Ahhhh! I love the feel of a new beginning. The earthy smell of a fresh Spring rain, the thrill of back-to-school shopping, the hope of a newly budding romance, the anticipation of a new birth… <Sigh> Then there’s the chronic (for me) new beginning: a “diet”. What makes me think that changing the way I eat will be any different than all those other times?
I’ve probably joined Weight Watchers a dozen times (conservatively), T.O.P.S., Nutri-system and followed the Atkins diet a few times too. Of course, there were the countless times I tried to just eat “healthy” without weighing, measuring or counting calories, carbs or fat. I have also done much of the prep work for the bariatric program at our region’s leading (and most responsible) hospital before deciding it wasn’t for me. Pairing any or all of these with group and individual therapy and a 12 step program has taught me a great deal about myself. Probably the most important thing I’ve learned repeatedly over the years is that I’ve got a very unhealthy relationship with food. Therefore, my health will not change unless my relationship with food changes.
Now, if you look at me, my obesity is obvious. One doesn’t become overweight without having some sort of issue with food and/or laziness. (I happen to be
overly fond of addicted to sugar. Though surprisingly unlike all other women in my family, I don’t give a hoot about chocolate!) What may not be so obvious is the pain that the weight hides. That weight didn’t get there by “accident”. It wasn’t a concious choice to get fat, per se, just to disappear. Food was a solution to a problem.
My weight gain came rapidly when I decided (subconsciously) that I wanted to hide my body, to make it unattractive to men. Like too many women around the world, I was molested as a girl. It was scary! I didn’t want it to happen again. So there was a purpose in gaining weight, even though I didn’t recognize it at the time. Now any purpose driven person with 15 years of practice is bound to be pretty darn “good” at what they’re doing. I was practically an expert! One might think that it would be easy to change this behavior once the reason behind it was revealed. Unfortunately, it’s not been simple or easy! Patterns take a long time to change, especially when emotions are behind them. We’re pretty complicated and amazingly resourceful creatures. Gratefully, I have a fabulous woman who works with me to see those patterns and hear the voice I don’t always hear playing in the background, enabling me to make choices that will help me along my journey. With her help and that of some really incredible women, I’ve been addressing those concerns.
The other factor in breaking down my destructive behavior patterns is the damage I’ve already caused my body. My poor body… After 28 years of compulsively overeating, the damage is pretty extensive. I’ve been insulin resistant since I was a teenager. Not that anyone knew it at the time. I fell victim to the endless rollercoaster of sugar highs and lows fueled by my addiction to sugar. I didn’t understand the damage that was being done to my body. I only saw the resulting fat, which was depressing and led to more sugar consumption. In return, this past fall, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. My knees aren’t completely shot yet, but as I age, it’s apparent that they’re on their way. I’ve had lower back pain, bad posture and plantar fascitis due to my weight. -And we won’t even get started on the stretch marks! When I was younger, women used to tell me to, “lose weight now, while your skin will still bounce back”. I never understood this, until I got to be about 36. Now, it’s crystal clear!
Taking a good hard look at the challenges I face isn’t something I like to do, but it’s a very necessary part of my life. Many in my family have chosen to bury their heads in denial instead of addressing issues as they arise. Time has shown me if I don’t acknowledge them, they can never be overcome. I will be doomed to repeat them. So I must continually make the decision to take responsibility for my health. This becomes a reality in a few ways: Acknowledging my feelings and finding healthy ways to cope with those that make me uncomfortable. Making a conscious effort to plan, shop for, prepare and then eat only foods that will nourish my body. And exercising my body as it is today. (Meaning that I need to stretch myself to try new things, letting go of the inabilities that I had yesterday, but not expecting myself to be capable of something I’m not ready for.)
Curiously, I am not without hope! God has designed this amazing human body of mine (and yours!) to endure. It’s goal, in spite of the evil I might do to it, is to survive. What an amazing thought! According to Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr. , of the documentary Forks Over Knives and The China Study, at least some of the damage can be undone. Cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, blood pressure, etc… all returning to within normal, healthy ranges when following his recommended plan of eating. (See his book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven , Nutrition-Based Cure for details.) I am also still relatively young, mobile and VERY willing to try my best. And gratefully, I have a small community of fabulous people who love and support me in my quest for a healthy, sunshine filled life. Without them, I would certainly give up. I find that for me, accountability is crucial to accomplishment.
What do you find helps you stay accountable to a large goal?