On Failure, Fat, and Hope

Annah ElizabethLeave a Comment

I recently saw a commercial for the upcoming Biggest Loser series. A quick blip of a girl with a weightlifting bar overheard flashed on the screen and I heard her say, “I used to be an Olympic Weightlifter.”
I used to be a swimmer and a diver and an equestrian, I thought.
And, as a teenager, some seventy-five pounds lighter than I am now, I used to think I was fat. Downright Angus-sized fat because most of my frail-boned high school peers were freaking out that they were one-hundred pounds. And I was anything but.
As an adult—a largely overweight female—I now realize that I had no idea what overweight was, and sorely wish I’d have appreciated my body during those adolescent years.
But I didn’t. I abused it like many a teenager, eating all of the wrong foods… How many ways can you say pizza? And grab-and-go processed foods and snacks…
I abused it even more when I turned to bulimia as a way to control my weight.
Little did I know that my weight fears had nothing to do with a number.
Little did I know the lifelong havoc I was wreaking on my precious self.
When I thought about the young female on the commercial, it once again dawned on me that I’m not heavy enough to be accepted onto the reality show.
I’m not overweight enough to qualify for gastric by-pass surgery, if I wanted to consider it.
Never an easy answer for me.
Not that participating in the TV series to lose weight is easy, but the attendees do have people motivating them, they are in a controlled environment, one that doesn’t include bowls of candy bars, and chips and breads and cookies, and loads of temptations.
When they gather with their cast mates, they are all regulated by the same set of circumstances and inspired by the same infectious energy and goals.
Maybe. Maybe their environment isn’t as sterile and regimented as I imagine.
Regardless, this is one more excuse in the line of many, one more justification for the choices I do and don’t make.
I carry my weight well and certainly don’t look like I am fifty-plus pounds overweight.
It’s not that bad ‘cause these American super-sized size fourteen jeans keep creeping down.
I don’t have time to exercise.
I sit at a desk all day.
It’s Thanksgiving.
It’s Christmas.
It’s my birthday. (It really is!)
It’s New Year’s.
It’s summer.
It’s tax season.
It’s cold outside.
It’s my metabolism.
It’s the middle-aged spread…
And my all-time favorite? Geneen Roth said not to worry about what I am eating when I first get started.Honestly, I know that’s what it said, but I can’t provide the page number or the actual quote right now because I can’t find the book.
Maybe I ate the evidence in a fit of misguided hunger pains.
For those who missed the tongue-in-cheek humor above: Geneen’s Women Food and Godis an invaluable resource for those seeking inspiration, and I twisted her words to suit my own warped rationale, as we mortals tend to do…
I just so happened to be standing at the pantry and shoving a fistful of food into my mouth when I realized my skewed logic. And I laughed out loud, a deep and devious chuckle…
I, like so many others, am in limbo fat-land, wondering how to lose the weight, how to establish new habits, and questioning how I let myself come to this roundness.
Eighteen months ago I wrote this post about my previous successful battle over the bulge.
I’ve been trying to replicate that feat for years now, and just can’t seem to find the right combination that works for me now.
And that has been frustrating—to say the least—that I can’t simply duplicate what I did before and experience the same positive results.
Why can’t I? You ask.
Trust me, I’ve asked myself the same question repeatedly and what I’ve come to realize is that I am not achieving the same success using the same strategies because I am not in the same place I was six years ago.
Why, even the Pinocchio crease in my jaw line has moved from the left side to the right. The crease’s impact on me this time? Zilch!
Okay. Okay. Embarrassment. Mild disgust mixed with denial… This time my facial fault hasn’t caused a tremor of movement from me; I simply turn the other cheek to the mirror.
Seriously, though, we are constantly changing; our thoughts, feelings, emotions, physical and social beings evolve as we age, meet new people, and are faced with different obstacles and rewards.
Failure was a part of who I am for much longer than success was.
That is the sad realization that came to mind after I saw the beautiful, blonde-haired, overweight weightlifter on the television screen.
I lived for too many years feeling like a failure, feeling like I didn’t live up to my parent’s expectations, feeling like I was never quite good enough.
I finally began to realize the absurdity of this self-loathing in my late thirties.
But old habits die hard, and unfortunately, the positive hadn’t been a part of me long enough to withstand the barrage of old emotions that bubbled to the surface after my husband’s last affair.
Not to put the blame on him. It’s just that the self-worth hadn’t become rote, and I experienced a relapse.
I choose to believe that’s all this is: An unspecified period of time where I have succumbed to previous patterns of behavior that don’t suit me well.
And, to use a cliché, each time you fall off the horse, you have to get right back on.
Hope requires the same sort of perseverance, and like the photo in the beginning of this post, is a trait ensconced in light and shadows.
I might be a bit emotionally battered, and might just be plump enough for a deep fryer, but I have hope in my heart that I will eventually strike upon the combination of elements that will lead to the success I desire.
Now I all I need is a dose of Jillian Michaels attitude to fire me up!
In the meantime, a good friend who wants to shed a few pounds, as well, has convinced me to watch the weekly series with her as we hold our own Biggest Loser event.
Cheers to hope and a nice long walk with the dog!

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