Mental and Emotional Prep: Face the Root Cause

The biggest investment I made in my program was preparing myself mentally and committing whole-heartedly to my effort. No matter how good a program might be it is meaningless unless you can follow through with it. So don’t jump into this thinking you’re just going to follow my recipe and find success. Certainly do not try to compare your progress to that of mine or anyone else. This is your journey and as long as you stay committed and are happy with your progress that’s all that matters. You’ll get there. Just stick to it.

I had failed prior attempts at weight loss or quickly relapsed because I didn’t focus on the most critical component about my weight gain…owning up to the root cause. I’m still not entirely sure about the articulation but my root cause lies somewhere in using my weight as a shield to keep people at a distance and avoiding intimacy. Something about not entirely believing I’m deserving of affection. There. For all you future dates and ex-girlfriends who Google-stalked me, I just put it all out there. I’m working on it.

Logic fails. Despite intellectually understanding how unhealthy my lifestyle was it didn’t change my behaviors. The ability to rationalize is a powerful and dangerous thing. After all, there were always bigger people around me so I figured, “Hey, at least I’m not that bad.” I found myself bargaining with the scale: “Okay, as long as I don’t hit 250. No, 275. 300. 300 is my limit.” 300 came and went. At my heaviest I had hit 327 lbs. What had always been something I told myself I could always fix if I really wanted to, had spiraled out of control and I felt helpless to stop it.

Ever notice how one of the few groups it is still okay to make fun of without social repercussions are big people? Think about it. How many characters in TV shows and movies do you find loveable and funny because they are plump and jolly? Don’t think you think that way? Replace that character with a skinny, good-looking person then ask yourself if they’re still funny. Perhaps because in America we are the majority, so it’s okay to make fun of us.

Shopping for clothes had long stopped being about what looked good. It was about what fit. Not so hard in the States to find plus sizes. Try doing that in the land of slim and trim giants in the Netherlands. Not easy. Buying off the rack traveling anywhere else outside the States? Not gonna’ happen.

Then there was the air travel. The shame of having to ask for a belt extender. Hearing the muttered prayers of passengers saying, “Please don’t let this fat dude be seated next to me.” I stopped going to amusement parks ’cause I couldn’t fit in the rides. A sad thought that I wouldn’t be able to take my nephews to Disneyland ’cause their Ninong couldn’t get on the rides. Meal times, of course, were a constant source of embarrassment. Looks and stares. Imagined thoughts of, “Now you know big dude does not need to be eating all that.”

Despite all that, nothing changed. You can’t shame someone into losing weight. You can’t want it enough for them. They have to do it for themselves and no one else. Weight loss boot camps and similar programs might work for a while, and it might even be the right solution for some folks, but most of the time it isn’t sustainable. At some point, folks will have to make good choices on their own when someone isn’t looking over their shoulder, counting their calories, or yelling at them for one more rep. Intensive fitness and dieting programs that don’t involve mental health professionals aren’t going to position most folks for long-term success.

My forcing function came when I had a cascade of health issues compound. First was the sleep apnea. It was bad. I basically would have a sleep-interruption event every minute. There were points in my sleep where I stopped breathing for more than a minute and my blood oxygen would drop below 30%. Every day I woke up was basically a miracle. Perhaps the fact that I only sleep 3-4 hours a night might have inadvertantly saved me. Don’t worry, it’s all good now. I sleep quite well. Side note to my exes, you’re saints for putting up with all my snoring and never complaining. Then again, you wrong for not telling me I almost died every night.

Then I injured my back and went through all the physical therapy, injections, and ultimately the disc surgery. I knew that the best thing I could do for my back was to lose all the weight I had been promising myself I would. That got me seriously thinking it was time.

The final straw came when my sleep therapy doc suggested I consult with a bariatric surgeon. That pretty much did it for me. For one who always prided himself on being one of the mentally toughest bastards out there, how did I get here? I didn’t setup the consult. It was time to put up or shut up.

Next: Tools: You Can’t Manage What You Don’t Measure

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