I’ve noticed that people who are trying to lose weight will often talk about wanting to lose weight “the right way”. People will say they don’t want to take any shortcuts (at which point I call bullshit, because if there is actually a shortcut to losing weight, I say sign me up).
I’ve seen headlines on the front of magazines trumpeting how one of the Kardashian girls (I have no idea which one, because I don’t really know who they are or why they are famous) is a weight loss cheater.
I have to admit, I don’t get it. How can you cheat at losing weight? What shortcuts has anyone ever used to lose weight? And what precisely is the right way to lose? Oh, I know, diet and exercise, right?
Sometimes, when people talk about shortcuts, I think they mean what seem like gimmicky things — green coffee bean extract and fiber pills and the like. But more often than not, people seem to be talking about surgery. Among people who either lose weight or want to lose weight, there seems to be a general disdain for weight loss surgery. An idea that losing weight through surgery is an easy way out. Almost as though people who lose weight through surgery have cheated some how. I have to be honest, that really pisses me off.
I had weight loss surgery — a lap band — in 2007. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make in my life. I lost weight with it. And guess what? It was still hard. At the time of getting band, I didn’t necessarily expect it to make weight loss easy. I thought it would perhaps make it possible. And it did, for a while. When I lost weight, I was proud of myself. It was difficult, even after the surgery. It took an incredible amount of discipline and dedication. In fact, at times, I think it took even more discipline than not having surgery, because there were foods, some of which were favourites of mine, that I could no longer eat without some pretty unfortunate physical consequences.
I’ve since had the band removed because of complications I had with it. But weight loss surgery remains a really great option for many people. Some people credit having surgery with saving their lives.
The truth is, losing weight is hard, no matter what path you choose. There are no quick fixes, short cuts or easy ways out. Because for most of us, the extra weight isn’t really about food or exercise. Most people know what they need to do to lose weight, and they still don’t do it. I know that’s the case for me. I’m a smart person. I know what I need to lose weight. And yet most of the time, I didn’t do it. I’d start and give up and re-start and quit. Because there was something else going on. For me, only when I stopped focusing so much on weight and started focusing on being good to myself did things change. I haven’t stepped on a scale in months, so I don’t know how much I weigh, and whether I’ve actually lost weight. But I do notice a change in myself. My relationship with food is better. I don’t overeat anymore. I often now recognize my cravings as emotional needs, and am much better equipped to deal with them in non-food ways. I listen to my body and thank her for hanging in there after years of yo-yo dieting abuse. I actually want to eat things that nourish my body. My desire for junk has diminished greatly.
I’d like to see an environment where weight loss is not a competitive sport. A move away from The Biggest Loser mentality. Are you losing weight because you’re tracking your food intake and exercise? Awesome, good for you! Are you losing weight because you’ve had weight loss surgery? Way to go! Are you losing weight because you’re developing a better relationship with your body and food? Fantastic! Have you decided to stop worrying about your weight and focus on being the best “you” you can be? Amazing!
There is no right way. There is only the way that’s right for you.