Fat Chance or Fighting Chance at Weight Loss?
I can’t even imagine how much courage you have at this very moment. Who wants to read a weight loss column or think about dieting in December? It’s the holiday season for goodness sake! I wouldn’t have gone anywhere near this information when I weighed more than 300 pounds.
Celebrating Christmas with delicious food was a part of my “south of the Mason-Dixon line” heritage. Anyone bringing low-calorie, low-fat dishes to the holiday table was considered a Yankee sympathizer and forced to eat at the little kid’s table. Dieting was forbidden.
For nearly 20 years, the holidays were a wonderful excuse for me to take my normal 4000-calorie day and add another thousand or two to the grand total. This was never a solo journey. I brought those I loved along for the ride. There are few things more satisfying for cooks like me at Christmas time than watching our family and friends eat with gusto and come back for more.
A Culinary Side Note: In the Ozarks, it is common knowledge that nothing says happy birthday to the baby Jesus like a sweet potato pie. I believe I’ve seen recipes that call for a variety of spices including myrrh – a clear salute to the Three Wise Men.
When I was obese, I forgot for just one day about the scale telling me that I needed to lose more than half of my body weight. I could just eat, relax and enjoy the holiday with the rest of the country. Even now, Christmas Day continues to be a 24-hour period on the calendar when I give the calorie calculator in my head a well-deserved rest.
I would never recommend starting a weight loss plan during the holiday season. Good news, right? The first few weeks of any new diet can be stressful and you don’t need the added pain of watching everyone else frolic with fruitcakes. Your plan for the next few weeks is simple. Nurse one plate of food as long as possible at parties, park your car as far away from the stores as you can handle, and hang-on until New Year’s Day.
I’d like for you to wake-up on January 1st with a determination that 2012 is going to be “the year” when:
1. You and your plate finally learn to peacefully co-exist. No more crash diets, no more January weight loss contests and no more binging on food followed by binging on guilt.
2. You give the people who love you the gift of a longer future together. If you have more than 20 or 30 pounds to lose, I’m guessing that someone is quietly (or maybe not so quietly) worrying about your health. Make 2012 the year that you lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
3. You recognize and confront the food lies in your head – the untruths that have become a twisted definition of who you think you are.
Number three on this list is the shortest, but I believe it is one of the most important. I’m not asking you to start counting calories during the holiday season. But as you count down the days remaining in 2011, I’d like you to also count the lies in your head. I’m talking about all of those excuses that fly through your brain when you are deciding when to put food in your mouth, what foods to put in your mouth and how much.
And before we go on, please don’t tell me that you’ve come to terms with your size or that you are “okay” with being overweight. This probably won’t be the most mature sentence I’ve ever written, but I’ve got to call a “liar, liar, pants on fire.” None of us can really be okay with obesity because we shouldn’t be okay with obesity. God didn’t wire us that way. We can try to bury this question, but we can never chase it completely out of our heads: What would my life be like if I was smaller?
If you’ve struggled to maintain a healthy weight, if you’ve been on more diets than you can count, if you are spending the precious hours of your life feeling guilty about the food you eat – there are lies in your head. They need to be exposed.
During the last couple of years, I’ve had the opportunity to travel and speak with groups about healthy weight loss. I admit that my primary focus was generally on those in the audience who would be categorized as obese. They reminded me of me. I knew these were “my” people; very overweight individuals who understand what it is really like to struggle with food. Whew, was I wrong!
The 150-pound person could be at a healthy weight in just a few weeks where the 300-pound person is facing months of work. The 150-pound person can shop anywhere she wants where the 300-pound person is thanking God that the one store in town with plus size clothing now has a size 28. The 150-pound person doesn’t have diabetes or high blood pressure. The 300-pound person has both. What could these individuals have in common?
The lies. They have the lies in common.
I have some big “untruths” from my own weight loss struggles that I’ve shared here before. I’ve also added a few more from those I’ve had the opportunity to meet and mentor. It doesn’t seem to matter how many diets you’ve been on. It doesn’t matter how much weight you need to lose. At our very core, we are all flawed. We are willing to believe the worst about our character when we are weak. We question why God would bother to love us at all. These lies can bring us to our knees in hopelessness if left to run wild in our minds. They must be stopped.