I have found that the best way to begin to put control back into the things you do is to just do it. I know that sounds like I am making a joke of it, making it sound easy to do, but I am not. What I am saying is that it is often our own fault that we don’t make changes and allow the circumstances we are in to become our prison and to hold and control us.
I think the first thing to do is determine exactly what the problem is. Sometimes it isn’t so straight forward as it seems. You might say … “Well, I want to lose weight.” That’s it. Nothing more, but that is not really the problem itself, it is more like a solution to some other problem. Some other underlying thing that has you upset or depressed enough to start looking for solutions that may or may not solve the problem.
There are reasons to lose weight. Reasons that are serious and shouldn’t be ignored. As a nation we are overweight, we all know that, read or hear about it almost daily in social and news media. Heart Disease, Diabetes and a host of other medical problems are waiting to kick the crap out of our bodies if we don’t get them into shape. And if the reason you are going to lose weight is right there then you need to start reinforcing it in your head. You need to remind yourself daily that being overweight could kill you. Take you away from those that you love. That should be a strong motivator, but it isn’t always. And it isn’t always because very often the reasons behind wanting to lose weight have nothing at all to do with needing to lose weight.
Where does it come from: Weight gain is genetic to a degree, and evolutionary and biological on the other side. Social pressure also comes into play.
Genetics: Sometimes, for some people, there is a gap between what they eat and someone else eats and how that weight ends up on their body and doesn’t seem to on the other person. But maybe that simply isn’t true. In other words, for men and women, self worth is tied up in the way we view ourselves. Maybe to you I don’t look bad at all, but to me I’m a mess. Too heavy. Unattractive, and the list begins and goes from there.
The problem is that all of those pronouncements we make on ourselves and our bodies gets tied up in the judgments we are making about ourselves, our self worth. It isn’t necessarily true at all. It may be you could weigh yourself and that other person, who seems to be having an easier time than you are, and find there is no difference, maybe you would find there is. Whatever you do find, there are ways to deal with it. For some genetics may play a role. For some it is a simple matter of firing up their metabolism, eating less, being more active, but the fact that we tie it all up with our self worth makes it nearly impossible to get to the truth of it.
Evolution: I will say first that I am a christian, I am not knocking God or anything else, and I realize that evolution doesn’t exist for some people. Something some scientific types made up. So, possibly you may want to take a different view of it. Let’s call it pre-history. When you read the old testament you read about people living in caves. Being nomadic. They certainly didn’t have a 7 11 down the road or a supermarket. We lived a different kind of life. And because of that our bodies developed the ability to store fat for long periods of time and then release it when we need it. That worked pretty well. There were no super models or social pressures working at us to be skinny. I can not imagine a Cave Woman getting up and saying … “Dam, Trog! Does my butt look too big?” I’m sure she could have cared less and I’m sure Trog could have cared less. So we have this evolutionary thing. We store fat because our bodies think we may need it. Maybe in a few thousand years, if the human race lasts that long, we will breed that right out of ourselves. Of course if we did and then some world wide catastrophe occurred we would be done for. So, maybe we won’t lose that ability. Either way it is there. It’s a biological fact, and we have to acknowledge it as such.
Social: This is where it gets tricky. Are you fat? Or is someone making you feel like you are fat? Good question. Sometimes people make us feel that way because they want to put us in a little perfect mold that they created for us. It has nothing at all to do with us, it has to do with their own unhappiness. Unfortunately for us, that makes little difference. It hurts us and we react by saying we will get with the program and make ourselves into that person that this other person wants us to be. Never mind what we think. That isn’t important. Look at TV, the internet. Look at all of the skinny women and muscled men! That must be the way it is supposed to be.
Bull. It is something we tell ourselves and we even get to a place where we believe it is our own idea to look a certain way, and completely forget we are being manipulated by society or even our own loved ones. You are the only one that can look at this critically and make a decision about what you are doing or why. I would just say be honest with yourselves.
The problem with this societal pressure is that it gets completely tied up with our self worth, and that is also evolutionary. I suppose that the first person with blue eyes must have been looked at strangely. Or blonde hair. But if you turn on your television and look at a movie from the seventies, or sixties you will see women that had little bellies. What? My God! How could they! And, the men were not all cut up and heavily muscled either. That is what society was given as the model for man and woman. And that was that. Now you have Super Models who have about a 4 percent body fat content and therefore no belly, no hips, no too large butt, and they look great in those designer jeans and pretty soon the youth of society decides that is the look right there.
And that’s great when you are 15 or 19 or even into your very early 20’s but there comes a time where your body changes and in order to keep that look you will either have to become a gym rat or slip into some bad stuff to maintain that look. Bulimia, Anorexia, drug use, or maybe you will just sink into a deep depression and stay there. To Hell with the world I can’t be what they want so I quit.
