One day this week I was reading in someones blog ( I wish I could remember whose it was so I could link to it) about how someone who has forty pounds to lose goes through the same processes and struggles as someone with 200 to lose. My immediate reaction was, “oh no she didn’t!”
In my mind, I got really defensive about my own struggle to lose weight, as though it is unique to me, because I have a large amount to lose. How dare this person compare MY struggle to theirs, with ONLY 40 to lose. Frankly I was quite irritated by this blog! In my head, someone who has 40 pounds to lose doesn’t do the following:
- Obsess about food either by counting calories or thinking about all the things they can’t/shouldn’t have
- fear what others will think about them in the gym
- struggle through building endurance in exercise
- have “fat” days where you feel especially big
- struggle to find the right balance to kick yourself out of a plateau
- have body image struggles
- eat beyond the actual hunger point
- fill in the blank with what you struggle with
Then I got a text message from Coach.
He was rather excited to report that after months of being in a plateau in the 230’s he has FINALLY broken into the 220’s. Coach doesn’t struggle in the same ways that I do, but his journey to become fit and healthy and in top athletic form so that he can do his best at all the athletic things he has wanted to do but never believed he could do(he is training for triathlons!), has NOT been without struggle. Coach is a big dude! He is 6’5″ with broad shoulders. He is most definitely not a small framed dude! I personally would never classify Coach as being fat or overweight, but it doesn’t matter what I think. All that matters is how he feels in his body. He feels that he has always been on the heavier side and part of his history includes being teased for his size when he was younger. I also know that he has also had body image issues and has never been one to enjoy taking his shirt off in public. Hmmm…all this sounds so familiar to me!
Over the last months I know he has tracked calories either by calorie counts or through Weight Watchers points, he exercises probably 4-6 days a week, serious workouts folks. He is no pansy in the gym. I would say he is there a minimum of 2 hours between cardio and weights. He bikes, he runs, he swims, he lifts weights. He has tried various methods that should help boost metabolism. He has analyzed his body fat ratio. He has a spreadsheet for all of his data as he has tried to figure out why he couldn’t break out of the 230’s. Truly, it has been months and months. I would dare say that this has likely been going on since before I moved back to Detroit in February.
Coach does not have 100’s of pounds to lose, he wants to lose maybe 20 more and to become leaner and stronger. His struggle is not the same as mine. As far as I know he does not have a story of sexual abuse that has wreaked havoc within him, but that doesn’t make his story(with his own set of wounds) any less valid than mine. He does not struggle with massive amounts of weight to lose or a lifetime battle of being severely overweight.
Yet, when he sent me that message that he had finally broken out of the plateau and what he thought was contributing to it, I was so genuinely excited for him. I know what it is like to break through a milestone and reach a goal that I set for myself. I know what it feels like to work so hard and not see the results I was hoping for. I know what it is like to feel defeated and like my dream is never gonna happen the way I want it to. See, while our numbers are different and the stories of our lives are different there are many similarities.
- We both want to be the healthiest versions of ourselves possible
- We both want to compete in athletic events, just because we can
- We both want to live long, full lives
- We both have to choose everyday to eat healthy
- We both have huge sweet tooths!
- We both have been putting in a lot of hard work on our respective goals
So see, I have come to realize that the above mentioned blogger is right. We all go through the same process and a similar struggle to lose weight. My struggle is not unique to me. My insecurities are not unique to me. My fears are not unique to me. I don’t have a right to claim it as my own and therefore discount someone else’s struggle for the same thing, simply because the numbers are less.
These thoughts of mine were further challenged when I made a comment to another friend about him not having struggled with weight before. He quickly came back with “I wouldn’t say I have never struggled with weight!” It really got me thinking, because in my mind he is a very healthy guy. He tries to eat healthy most of the time, incorporates physical activity into his daily life even if it is not a traditional “workout”. So to hear him say that he has never struggled just did not make sense to me. OK, so maybe he doesn’t have the 6-pack he had in college. He certainly doesn’t have a beer belly now!
But he still has to make choices everyday to live well and to eat well and sometimes that is not always easy, for him either, even though it LOOKS easier to me.
The only differences to be had among any of us are those within my story that led me to have the insecurities, fears, pounds, etc. to lose. Our stories themselves are unique to each of us in how we relate to them but the choices each day to really choose life in a tangible health related way, are the same for all of us, no matter how much or little we have to lose.
See, Aaron isn’t the only one who makes quick judgments about others. He has made them about fat people. I make them about skinny people! (see previous post if you haven’t read his entry on this!)