Many of you know my story of weight loss and any time I write about the topic, I think it’s important to share that I am not just giving “counselor advice” in this area. Even though that could be useful, it might be helpful for people to know that I understand first hand the reasons weight loss and maintenance are so challenging. If you have not read about my journey, you can catch up on it at “112 lbs and Going”. It hasn’t been easy but well worth every pound. I know you can reach your goals too, with enough motivation.
One thing I have noticed in myself and other people who are wanting to make lasting changes in their health, is that we all seem to have what I call a sabotage weight. It’s that number on the scale and/or clothing size that when we achieve it, we start back-sliding on our good food choices and exercise diligence. The sabotage weight is where we often will lose down to but struggle to break through that threshold. It’s the weight where we yo-yo up and down. It’s THAT weight. Do you know your sabotage weight? I know mine.
How did I figure out this magical number? I was stuck there and even with a “desire” to get beyond it, I remained stagnant at the same spot. There were reasons of course. The sabotage weight is where we lose enough to feel better in our clothes and even though we may say we want to lose more, our actions show something different. This weight is where the rubber meets the road on how committed we really are to reaching our health goal.
Some folks’ sabotage weight is 10lbs more than they want. For others, the number is a lot more than that; but the subconscious sabotaging is the exact same. Our stuck point is where we feel sort of okay about ourselves AND get to enjoy living in the way we desire to. Now, I know people will say that they don’t feel okay about themselves, but my answer to that is they feel good “enough” to not be motivated for lasting change. Sorry. But we all know it’s true. Might as well just say it out loud and be honest with ourselves.
At the sabotage weight, we whisper to ourselves things similar to:
“I have done good and lost some weight. Time to celebrate!”
“I should feel good about what I’ve accomplished. Why still deprive myself now?”
“What does it matter if I keep losing weight? My life hasn’t change that much so far.”
“People love me at my current weight. No need to give up the things I enjoy.”
“What am I losing weight for anyways?”
Do any of those sound familiar? Until we start recognizing these inner conversations and develop good answers to them, we will remain at weights that are not yet our ideal. We have to develop anti-sabotaging behaviors and fight our way through the emotional wall that holds us back. The amazing part is that once we wrestle our way past the sabotage weight, we have healed at a deeper level and can experience more successes in our goals.
What’s your personal version of this inner dialogue that sabotages you when you’ve reached a certain level of weight loss? What does that conversation sound like?
“Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape” – Hooks
I absolutely love this quote. I love, love, love this quote actually! Have you ever read something and it just perfectly captures what you have been mediating on lately? That is what this did for me. I came across it and just knew it was going to be a blog topic.
I think the reason it resonates with me so greatly is because as a counselor I am often asked to guide people into becoming more emotionally self-sufficient and self contained in general. Many of us were raised to believe that unhealthy dependency on others is actually normal and a sign of love. But it really isn’t. Unhealthy dependency leads to all sorts of lopsided relationships and is the breeding ground for more loneliness than ever desired.
The ability to enjoy solitude is a character trait that should be fostered; if it doesn’t come naturally. Some of us just hum well alone. We enjoy our times of quiet and reflection. Others of us are very uncomfortable with being by ourselves. So far in life, I have experienced both sides of this fence. For many years I did not do alone well. At all. I was constantly seeking out companionship and actually dreaded the feelings and thoughts that came when the room got quiet. But in my old age (that’s a joke, I am only in my early forties and refuse to act old) I have really come to enjoy solitude. What made the difference in this shift? Peace of mind.
In order to do exactly as the quote above says, we have to work through the barriers to becoming comfortable in our own skin and with our own companionship. Folks share that when things quiet down too much, feelings of depression and anxiety start creeping in and they don’t like it. Therefore, they stay busy, busy, busy with people in order to keep unwanted thoughts from overtaking them. The first step to appreciating solitude is to work through the barriers that rob us of our enjoyment of it.
People who are comfortable with solitude will naturally have a smaller group of friends orbiting in their life and that has to be ok. When people don’t use others as a means of escape they will have a few key people in their lives but it won’t be cluttered with vastness of companions who are enjoyed at varying degrees. There is no need for a wide circle of friends and acquaintances when are not using people for our own emotional needs. Our friendships become about quality rather than quantity.
Being able to enjoy our own company leaves us room to truly love another person because we don’t enter into the relationship looking for a need to be met that is being falsely projected outward, rather than finding it within ourselves. Only emotionally healed people can really love another person unconditionally and completely.
Do you enjoy solitude or are there barriers to enjoying it that need to be removed?
I had planned to write a blog today about people who find themselves not giving their all in life or skimping out in certain areas…and then I saw on Facebook a post by one of my favorites pages, Humans of New York (www.humansofnewyork.com) The idea behind HONY is the photographer takes pictures of strangers around New York City and includes a quote of what the person said during the interaction with the photographer. I absolutely love the art that is created; including two of my most adored things: New York City and people.
Here is the picture that HONY posted today and the quote:
“I don’t know why I’m not able to throw myself 100% into things.”
That’s a really powerful and authentic statement. Now I have to say that I don’t know this man so I have absolutely no idea why he in particular feels that he can’t throw himself 100% into things, but the reason it was on my heart today to write about this topic is because many people feel this way.
I think there are several reasons that people can find themselves doing just the minimum in life or areas of their lives. The major undercurrent is usually some level of depression. The stereotype is that people with depression act and look like the folks in the pharmaceutical commercials. Yes, there are many who are struggling even today with major depressive symptoms that greatly affect the quality of their lives. This post though is about a different segment of the population. It’s about those people who feel that they don’t throw themselves fully into life but who are out functioning “normally,” so their depression might be hidden.
Another possibility of why some people do just the minimum required, whether it be in their jobs, physical health, relationships or parenting is maybe they feel defeated even before they start. Someone who has tried to lose weight, only to face the fact that they can’t maintain weight loss will not feel as inclined to throw themselves back into a different season of exercise and eating healthy. The last attempt or attempts have not worked so why give 100% this time? Try at say 40% and when it doesn’t work out the built in excuse is readily available and not a lot of effort was given to a failing task. It’s a really defeated way of thinking but probably keeps many people stuck right where they are in life.
Another form of doing the minimum is in relationships. Some people can get incredibly lazy and do just the minimum needed to keep outright conflict from happening but they don’t consistently do enough to turn the direction of the ship to something vibrant and engaging in the relationship. Just enough and not an ounce more of effort is how these folks participate in a couplehood. Relational laziness is often recreated from what people saw growing up and/or someone disengaged from the relationship but won’t bother doing anything dramatic; so they do the minimum needed.
Careers rise and fall based on effort put in and if someone gives just the minimum in the workplace, people start to notice and not in a positive way. Most of us have worked with people who are “that guy” or “that woman” who stays under the radar just enough to not get fired but they really are not pulling their weight nor showing initiative on projects.
What’s the solution for people who find themselves wondering about why they don’t give 100% of themselves to things in life? The best starting place is to recognize that it’s happening. Then ask why have the feelings of giving just the minimum to life become a pattern or habit. Then, if LASTING change (and yes I made lasting in big letters to make a point) can’t occur, that is a super time to find a counselor that you connect with and start working to become free of the heavy chains minimal living have you trapped in. Minimum living is the opposite of living vibrantly and we were made for so much more than drudging through each day, just squeaking out only what’s required of us. It’s hard for the person who feels defeated and it’s hard on the people not getting 100% from someone in their life.