And of course that is the problem. The real problem. Are you fat? Or, are you trying to be what you think societies idea of what you should be is?
Losing weight: The fact is that if you eat less calories than what you burn you will lose weight. If you do some sort of exercise everyday that will burn calories. Those two things are absolutes and do not change or bend to social pressure. So make sure you are doing this for the right reasons and then go from there. Set up a daily exercise routine. It doesn’t have to be complicated, or long, it only needs to be something you do on a daily basis. I would aim for a half hour at first just to get you started. What that will do is two things. First, it will kick start your metabolism. That is a big deal because that will determine what your body needs for calories, and you want that number to be high. The second thing this will do is what all physical exercise does, release endorphins.
Endorphins are designed to make you feel good. It is your bodies own little reward for doing well. It can help your mental attitude, change your physiology and help you to start to look at things differently. I have done this myself and it makes a huge difference in the first few weeks. It doesn’t immediately kick the weight loss into gear, but that does come along on it’s own.
Be Reasonable: Come back to self worth. How much is for you and how much is for that guy or girl that is unhappy with the way you are? Or is it just some unreasonable idea you have built in your mind and come to believe that you must attain? In my experience it is some of each. There is social pressure and even pressure from your significant other or even friends that are close to you. Society, or our own wishes sometime put us in these boxes and it is tough to get out of that. So be reasonable and have an honest conversation with yourself. Am I doing this because I want to? Or because I need to? Or am I pretty much happy with myself and others are making me feel as though I need to do this? Are you beautiful? When you think of yourself is that what you think or do you think you are ugly? You might be surprised at the answer, and not just women, but also men. We have our own warped view of what we are and how we stack up too.
I had a straight forward conversation with myself many years ago. This is what I decided:
One: I am not the greatest looking man in the world but I’m not the worse. There is nothing I can do, that will be lasting, to attract a woman to me. Sure, I can change the way I dress, adjust my work schedule, smile more, yes, and even lose weight, become someone I am uncomfortable with and maybe that will attract more women to me. But I can not sustain it, so I should not entertain it because it will put too much pressure on me. Besides, do I really want to be with someone that is strictly interested in looks? Do I want to play that game? Share my life with someone I am really not compatible with at all? No.
Two: What do I really want? What is it that will make me happy in a partner? Should they be involved in the same social things I am involved in? Church? Bowling? Macrame? Writing? Yes. Incompatibility is something that I also can not sustain. It doesn’t mean we have to match in every area but enough so that I can compromise on the things that remain.
Three: Do I need a partner? Do I need someone that tells me how I should look? Act? What I should wear? What I should feel? How much I should weigh? And, maybe they don’t say these things with their words, maybe they only say them with their actions. I decided no. I don’t need that. I need someone that supports and encourages me.
Four: What does this have to do with losing weight? Dieting? … Everything. It comes right back to self worth. And maybe you are putting these pressures on yourself. Maybe your partner/friends are happy with you the way you are. Maybe it is you that has an unhealthy image of what you should be. But, I would bet that image was begun and fostered by the way men and women in your life treated you and the supposed societal norms you saw on TV.
That brings me full circle. Self worth. Love yourself and who you are. That isn’t just words. If you can do that it really doesn’t matter what anyone else has to say about it at all. You can allow that negativity to skip right over your head. It becomes meaningless. You cause it to lose it’s power, and that means you have that power now. So sit down and have that conversation with yourself. Take it from there.
From There: Set aside that time everyday that you need for you. Maybe it is first thing in the morning, maybe last thing at night. I chose first thing in the morning because as a writer the day may take me anywhere. The first part of the morning is still somewhat under my control. I get up and I have an hour set aside for me. Half of that is Oh My God I need some Coffee, and the Other half is Okay, I’m awake let’s get some exercise in.
That amounts to whatever I want it to amount to. There was a time where I dd intense workouts every day, twice a day, and I am heading back toward that. But, for the last few years I have let myself go and so I need to get back to that place.
There is no one in my life so I do what I do for me, and I would suggest that is the best approach. I would suggest that because people can let you down. Sometimes purposely, sometimes not, but a let down is a let down and if you have your self worth and getting better tied up in another person that is a bad idea. Tie it up in you, YOU be responsible for you and what you want. Set goals. Be realistic, but do it for you.
If you have children it may be tough to get time, but if you have someone in your life that is a true partner and helper for you, you should be able to ask for that time and get it. After all, parenthood is no longer just a woman’s job.
If you can not get the time that way, take it later at night. That might seem counter productive, spending even more time running around, but exercise rids your body of many toxins, releases endorphins as we discussed, so it will have it’s benefits for you.
I guess that is it for my point of view. Start somewhere. Eat right. Take at look at your reasons and then sit down and have that honest talk with yourself. I think you can attain your goals if you truly want them. But, better yet, I think you can maintain them if you have put the work into you and know your true motivations. Ami.