I think it’s possible that I’ve said more or less all I’m qualified to say in terms of this particular subject. But first: It wasn’t that one day I woke up and said, “Right – that’s it – I’m going to lose all this pesky weight!” It was more like there had been too many days on which I’d woken up and said, “How did this happen…again?” And there’s sort of a gazillion reasons why any of us find ourselves in a situation we really hate and somehow feel responsible for, even if we’d never have wished it upon ourselves in the first place. And if that situation is of the downward-spiral variety – i.e., feeling bad about it makes us perpetuate it, ad infinitum – well, it’s tricky at best and downright agonizing at worst.
Finding myself clinically obese was the result of a lot of different factors. I had a bad injury that put me on crutches for 6 months. That wasn’t so bad, because crutches are damn hard work and so my weight was well within control during that period, but as soon as I had to put weight on the injury, the pain was debilitating and I was afraid of the pain. I was also working quite a lot in a very demanding job and volunteering as much as possible, and my living situation wasn’t ideal, as we were in London and so sharing small flats with friends where no one really had enough space. So I was stressed, frustrated, tired, and filled with all sorts of self-pity…which created the perfect environment for me to indulge in unhealthy behaviors like eating too much and too often and almost never the right things. This was of course compounded by my pain and fear thereof, because I obviously wasn’t moving nearly as much as I should have been. I’m willing to bet anyone struggling with their weight has undergone a similarly complicated set of circumstances.
As much as I used to dream of waking up skinny one morning when I was a fat little kid, nobody wakes up one way or another. It’s either a long period of disengagement from our bodies and wellbeing, or it’s a (life-)long commitment to actively engage with our bodies.
There is no happily ever after. There is immeasurable joy to be found in living well, but it is not always easy, and progress is not always constant. On the journey to better being, there are lots of setbacks and bad days, and there’s nothing to be done about that except to get through them and remember that no one day lasts forever, and every morning is another opportunity to choose to live well.
St. Augustine once said, “Life is good when we lead good lives.” He didn’t always lead what he considered a “good life,” so he wasn’t being a patronising arse when he said it, either. And I don’t think he was trying to say that everything will go right if we do what we’re “supposed to” – whatever that means. I think he meant that, for as complicated and difficult as life can be, if we’re well and truly doing the very best we can, maybe we can rest a little bit more soundly just knowing that.
So there is the mathematical part of it. If we want to weigh less, we simply have to consume fewer calories and burn more of them. More exercise, less food. But I’m willing to bet that I’d be speaking for just about everybody if I said it’s never that easy.
For those of us who have found ourselves seriously overweight, more exercise and less food mean first of all learning to love our bodies as much as we love the stress-producing jobs. Nurturing our wellbeing as much as we nurture the wellbeing of our loved ones. Learning to think about food constantly, even though that used to be something we struggled not to do. It means changing our lives profoundly, so that how we spend our waking hours is no longer what it was, because it can’t be anymore.
Sometimes we talk about “when the chips are down,” and maybe over the years it’s taken on an air of “when the going gets tough” because of the down bit at the end, but that’s not really what it means at all. When the chips are down, it means bets have been placed. Here we go. This is it. There are times in our lives, though they seem like any other morning, when we wake up and realize the chips are down. It’s time to put our money on breathing more deeply, moving less painfully, walking more proudly. On living the best life we can live.
I will most definitely continue posting in this category, because there will be awesome recipes and moments of clarity and what have you that I can’t not share. C will probably also be contributing to this corner of the blog at some point in the nearish future (you know how he is). But that does it for this series on my personal weight loss adventure. Never hesitate to hit me up in the comments sections of this or my previous posts to posit your thoughts or ask me for mine. And don’t worry – I don’t intend to stop writing about the myriad other painful-but-hopefully-ultimately-rewarding aspects of life…it’s the lifeblood of What If and Why Not, innit?