8.11.2013

Why You Can't Lose Weight And Keep It Off

There are medical conditions that make us fat. Those cases count for maybe 0.0001% of instances of obesity. The rest is simple: being overweight isn't the problem, it's a symptom.

There's more than a ton of material out there that will tell you "health is a journey, not a destination." You've heard it, you know it, you've felt your eyes gloss over and brain shut down the second you hear it. It's a cliche.

Despite playing sports and working out, I've been on-again off-again fat my entire life. Here's the thing I've only recently discovered: that cliche is worded wrongly. That's why it doesn't stick. That's why you get bored with it. 

I was talking about weight loss and fitness with some friends this morning. We've all had our challenges with weight, and especially keeping it off when we lose it. The inevitable term "lifestyle change" came up and then that saying about journeys versus destinations, and it kinda clicked for me. 

The reason my most recent fitness regent and way of eating is finally sticking is because I didn't decide I wanted to GET healthy or GET fit. I didn't decide to acquire a body I've always wanted. I didn't decide to go to a place of fitness.

I decided to BE healthy. Every day. Because there's a little fire somewhere inside me that finally lit; a love for myself
I've never had previously. 

I love myself enough to live healthy. I'm not looking at my body and my health and thinking "once I lose x pounds or win x competition or run x miles I'll be so proud I will finally love myself." I figured it out. It's backwards. 

We go on diets or fitness plans to look better and feel better and think that will make us love ourselves. We don't get the results we want this week and we feel depleted and need a reward to fill that void. Yummy food and video games and long naps are instant gratification. They make us happy RIGHT NOW. We delay or eliminate these things because, much like the Christian doctrine of being promised if we are good on Earth we get to go to heaven and celebrate for eternity, we feel if we deprive ourselves of what we love now, we will get SO MUCH MORE later in the form of sexy abs.

No.

Deprivation builds resentment. The trick isn't looking forward to some bullshit rewardland of frivolity and happiness. The trick is to understand, life isn't a destination, it's a journey - and we enjoy that journey by treating ourselves well and taking care of ourselves. And it starts with love.

If I love myself, the process of eating right is second nature. The process of going to  the gym is maintainence. The process of weight loss is a byproduct, because I quit  filling the hole in my heart with food and alcohol and laziness.

And here's the big thing: it doesn't actually start with food or even the gym. It starts with words. 

If someone else talked about you the way you do in your own head, would you stand for it? Would you just let them abuse you? Hell no. So don't let yourself get away with it. Don't use words like "cheat day" when discussing the day you enjoy a rich meal - it's a reward. Cheats is ALWAYS negative. Rewards are always positive. Quit calling yourself stupid or weak or sad or pathetic. Start calling yourself human.

Quit with self-improvement. Start with self-awareness.