Note: Understand this is written with a certain persona in mind. It’s not meant to be for anyone who ever had issues with weight-loss. With that said, I bet a lot the people who read this and think it doesn’t apply to them are actually the people it applies to most.
So you’ve been dieting for a while. 6 months, a year, maybe you’ve been battling your weight for years, or your whole life.
For the most part you haven’t made much progress. Maybe you’ve lost weight, but at some point you just put it back on. You’re likely nowhere near the weight you want to be.
“If I could just lose this weight….”
Or if you have lost weight you still aren’t near the look you want.
“If I could just look that way…”
You’ve tried everything eating wise. Low carb, high carb, low fat, high fat, South Beach, Atkins, The Asinine Acai Diet, The Malevolent Medifast, etc.
You’ve tried everything exercise wise. Zumba, weightlifting, spin class, aerobics class, P90x, yoga, The Cross Fit Cult.
“I just gotta get this weight off…”
But not much has changed.
Meanwhile, you see some girl or guy who gets a lot of attention (looks how you want) and merely think, “Whatever, that girl is such a skinny bitch.” Or, “I’m sure that dude is on steroids.” Or, “I don’t want to be obsessed with how I look like they are.” Or, “I could look like that if I felt like it.”
It’s not the exercise
You understand you can’t exercise away all your weight. You don’t really think you’re burning 1500 calories during your 45 minute “high intensity” elliptical session (of reading People magazine).
You know shaking your hips in 20 different directions during Zumba doesn’t melt fat off your hips. If it did, why do the Latin women, who can shake their hips way better than you, have wider hips than you?
After thinking about it, you realize Pilates doesn’t actually make your muscles “longer.” If it did, why aren’t there more men in there? I mean, that thing’s a muscle, isn’t it?
You don’t actually think doing another type of bicep curl is going to all of a sudden make your Gunz explode.
It’s not the diet
You understand how to lose weight. You really don’t need someone to tell you you’re eating is subpar. When you make your nighttime run to get a burrito or ice cream, you truly DO know you’re fucking yourself.
At this point you get the whole calorie thing. You know you need to burn more than you eat. You know when you go out with X person or Y people, you eat way more than you should.
When you start researching the latest diet fad, or search forums and ask questions about some “revelatory” new food, you know you’re really just masturbating. You don’t actually think eating one new food, on top of your ice cream, is going to magically make you lose weight.
In fact, you often seek diets or weight-loss strategies YOU KNOW will fail. You’re not an idiot. You don’t actually believe a 21 day juice fast is going to get rid of all your weight. You don’t actually believe eating 400 calories a day is going to get you where you want to go. Yet you use these strategies anyways.
No matter what you say, it’s not portion sizes, it’s not McDonald’s, it’s not your metabolism, it’s not your job, it’s not your spouse, it’s not lack of knowledge…
Deep down, you know there’s something, besides your weight, you’re not happy about. And this is why you have issues with your weight.
It is NOT “I’m unhappy because I’m overweight.” It IS “I’m overweight because I’m unhappy.”
For some reason this is so clear with other addictions or issues. E.g. Alcohol. I’m sure it’s happened, but I’ve never heard “Alcoholics would be so happy if they just stopped drinking.”
They drink BECAUSE they’re unhappy. This is why they have so many issues abstaining from alcohol. Another fight with the spouse? Hate your job? Bad day? Drink it away. You don’t hear someone going, “Yeah, I had a rough day, I’m just gonna go not drink and that’ll make me happy.”
(Substitute drinking for eating and things should are becoming lucid.)
This is one reason you see people who had something traumatic happen to them suddenly have weight issues. Here are two examples of people I know:
-Guy spends 50 years of his life at the same weight and waist size. However, at 68 years old he suffers a severe injury to his foot. This injury is so bad it prevents him from going back to his profession, which required a good deal of physicality. He gains 40+ pounds and 4 years later still cannot get it off.
->Do you really think this is someone who doesn’t understand how to eat? Or understand their body? THEY SPENT 50 YEARS OF THEIR LIFE AT ONE SIZE!!! It’s not like their metabolism all of a sudden stopped working, AT 68!
-Another person suffers a severe lower body injury rendering them in a wheel chair for 6 months. Over this time span the person gains 60 pounds. 5 years later they still have issues getting all 60 pounds off, and they’ve never been quite as mobile.
->Well duh, being in a wheel chair makes you less active = makes you fatter.” Oh really? THEY’VE BEEN OUT OF A WHEEL CHAIR FOR 4+ YEARS! Why, upon getting out of the wheel chair, didn’t they lose all that weight easily?
What hasn’t been resolved in the above? One person hasn’t made peace with forced retirement, and another hasn’t made peace with never being the same since their injury.
Don’t get caught up in the specific issue with each person above. The point here is each person experienced something that made them unhappy with their self, and THEN the weight issues came.
Thinking you can get rid of the depressive issue by losing weight is an example of treating the symptom (weight) and not the cause (depression / injury / lack of self-worth/ whatever).
Which brings me to my next point…
Relying on your weight issue is a cop out
A cop out for what? Dealing with your real issue.
(I don’t mean this negatively, and I don’t want to sound elitist, we all have our issues. Maybe you eat; maybe I drink.)
It’s much easier to say, “I just need to lose this weight” than it is to say, “I have depression issues because my significant other left me / I had an abusive parent / my sibling died / etc. and food makes me feel better and is a nice distraction.”
And this is what’s keeping you from getting / staying at your goal weight.
Because what happens when you DO attain your goal? When you look the way you want? When the scale says the number you want? What are you going to do then? That pain you feel doesn’t magically disappear because you can fit into the pair of jeans you wore in high school.
