February 6, 2012

10 Things I've Learned About Weight Loss

1. I am good at losing weight. I've had at least a dozen successful weight loss efforts in the last 20 years. The trouble is, I am equally successful - perhaps more so - at gaining weight and have done it exactly as many times. At least I'm starting with a solid foundation of knowledge and experience.

2. I thrive on competition and social reinforcement. I like attention. I like it when people notice my weight loss. I still carry the keychain I earned at Weight Watchers for losing 10% of my starting weight. I'll even share my "before" photos on Facebook. Perhaps this is why my weight loss efforts tend to sputter out and lose energy farther down the road. What happens when I reach my goal weight and the fun of losing is gone? This time, I think I'll enter some fitness competitions or maybe even take up a sport.

3. I move in circles, both vicious and virtuous. In the virtuous cycle, I eat healthy and exercise, so I feel great. Because I feel great, I have more energy and enthusiasm for eating healthy and exercising. The vicious cycle is the ugly flip side, and it tends to involve self-loathing and cheesy puffcorn.

4. My body doesn't handle carbs well. This was one of the most painful things I've had to learn. I dream in sugar. I have a relationship to pizza that few people could ever understand. But yet, it is true. I feel better when my body's fueled with protein.

5. My body isn't just that thing that carries my brain around. I've lived much of my life with my attention focused firmly in my head, ignoring the world around me and my physical relationship with it. Growing up, I ignored exercise and sports because I was too interested in books, writing, and other sedentary intellectual pursuits. I'm a nerd, not a jock. When I started reading that one of the best things a person can do for their brain is exercise... well, there goes that excuse.

6. I love having exercised. Whether I want to get off the couch and head to the gym right now is irrelevant. What matters is how I'll feel an hour later, when I'm walking out of the gym. Once I frame it that way, the right course of action is clear.

7. That endorphin rush is real. I don't get it every time I exercise, but there are moments when I'm listening to the perfect song, moving at the perfect speed, and I feel strong, alive, connected with my body, and absolutely elated to be in the moment.

8. Most people don't really care what I'm eating. One of my standby excuses for making unhealthy choices has been peer pressure. "But... We're going out for Italian food! I have to order pasta and wine!" The truth is, nobody really minds if I order a salad, or drink water, or pass on the bread basket.

9. I don't have to change my values to change my body. There's some ugly sentiment toward obese people in this country, a perception that fat people are lazy, ignorant, miserable, or otherwise defective human beings. I know that's not true; I know that a person can be smart, kind, happy, successful, generous, and beautiful while also being overweight. I have been heavy and successful, thin and a train wreck. Weight is just weight. It's value-neutral. I can choose to lose weight without adopting the shallow and judgmental value system that is sometimes the ugly side of thin.

10. It's not about being perfect. It's about knowing what works and what doesn't, doing more of the good stuff than the bad, and getting back up again one more time than I've fallen down.

1 comment:

Emily said...

re #9 - Yes yes yes! You worded that perfectly. I've been making attempts at articulating the same sentiment for a long time.