answer was desire because with it you can achieve anything you want. I think the premise was that to get something, first you desire it, and if you desire it enough, you go after it enough to get it. I think that's a stretch for some goals, but not for realistic ones, and getting to a healthy weight is certainly a realistic goal.
I was reading through responses to this thread and someone else said something that resonated with me (paraphrasing) and that was that you had to want your goal more than enjoying food.
I am on a roll right now, three weeks in. I lost about 80 pounds several years ago, kept it off a few years, but slowly gained back 60 :( I've lost 12 of that 60, leaving me with 48 to go to get back where I was. I wasn't at my final goal, but I felt fantastic, and looked pretty dang good for a mom in her mid 40's! So I feel motivated now, but want to keep it that way. I wasn't on CC back then, so I'm hoping this helps on the journey to take it off, then the continued journey of keeping it off.
I love your writing. When I need a boost I'm going to troll your posts.
That's so true!
For the last 6 years, since I was ill with a heart condition and felt I had to give up working as a decorator as it was quite physically demanding, the pounds have gradually piled on - and looking back I'm sure a lot was because I felt ashamed of having "given up" on myself again, or so it felt then....I'm just at the end (in 2 weeks) of a soft furnishing course, which is obviously also interiors-oriented, and it's been a huge journey, with all of this year being a big struggle with my desire to quit vs a more recent determination to finish NO MATTER WHAT.....a struggle between I think a fear of failure and also a fear of success.
.......which is I'm sure what's behind my weight battle. Having come through the course struggle and feeling seriously pumped and achieved about it, suddenly the weight feels like just another job....something I need to get on with...like the soft furnishing coursework was. I still linger fondly at the sweetie counter, but that's all I'm doing at the moment ----long may it last!....and the best thing is, I feel GREAT!
GO GIRLS (and boys!) on here! YOu can do it but you must believe you're worth it, and you deserve it, and you're worth treating with love, care and gentleness. No punishing yourselves people!
Very best of luck to all of you...motivational reading helped for me....especially "There's always a way" by an ex Mr America (sorry his name escapes me) - SO upbeat, and the description of his struggles (with failure, difficult life events like car crashes, business failures etc) and how he re-found his determination to keep on NO MATTER WHAT....totally inspiring!
Must stop, don't want to bore anyone!
Take care all of you
Hiya! Just wanted to say, nothing's ever hopeless....don't beat yourself up, just start again tomorrow!
What a wonderful, honest, inspiring post. Thank you for sharing. All the best to you!
I've been doing fine for six months. But, for the past one, I've been wavering. The scale hasn't moved and I've lost interest in weighing, measuring, and documenting every morsel that goes into my mouth. I don't want to retreat and regain. I was looking for inspiration and motivation today. Your words challenged me to march on and accomplish my goal. Thanks for taking the time to write it all out. I will reflect on your journey today and hopefully it'll help me make wise food choices.
Please don't give up!!! Please reflect on your journey so far. Try and fell how good it feels. I will be interested to keep in touch.
Thanks Janet. I went ahead and worked out this morning and documented my food intake. I've lost 25 lbs since Jan 1st. I look better, I feel better, but I still have a lot to lose. I appreciate your taking the time to email me. It does help...Really, it does.
Okay too much motivation...