I’ve been searching for reasons why I find it difficult to lose weight for a really long time. It’s not like I don’t understand what’s required. I just seem to be unable to do what’s required for an extended period of time. So I figured there just had to be some reason for that — my inability to be successful at this, when I’ve been successful at so many other things. I was pondering this one day, during a particularly introspective period, when I heard a voice in my head say “it keeps you in your place”. This kind of made sense to me. I’ve had a pretty good life, all in all. Did well in school, was a good athlete, had lots of friends, in spite of moving around a lot. Finished school and got a good job right away. I was pretty successful. The one thing that was off was being overweight. And that was the thing that kept me from being perfect, if you will. From having my ego take over I suppose. It kept me in my place.
That was many years ago now, and it’s stuck with me ever since.
Now, fast forward to this past September. I started an online coaching program called Live More Weigh Less Mastery, a program run by Sarah Jenks. It’s not yet another diet program — in fact, one of the first things Sarah asks everyone to do is to stop trying to lose weight and stop weighing yourself. Her program focuses on how you can create a really good life for yourself, on the premise that’s what you need to do to lose weight.
In one of the early modules in the program, Sarah asks us the question “what if your weight is actually a gift?” Seems crazy to those of us who’ve done everything to try to get rid of the this “gift”. But okay, I’ll keep listening. So what Sarah was asking, is what if my weight is my body’s way of trying to tell me something is wrong in my life, and I need to pay attention? And that instead of trying to listen to my body I did the logical weight loss thing and started beating it up by restricting and bingeing and exercising too much and then not exercising at all. What do you do if you’re not being listened to? If you’re really interested in trying to be heard, you speak louder, or you try to send the message a different way. So maybe my body did both. I tried weight loss surgery; she gave me unbearable heartburn and vomiting. I tried running; she gave me knee and hip pain. I tried lifting weights, she gave me shoulder pain. And she didn’t give me any weight loss.
I figured I’d already had this sorted out, since the voice in my head had already answered this question for me (and the voices in my head are always right of course) and my weight was there to keep me from becoming an insufferable egotistical maniac. So I guess that was the gift my weight was giving me. But given the mounting evidence that my body was in fact pissed off and kept bestowing me with more “gifts”, I figured I’d explore this idea of listening to my body further. And also, I’d paid $1500 for this coaching program, and I needed to get my money’s worth.
So I started to listen to my body. And I heard a voice in my head say (maybe the same voice even), “You have it backwards. Your weight doesn’t keep you in your place. Your weight is the result of you keeping yourself in your place.”
Huh. Interesting, but what the hell does that mean?
I did everything that I thought was expected of me. I got great marks in school. I studied a subject at university that would be sure to get me a great job, even though I had no real passion for the subject. I got that great job and worked hard, and advanced. I bought a house. Saved money. I got married. Tried to make that marriage work. Had kids. Did everything I could to be a good mother. When I got laid off from that great job after 15 years, I immediately got another great job in the same field so I would be able to support myself and the kids (having failed at making the marriage work part, which if you look back to this entry you’ll understand). None of these are bad things — they’re all good things. But I never really did any of the things that I really wanted to do. And when I did, I felt bad about it. Guilty. As though I was wasting my time. Letting someone down. I don’t know who that someone was though.
So now I know this. And it makes sense. A lot more sense than “it keeps you in your place”. I’m not sure I could ever become an insufferable egotistical maniac, even if I really wanted to. Now I need to start figuring out how to let myself out of my place, my box, my cell. I’m not sure entirely. A lifetime of behaving in a particular way doesn’t turn around over night. But I do know that this (writing this down) is the first step.