The Light

It’s still January. The month-long ads and nagging from gyms, fitness gurus, diet plans are still going strong. Especially the diet plans. They thrive and do so well because figuring out how to get our bodies to do what we want is such a learning experience that often, it’s easier to follow the guidance of those who might know more than we do about our bodies.

In light of that, I occasionally go over the things I already know, as well as literature I’ve read previously (or is new on the subject) in the hopes of understanding where I am so I can get just a bit closer than where I want to be. Every morning, I grab a cup of coffee and dedicate just 15 minutes to read on that very subject. And this morning, while re-reading a book that helped me tremendously in getting to my current point, I had a light bulb moment.

Not about my current challenges, although the information helps. What I read helped me to understand why I bungled my next-biggest effort to date to lose weight and get control of my health. I’ve written about that effort in losing 140 pounds previously, how I hit a two-year plateau, and then finally just let it get in my head and I dived right back into old habits. That nosedive off the wagon resulted in a 100 pound gain in just one year, and more weight after that, until I started my current effort over eight years ago.

I’ve examined the headwork and what led me to nosedive in detail, but it wasn’t just all about my brain. At the time, I was trying to adapt and follow the then-current thoughts on controlling weight, and no matter how much I tinkered away, I couldn’t budge my weight any lower. Without going into the specifics of it, I reread a passage in a book (probably for at least the third time), and the scientific reasons for what happened finally soaked in. Eureka! smacks head I suppose I had to be ready to read that particular nugget since I had read it before and paid attention to other things.

If you’re like me and you’ve struggled with your weight for a good chunk of your adult life, it’s really hard to not see weight gain and loss as value judgments. So much of our society sees obesity as a character flaw, as laziness, as gluttony. We are often raised to think it ourselves, whether that message comes from a parent, a PE teacher telling you to move faster, the clothing store that only carries certain fashions in sizes smaller than you currently wear, the images of “ideal” body shapes that are modeled to us everywhere we look.

I had often thought of my failure, back then, as something I did wrong. Mind you, I did do things wrong when I made the choice to give in and give up. The difference in viewpoint, now, is that I also see the fault in the science I used at the time. I could have continued on that same path for years and I might never have really gotten any farther down the road than I got. That part of the equation never is, and never was, my fault. I see that, now. There were metabolic reasons that the information I relied on was incorrect.

While I can’t swear that what I do, now, is the answer — at least I have some clarity; I understand the mechanisms that drive my body much better than I did, then. I know enough that I am dedicated to continuous learning and understanding. While I have accepted the issues I faced back then, really understanding the faulty science of it has shown me that I need to stop looking at my inability to make that plan work as a value judgment of myself.

Being open to learning means finding new pathways to the results we want, but it’s vitally important to learn these things for ourselves.

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