Yesterday, I was doing a quick check on Twitter, and I saw a message from one of my very favorite Twitter/Blogging peeps, the inimitable Suzi Storm. First off, let me tell you a few things about Suzi: she is a beautiful, smart, whip-funny and passionate person. She has also had tremendous success working to tackle a weight issue, and lost over 90 pounds in the process. In the process, she has become a nut about running, and has learned much about living a fundamentally healthier way. And she still LOVES her beer. It therefore broke my heart when I saw the following post from her (EXCELLENT) blog http://www.suzistorm.com :
No, I’m not gay (but hey, how you doing hot ladies
In the grocery store when I see someone I know who I haven’t seen since I lost weight…
I say no…
To going out because that means that I *might* run into people who saw me last at my goal weight…
Because I am a coward…
Panic, anxiety, hate…all attacks. I get stronger every day as I work towards being the *me* I want to be but I still struggle every day.
Every day we go to the grocery store…for food or beer…and every day I hide…
This is the hardest post I’ve ever done. I’m not even sure I will hit publish….
to get back to where I was. I loved being there. Strong. Fit. Running.
I took most of it for granted.
Sometimes, suicide seems easier…binge eating…getting heavier….but
I want it all back. And I *WILL* get it back…
But for right now…
(I must insert something here about this picture…I took it at work & this mirror is like a funhouse mirror. We noticed it when the pictures behind of the toilet paper boxes seemed warped, LOL. And as you can tell the bottom part of mirror is bigger than the lower half….but whatever…I don’t want anyone taking my full shot so this is what you get…)
Hello again…now, SAY GOODBYE!!!!
I am SO SORRY!!!!!!!
It didn’t break my heart for the reason you might think. It wasn’t because Suzi gained weight. It broke my heart for how it made her feel, and how hard she was on herself. It broke my heart because I’ve seen so many people who have come so far have exactly the same reaction when they have a major set-back.
I have had more than my fair share of ups and downs over the past 13 years that I have been a Weight Watchers member. While not at the same degree of set-back as Suzi’s, I was up five pounds over my goal when I got back from Holidaypalooza early this January. I felt like crud, and I was pretty irritated with myself. Every single time I have ever fallen off course and suffered a bad weigh in, it was a literal punch in the gut followed by a tirade of self-loathing and regret. As I reflect upon every one of those moments, I can say categorically that the intensity of the emotional response was completely outsized to the reality of the situation. I suffer from this false belief that being in control means never losing control.
Just about everybody who deals with a weight issue experiences the sensation of failure and weakness when dealing with a weight regain. If everyone experiences periodic weight regains, does it mean that we are all failures?
No. It. Does. Not.
We have to constantly remind ourselves of why we gained the weight in the first place. We are surrounded by temptation. We use foods for a 100 reasons that have nothing to do with needing energy or nutrients. We particularly use foods as a form of self-medication. This is not a flaw. It is a very normal biologic response, cultivated over thousands of years of evolution. We were wired to eat and to conserve energy in our bodies.
The problem we experience when seeking to maintain is that we are still surrounded by all of the pitfalls and traps that caused us to gain weight in the first place. Doesn’t it stand to reason that we will periodically trip up spectacularly? Obesity and weight issues require a lifetime of effort. Most good things do.
Given all of this, we really need to cut ourselves some slack. I never cease to be amazed by the lack of empathy we have for ourselves. We are truly our own worst critics — meaner than the cruelest Internet cruising troll.
When we regain weight, the only thing for us to recognize is simply that we regained weight. It stinks, but it happens. What really matters is what we do when we reach that point.
I was thinking about this in the morning when I was at the gym. About nine years ago, I pretty much took a finger off while I was lifting weights (a badge of honor among fellow knuckle-draggers). They were able to reattach the finger (I know, TMI), but I was out of the gym for two months. Anyone who lifts weights semi-seriously knows that two months off means a considerable loss in strength. For a type A person such as myself, having to go down 25% on my bench was pretty depressing. Yet, like anyone who has recovered from a sports injury, I eagerly looked forward to getting back in the gym and returning to form. I WANTED to get back into the gym. It gave me a sense of relief and possibility.
Somehow this manner of thinking often doesn’t seem to work when I think about a weight regain. Somehow it all seems harder and more daunting. It feels like looking down a long, lonely and rainy highway. Yet, I realize this is completely irrational. I know how to get myself back on track. I know what works for me. All I have to do is simply do it.
My only advice to all of us who think we might be regaining is this: don’t avoid the scale! Get a weigh-in every week no matter what, and I will almost guarantee you that you can avoid a weight gain. Regardless, once you do regain the weight, all you have to do is jump right back in and start running back to healthy.
As one of Suzi’s fan noted on her blog post: “You’ve got this!” And she does.
So Suzi, you don’t need to apologize to anyone, least of all yourself. It took courage and strength for you to lose the weight in the first place, but you did it. It took courage for you to learn how to become a runner, but you did it. By the way, it took huge courage for you to confront the issue the way that you did. You’ve shown nothing but character.
Indeed, you’ve got this. And as one of your Twitter friends, I’m proud of you.
And for everyone else who has experienced what Suzi has, know this, you’ve got this too.