by Mandy Denaux
My heart is pounding, my legs feel like jello and I have the reoccurring thought that I’m on the verge of either passing out or throwing up. All while the voice inside my head volleys between “Come on, you can do this,” and “How in the world did you get back here?”
How in the world did I get back here? Four years ago, I was fit. Working out and eating clean weren’t just some plan I was following … they were my lifestyle. And I was happily sliding down from a size 6, a size 4 just within reach.
Today, I am not fit. Doing this workout is a chore and eating clean is something I start again every Monday. Oh and those single digit sizes now fill up a side of the closet that hasn’t been touched in a very long time.
So here I am … beating myself up on a daily basis for allowing myself to slide back to a place I swore I’d never be again. And when I’m not beating myself up, I’m franticly searching for the next answer … not so patiently waiting for that thing in my head to shift and for motivation to click into place.
Intellectually, I know what I need to do. Sure, despite the proliferation of both information about healthy lifestyles and access to good food/fitness, there are still people in this world who are overweight because of their lack of knowledge and/or access. But that is not me … I am informed.
I’ve spent most of my life trying this diet and that. I’ve studied nutrition, I’ve analyzed my body, and I have the means to access all the healthy foods and fitness regimens you can name. Moreover, I am motivated! I want to lose weight, not because I’m trying to adhere to some media prescribed version of beauty, but because I see the ways the excess weight holds me back (literally and figuratively). Plus I feel better without this extra wall around me.
Through all my years of diet experimentation, including a whole lot of trial and error, I did learn some truths. Like there’s no silver bullet, and that tricks and gimmicks never work in the long run. And, I know that the best way to lose the weight and feel good (in my body and about my body) is to simply eat clean and move often.
But let’s be real – this is NOT simple. It’s hard work … and for many of us it’s work that will continue for a lifetime. And trust me, there is no real substitution for that hard work.
Here’s the problem though … I KNOW all of that. And still, for the last year or more, I just haven’t been able to get there. Why could I do it before and I can’t do it now? How is it that I know more about health, fitness and nutrition now than ever before, but still struggle with reestablishing them as true aspects to my lifestyle?
In a recent conversation with my acting coach, something he said struck a chord. As we discussed my work and the obstacles that are holding me back from the career I want, my weight came up (again). Never a fun topic for me, it’s one I’ve long-since gotten used to discussing with him (he’s focused on truth and exposing one’s self … and that means not hiding from the ugly and the unwelcome).
He told me that the work I need to do is figuring out why I hold onto the weight. As you might expect, my gut reaction was “Well I’m certainly not doing it intentionally.” To which he responded that it might not be conscious, but that I was definitely subconsciously choosing it. His assessment was that I’m scared of that unknown life where weight isn’t a daily concern … fearful of what that might mean for my career, my love life, etc. And that I’m likely taking some sort of comfort in my current state.
WTH? That was my initial reaction. I mean that sounds like a lot a new age mumbo jumbo. But when I stopped to really let his words sink in and ask myself if there was truth in them, the answer was … yes.
Still with me? Okay …
Following that conversation, I had a session with my trainer – who I admittedly hadn’t visited for sometime. Never one to sugar coat anything, she opened our session with “Clearly you’ve gained some weight. What’s going on? You tell me you’re eating clean, but obviously that’s not the case.” Lots of talk (and even a few tears) later and we eventually arrived at pretty much what my coach said – there’s something else going on here.
I mean if I know better and I’m physically capable (I’ve hiked mountains, lifted weights and even ran a marathon), then maybe it’s time to take a “deeper dive” and examine the underlying emotional and/or spiritual issues.
Now, here is where I should probably admit that I don’t have all the answers yet – in fact I’ve only just begun this journey … and this is a journey I’ll do alone, for the most part. But I’m not one to sit around and wait for the answers, so while I work on this deeper level self-examination, I’m also putting into practice some of the things that I know work for me … in hopes that the combination will bring the results for which I’ve been searching for the better part of 30 years.
One of the things that helps me in a situation like this is to put it out there … if I tell someone I’m going to do something I’m much more likely to follow through. So, here I am telling you.
Another thing that has helped me in the past was to have a strong support system … and maybe even friends to join me in the journey. Which brings me to PLANK. Mary Beth has done such an amazing job building this platform of inspiration and support … and so I thought there might be people here who, like me, would benefit from some support in this area.
With that in mind, I wanted to open up a little forum for discussion here. And taking it one step further, I’ve started a group on an app called My Fitness Pal (it’s a free app that tracks fitness, food and related topics) and I’m inviting those of you who might like to join in.
I realize that, even among those of us who share this particular struggle, our situations are different … and we each have our own “deep dive” to do. Still, I firmly believe we can be more successful in tackling those issues when we support and share with each other along the way.
So, let’s discuss. And if you’d like to join me on My Fitness Pal (you can find me there by my username, mandydenaux or join the group called PLANK: Setting the Table) … include that in your comments (or email me) and I’ll send you the details. Because I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to shed this heavy burden.