Thought for the Day--May 17, 2011: Start Where You Are Right Now and Never Forget Where You Were

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
--Arthur Ashe
If you are getting down on yourself because of your weight, STOP it right now.

It's not productive and, in the long run, will likely sabotage your weight-loss and healthy life-style plan.

Your weight has little to do with what's between your ears and in your heart.

Your weight is what it is, nothing more. Never mind what other people and Madison Avenue say about what someone should weigh.

Just vow to start where you are now, without negative judgments about your weight.

So begin your plan (whatever it is) with a good attitude and good feelings about yourself. Don't begin it as an angry person about to kill bear.

Instead, take stock of what's right in your life by making a list of your blessings: children, spouse, career, friends, etc.

You see, in the past, I would "go on a diet" with negative feelings, gritted teeth, and a lot of anger at myself, always the same question, "How could I let myself go like this?" And then I would think about how I could punish myself by going on a strict, and often starvation, diet. Just as you should not reward yourself with food, nor should you punish yourself with it either.

This time around, my attitude was different, more upbeat, and it has made all the difference in the world. In September 2010, I started my program on a high note. I had just come back to the States from Macedonia, still riding the high of having been granted a Fulbright and having had a wonderful year abroad.

Okay, so I was fat, but I was feeling pretty well overall (other than my one health scare), and my legs were strong from all the walking I did during my time in Skopje, so the time was right to make some positive changes by starting to eat healthier and lose a significant amount of weight, but slowly and steadily. This would be no sprint.

I wouldn't worry about how fast I would lose, but focus instead on the quality of my new program: to eat healthy and well--without going hungry.

So far, so good. If I'm hungry, I eat, but first I make sure that I am hungry, not just thirsty or "hungry for" something specific. If I have an urge to eat for emotional reasons, then I try to work through it. It's not always easy--last week, I experienced a rough patch and was tempted to binge, but I managed to avoid it.

I just take it day by day and try to stick to my plan as best I can and still enjoy good food and eat out about once a week.

Another thing: I have noticed that some people who when they reach goal weight become judgmental of others who are still overweight, which saddens me tremendously. I don't understand where such pettiness comes from. Those of us who have battled weight (and, presumably, won) should never forget that we all started out overweight and experienced the same kind of prejudice and cruelty. We should show by example, not by rude comments; Fat people already know that they're fat, so our "insightful" opinions are not really welcome.

We'll never hear this kind of feedback: "Oh, thanks for letting me know how fat I am. I just wasn't aware of it, and what was I thinking, allowing myself go like this? I'll go on a diet right away."

In short, when interacting with others and offering advice, never forget where you were.

If you feel that you are starting at rock bottom and not ready to initiate changes in your life, then you may want to see a therapist, one who specializes in helping overweight people to work on self-esteem issues and then their eating behaviors. If you can, find someone who has shared your weight and emotional struggles and has learned how to manage them (we never really conquer them).

Going to a slender therapist who has never seen a fat day is a bit like going to a never-married person for marriage counseling. Such therapist might have all the right training but can never really share your experience. Just my opinion.

Perhaps the most important thing: connect with a therapist with whom you feel a good chemistry.

Wherever you are in your life journey, I wish you best wishes.

Ta, CF


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