Monday, October 09, 2006

The Battle

I was reading Jane on skinnydaily and she had a really good post on the "battle" of losing weight. She asked why it has to be a battle; why can't it be an act of self-love instead?

I have taken both positions. While the battle mode works at first -- it gets you fired up and propels that initial motivation -- after a while one grows battle weary. When you realize in order to maintain any weight loss you're going to have to mindfully eat and keep pushing yourself physically for the rest of your life, it's hard to maintain the "eye of the tiger." It's then that you have to think about doing this for your health, for your own sanity and happiness. I visualize a future me needing hip and knee replacements from all the excess weight and it can often help me keep going another day.

Recently I've noticed that I'm beginning to think of people I know who've lost weight as my companions, fellow soldiers in this battle. Whether they've done it through surgery, diet, exercise etc., they've still gone through their own battles, too. I say recently because in the past my thoughts tended to veer more towards competition. "Have they lost more weight than me? Do I look smaller than her? How can I keep up?"

This past weekend in my travels I ran into two of these veterans that in the past I've compared myself to when it comes to my body and weight loss. The first person is in my circle of friends, although one I don't see often. Back when I first started this journey I started going to the gym she attended. At the time she was preparing for her sister's wedding and had really knocked off a lot of weight with a combination of Atkins and plenty of exercise. She looked great, and more importantly, her self-confidence really grew, and it was no surprise that she wound up meeting a nice guy and starting a serious relationship. Watching her really inspired me and made me feel this impossible task I'd given myself just might happen. Over the past three years, since the wedding has come and gone, this friend has gained a lot if not all of the weight back. It was a gradual process, and when we'd run into each other she'd make little comments like she couldn't seem to find the time to exercise. This weekend we chatted for several minutes and caught up on each other's lives, but we never brought up the topic of weight.

The other person I saw last night at the restaurant where we ate dinner. She's more of an acquaintance than a friend, but someone I see regularly in social situations. While I've never asked her directly, our small town gossip informed me she had some kind of weight loss surgery, which seemed to hold true with the speed and severity of her weight loss. Anyone who knows me I'm not crazy about WLS, especially gastric bypass, and this is after lots of reading and watching different shows about it. Now I don't criticize people for having it; it's an extremely personal decision and for some people it seems like the only way to come to grips with their issues about eating. My main concern is the hazards of the surgery and the side effects afterwards. Everything from thinning hair, loss of bone density, malnutrition, and even in some cases cancer. The most frustrating thing for me is to see people who've had the surgery, thinking it's the magical cure-all, and within a few years they're gaining weight back (just look at Carnie Wilson, who I just loved to watch on VH-1's Celebrity Fit Club). And in the case of this woman, I could tell she had definitely gained some back. Not a lot, but enough for people at my table to comment.

Now I'm not sitting here today writing about these people because I feel better than them, or sorry for them. I'm writing because I have been there. Last year at this time I was trying to lose the 50 pounds I had regained. I know the feelings I had, which were frustration, sadness, anger, embarrassment, and it was hard not to feel like failure. I can't project any of these feelings onto these other women, because I don't know all the circumstances behind their current situation. Maybe they've been able to find some contentment and happiness with the way they are right now. Perhaps they've decided they don't want to be in the battle anymore, which I can understand.

I don't know if I'll ever be able to find that level of satisfaction in myself. There's a part of me that's never content with the job I've done, that can always find something I could have done better. What if I could actually get to the weight the charts say I should weigh? Something tells me I'll still have a list of things I don't like about myself. What if I could find some peace of mind that enables me to look at my work, or my body, and think "job well done?" Now there's a battle worth fighting.


Vickie said...

On your sidebar -
I have tried several things and I have no idea about your titles on the side bar.

For a while I thought that you were forgetting to put a title on each blog the first time you publish it and then going back and putting title in later - but I tried it and when you add the title - it changes on the sidebar to.

So, I think that it must be a "set up/format" thing somewhere - but where I don't know.

Lori said...

It's hard to watch people lose weight (however they did it) and then regain it. Not just from the perspective of being their friend but because let's face it, that's our hidden (or not so hidden) fears.

I agree, a lot of this should be second nature but we do need the battle too because it's too easy to be complacent and find ourselves back to where we were. Perhaps we can be not quite as obsessive. I'm sure not everyone needs to know the exact points in every bite we eat. ;-)