Everyone wants to know the secret to losing weight. There’s an entire industry built up around this and people are lining up to sell their “no-fail 100% guaranteed secret” and there more people lining up to hand them their money for it. I’ll give you my secret for free: you deserve this. That’s pretty much my secret. You need to look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that not only do you deserve this, but you can do this without paying someone else to do it for you. It will not always be easy or fun, but it is completely within your power and more importantly, you deserve it.
If you haven’t bugged out on my by now, let me explain that to you. Self-worth, like love, begins in the mind. I’m sure most of you have heard of, if not seen, the Jack Black- Gwyneth Paltrow movie Shallow Hal, about a player who falls for a fat girl not realizing she’s fat, because Tony Robbins put a “spell” on him and he can only see inner beauty. He spends most of the movie seeing only the beautiful Gwyneth and seeing other “beautiful” girls as ugly because he is seeing their hearts and souls. It’s a goofy movie about what real beauty is, and too often when we look at ourselves in the mirror, we do not see the true beauty and worth: we see the deformed caricature we think we are. Let me say that again because if you take nothing else from this post, you need to take this: YOU ARE INVALUABLE. You are a treasure and you need to treat yourself like the work of art that you are.
Some of you know that I am a pet parent: my dog and cats pretty much run my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way, and as such, I pay a lot of attention to pet-related stuff. One of my favorite bumper stickers says: “One day I want to be the person my dog thinks I am.” Think about it: when I come home at the end of the day, my dog thinks it’s the greatest thing ever. All he wants is to spend time with me (mainly so I can throw the ball for him, but whatever!) Your dog (or pet) thinks you are the greatest person ever- why don’t you think that about yourself? Because you’re modest? Because you’re a realist? Because you know that you’re lazy, fat, and too dumb to lose weight or figure out how to get to the gym on a regular basis and have no self-control when it comes to junk food? Okay, if any of that sounded familiar to you, you are the ones that need this message the most!
Too many people tell that to themselves (whether they realize it or not) when they approach weight loss. They not only start with the negative frame of mind (“here we go again! Let’s see if I can make any headway this time!”), but they also have reservations (whether they realize it or not) about their success before they’ve even started:”I don’t know what makes me think this will work or if I’ll get any farther this time! I’ll never lose weight/ get healthy!” A lot of this negative self-talk comes from the outside, from unrealistic expectations, and from other people’s negativity. We hear it over and over again from the media, from family and friends and from strangers. ‘Really, how hard is it to eat a healthy diet? Duh!’ ‘ How tough can it be to get to the gym and work out on a regular basis? Hello!’ So, when we fail to reach standards set by the outside world, we automatically think there is something wrong with us, that in some way, we must be sub-par and defective.
What the world of the media does not see is individuality. The world of the media rarely scratches below the surface because the inside workings isn’t as glamorous or as slick as the media wants it to be; it can’t be packaged and labeled and sold in 10 seconds or less. If it doesn’t fit in a sound byte or a web video, forget it! It’s a loser! So what we see and internalize is not only not reality, it’s been “packaged” so it’s even more fake than we already think. It’s like the extreme super trainer let’s-lose-weight-super-quick shows: it’s an hour and fifty minutes of seeing them starve and work out and then it’s ten minutes of “ooooh! how wonderful!” and then it’s over. We don’t see the aftermath of them living in the real world, which doesn’t have fabulous gyms with trainers at their beck & call and 8 hours of free time so they can work out all hours of the day. It’s going to work and having to find a last minute babysitter because the kid has the flu and the dog needs to get to the groomer and we are out of groceries and toilet paper-again- and I have to work late because the project got screwed up and now I’m out of gas so I can’t even hit Wal-Mart to get the kid’s prescription! This is the world most of us live in, and it’s easy to see how your real true value gets lost in that jungle. When you look in the mirror, you see someone without enough time in the day; someone who has too much to do and never any time for themselves, because that would be selfish with all you’ve got to do for everyone else, including the dog. This is what makes you beautiful: because you ARE strong; because you do put other people before yourself; because you take the blame for things that didn’t get done when there isn’t enough time to do it all. This is what makes you invaluable- because getting to the gym and eating healthy comes at the end of the list with everything else reserved for “Me.”
