There’s one big reason why it’s so hard for you to lose weight.
And it’s not what you think.
I was overweight for the first 30 years of my life, and well over 100 pounds overweight for a good part of my adult life, so I have a lots of experience with this subject.
The first and most obvious reason that comes to mind about why it’s so hard for you to lose weight is — you love food! Cheeseburgers and french fries are delicious! Doughuts are fried balls of heaven.
So you love food. Who doesn’t? But some people seem to be programmed to really go after it. Maybe you think about it more than most people. I get that, since I’m in that camp, too.
And maybe you hate exercise, which makes losing weight all the more difficult.
But there is actually an even bigger reason why it’s so hard for you to lose weight.
Your ONE BIG THING
I occasionally read the blog of Elizabeth Esther, a woman who was raised in a Christian fundamentalist church, which was basically one step away from a cult. She has since left that church and writes about adjusting to her typical life today.
In this post, she talks about how her teen daughter is attended prom this week. Elizabeth never attended prom, because fundamentalists don’t do proms. Here is a quote from her insightful blog:
The Old Pain washed over me—the regret, the missed opportunities, the prom I never got to attend because we were fundamentalists and fundamentalists didn’t go to proms.
I can’t believe it still matters. But it does.
It’s so stupid. But it’s true.
It still matters that I never went to my own high school prom. It still matters that I missed out on things. After all this time, it still matters, dammit.
Just when I’m beginning to think that I’ve finally shed the last dead layer of fundamentalism, something happens to remind me that nope, nope. I’m still that weird girl from the cult. I still inhabit this skin.
–Elizabeth Esther, blog, It Still Matters
Her story is extreme and her painful life experience is one from which we can all learn, so I don’t mean to say my situation is anywhere close to equal to hers.
But I will say this. When I read that, while I was sympathetic, I also thought, “Yes, but even if you weren’t raised fundamentalist, maybe you still wouldn’t have gone to prom.”
When you’ve got your ONE BIG THING that’s your problem, it becomes really easy to blame everything in your life on that problem.
That’s my connection point to her blog post and my food and weight issues — and perhaps yours, too.
Being overweight is really painful, and I know it’s totally awful. It practically ruined me until I got the help I needed. I thought it would crush me.
Yet being overweight also proved useful it its own way, and your food issues, as painful as they are, are useful for you, too.
When You Blame Your Weight
When you are overweight, you get to blame things on your weight.
Don’t even tell me that you don’t. I know, because I did it for so many years.
If I didn’t hang with the popular kids in high school, or get invited out on dates, it was because I was fat. And that really hurt, but I could also blame my fat. I could rant and rage inside at those rude, cruel kids who judged me based on my weight. Shame on them.
When I was a young adult, married and with a new baby, there was an event that I didn’t get picked to attend, when I was sure I would receive an invitation. I convinced myself it was because I was overweight and the presenters of the event only wanted thin, beautiful people in attendance. I was still devastated, but less so than thinking they just didn’t want me there.
Too tired? It’s because I’m fat and out of shape.
People don’t want to be my friend? Fat intolerance.
Didn’t get the job? Fat.
When Your One Big Thing is Changeable
Many people have a One Big Thing they blame for a lot of their life problems, whether they realize it or not.
The color of their skin.
Who their parents are.
How much money they have or don’t have.
Being overweight is changeable, and this is both positive and negative.
Let that sink in for a moment. A changeable One Big Thing is motivating. This also creates pressure.
What Thin Will Mean
The other thing that happens when you are overweight for a long time is that you begin to create a fantasy world in your mind about what life will be like when you are thin. I don’t mean you think you will live in a castle with Prince Charming. (Although there is some of that. In high school I was sure I would get a boyfriend once I lost 50 pounds.)
Once I’m thin, I’ll be more outgoing.
When I’m thinner, I’ll get that job promotion.
After I’ve lost the first 30 pounds, then I’ll start going to the gym regularly.
It’s only natural to idealize a goal. The problem is that if you put so much pressure on yourself to be this certain perfect someone once you become thin, you will not want to go there.
