Motivation is always a hot topic because it tends to be short-lived. We hear a great podcast or see something online and we get all fired up. We want to make progress and we want that progress to be fast! Go to it, guys! Burn that fat! Cut those carbs!
We all know it takes a lot of energy to keep at it, doing whatever program or plan we are following and the motivation eventually burns out because we can’t keep that fire going without constantly stoking it. That means several times a week, we have to find something to keep that motivation burning hot so our progress doesn’t fizzle along with the motivational fires.
However, there’s something else that can keep us motivated that might not be as fun as listening to an inspirational podcast or a motivating YouTube video and that’s a bit uncomfortable because it’s discomfort. It’s not fun and it’s not pretty but it’s a major reason a lot of us end up losing weight and getting healthier.
I know lots of people like to use the idea of the little grit of sand that gets stuck in an oyster so the oyster turns it into a lovely pearl, blah blah, yadda yadda. Yeah. It’s a cute perky little cliche: we go from being ugly gritty sand into beautiful pearls! Ugh…. too perky for me! And any transformation into a ‘pearl’ takes a long long time- those pearls we pull out of those oysters took many many years to develop!
Of course, the cute perky response is that we are all ‘pearls’ to begin with, not gritty bits of dirt, but the truth is most of us feel like gritty bits of dirt. Why? Because we are uncomfortable! And though most of us come to loathe those feelings of discomfort, that discomfort is really what gives us constant encouragement to change.
Remember when you brought out your dressy blouse/ shirt for that important occasion only to be shocked that it’s too tight? Or when you went to button up your jeans and they also didn’t fit anymore? Even worse, you couldn’t get your good slacks up over your butt? How about all those times you had to suck in your gut to get the seatbelt in the car or the plane to reach across you? Or when you had to loosen the straps on your sandals because your feet are bigger than last summer?
It’s an embarrassing reality check and it makes us feel uncomfortable, just like all those chairs at restaurants where the arms dig into your thighs. Embarrassing. Uncomfortable. This emotional and physical discomfort is important: it’s called an impetus. It’s what ultimately spurs some of us to change how we eat and how we live and it’s a daily reminder of why we need to change, so when we start thinking that “305 lbs isn’t the end of the world,” the next time we have to lay on the bed and suck in our gut to zip up our jeans (and then hope we don’t drop anything while we’re wearing them!), there’s that little annoyingly uncomfortable reminder of why 305 may not be the end of the world but it still doesn’t mean we have to live with it!
Recently I’ve been seeing a lot of online ads for Big Fig mattresses. It’s a mattress for a “fuller figured” individual and the ads show a plus-sized person lounging comfortably on the mattress reading, sleeping, with their tablet, etc. Frankly, instead of being intrigued, I was outraged. Why are we making it easier for people to accept being fat?? Instead of encouraging them to lose weight, they are making it easier for them to stay where they are: overweight and possibly unhealthy. Now before you jump all over me for criticizing the obese (of which I am one), I realize there is a need for ‘heavy duty’ mattresses for the ‘heavy duty’ sleeper. I also realize that by making it easier for people to feel comfortable with their weight, they are reducing their impetus to change. In other words, unless you feel the discomforting reason to lose weight, it’s easier for you to stay the weight you are and as all of us obese people know, we rarely stay at that weight: most of us gain, either quickly or slowly, but gain nonetheless. So while we might be 305 now in 2018, come 2020 we will probably be at least a few pounds closer to 350, and come 2022, probably closer still if we haven’t passed it already. Why? It’s not because we want to be fat and unhealthy– it’s because we don’t have any nagging little uncomfortable reason to change how we are living! (Read about the mattress for yourself: Big Fig Mattress Review )
When I was in high school way back in the 1980’s, I was already at the limit for ‘plus-sized’ clothing and that was about a size 20 or so. I remember buying school clothes one year and the only pants they had in my size were horrible old-lady looking styles in some horribly bright reds and blues. I was mortified that I would have to wear these to school! (FYI: the only person at my school who was bigger than me made her own clothes!) Now, although I weigh a whole lot more than I did in high school, I can go to a variety of different stores and find a whole lot of gorgeous clothes in colors and styles that are actually too big for me! I can find clothes in brick-and-mortar stores in my town all the way up to 32-34! Why the change? Because Americans overall have gotten more and more obese! There is a market for these clothes in stores, not just online, just like there is a market for Big Fig mattresses! People who are ‘plus-sized’ need clothes and furniture and mattresses and seatbelt extenders and all kinds of accommodations. In fact, if you are a business and cannot (or will not) accommodate a plus-sized client or employee, you might find yourself on the wrong end of some legal action.
I don’t want to encourage discrimination against the obese, especially since I could find myself on the receiving end of it. I love having a lot of clothing options as well as getting some cool shoes that fit too, but I worry that making it easier to be plus-sized is doing more harm than good. Being constantly reminded that we are larger than is healthy for us is a good thing. It’s that constant discomfort that makes us want to change! Think about it: while you were out with your friends in those suck-in-your-gut jeans, was it easier or harder to say no to the fries with the burger or the cheesecake for dessert? Didn’t that metal button digging into your gut tell you “not a good idea?” How about that seatbelt that barely made it across your lap? Didn’t it remind you that a second trip to the buffet might be pushing it? Or those shoes that pinch or that blouse/shirt where taking a deep breath might cost you a button? All those little uncomfortable reminders are urging you to skip the buffet and have a yogurt instead or maybe forgo the House of Cards binge until after you’ve gone for long walk (you can take the dog so it’s not really ‘exercise’!)
I know there are people who are happy with their weight even though the rest of the world considers them obese. I don’t want to point at them in condemnation. If they are happy with their health and their body, I congratulate them! (I myself will probably always be considered obese by the rest of the world.) But I do want to question the wisdom of making us feel just a little too comfortable. We have plus-sized clothing, extra wide chairs and plus-sized mattresses and those are good. Everyone deserves to be comfortable in their skin and in their home, but there is a price to pay for that comfort and I don’t mean the price tag on the clothing or furniture. I mean the price tag on our health and our bodies. Most of us carrying extra weight feel it on our joints even if we don’t see it in our blood sugar or our blood pressure. We minimize the effect our weight has on our lives until it’s literally too much for us to ignore and by then, we’re suffering health problems from it. Our weight keeps us from doing some things we might want to do because we are afraid of being embarrassed or because we physically can’t do the activity. Those are the nagging little reminders that we can be healthier and more active, but then we go home to our comfy chairs and get into our comfy lounge clothes and we forget how uncomfortable we were. All of us have some kind of limits on our lives, either those we put upon ourselves or those put upon us by circumstance. Just make sure your weight isn’t something you’ve allowed to limit your life and happiness.