In the summer of 2014 I became aware of the story of a man in my area who lost nearly 400 pounds. His story was remarkable for many reasons. Foremost was the amount of weight he lost, but there were other elements as well. Prime among them was that he had found someone to hold him accountable for his life, and his health. I won’t go into a lot more detail about his story today, but suffice to say it was quite inspirational. One thing I also learned was that he had created a support group on Facebook where people could come to discuss weight loss, their struggles, their triumphs and so on.
I joined that group, and instantly found a community of people who were fighting for a common goal. I found support and answers to questions. I shared my progress pictures and so on. In the 20 months that I was a member of the group I honed my own skills around managing my food intake, my exercise routines, and so on. There are many groups on Facebook, and elsewhere, that offer similar kinds of peer support for people losing, or attempting to lose weight.
Recently I left that group. Over time the group had shifted. The group had ceased (at least for me) to be a place to gain accountability and support for a weight loss and health journey. Instead, it had become a place of enablement for the attitudes and behaviors that lead to so many of us finding ourselves morbidly obese.
Not everyone will like what I have to say next
In the time I was in that (and others) weight loss group, I met hundreds of people. Some were successful in their weight loss, others struggled, a few gave up (sadly). One thing I learned is that we who have become morbidly obese are really good at lying to ourselves, and believing things that just aren’t true.
Before I go on, let me be clear. There are people with glandular issues, or other medical conditions, that make it extremely difficult to lose weight. Those people should be under the care of a physician, and should follow the advice of the medical and dietary professionals to the letter to ensure their long term health.
The truth is that among those of us who have gained and carry significant weight, those with medical conditions causing the weight gain are relatively few. The vast majority of us get to that point not because of some medical condition, or some external force that makes us fat. Rather, we get there because of OUR OWN decisions, and our unwillingness to be honest with ourselves and others.
At its core, weight loss is simple … but it is not easy.
The simple fact of the matter is that to lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you take in. When there is a net deficit of calories in your diet, you lose weight. When there is a net surplus, your body stores it and you gain weight. It really is that simple. Even for those with glandular or other medical issues, the formula it still the same. They have to burn more than they take in. For a small number of them it is harder because their metabolism (burn rate), is lower, but the formula remains the same.
It is simple, but not easy. Losing weight takes diligence, hard work and patience. But most importantly, it takes HONESTY.
When I was at my heaviest, I had many little lies I told myself and others. I told myself that I couldn’t work out because my knees hurt. I told myself that it is too hard to track my food. I told myself that the food and restaurant industries were all conspiring against me. I told those lies to absolve myself from accountability. I also told other lies. I hid the fact that I was consuming enormous amounts of food. I would stop on the way home from work (where dinner would soon be waiting), and consume all manner of junk along the way. My children would sometimes take great delight in rummaging the pockets on the backs of the seats in my car to see what kinds of food wrappers they would find. I would hide them there, intending to discard them out of sight, only to have them discovered later. (Honestly, they only found a small percentage of the wrappers. The truth is, I was good at hiding what I ate)
When people ask me what was the key to my weight loss, I will name many things. But the prime among them is that I became 100% honest with myself and others about what I was eating. I set myself up to be accountable for what I was consuming. I did that on this blog, with my public comments on Facebook, and with family and friends. My wife has been an amazing supporter of my journey, as have many other family members and close friends. I appreciate EVERY one of them more than they will know. But…I was successful because I made the conscious, daily decision to be completely honest about my health, and the actions I was taking to either improve or damage it. I am not just talking about being honest with others, I had to be honest with MYSELF!
I left the group because it had become a place of enablement. It had become a place where anyone could say “I am special”, and they would be coddled into believing their excuses. When I, or a few others, would call them out and ask them to be more accountable, we were shouted down as insensitive or uncaring. There would be choruses of people whose “special” circumstances made it impossible for them to lose weight. Pseudo science had taken over for reason in far too many cases.
If you are reading this, and you have a medically diagnosed condition that makes weight loss very difficult for you, my heart goes out to you. I hope that with the help of your doctors, you can find your way to better health.
If you are reading this, and you are among the (far too) many who have talked yourself into believing excuses for not losing weight and becoming more healthy, then I say two things.
- Stop believing your own lies!
- Find someone who will fearlessly, honestly, even HASRHLY, hold you accountable, and who will not take your lies as truth.
There is no one, and I mean NO ONE, who is more to blame for your circumstances than the person looking back in the mirror. And there is ABSOLUTELY no one who can have a bigger impact on your future successes or failures than YOU!
If I had continued to believe the lies I told myself then I would be:
- AT LEAST 350 pounds
- Scheduling knee replacement surgery
- Headed for an early grave
This post is not in keeping with my normally upbeat, supportive, encouraging tone. Today I am all about pushing myself, and those around me, to be courageously accountable!