So here’s my challenge for you. (I know, you probably thought this blog post was going to be about fat grams and the curse of your grandmother’s slow metabolism. But the reality is that lasting weight loss is really not about those things. It’s about getting your head in the game.)
Over the next few days, notice your thoughts when it comes to your body, your weight, and your eating habits. If you journal, jot down some notes. Notice:
- Do you blame your weight for problems in your life? What would happen if you assumed for the next week that your weight was not to blame for any of your life problems?
- Think about the “new you” you envision at your goal weight. Now picture the “you” you are today. Imagine the two of them shaking hands and having a conversation. (This might seem a bit silly but have fun with it!)
- Write a prayer asking God to guide you toward a healthy, fit you. Thank him for creating you. Post it somewhere where you will see it daily.
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Sara, I enjoy reading your blogs. They are very down to earth for the real person. I am guilty of it all, overeating, laziness, i.e. lack of exercise, lack of ambition. I want to be healthy for myself and my family. Where/how do I start?
Hi Ann, thanks for your comment and for sharing. Don’t lose hope! For so many years I felt like I would never overcome my eating issues, but it is absolutely possible and you can do it. The most important part is to start with one small baby step, keep up that step, and then do the next thing, and keep building. I don’t know if you’ve read my 100 lb weight loss series on this blog, but check it out when you can. I started with therapy (with a really good therapist who knows about eating issues). After I had been in therapy for about 6 months, I used a healthy eating program — for me that was Weight Watchers online program. Then, a few months after that, I started exercising. I didn’t try to do it all at once. I slowly added things piece by piece.
You are absolutely right. But as you say, getting my head in the game is my challenge. That’s my prayer. One day at a time , one meal, one planned snack at a time. I wish I could visualize the donuts at church as fat bombs or something!
Cathy, LOL doughnuts are fat bombs — they are just delicious ones. 😉 You are right that it’s one day and one meal at a time.
Jeff Marshall says
Sara, I’m sure we’ll talk about this soon when I see you, but I just wanted to say publicly what a brilliant job you did with this blog – it was painfully perfect. I avoided reading this for awhile – I had a feeling with a title like that it would really hit home. As well it did! You really made me do a lot of thinking. I have been using my weight issues as a crutch for a long time, but never so much so than the last couple years. Like many of your readers, my weight has gone up and down all my life. Right now, when I’m at my highest weight in a long time, I use it as an excuse not to be social, not to get outside and do things, you name it. It’s devastating to start out heavy, lose a bunch, and then gain it all back. I didn’t really appreciate being in shape until I wasn’t. Now the size I was ashamed to hit a few years ago is the size I would give the fried chicken in the refrigerator to be able to fit into again. Your article has given me a lot to chew on (pun intended) and I thank you for once again opening your heart and sharing so eloquently – it helps to know you’re not alone. I have lots of thoughts circulating about this subject, but I’m selfishly going to hang on to them right now for a possible future blog of my own – maybe some male readers out there could use an encouraging word or two from a guy’s perspective on weight loss. That’s something you don’t hear a lot about – unless you’re ripped or cut or whatever the terms people use nowadays. Thanks again for a wonderful job – I’m so proud of what you’re accomplishing with this blog and to see the lives you are touching!
Jeff, thanks for being willing to share your insights in your comment. Just your comment alone is helpful. I’m sure a blog about this would be VERY well appreciated and read. I agree that we don’t hear much about the male perspective on being overweight and weight loss, and there is much there to share about. I know men struggle a great deal and many would be helped by your words.
Thank you Sara!
My weight has fluctuated all my life, I’ve been down to a size zero and up to a size 20! I never realized how I “hide behind my weight” as well as my Fibromyalgia.
This was a real eye opener for me. So many times I tell myself people are rude to me because I’m overweight, I don’t get things done, because I hurt, and I’m unhappy because our finances are in bad shape. I’m ready to take action and change for the better.
Thanks for sharing, Lisa. I’m really excited to read you are ready to take action and make positive changes. One small step at a time. You can do it!
Thank you Sara for opening my eyes! Fat isn’t my One Big Thing but I can use your method of beating it as an aid to beating mine.
Absolutely! This is true whatever your Big Thing is.