My current situation of 250 pounds had become unbearable so I CHOSE to start making better choices, choices that supported a healthy lifestyle. I decided I did not need to know WHY I was obese in order to fix it, so I dropped the excuses and got busy working. The next thing I did in fighting for my life, my health, was probably the most important; I chose (see there I go again making better choices) to focus on a goal my values actually supported.
I surrendered my dream of being thin. I did not care anymore about being skinny. I had been chasing that goal since I was 12 years old. The pursuit of that dream had only left me sad and in a shell of a body that I no longer recognized. I was done with it, I put it to bed, I would never again focus on being thin. I had a new goal, I wanted to be HEALTHY!
I didn’t want to be the obese Mom. I didn’t want my kids to be embarrassed by me as they got older. I wanted to be able to run with them at the park, sit with them on the floor, and travel with them full of ENERGY, and not dread. I didn’t want to be on medication (at the time I was already on anxiety meds, sleeping pills, and considering an anti-depressant). I wanted to live to see my children grow older. I wanted to look in the mirror and not burst into tears because I felt so much disdain for my myself.
So that is where I began. I surrendered my unrealistic fantasy of being thin, and decided to focus on being healthy. I had a new GOAL: good health. I also had the VALUES that supported that goal. Good health, mobility, longevity, avoiding diseases and illness were goals that my brain understood, and my value system supported.
The majority of my clients are obese. I was obese. Media, movies, society would have you believe obese people are lazy, overeaters, lack self-care, lack willpower and overall, that obese people are “LESS THAN”. The truth is my clients all have a very similar profile; overachievers, perfectionists, doers, hard workers, extremely intelligent, and incredible caretakers. So why would a smart person walk through life obese, in a body that has a high risk of quitting on them and leading to a shorter life with less quality?
Here’s the thing I ask any overweight person reading this to ask themselves is: Do you value skinny? Do you value thin? Do your values support your goal of being thin? My guess is as you look at this you will find they do not. Mine most certainly did not. When I look back at all my FAILED attempts to lose weight I see my authentic self, not the negative narrative I played over and over in my head, but my true self really didn’t give a damn about being skinny. I was actually rebelling against it. I was so many amazing things, I had so many amazing qualities but I felt all that mattered to society was the one thing I really didn’t care about, “Was I skinny enough?”
If I had valued being thin I would have been thin. Like many of you reading this, like all of my clients, I am smart and capable of making anything happen. I never made “thin” happen because I didn’t care. I had a reverse weight stigma if you will. The same way a thin person may look at an obese person and draw conclusions, many obese people look at thin people and also draw conclusions. That person is “vain, conceited, over-confident, thinks they are just so great, probably not very smart, has a lot of time on their hands to workout, superficial, mean, doesn’t eat, wants people to think they are sexy/attractive.” Clearly this was a PROTECTIVE mechanism to shield myself from not being that one thing I felt I was supposed to be: thin.
So what has to CHANGE is the goal. If your goal is skinny, you will never be happy because skinny will never look the way you believe it will in your head. Your weight loss will just create new problems, “there is no there there.” The same way if you equate how much money you make to success, it doesn’t ever leave you feeling successful. There is always more money to be made and someone else who will always have more money than you. The goal has to be supported by your value system, and there has to be a passion connected to reaching the goal. In other words: you need a goal that your values support and you can chase with total passion and engagement.
When I moved my goal from “thin” to “healthy” my life changed. Healthy I understood. Low blood pressure, low cholesterol, a healthy BMI, decreased odds of cancer, heart disease, and numerous other illnesses, staying off diabetes medication, anxiety meds, and sleeping pills…now that made sense. Damn good sense! Then I took it a step further. I wanted to be a role model for my children, I wanted to run with my kids across Disneyland to make the last ride. I want to chase my Grandchildren down the beach one day. Why on earth would I not want to be healthy? Screw skinny, but healthy…. BRING IT ON!
So that is where I began. I SURRENDERED my unrealistic fantasy of being thin, and decided to focus on being healthy. I had a new goal: good health, I also had the values that supported that goal. Good health, mobility, longevity, avoiding diseases and illness were goals that my brain understood, and my value system supported.
I wonder if it is even possible for any human to not have values that support good health, given we are hardwired to SURVIVE? Do you want to live? Do you want a high quality of life? If you answered YES, then you too have the values that support a goal of good health! That is a POWERFUL realization.
I am Jennifer. I am @HappyBodyFood. This is my journey from unhealthy to healthy…but more truthfully this is my journey from self-hate, to self-love.
Originally published at medium.com