Sunday, April 28, 2013

Reversing the GPS

In 1989, I weighed 350 pounds and lost 120 of them in New York. Then a few crept back on before I moved to Florida. I must have dropped a trail of chocolate kisses and pizza crusts along Interstate 95 because all 120 pounds found their way back on my body before the end of the year and they brought along a few friends to the Sunshine state to join the club on my fat ass. For a long time I said "I lost these 120 pounds once, I can do it again," to no avail. My weight went down 20 pounds, up 25, down 40, up 50 - as though the pounds were using a GPS to track their way back to my body. I'd show them. These pounds better behave because I am on the warpath. . . . By 2003, I weighed 385 pounds.

Yes, I realize I gave inanimate globs fat human personalities and abilities: they can survive outside the body, travel, use directions, follow a map and find their way back inside me all without any assistance from me. If fat can think and act on its own, I am not the problem, I am the victim. I was blaming them for their efforts and diligence in seeing me out. I think that is a fine example of denial and invert accountability.  It is not my fault, the fat keeps finding me. Or the fat just won't read the eviction sign and leave. Or maybe, I am too over-worked, over-whelmed, busy, poor, etc to divorce my fat legally so for now I have to live with it. Poor me.

No, it does not work that way
This is how I stayed obese for so long. I don't mean to suggest I really thought pounds of fat were rolling down the street looking for me; I mean my attitude and outlook alternated between that of hapless victim and  doomed crusader. "I'll try damn it, even though I know the fat has all the power and must win in the end.

I had to change the way I thought, talked, acted. I had to get into the habit of believing the fat is powerless against the forces of healthy living. I had to reverse that GPS so that the pounds left on a one-way trip away from my body and into oblivion.

This last year I made excuses to eat that don't fit into my new GPS. Whoa is me, I lost my mother, I was in crisis, I was depressed. Boo hoo me, eat another f*ckin' cookie and whine or lie about it: both my choice.

These past eight weeks I have been working very hard on the squirrels in my head to once again re-program my thinking away from hapless victim. It is working. I have been feeling stronger, healthier and happier since I stopped picking up excess quantities and their unhealthy cousin Junk Foods.

This is an ongoing process. Getting extra help with a therapist has been beneficial to me. We don't talk about food or weight loss or the latest diet, exercise or scientific equations on obesity and maintenance. We discuss life, boundaries, decisions, adjustments, self-awareness and letting go. This letting go is not about the pounds. It is about dead weight in the form of jealousies, fears, resentments, and dishonesty.

I like where I am going. I like learning about myself as I go.

Have you  the roles of hapless victim and/or doomed crusader? What turned you around?



Unknown said...

Hi Jane! As usual, I gain strength in my conviction from reading your blog.

Oh, yes, stopping the victimization thoughts is key to success. When I was a victim, I didn't realize I was acting like a victim. I actually felt braver about my life than I do now, because victimization forces you to be braver for the same activities that normal people just do with no emotions involved.

Quitting being a victim freed me from a ton of excuses I didn't even realize I had. I would have never had this much weight loss success without realizing that the same basic steps that help others lose weight will do the same thing for me. :D

:-) Marion

Norma said...

I can think of four "weight loss" bloggers whom, evidenced by their writing, have done zero work on their emotional health and need to read this post. But they won't. They're too busy planning Monday's "friend makin' questionnaire!", their next prize give-away, their Sunday brunch, or an imaginary new medical issue that "prevents" any meaningful weight loss. Sigh.

I'm very proud of you for using therapy as a tool here and explaining what it's for and how it works, Jane.

Anonymous said...


Another post of yours that speaks directly to me.

I had a medical issue begin ~2.5y ago. I was startled by it and in severe pain. I ate to cope. Not effective obviously but I did it and I own it.

And when I looked up three months into this, I was the heaviest ever in my adult life, a good 30 lbs over my usual already heavy weight. My gps as you said was broken. I felt everything was out of my control including what I put into my mouth.

Then something happened. I realized that I could not control the medical issues, I could not control the pain, I could not control the dizzying medical odyssey, and could not control the pain (I say that twice since it really was gasp-inducing, this pain), could not control how much I exercised (could barely walk due to the condition), or the confusion and concern of my family about everything.... But I could control what I put in my mouth. I am in charge.

So I started. Eating less. Just a little less. Logged everything that went into my mouth. Tracked nutrients too. And I started walking just a little. Just a very little, increasing it each week. I found bloggers like you that spurred me onwards (although I have only recently felt compelled to comment).

And the weight came off. Through all the medications that had "weight gain" as a side effect. Through two holiday seasons. Through more medical odyssey twists and turns.

And with mindfulness and meditation I gradually got to the point where I could do simple strength training, like pushups (first on my knees, now my toes). I still can't do anything intense since the medical issue is still omnipresent. So walking is it.

But I did it, and got my weight down to my lowest ever in my adult life (a loss of 70 lbs). Clean eating and meditation will keep me there.

I still have a broken GPS. It wants to go off the rails. The squirrels are there, tapping at the door. IBut I breathe. And I log my food. And I walk. And I read positive, honest, bloggers like yourself. And I mark another successful day in the books, prepare my food for the next day, and breathe.

Thank you for giving me the visual of a broken GPS. I am in charge. You are in charge. We are our own gps. No victim playing. No "have to have something". Our lives, our choices.


Karen said...

Feeling like I was a "victim" in another situation and then getting out of that situation helped me with weight loss.

I had to take actions- very clear, decisive steps and stand firm- with a strong mental spine. It took a lot of work and practice and clear cut choices.

As hard as having a strong, structured plan for weight maintenance was, I knew I could not have it without being tough and not moderate. No plan would get me no where on the trip.

Very important to problem solve and not sit with the pity too long. I give myself about 5 minutes and then I move along.

Good post, as always.

Caron said...

I've also played the victim at times and thought that it was just too hard to accomplish what I "said" I wanted to do. I'm not sure there is a one time, light bulb moment that turned me around. I've kind of learned as I went along and evolved in my thinking about it all.

Vickie said...

Yep, victim feelings with me too.

And anger.

No action.

But yes, anger.

This was a very well written piece. You did a good job with it.

Therapist here too.

And we have spent almost no time talking about food. She checks in every once in a while to see what I am thinking, doing (this is the year of organic for example).

My first years of therapy were helping me figure out what I was feeling. I had no idea. And then it was helping me on perceptions. And then neuropathways. In 2010-2011 boundaries, which was extremely important.

I have been at a low weight since 2009. My most important therapy work has been AFTER 2009. I continue to work to improve my life.

Jenna said...

Unfortunately I have played the victim on occasions taking this as the easy route and distracting mefrom carrying out what I wanted to do. I think that over time I have realised what was happening and now either except it or put my foot down if the goal is really important to me.