The majority of my writing about my weight-loss is centered around physical changes and data points. For example, I have lost 52 pounds and over 24 inches since January. Of course, they are important and exciting metrics to share, but equally as important are the internal changes that I am making. From gaining self confidence to unpacking how I got here in the place, there is so much more going on than just the numbers. Digging into the non-metric related areas is key to long term success. Basically, if I don’t fix what’s in here…
I will never fix what’s in here…
In hindsight, I can’t help but feel feel compassion for Holly BPHB (before (Project Healthy Body). Any logical person can see through the utter bologna I would spread about why I was different and why the laws of physics didn’t apply to me. It is much easier to side-step responsibility than to get clear on where you are at. It means digging into the shame and embarrassment of being fat. It means working through the “why” of my fat. It means completely dismantling every unhealthy habit, and rebuilding new and healthy ones. It means toppling the self-righteous, know-it-all, not my fault wall that I had built around myself with food. It means humbling myself to the hard work of change, the hard work of facing fears, and the hard work of learning to love myself more.
Here is a smattering of some of the rubbish excuses that I used and wholeheartedly believed before getting really real with myself and with my fat.
Excuse: I have a thyroid condition.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I had some blood-work come back with concerning results. I was sent swiftly to an endocrinologist who diagnosed me with Hashimotos, a type of hypothyroidism. Essentially, my immune system attacks my thyroid gland leading to reduced thyroid function. The symptoms include fatigue, weight-gain, thinning hair, and joint/muscle pain. It is a legitimate autoimmune disorder, to be sure – and I will have to take a synthetic thyroid replacement pill every day for the rest of my life.
For me, it was also the answer and the excuse that I had been searching for. Suddenly, I had something to blame for my fat. “Here I am, practically perfect in every way and doing absolutely everything I can do lose weight – but the cards are stacked against me”, I thought (and explained to anyone who challenged me). I read every book and saw a bunch of doctors. And if my doctor du jour didn’t agree with my medical opinion, I looked for someone who would.
The year before I contacted Jennifer at Project Healthy Body, I was running 3-4 miles every morning, and keeping a gluten free diet. Basically, doing just enough to completely recuse myself of any responsibility. I had built a cycle of victim-hood and outside blame that was bullet-proof. The running, which to be clear, had many benefits – meant a lot of calorie burning, but also an increased appetite. And my super duper healthy “gluten free” lifestyle was really just a pile of calorie dense “gluten free” breads and pasta with melted cheese. Two double-doubles “protein style” from In-N-Out, while mighty tasty, isn’t exactly going to grace the cover of any respectable health magazine.
While I did manage to lose 30 pounds that year, it was all in the beginning – and slowly but inevitably, my horse-shit plan caught up to me and I ended up gaining all of it back. It was the same self-fulfilling cycle of defeat I had been on for years, disguised in a legitimate autoimmune disorder. The truth is that yes…I have a medical condition – but that medical condition is not an excuse to be unhealthy, and it’s also not an excuse to believe that I cannot lose weight.
When I was a kid, my father used food as a reward. Win a game? Get a good grade? Reach a goal? How about a Slurpee? It was also a band-aid. Didn’t get invited to a birthday party? Scrape your knee? Lose your favorite toy? Let’s get a happy meal. I am not throwing shade in my fathers direction. He was, is, and will continue to be the most supportive, altruistic, loving father any kid could ask for. He was also, like me and most other parents, doing the best they could with the tools they had at the time.
I used this concept of food entitlement throughout my life. And I took it to an extreme. When times were good, when times were bad, when I was feeling lonely, when I was feeling amazing, when I failed, when I succeeded, when I was with a friend, when I was by myself – every meal was the meal of my dreams! Food entitlement was an excuse not to face what was actually going on with me.
Excuse: I don’t have time
Poppycock! I have exactly as much time for myself as I am willing to make. The problem was that as far as priorities go, I was perpetually putting myself last on the list and then wearing that like some kind of badge of honor. The laundry list of time-related excuses was huge. Here are just a few:
- I have a long commute
- I have a demanding job
- I have two young children
- I have to watch [insert Netflix/HBO/BRAVO series]
- I have to Doordash dinner to my family every night
- I have to finish all the vodka
- I have to do the laundry, and the dishes, and the lunches, and the outfits, and Christ..did Quinn do her homework?
All of these excuses and more were the things that were eating up my time. Most of these things, but not all, STILL eat up some of my time. What has changed are my priorities – and priority number one, two, and three are me, myself, and I. And guess what? Not only has the world kept turning, but I find myself with more time than ever. Now that I find the time to take care of myself, I also find the time to sleep more, read more, exercise more, meet up with girlfriends more, and live a more balanced life.
Excuse: my life is a 10/10
Having an attitude of gratitude is essential to healthy living. Over-pivoting and using gratitude as an excuse, though, is just another way that I was hiding behind my fat. The very first sentence from the very first homework assignment that I wrote to Jennifer was, ” I am uncomfortable not announcing that my life is a 10/10.” If I believe that my life is a 10 out of 10, then what is there to solve? Nothing, because [queue Lego movie characters singing] EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!
Looking back, I see so clearly how I was using this as another excuse not to get real with where I am at. And boy, did Jennifer get real with me. She calculated my BMI and informed me that I was morbidly obese, and that I was literally fighting for my life. It was the first time that I truly considered that my unhealthy choices could cause me to die. I am a wife. Together, my husband and I built a love that is as true as love can be. We have two young children who are combinations of the very best in each of us. Life together is everything I ever hoped family life could be. In that moment with Jennifer, I suddenly understood the table stakes. It was as profound as any life event that has ever happened to me. I had to get my shit together this time, and I had to get it together today…NOW. Not on Monday, when all diets start. And for good this time. For me, for Craig, and for my children.
Excuses, excuses, excuses…
Look, all of these reasons that kept me from gaining my health back have a kernel of truth to them. Yes, I have a thyroid disease. Yes, I learned to have a bad relationship with food as a kid. Yes, I have a very full life with kids, commuting, and careering. But none of these kernels of truth equal an inability to get healthy. They were, at best, a diversionary tactic. A way to keep my real problems conveniently veiled.
Thanks to Jennifer and Project Healthy Body revolution, the veil has been lifted. And while my life will never be a 10 out of 10 (because..spoiler alert: nobody’s life is), it is a life that I am truly grateful for – and a life that I am actively showing gratitude for by making healthy choices that support my vitality instead of playing Russian roulette with it.
Today, food is an expression of self love.
Today, I am a healthy person.
Today, I make time for myself and for my health.
Today, I am out of excuses.