I got another secret for you: when you do things for yourself, you are doing things for the others in your life. Here’s an example from my own life: when I weighed 438 lbs, got no sleep, was stressed out all the time and living on junk food, how much fun do you think I was for my dog? Do you think I had time to play with him, throw his ball, take him on play-dates, or just hold him on my lap and pet him? Oh, hell no!!! I wasn’t mean to him, but I was always too tired to play, too tired to take him to the dog park, and I always had a headache, so I was grumpy a lot, or I’d fall asleep if I sat down for five minutes and my back didn’t hurt, so there wasn’t a lot of petting and holding, and I was feeding him the same junk food I was eating!! By making time to go to the gym and get some exercise, I come home more relaxed and more energetic, and we spend quality time together. I can take him for a walk, because I can walk now, and we enjoy the time together outside. I can throw the ball without thinking of how tired I am, how much my back/ feet/ head hurts and when has he had enough so I can go inside? Instead of going back inside because I am tired, we go back in the house when he is worn out (but happy)! By taking the time for me, I make his life better and we both enjoy ourselves more.
“You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, & smarter than you think”~ Winnie the Pooh
So what does this have to do with weight loss? Actually a lot. When you treat weight loss / living healthy as a chore or a punishment, then you come to it with a negative “dragging your feet” mentality. When you think of it as a “fix” for what’s defective about you, then it becomes an “all or nothing” proposition. Remember the last time you learned something for fun or enjoyment? Maybe it was a new language for a trip you were taking, or a video game or a dance. Learning it was fun, not a “pass-fail” exam. If you goofed up something, you gave yourself a mulligan because you were still learning and kept on learning it. Maybe your friends or family teased you about telling the waiter you wanted the laundry instead of the sandwich on whatever trip you were on but it was still fun and you joked about it too and the waiter chuckled politely. No one acted liked you committed a cardinal sin and now you had to wear a scarlet L for “loser.” You were learning and growing and expanding your life. It was – and still is- good for you. This is how you need to approach weight loss and getting healthy. How much fun was it on that trip? How much fun do you have with your family & friends when you play that video game or go out dancing with them? This is something that improves the quality of your life and the lives of those around you.
Another example from my own life: in 2012, I went to Disneyland with a couple of my friends. I weighed about 400 lbs then and I was miserable and embarrassed pretty much the whole time. I couldn’t walk very far and I was too embarrassed to even try getting on some of the rides because of my size. My friends did a lot of things on their own while I did a lot of time “holding the shopping bags.” By comparison, last Memorial Day I went to the Queen Mary with my sister and a friend, and I walked up and down that ship, pretty much hitting all the available decks, and took two separate tours. My Fitbit recorded 5.5 miles for one day and 7.2 miles the second day. It didn’t hurt to move and I wasn’t stiff or hobbling and we hauled our shopping around with us! In fact, our friend who was recovering from a knee injury was stopping to rest more than I needed to and I’d run off to get her a water or coffee! I was a lot more fun to be around on the Queen Mary trip than I was at Disneyland, and frankly, I was a little proud of how easily I got around.
Changing your attitude towards yourself changes how you approach everything in your life. It’s a frame of mind, not a diet or exercise program. Being healthy is way of life and like all lifestyle changes, it’s a series of changes made over time that have a cumulative and positive effect. It is not a “regimen” or a “boot camp” or a punishment because you screwed up your body and/ or your life. When you look in the mirror, you need to tell yourself that you are NOT a failure, no matter what you weigh or how healthy/ “unhealthy” you are; you are a strong person who deserves to be treated like the treasure you are; you deserve to be treated well and that begins now. Carve out time for you, whether it’s shopping for healthy groceries, going to the gym or spending a few minutes of quiet “me” time. When you make changes to prioritize yourself, you make changes that are better for you and by association, better for everyone else in your life. No one wants to be around the kind of person I used to be because they are miserable. When you make yourself happy, you not only make yourself healthier, you make everyone else happier and healthier too, and you set a better example to boot! (Silly old bear!)