Not too long ago, some of my colleagues created a new channel on YouTube titled the “I’m Only Human Project”. The genesis behind this was to give people who had experienced the weight loss journey a longer forum to share their story. One of the (many) aspects of advertising that is frustrating is that we only have 30 seconds to try to tell someone’s story. It’s really hard to do. These videos break it into 2-5 minute stories that allow people to share more deeply so that you can really get to know them. For those of you who saw my Jennie post, think of it as that, but much more condensed. Here is a sampling to whet your appetite (no pun intended)…
That’s just a sampling. There are a bunch more, some loaded up by the folks at Weight Watchers and others uploaded directly by people from our glorious community. Here’s the link:
In any case, I recently finished watching a bunch of these videos, and I was struck by some of the common themes…
- Denial: The degree to which we know we are heavy, but we don’t feel that heavy
- Defeat: How unbelievably horrible it is when we realize that we have a weight issue
- Fear and loathing: How incredibly daunting the journey feels when we start
- Feeling strong: How it all seems to get easier and better the longer we stick with it
As is so often the case, I resonated with this pattern because it was identical to my own…
I just flat out lied to myself about how heavy I got. In some level I knew there was an issue. I knew that I could grab more than a few handfuls of flab (gross, I know), but frankly I just tried not to think about it. I got amazingly good at sprinting past mirrors when I didn’t have a shirt on. I learned the value of giant clothing that could cloak what lay beneath. I knew that I was overweight, but I just felt that I was pretty close to not being so overweight. I could avoid the fact that I had a BMI that was edging past 30 by just trying to suck my gut all the way through my back (or so I told myself).
In my case (and many of you have heard this story), my Waterloo came in the good doctor’s office when she delivered the verdict of 245 pounds (yikes) at a BMI of 30 (double yikes) with total cholesterol of 260 (triple yikes) and a need to get on prescription medication (shoot me now). What can I say? I completely flipped out. I managed not to bawl. My emotion was less sadness and closer to complete and unfettered rage. I don’t think I ever liked myself less than in that moment. How on Earth did I let this happen to myself? I used to be the skinny kid.
Fear and loathing:
For some people, getting started on the program feels exciting and liberating and full of possibility. To all of them, I say this: ”I ENVY YOU!” For me, it felt like a very long and dark road ahead. I was told to expect one to two pounds per week, and that would be only on the weeks I lost weight. All of this was made worse by the fact that I had no idea what I was doing or how this was going to work. It all seemed very hard, very involved and generally painful to contemplate. Said differently, it kind of sucked. Further, joining Weight Watchers felt like serious business — a million miles from dipping my toe in. Thank heavens I put on my big boy pants and jumped into the deep end, because…
This was the part of the Only Human videos that really struck a chord with me. Virtually everyone of them talked about how it all just started to click. The more people started feeling success, at whatever the pace, the more they started to feel confident. They came to recognize that all they had to do was to keep on doing. For most people, including me, this feeling took a while to settle in. Once it did, I started to feel like a locomotive. Rather than inertia working against me, momentum was starting to work for me. Who knew? Success does breed success (I’m starting to sound like one of those wall posters that is a photo of dudes rowing a boat).
Were there setbacks for me? Most definitely. Did I hit plateaus? You bet. Was any of it as bad as I felt when I got my nasty weigh in? Not even close. Over the years of being on maintenance, I’ve slowly come to realize that I am far from invincible and that I will always have be pretty careful. Yet, I have also come to realize that I know how to do this. I know how to get my life back on track when it gets off track. This comes what we learn about ourselves when we experience the aforementioned locomotive effect.
So here is the most fundamental truth I know of when it comes to successful weight loss and maintenance: the absolutely most important thing to do is to keep on doing. It’s really so simple, but also so very powerful. The only decision you have to make is the decision not to quit.
This gets back to the question posed in the title of the post. With the benefit of hindsight, here is what was hard for me…
- Being overweight was hard
- Dealing with the first reading on the scale was really hard
- Being intimidated by the journey was hard
- Actually doing the program was pretty easy
Seems like I made the right decision to stick with it.
BTW, if you liked the above videos, I know where you can even better ones. Get your victory seeking self to a meeting.