As much as she'd been with me for almost six months it still hadn't gone away. I was a little disappointed. As always I want bad, wrong, unproductive thinking to just vanish into the air overnight. Because I TOLD you. We went OVER this. At least twice.
Ugh. And there it is rearing its ugly head. It was 30 odd years in the making, this habit of telling herself that her beautiful smile, her gorgeous, long wavy hair, her sparkling eyes, that infectious laugh that wins her as friend almost anyone who comes near - telling herself that those things did not matter. At all. Because she was horribly unattractive. Everything else was null and void. Worth nothing to her. Because she is fat. Fat fat fat fatty fat fat. And there is just NOTHING in this world to balance that out.
This ONE thing completely ruined her as someone who might be considered pretty. Or attractive. Or truly lovable.
And. She, and now a growing throng of people I'm working with to pave their individual roads to weight management, revealed something to me that I long since knew but stopped believing in ages ago:
"If I stop believing my weight makes me ugly, if I start to think I'm pretty the way I am, I KNOW I won't be motivated to change. Never. I'll be stuck this way and all happy to be who I am."
"Uh." I could feel my eyes rolling back into my head as if trying to look for the words inside the gray matter back there. "And just a side note, if you WERE all happy with yourself would it matter that you are overweight?". You never know when something is going to be the wrong - or maybe just the right - thing to say.
She started to cry.
"Well that's just the point. I don't WANT to be happy with the way I am because I don't want to BE the way I am!"
Turns out no one, really no one wants to be overweight.
"So this... Not liking the way you look, this believing your weight completely RUINS everything else, this has helped motivate you to lose weight in the past has it?"
"Well yeah it's..."
"You are here. Dieting. And running. For the umpteenth time. And you say that your dissatisfaction with your body is a successful weight management strategy?"
It's not. I can quote studies and articles and all the things I read while losing/ managing my weight. But nothing says it better than what was the secret to my own success:
I gave up.
That's right. At 277 pounds I just gave up. I gave up thinking of myself as ugly or attractive. I stopped telling myself I was a stupid fat loser with no self control. As a motivator shame and guilt and self loathing - sorry, that's what that IS - had UTTERLY failed me.
So I just gave up. I got complacent. I believed I would never find a mate or look good or be healthy or whatever.
And then I lost a few pounds.
And I liked that.
And then I thought, if I actually tried maybe I could lose some more. And although I would never be pretty or fit or ... An athlete or anything... I'd at least be sort of, average. Like all the other fat Americans.
And I did. Lose more weight. And then. I began to believe I could do more.
And since I had completely got out of the habit of hating myself I figured I could really get used to this being less uncomfortable, being less conspicuous.
I could be satisfied with just being less unhealthy than I used to be.
And when I'd lost enough weight for it to comfortably be called "an achievement" something really bizarre happened:
I began to LIKE me. I liked me. And what I saw in the mirror, imperfect as I was. I still greeted myself in the mirror every morning with the words "Still too fat." But now I realized I had hope. And the person who'd given me that hope had been me. And that was something. Maybe I really wasn't so bad. Maybe I COULD be attractive after all.
It took me until I was a size 6 to stop telling myself I was still too fat. That was when I began to see my very first muscle mass, but it was also when I came to what may be the greatest realization of my life:
I will never be perfect. I will never look like the girls on the cover of Cosmo.
Because in addition to the fact that they get paid several hundreds of thousands of dollars more than me to forego all those meals and get all that liposuction they have something I will never, ever possess. A Photoshop editor. Duh.
So now every morning when I wake up and see the loose skin around my upper leg and the little layer of body fat that Does NOT want to leave my tummy (I always wonder why I can't store the stuff on the soles of my feet. Like a camel only different) I do not greet myself by saying "Too Fat." Or too thin. Or too anything.
I just say good morning.
Dreams are just Plans for which no goals have yet been set. Reality is just the dream of someone who's goals have been achieved.