It’s Already There

People still look at me stupidly. I don’t blame them.

I’ve had several months to experiment with how I present my weight loss ‘secret.’ (Hint: it’s not a secret.)

I’m careful to avoid being evangelical. If people ask me, I tell them my opinion. It’s an easy pitfall to reach out. People aren’t ready until they’re ready. That’s true of almost everything. Being in counseling and looking at things from an outsider’s perspective has brought some insights. For those who inquire, it is possible for me to attempt to give them a slice of confidence.

At work, it’s been informative to interact with people who’ve known me for years, because they’ve known me as fat for most of that time. Some of them are holding their breath, waiting for me to put the weight back on. I don’t take it personally. Others are watching me, wondering how they might capture a bit of my genie in the bottle. It is the latter group who have the best chance, in part because they are not only interested, but optimistic about their changes. Optimism makes so many things more fulfilling and likely. If they see me doing it, it’s a powerful argument that they can do it, too. (If they want to.)

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve replied, “The secret is already inside you. It might be dormant or untapped – but it’s there.”

Obviously, people scoff. “If that were true, I’d already be doing it!” Most of them make ‘the’ face when they fire back at me.

“Yeah, well, until late last year, I scoffed too. And then a switch went off in my head. Look, everything I used to break the decades of yo-yo cycles was in my head. I didn’t add anything. No pills, no exercise, nothing. Something inside me flipped. For me, it wasn’t willpower. It was just a certainty. It’s that way with everyone who makes fundamental changes. Whether they are going to lose weight, run a marathon, break a habit, or learn a foreign language. So what if you fail nineteen times? The only effort that matters is the twentieth, isn’t it? You can’t run a marathon until you do it. You can shout in another language until you can. And you’re going to be overweight until you’re not.”

“Do I have superpowers? Do you think that someone like me has an insight other than what I’m telling you? Think of me as a placebo. If knowing I can do it convinces you that you can too, grab it and run. Stop questioning. Until you accept the fact that you are the probably the only reason you’re still overweight, you can’t see around the corner. And if you do manage to see the possibility that you can do it, pretty much nothing will stop you. Some people do have medical reasons that make it very hard, that much is true. But losing weight is totally a matter of eating less than you burn. If you can choose great tasting and healthier instead of some of the stuff you’re eating now, you’re going to lose weight. And if you commit to learning and experimenting, you won’t be stopped. I’m still experimenting now, over six months later.”

In general, people still look at me like I’m an idiot.

“You have to use small choices to your advantage. The point of doing anything like weight loss is to change your habits that will arc across your entire life. And hopefully get a bit of self-confidence when you do it. If you make incremental changes, you are going to get results. Do what you can but do it consistently. And if you fail, reset. Again, and again. If you find that people aren’t supportive, they are at least communicating your lack of value in their lives. The guy who takes off sprinting is going to get way ahead of you in a race, especially if you’re walking. But I guarantee that you can walk a lot longer than he can sprint. Weight loss is the same way.”

And that’s the gist of my most recent TED talks regarding weight.

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