Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Belated Response to Shame and Weight Loss Success

I was asked to speak at my Weight Watchers meeting this morning.  This isn't one I was leading, just my "normal" meeting that I attend as a member.  But it was a day focused on success stories, and so my leader asked me to be one of the people sharing.

I did... and I shared some tangible things as well...  a Before and After picture of myself, plus I brought in a blouse that I had worn to a Celtic Thunder taping several years ago.  At the time, despite its pleats, it still gaped open across my chest.  But now... now I swim in it.  I don't keep "fat girl clothes" because I feel like keeping them gives me permission to backslide - and I'm not giving myself permission to do that.  But I keep this blouse in the back of my closet and occasionally slip into it just to prove to myself how far I've come.

After we spoke, our leader asked for responses from the group... what had we said that sparked a response in them?

One lady, a pretty new member, shared that seeing the "Before" items that we brought in made her feel embarrassed because they were the size that she wore now -- and that it made her feel ashamed. I felt badly about that... because making someone else feel embarrassed for where they are was the last thing that I wanted.

I thought about that on the way home...  and what I want to say is this:

It isn't the Before item that matters.  We bring them and we share them because we're proud of what we're accomplished. They represent the work and the self-control, and every time we made a choice that we didn't regret later.

The Before item doesn't say "This is what I wore when I sucked... so if you wear this too, then you suck." The Before item says, "This is what I wore when I didn't like myself and when I was unhappy with the image I presented. This is what I wore before I began this journey to both better physical health and healthier self-image..  I wasn't a bad person when I wore this, but I was unhappy.

You want to know a secret?  Despite all the success I've had thus far, sometimes I look at other people's After pictures -- and I know that I'm not that slender. So I minimize my success...  "Yeah, you made it this far.  But you could have done better."

The thing is... you can't be in this room and say that you suck -- even if you can wear the shirt that I now swim in.  You can't. Because just by being here, you've done something to win.  It's 9:30am on a Saturday morning -- and you're in this room.  You're not at home. You're not lying in bed. You got up and you got dressed and you went out the door... to show up in a room of people all supporting each other on a journey to better health, better self-image, better self-love and acceptance.  

We could all be sleeping.

And even if this is your first day -- perhaps especially if this is your first day -- you've already won. Walking in that door is one of the hardest things there is because it means admitting that you want to change. It means admitting that you can't do it on your own. 

But it is also one of the bravest things - and you did that today.

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