Monday, September 15, 2008



When I first started this blog, I viewed my journey to lose weight as somehow separate from the variety of neurosis and isms that I have floating around my cranium. Or, rather, I thought that fat me was making thin me miserable and if I could just unload that bitch, everything else in my life would fall into place.

I'm gradually beginning to realize how intricately related all of my issues have become. There is no good me and there is no bad me--there's just me and the woman that I want to become someday. Being overweight isn't what's standing in my way. Rather, in many ways, the weight is a symptom of a larger problem. I don't believe that's true for everyone who packs on the lbs, but it's clearly the case for me.

Over the weekend, I had an unpleasant exchange with a woman I've been collaborating with. We're working on developing a non profit that helps local children and families cope with pediatric cancer. Our interpersonal difficulties began to pop up a few months ago. My side of the story is that she's abrasive at her best and downright rancorous when she's at her worst. A lot of people move in and out of her life as a result of her attitude and she's just fine with that. When we were only friends, it wasn't such a big deal, but now that we're working together, I usually end up going home feeling incredibly angry at her.

This weekend was different, though. This time I went home angry at me. I realized that regardless of what I had convinced myself, I really wasn't following through with the commitment I'd made to our organization. Starting up a nonprofit takes an enormous amount of energy that I just wasn't putting in. The trouble is that every time I sat down to get some work done on it, I would think about old grumpy and the hurtful things she said to me, and I would feel angry and sad all over again. Thinking about it now, I realize how selfish that is. Like some kid with osteosarcoma should miss out because I'm having interpersonal issues!

The kicker is that the more I thought about it, the more I recognized that this particular situation is part of a repeating pattern in my life. I start out with an incredible amount of passion but I veer off course at the first obstacle. In this case, the obstacle is our inability to get along (which could still be a fatal difficulty).

Some other examples, (not that I think anyone needs a laundry list of my mistakes) include that I dropped out of an Ivy League college to come home because being away from my family felt like too much of a risk; I gave up on medical school because the preparation was difficult; I have left scores of novels and paintings incomplete because I was afraid they weren't good enough. In short, I've let a lot of opportunities blow away.

This is the same pattern that has been common throughout my attempts to lose weight. I start out with a lot of zeal and then I run into a holiday or event or I start obsessing over the possibility of loose skin or someone hurts me and I go looking for food. I don't follow through. The trouble is, that in this case I haven't just disappointed people who have counted on me; I've disappointed myself.

But I'm not too regretful. I may not be able to go back in time to reclaim missed opportunities and, in some cases, there's nothing I can do to repair the damage I've done to relationships that I valued. (I wish life was really like My Name is Earl).

However, there is good news. Firstly, I can recognize my self-defeating behavior for what it is. Most people never take a long hard look at themselves, so I'm fortunate that I've had an opportunity to see myself with warts and all. I don't usually get to examine my character through the lens of someone else's opinion so this has been useful even if it was painful.

Secondly, I'm fortunate that I'm not a static being. I'm capable of growth and I'm capable of change. I've demonstrated that in my weight loss over the past year. I may not have been 100% consistent in my efforts, but I've never given up on myself. This departure from what has become my status quo gives me confidence that I'll follow through this time and that I have it in me to extend this new approach to other areas of my life.

I don't know what's different now. Maybe I'm more motivated than I was--keeping a blog and reading other blogs certainly helps. Maybe it's just that I'm older or that I've grown. Whatever the reason, I have come to realize that, as Stuart Smalley would say, I'm good enough, I'm smart enough and doggone it people like me.


new*me said...

I too have felt the change this time around. Something clicked. For me it was like, if you don't get healthy now and stay healthy are gonna die woman and leave those precious kids behind. Wake up! So, I did. Nothing bothers me anymore. I just want to live and love......the rest is just gravy ;)....even the unpleasant stuff!

Karyn said...

Good post....I agree that for many of us, being overweight has been a symptom of other problems that manifest themselves in many other ways, as well.

Losing weight will not solve those problems, but I think you are saying that facing those "demons" and working through them will be part of losing weight. In fact, maybe the necessary part of truly succeeding.

I've certainly noticed a that I am experiencing a paradigm shift in my whole outlook on myself and the way I view life. I am seeing weight loss as a result of changing in my mind (soul) first of all.