And no sooner did I think to myself, I wonder what’s next, and the next question popped up… “how can I look at living the last 40+ years of distorted body-image in a way that I can appreciate?”
Later that morning, a friend called. And I shared my recent experiences and how I was currently in a search, that would allow me to move from feeling I had wasted all of those years of my life, to being able to find a deeper meaning where I could truly appreciate my life’s experience. She was eager to be helpful, and pointed out how what I’d experienced for those 40+ has allowed me to become the person I am today. And although I know that was true, it didn’t quite hit the nail on the head for me, although I felt she was in the vicinity of the answer. So, she continued to expound on her thought, when I gasped. And I said, “I got it”.
In an instant, I experienced the answer to my question. And, to interpret what I felt in that moment of clarity will take more than an instant to explain…
I was so aware that for 40+ years I carried the label and the negative experiences of being fat, felt the injustice of my family’s judgment for being overweight which was then perpetuated by society’s harsh ridicule and shame. I’d experienced fat discrimination on all levels (family, society, and the worst was the self-imposed discrimination). I experienced the depth of despair and utter powerlessness to change.
Throughout these years, I didn’t take this lying down. I fought back. I tried all that I knew to try to change my circumstances. For as long as I can remember, Mom and I were forever discussing how many calories were in foods, and then from time to time, she’d go on a diet, and I’d do it with her. We did Weight Watchers on and off, Aids candies, and other misc. diets.
In my early 20s, I lost about 40 pounds on a 800 calories a day diet – that’s how I lost the weight while in college, but upon returning home to my family, promptly gained 60 pounds in the next year.
I tried long fasts of 10 or 14 days and would lose 15 or 20 pounds only to regain it within a matter of a week or two, plus a couple extra pounds.
I tried diet pills, diet supplements, food combining, high carb/low fat diets, Atkins diet, low glycemic index diet, vegetarian diet, low fat diet combined with regular exercising, the 40/30/30 diet, natural eating diet, customized for my body diet (I paid lots of money for that one), Eat according to your Blood Type diet, Nutri-Systems, and there may have been others, but that’s all I can recall.
With each diet I lost a moderate amount of weight depending on the amount of time I could endure staying on that diet. And with within a short amount of time, the pounds returned, followed by the bonus weight.
I also read self-help books on the subject of proper nutrition, dieting and exercise, trying whatever I’d learn from my reading.
I went into therapy for 4 years and a couple of group counseling groups to lose weight. I did manage to resolve many non-weight related issues, but didn’t budge the number on the scale one iota.
I was convinced by a well-meaning friend to join OA – Overeaters Anonymous. It took 6 months for the group to finally break me, at which time 3 monumentally, life damaging things occurred in my life:
1) Until that time, I refused to introduce myself the way they did, so I just said: “Hi, my name is Wendy”. But, after becoming friends with these lovely people, and recognizing that “my way” hadn’t worked, I’d decided to give their way a try, even though their way felt WRONG. My new introduction went like this: “Hi, my name is Wendy and I’m a Compulsive Overeater”.
2) And worse, after debating the issue for months with them, I finally was willing to consider saying and believing, “I was powerless” (one of the 12 Steps). Until then, I didn’t believe I was EVER powerless.
3) Up until this time (and I was in my late 20’s) I had NEVER used the word FAT to describe myself. I was willing to say “overweight”, but I couldn’t bring myself to say I was FAT because that was like giving in completely to this thing I was still fighting. But, as you can attest by reading my blogs, I’ve learned to completely identify with this label of FAT.
After, a total of 18 months in OA, watching people come and go, lose weight and then gain it back, and after listening to them drone on about what they ate for ever meal of the day, I knew I wasn’t going to find solutions with them because I was feeling more discouraged than ever; I hadn’t lost a pound; and I although I had met many sweet people that were very well-intentioned, I felt more hopeless & powerless than encouraged, so I finally left.
I then began my seminar phase, where I attended trainings that promised you could learn to achieve anything you could dream of. And I dreamed of thinness, so I paid my money, sat close to the front, and really took in ever word. Now, I can say that this stage in my life was useful. As I would learn a new skill set for setting new goals, or healing unresolved issues, I was seeing progress in many areas of my life. And I was assisting my friends and family, and they were seeing positive results. However, although I was finding success in many areas of my life using these empowering tools, nothing was happening in the weight loss arena. And it was that lack of success in losing weight, that would drive me to the next seminar, thinking maybe this seminar had the answer for me.
After spending tens of thousands of dollars, I had built up my tool kit nicely for coaching others, but was broke and fatter than ever.
So, back to …“how can I look at living the last 40+ years of distorted self-image in a way that I can appreciate?”
I got this huge epiphany that what I have done throughout my 40+ years, through much effort, I learned I can lose weight, but never learned how to sustain the weight loss. We all know that it is the maintenance after weight loss that is the hardest. SUSTAINING it is what we are all looking for. And it’s in the sustaining that has been what I was really seeking. And most of the tools for success that I’d learned, didn’t help me sustain the goals I sought to achieve either. I can now articulate that what I really want is to SUSTAIN whatever I’ve achieved. So, if I’ve lost weight, I want to sustain that weight loss!
And with this epiphany, I finally have the awareness that by following the guidance my inner being has been providing for a number of years, I’ve been successful at both accomplishing, and more importantly sustaining!!! The evidence has been in that whatever I have accomplished over the last 7 years, I HAVE kept, AND, it doesn’t seem to end there because momentum has developed. Each accomplishment has been a stepping stone for the next accomplishment. I’m no longer taking 1 step forward, and 2 steps back. Instead, my life is incrementally evolving. Today’s revelation opened my eyes to this important distinction that I had not been aware of – even though I’d been doing it for 7 years.
And it was the intense angry feelings associated with the pneumonia that became the catalyst for me to have my attention drawn to how my accomplishments of TODAY are “sticking”. And without those many years of banging around NOT finding what I wanted, I wouldn’t have been so driven to find answers – which in turn, landed me where I am today.
And today, I no longer fear going backwards because the evidence in my life has shown me without a doubt, I’ve been able to transform unresolved negative feelings into powerful new beliefs. And I NEVER return to the pre-transformation state. This is why my belief is so strong in following the impulses from my inner being. Living in this belief, I’m continually filled with the expectation of getting the results I desire.
As I go forward, I don’t HOPE I will get thin, I know I am currently creating a thin body and a lifestyle that supports thinness – because it is being precipitated by thin thoughts and thin beliefs which turn into thin behaviors. And that is the formula for sustaining thin.
Today, whatever I accomplish, I sustain. And for that I am so appreciative!