Hitting your goal weight / looking the way you want isn’t going to solve all of life’s problems
This just may be the biggest reason people’s diets and such fail. They think looking a certain way will make everything better.
I see this all the time. People reach their goals, then talk to me extensively, all with the tone of, “That’s it? Now what?”
Let’s go over some reasons people try to lose weight:
-That guy you’re interested in but only likes the “skinny bitches”? You think, “He’ll like me too if I’m skinny.”
-That girl you’re interested in but is going out with the in shape, athletic looking dude? “She’ll like me once I get a six pack.”
-“I’m sure I’ll be happy with myself when I weigh as much as I did in high school.”
-“I just want to feel better.”
Are you doubting this? If you are, think about how much of your life priorities shifted towards your appearance the last time you went through a break up. Or how much your friend started going to the gym again after they had a break up. (Also, think about how often people let themselves go after being in a relationship for a while.)
And guess what:
-That dude you like? There’s another guy just like him who likes much more “curvaceous” women.
-That girl you like? She actually really likes that dude because he’s funny. Looks aren’t that important to her.
And as far as feeling happy with yourself…
Think about some of the good looking people you know.
How confident are these people? Really think about it. If you do, you’ll likely realize a lot of good looking people are some of the most insecure people you will ever come across.
It’s not like if you’re born looking a certain way you’re also born feeling great about yourself. Because here’s the thing about confidence: It’s earned; not given. You don’t simply wake up one day having balls / ovaries of steel. You earn that by accomplishing things. Hard things. Painful things.
Born good looking or in shape isn’t an accomplishment; it’s a trait, just like blue eyes or big feet.
This is a big reason why so many people who lose tons of weight put it all back on. They go into their weight-loss thinking when they weigh and look like X, everything will be good. But once they get to X, they realize not a whole lot has changed. Life hasn’t gotten that much better.
-You still have bosses, bills, and bullshit to deal with
-Losing weight can only do so much. It doesn’t make you taller, it doesn’t make your face more symmetrical, it doesn’t make you funnier, etc.
-If you’re a guy, you realize you are likely still not having girls just come up and approach you. In fact, you might realize looks don’t matter to women nearly as much as they do to men.
-If you’re a girl, you may realize other women treat good looking women MUCH differently (worse) than other (non-threatening) women. You may suddenly find the more attention you get from men, suddenly the bigger “bitch” you’ve become. (Remember when you were the one calling other girls bitches?)
Furthermore, the true reason they were unhappy to begin with is often still unresolved.
So what happens?
Once the weight-loss has been attained, the only thing left to address is the true reason you were unhappy to begin with. And as I mentioned, whatever this issue is, it’s often a hell of a lot more painful and harder to deal with than losing some weight. For example, it’s a lot easier to sit on the sidelines and not approach that person in the bar/coffee shop/book store because, “I’m overweight,” than it is to be in shape, and not approach that person because “My whole life I was told I’m not good enough, so there’s no way that person will think I’m good enough.”
Unless you’re as vain as me or Michael Scott:
Michael: “Why are we breaking up?”
Jan: “You’re ignorant, you’re insensitive, you’re stupid, etc. etc.”
Michael: “Sooo my looks have nothing to do with this?”
Jan: “Ugh. Good bye.”
So what do you do? Two things happen.
1) Skinny is never skinny enough. “Yeah, I guess I look ok, but look at such and such celebrity. If I could only look like that.”
You finally have 6 abs now? “Yeah, but that dude has an 8 pack! Once I get that…”
In other words, there is ALWAYS a “skinnier bitch” or a more “ripped asshole.”
2) Rather than deal with that true underlying issue, you gain your weight back, and go back to all the excuses you originally had. Again, much easier to go back to dealing with your weight than the fact your father was an abusive alcoholic. Plus, if you’re going to be unhappy, you might as well enjoy a box of Entenmanns in the process.
Either way, 1) or 2), you’re still allowing your mind to default to your body composition issues for your shortcomings. In some ways, this allows you to feel in control. “Oh, I could look like that…If I wanted to.”
The mindset that works
Losing weight has to be for YOU. It absolutely, positively, cannot be because of what you think it’s going to represent to someone else. Which is the surest path to failure.
You know why? Because even if you do lose the weight some dipshit is going to say something like this to you:
“Oh wow, you’ve lost so much weight. Too bad the boobs are the first to go.”
“Oh man, you’re like, too skinny now.” (Funny how rarely you hear a skinny person say this to another skinny person.)
In other words, you can’t win with other people. You can only win with yourself.
This has to be something you want because you want better for yourself. It’s not because you think it’s going to solve some grandiose problem. It’s because you truly know you’re better than what you currently are, and because of that you want to be healthy, you want to take care of yourself, you want to look better.
The tough part is starting to feel better about yourself is the precursor. The precursor is not blindly starting some insane diet where you don’t eat, thinking that for every pound you lose you’ll incrementally feel better. It doesn’t work that way.
Losing weight is a great thing to do for yourself, but understand you need to first figure out why you want to lose weight. “To show my ex they fucked up” is not a valid reason. You might as well just go eat the Oreos now and save yourself the deprivation.
Figure out what’s truly bothering you, understand this needs to be addressed for anything long-term to really be accomplished, actually address it, and use weight-loss as a concurrent method to bettering yourself.
After all, that person in the bar / coffee shop / book store? They’re waiting for you to say hi and make them laugh, so go do it.
Life is too short to spend constantly jerking off.
Update 12/13/12: PLEASE watch this TED talk by a Victoria’s Secret model and notice the similarities between what she talks about and what I talked about above. Specifically how she, a Victoria’s Secret model, is highly insecure!