Do you ever find yourself looking at someone in a magazine, on television, or on Facebook and thinking, “Man, she’s got her shit together! I wish my life were more like that…”
Never? Yea, me neither. (Is this the part when we can stop laughing?)
I mean, I do this probably every single day! I constantly have to remind myself that we are all human, dealing with the same stressors and issues (on some level anyway). The comparison game can take you down if you don’t keep your awareness up. I’ve been known to take a social media break from time to time just to get away from it all.
Very few people are out there posting their worst photos or updating their statuses about how, for the past few months, their life has felt incredibly mundane and meaningless. Nor are people producing shows entitled, “Suzy Pays the Bills and Runs Errands All Day” or “Tammy Is Constantly Feeling Overwhelmed.” While it may feel dramatic to be living it, it isn’t going to get ratings.
This tendency we have to think that everyone else has it together except us extends into weight loss. People post their before and after photos and it all looks so effortless. The big weight loss gurus walk around in their Lululemons and their sports bras and talk about what to eat and how to get motivated. From the outside, it looks like if we could just crack the code, just finally figure it out; we too can be living the dream.
I’m here to tell you that is about as realistic as reality television.
The truth is, that weight loss and long-term weight management are messy, much like life itself, and if you can learn and accept that from the beginning, you are much more likely to stay committed during the process.
Here are three dirty little secrets about weight loss and weight management from someone who gets introduced before audiences as an “expert.”
1. There is No Arrival Point
The weight loss industry has been thriving for years on trying to sell this idea of an arrival point. We call it a “goal weight” or something comparable, but the idea behind it implies that your goal is to get “there,” and once you do, you will have reached your goal and succeeded in your journey.
While I am all for having goals, the problem I see with this mindset is that it sells the “one and done” mentality. It is riddled with the implication that the process is a short-term solution, and that’s the furthest thing from the truth.
The truth is, and anyone who has successfully changed their relationship with food and developed a healthy lifestyle will attest to this, it is a daily recommitment. It is a process that doesn’t end. There is no destination or arrival point. There is only a paradigm shift and lifestyle change.
2. We Are Only As Strong As Our Most Vulnerable Moments
If you look at Jillian Michaels or Geneen Roth or any other famous figure that promotes healthy living, it is easy to think that they don’t struggle anymore. They tell their stories about where they once were, and how they once struggled with their eating and their weight, but it is easy to believe that those days are over.
Well, they aren’t. Not entirely.
In full disclosure, I haven’t chatted with either of these women about this, so this is all assumption on my part, but I’m willing to bet I’m correct on this. I can only speak from my own experience and the observations I have made watching many women be very successful in this journey.
The truth is, struggle is a part of being alive.
If you have ever struggled with food or weight, then it’s possible, likely even, that during vulnerable times, those struggles might resurface. Very recently, during a time of stress, I was aware of one constant thought resurfacing: “If you just lost about 10 pounds, everything would be better.” I actually laughed aloud when talking to a friend of mine stating, “Holy mother of mercy, I swear to you I wonder if the day will ever come when the answer to all my problems isn’t going to be to lose 10 pounds of body fat!”
We had a good laugh about that one.
Here’s the deal on this one. Luckily, I didn’t answer the thought. I didn’t respond. I knew what it was, and where it was coming from. And I ignored it. But that doesn’t mean I am not vulnerable to the temptation, and neither are Jillian, Geneen, or you. There is no perfection out there – which can feel disheartening to some - but I feel relief. It’s okay to unclench your fists and just stop trying to be something you can never become. Struggle doesn’t mean you aren’t succeeding. It just means you are alive.
3. It Takes A Village To Raise A Healthy Woman
Have you ever heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child”?
Well, I believe it takes a village to create a healthy woman.
Okay, maybe not a village, but it does take a team.
When you look into the lives of others from the outside, what you aren’t seeing are all the players in the background. You aren’t seeing their friends and family giving them support. You aren’t seeing their trainers, coaches, doctors, therapists and partners.
The next time you see a person who appears to have it all together, I want you to automatically imagine a line of about 10 other people behind them pushing them forward, because that is a more realistic image.
Everything I have ever read about and by people who the world would consider “successful,” there is always something mentioned about support and teamwork. It seems to me to be a constant variable that exists in the literature no matter where I am getting my materials. It has been very true for me personally, and I have witnessed it to be true for the people I have had the privilege of supporting in their own journey to wellness.
If you are a DIY, stoic, “I don’t need anyone’s help” kind of person (I know you because I was you), then this is my challenge to you. Ask for help, and then be willing to receive it. Two very different and distinct processes in and of themselves. Be willing to receive help, and this journey will all of a sudden get a whole lot easier.