A Humbling Experience
Finally reaching your goal weight and enjoying life in a right size body does not mean that your journey was flawless. In fact, you will likely have many setbacks and struggles along the way. And the very process necessary to achieve major weight loss success is often a very humbling one. You will make mistakes and you will learn things about yourself that are not always easy to discover.
And although it is a lot more fun to post a before and after pic on Facebook or Instagram, it is important that we also share some of our less successful moments and discoveries. It is through this transparency that we can help encourage one another to press on when the going gets tough.
It is in that spirit that I’m sharing with you things that have brought me the most embarrassment during my weight loss journey. Here are the…
5 Things that Embarrass Me the Most About My Weight Loss Journey:
I was Neglecting my Family
This has been the hardest thing for me to come to realize. And please, please do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that overweight people are worse parents than skinny people. Nor that overweight people will be better parents if they lose weight. I am not saying that AT ALL.
What I am saying is that addiction of any kind can prevent you from being your best self in one or more areas of life. For me (not necessarily you), one of the areas of my life that was suffering was my family life. And the sad part was that I didn’t really notice.
Since getting my food addiction under control thanks to Bright Line Eating, my wife and older children have explained that my emotional capacity and energy have increased. Apparently before then, my kids were much more selective with what they discussed with me, and my wife was hesitant to engage me with parenting challenges knowing that it would zap my energy for the rest of the day. They knew that too many difficult issues for discussion would cause me to become even more withdrawn and closed off than I already was around them.
As I learn to pro-actively engage and they learn to test the boundaries of the greater emotional capacity I now have, we are enjoying family life now more than ever. And with two toddlers in the home as a source of entertainment (not to mention drama) it’s a good place to be.
I Will Never be “Normal”
Here’s the deal. My weight loss is not some project that I’ve worked on and now just have to maintain with just a bit of effort as if I had just organized a messy garage. In order to be successful, I can never go back to just being one of the gang at the next office Christmas party and eat the same foods as everyone else. Even at a healthy weight, I must stick to my bright lines if I want to remain successful.
I so wish that wasn’t the case. I wish when someone asked me how I lost all my weight that I could say,
“Well, Joe, I’ve got amazing willpower when I put my mind to something. So I just decided that it was time to make a change and now I’m watching what I eat and working out like a Navy Seal at my local gym.” They would be so impressed.
Unfortunately, that is not the case. And although there shouldn’t be, there is a bit of embarrassment on my part when some people ask me details about my weight loss. They often don’t get why I completely stopped eating sugar and flour instead of just “cutting back.” I believe I’ve even had one or two ask with surprise, “You couldn’t handle an occasional treat?” And, of course, I have to admit that I likely couldn’t “handle” an occasional treat. The risk would be too high.
Then some get really confused when you try and explain that you still won’t be having “treats” when you get to goal weight. You can just see them thinking, “That’s a bit extreme don’t you think?” Or, “Good luck with that.”
Let’s face it. The idea of food addiction seems bizarre to many people. The concept, even in academic circles, can be quite controversial. But the truth is, there is a part of the population who, at the very least, demonstrates addictive like behavior around food. And for those of us in that bucket, moderation has never been an effective solution to weight loss.
But sometimes we need to do the healthy thing regardless of what others may think. And if food addiction is part of your DNA like mine, then sticking to your bight lines without exception may just be the only sure way to your best self.
I’m still struggling with exercise
To be clear, exercise is not a recommended part of the Bright Line Eating weight loss phase. In fact, in many cases it may do more harm than good (see Stop Exercising to Lose Weight for more information). However, Bright Line Eating is a big proponent of exercise as an important part of weight loss maintenance and as part of a healthy lifestyle. And to that end I would like to consistently add exercise as part of my daily routine.
But I’m a bit embarrassed to say that exercise has been difficult for me to embrace as part of my new life. I have done some cardio and weight lifting, but I haven’t been able to maintain either for very long. I do live in the Chicagoland area so my plan is to focus more on walking as the weather improves (which might not be until July because the winter we’re having this year doesn’t seem to have an end in sight).
So hopefully someday I’ll be able to tell you all about my amazing exercise program. But until then, I still have to admit that I’m struggling with exercise.
I Could Not Have Succeeded without My Wife
When you lose 150 pounds people give you a lot of credit and lots of compliments. You even occasionally get bestowed with the unofficial title of Bright Line Eating Rock Star. And while I love the positive recognition, the truth is that I’m not any better at weight loss than many who have tried the same thing yet have been unsuccessful. In many cases, I just had something they lacked – an amazingly supportive spouse.
Yes, I’d like to take all of the credit (and often do). But the truth is, I’m not sure I could have done it without my wife. She was supportive from day one and was willing to completely change our food environment at home even though she is not a food addict (she is only a 2 out of 10 on the food addiction susceptibility scale).
She also does 95% of the cooking, shopping and meal planning. (I know, you’re jealous right?) Just imagine how many more people would be successful at weight loss if they had someone else handling all of these things for them.
And to add insult to injury, my wife herself has now lost over 50 pounds, is wearing a size two, and yet gets minimal accolades. Why? Because my weight loss has been so extreme that people usually talk to her about me and forget to mention how amazing she looks.
So let me just say how proud I am of her and how great she looks. Her name is Jennifer and you can follow her on Instagram at @moremommymoments.
I was an Emotional Wreck Some Days
Weight loss is hard work for anyone. It can be particularly difficult for those of us who struggle with food addiction and for whom eating is strongly tied to our emotions. That certainly describes me.
So giving up flour and sugar and no longer eating whenever I felt like it was emotionally difficult. For a while at the beginning, my depression and anxiety got worse. I was more conscious of my weight and more upset with myself for letting things get so out of hand. And sometimes I became more easily irritable and discouraged.
And for an introverted guy who is rarely “emotional,” there were more tears than I’d like to admit. Before I even got started I had a moment when I cried just at the thought of a life without flour and sugar. There were also a couple of other days when I cried because I was hungry, depressed and had reached my maximum stress level.
But there were some happy tears too. The first time was the morning I hopped on the scale and it showed that I had lost 100 pounds. The second time was my recent one year anniversary of Bright Line Eating. In both cases I was just so amazed that a guy like me who had failed to many times in the past had finally experienced significant weight loss success.
Not Perfect, Just Unstoppable
So, how about you? Are there still parts of your journey that are a bit embarrassing? Areas where you’re still struggling?
The truth is that we will continue to have struggles and failures along the way. I certainly have plenty of my own and I’m sure you do too. And this is where I find one of the core Bright Line Eating Values quite helpful; the value of “unstoppability.”
As Susan Peirce Thompson explains to achieve success in Bright Line Eating, “you don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be unstoppable.” I love that!
What about you? Are you still striving for perfection and embarrassed by failure? Then you’re ready to just be unstoppable. Are you with me?