Friday, October 9, 2009

I'm Coming Out

As is often the case, Diane at Fit to the Finish has written a post that I would like to respond to here. It's entitled One Big Mistake.

In a nutshell (though I know you'll read the whole post!), Diane reminds us that making mistakes is human and that rather than being defeated by our mistakes, we should learn from them and go on. The "one big mistake"--the only real "deal breaker" mistake--is not believing in yourself and in your ability to succeed.

My first instinct, and yours I'm sure, is to say "yes!". Believing in oneself is key to success. But something bothered me and I had to explore it further.

In the past, I have mentioned my failed hip surgery. It was something that was totally outside of my control. The surgeon made a bad call, which led to surgical complications, which led to a negative outcome for me. This negative outcome was not clear in the beginning. At first, it just seemed like the surgical complication would slow down my recovery, not stop it dead in its tracks and actually lead to increased disability. So at first, I bravely soldiered on, faithfully exercising (which actually made things worse) and plastering my home office with "I am recovering" post-it notes. Sadly, there are times when a positive attitude is about as useful as a broken washing machine when there are no clean clothes in the house. In other words, it's useless.

Well, I had the corrective surgery and then put my "I can do it" attitude to work because I knew that now my washing machine was repaired and it was time to get the clothes washed, so to speak! I recovered.

How does this apply to weight loss? Is that "can do" attitude going to get me there, just as it did after my revision surgery? Is really believing in myself and my ability to succeed the final key to a lasting and successful weight loss?

The answer is no.

As I read Diane's article, I realized that I have been making the changes that needed to be made and I have lost some weight--about a third of my ultimate goal. I am not a compulsive or binge eater--intuitive eating has been the right answer. For me, both physiologically and psychologically, dieting is a violent act. It was a temporary act of violence that I could implement when I was younger, but a lifetime of self-flagellation is not what I'm looking for in life. I decided that I had to make peace with food and that is what I'm doing. It's not a linear process. After all, this is a mind-shift, a turning-around of how I have thought throughout my adult life. In a sense, it's a lot harder than setting a daily calorie limit, though much more liberating in the long run (again, remember, I speak only for myself).

Another change that I've made is that I drink a lot more water. It's perhaps a small thing, but it's something that I believe is extremely valuable.

I have also only recently discovered the healing power of falling asleep naturally. I now never let myself fall asleep while watching TV. This was a bad habit I acquired when recovering from both my surgeries as well as from travelling a lot and having to fall asleep in hotel rooms. It's amazing how much better I feel now that I just turn off the TV and read a few pages of a good book before turning off the light at bedtime. My chronic, low-level headaches have all but disappeared and I think that even my blood pressure is going down. Why didn't I start listening to my husband years ago?

Unfortunately, I have hit the wall on what would have been the fourth pillar of a successful "healthy me"/weight loss strategy: exercise.

I feel I deserve hearty congratulations for maintaining a regular yoga practice. It has been of great value to me. But the fact is, due to my disabilities, the gentle yoga that is so good for me has no appreciable value as a weight-loss tool. (P.S., I cannot really do the simple act of sitting cross-legged, as in the photo I posted above).

My little best friend, the pedometer, has helped me to up the amount of daily walking I do. But I can't do the brisk walking that puts a little sheen of perspiration on the brow and burns a couple of pesky calories. When you're disabled, there are two kinds of pain: the pain that you, the non-disabled, feel when you're aiming for the burn and the pain that I feel when I'm doing something that's harmful to my body. I can distinguish between these types of pain and sadly, the pain of pushing myself which is required to burn calories, is the pain that could put me back in the hospital.

So I've decided to be honest with myself and answer Diane's question by saying that no, I don't really think I'm going to reach that wonderful goal. I'm not ready to close the door completely, but I think that I just have to keep doing what I'm doing and not set what is likely to be for me an unrealistic goal.

