Having lost almost 100lbs, people notice. Everyone notices. You can’t NOT notice. I really look nothing like I used to. People I haven’t seen in a long time don’t even recognize me. But more interestingly, everyone asks me one of two questions…..
Not surprisingly, the unhealthy / unfit people ask:
“How did you do it?”
I hate this question. Not because it’s not a good question. (It’s a GREAT question, actually, and one that I’m delighted to talk about to anyone who wants to listen). What I hate is the hopeful look in their eyes when they ask. That glimmer of optimism that says “this guy… THIS guy might actually be able to help me!”.
Of course, when I say “eating healthy and exercising”, the optimism is immediately replaced by the same look they would give to someone trying to pitch them on the next big MLM. “Oh geeze.. not this again..”.
I shrug. I smile. I wait to see if they want to know more — but in almost every case, they immediately change the subject. This isn’t a problem for me. I’m not offended. But I do feel bad for them.
I feel bad for them because I have to watch that look of hope and optimism disappear because I couldn’t tell them what they WANTED to hear…… “Oh.. it’s the darndest thing.. I never eat anything chocolate within an hour of eating my vegetables. Darn things were mixing in my stomach and making me fat!”…. Or… “Just don’t let the green foods touch the orange foods while they’re still on your plate”…. or…. “OMG! MAGIC PILL!”. They want a snake-oil salesman.
But that’s not the interesting part.
The interesting part is that the people who are already reasonably healthy / fit ask me a very different question:
“What caused you to change?”
The question implies that they already get it. They ALREADY know I didn’t find a magic pill. They ALREADY understand the blood, sweat, tears, and misery required to earn a great body. They know that 100lbs lost means I didn’t do it with a fad diet. I didn’t do it without exercising. I didn’t do it without a lot of help, support, and encouragement. THEY ALREADY KNOW WHAT I DID… Because to one extent or another, they’ve been there. They get it.
It’s worth pointing out that many of these people have been friends for years.. some for life. They never judged me (well, not to my face anyway.. I suspect they were judging the hell out of me behind my back.. But I can’t blame them for that). They never preached fitness to me (man, I hate those people.. I hope my posts here are never interpreted as such).
But here’s the deal…. Everyone who’s ever lost any signifiant amount of weight has a moment.. A very specific moment in time they can point to and say “that’s when I changed”. They are curious about that moment.
To answer the question..
For me, it was a combination of things. I could no longer buy clothes at normal stores. I remember the day I went into the store and found the only things that fit me properly were in the “Big and Tall” section. (I’m not tall, so there’s only one other reason for me to buy clothes in that area). Talk about humiliating.
I honestly never saw myself as “fat” when I looked in the mirror. I didn’t realize how huge I was. I didn’t see it in the photos. I didn’t see it in the mirror. I just kept convincing myself that yeah, I was a little overweight, but it wasn’t THAT bad… And you know what? In a world where there’s ALWAYS someone fatter than yourself, that’s really, really easy to do. “Yeah, I’m a little overweight.. but <insert name of fat person here>.. man.. they’ve gotta do something..”.
Yeah, I was fat, and I was judging fat people. How pathetic is that? (Side note: judging fat people when you’re reasonably fit is a LOT more fun).
I also finally realized that I really wasn’t very attractive. Melanie would obviously never say this. If nothing else, she helped me hide the problem from myself — probably by pretending to more attracted to me than she really was. But here I was married to this hot girl who was spending an hour a day at the gym, eating healthy, etc… and I couldn’t live without 2 double-whoppers a day. This went on for a long time, but at some point, I felt pathetic enough to want to do something about it. (Realizing that I was, indeed, fat, by having to shop in the big & tall section definitely accelerated this self-realization)
I really had reached a point where I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. You know why?? Because I was better than that!
My advice? Instead of focussing on trying to find a magic shortcut solution to your problem, focus on your reason for wanting to change. Let that drive you. Let that be the foundation for your discipline.
It’s not easy (and anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something). But it’s worth it — and if your reason for wanting to change is strong enough, you won’t be so worried about finding shortcuts. You’ll simply want it done, and you’ll want it done RIGHT… and you’ll want it done NOW.