I'm going to keep blogging and keep reading blogs, including a number of weight loss blogs. Though I feel I have to "come out" as a non-weight loss blogger, I hope you will continue to drop by here to visit. I still want to inform, express my views and inspire you too, hopefully!


  1. Hi,
    I think every 'weight loss blog' ultimately comes down to health and wellness. I wish they were all called 'health and wellness blogs'. I look forward to seeing what you have to say on these subjects. While I can't eat intuitively, some may be able to. your blog provides a different way of doing things. Everybody is different. Can't wait to read more of your posts.

  2. Hi. I've never regarded you as a "weight loss blogger" as such. Rather someone who blogs about the issues surrounding food and eating.

    I was not aware that you had a specific goal in mind for your weight anyway. I think it would be against your philosophy if you did.

    You obviously have a lot of self belief - belief in your own way of eating. And you've found a way of relating to food that works for you - and that is the only goal that really matters.

    Your self belief means that you've created a mindset where you cannot fail - there is no food "off plan" because there is no plan. You trust yourself to make the right choices and if you make a bad choice you just know you'll do better next time.

    I think you've already achieved your goal of reaching and maintaining this great mindset.

    Best wishes,
    Bearfriend xx

  3. Bearfriend and cmoursler,

    Thanks for your vote of confidence.

    In terms of a weight loss goal, yes, I've always had one. I know it's physically better for me to be somewhat lighter (because of the arthritis), but I have been upfront in saying that I also prefer the way that I look when I'm lighter. I don't live outside the norms of society, much as sometimes I'd love to!

  4. You have my vote of confidence as well!

  5. Wow. We had a houseguest this week, and that has hindered my ability to read everyone's blogs. I got up early this morning and was reading through the comments and came to yours. Of course I came over to see what you had written.

    My heart goes out to you on all that you have been through. I know you said that you don't believe you can achieve a particular weight loss goal, but in reading your article I see that you seem to have achieved so much.

    It's almost as the weight loss is a by-product of all the other positive changes you have made in your life. Personally I see that as a success.

    I too didn't realize that you had specific goals in mind, but rather were changing your eating habits in a very mindful, intuitive way. Those changes seem to have worked for you and that's a victory.

    Your post gave me something to think about in my life as well. Self belief is important, and in examinig some of my goals for my life, I'm not sure I really have it either. And I think that's okay for now.

    I have confidence that you will achieve your goals. You have shown that already. Thanks for writing this - it was very, very good.

  6. You know i'll still be here :) I'm slowly coming around to the concept that there is no bad food. I'm making a thanksgiving dinner on thursday and i do plan on having turkey with all the trimmings, some pumpkin pie and whipped cream and a glass of wine! With no guilt. You always keep me rethinking my strategy. Have a great thanksgiving.

  7. Hi - Great post. Whether you call yourself a non-weight loss blogger or anything else, I'll definitely still be stopping by to read your latest!
    It sounds to me that your are expressing how you know your own body, its limits, and your health - and that you're discarding unrealistic goals. What a healthy way to behave!

  8. I'll still come by, I'm really into coming into peace with food and weight (though I'm stuck on the number for now). Honestly, if I had a good husband and nice life, I would likely blow off the scale and mind my health, and I'd be just as healthy. My scale obsession is for purely aesthetic reasons, because my mom (accidentally, perhap) taught me that nothing else matters, and I could go on, but suffice it to say that it's easier to change my body than my psychology. Unfortunately, I'm realizing that I may still need to work on my psychology if I ever want any happiness. I think it's great that you're able to recognize the difference between your two types of pain, and respect your body, and enjoy it!

  9. Ultimataly it's about changing to healthier habits and you have done and are doing that! I know what you mean though.

    I'm spectacularly uninterested in weight loss at the moment... it's such a small part of what is going on in my life. Yes, I eat healthy and exercise and am losing weight, but that's because I let my body get on with it. I don't have to obsess about it, measure it, or live for it anymore... These days I have much more going on in my life.

    This kind of attitude does make it hard to relate in the WL blogging sphere though...