Friday, August 7, 2009

Why did I wait so long?

When I think about why I waited so long to do something about my weight, I can come up with a lot of reasons. I had my own business. I was caring for our son, volunteering at his school, all while trying to remain viable in my profession. To keep up, I reasoned, I needed to read widely and write every day, not be checking in at the front desk for a spin class.

But, to be honest, my biggest hindrance was myself. I denied the truth; I didn’t want to admit I looked and felt as bad as I did. For the longest time, the mirror lied to me. It lies to most of us, in fact. Very few people see themselves as others do. One Pew Research Center study found that while nine in 10 people believe that most of their fellow Americans are overweight, only four in 10 see themselves as overweight.

Even when faced with the truth, I firmly believed that I could take care of the situation, if and when I wanted to. After all, I was my own boss. Nobody was going to tell me what to do. Ultimately, though, I was humbled to realize that I was guilty of one of those old-fashioned, outdated Seven Deadly Sins. No, not Gluttony, but Pride.

I didn’t want anyone’s help, even though it was obvious I wasn’t helping myself. I was doing just fine by myself, thank you very much. It’s nonsensical that just when I was feeling the worst about myself, I was the most prideful, but there it is. “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” the Lord observes in the book of Jeremiah.

I thought people who paid money for gyms were frivolous, that people who bought prepared meals from weight loss programs were lazy. That these morally defective people were just going to give up anyway, so why were they even bothering? Inwardly, I scoffed at those hyper people who ran, biked, walked, or worked out at home. Surely, I make better use of my time, I crowed to myself.

When my day of reckoning came, it was a huge hurdle to admit that I needed help. For me, the solution was to join a gym. Still, I’m pretty much anonymous there. I go in, swim my laps and leave. I like to go during the day with all the seniors, when all is calm and they haven’t cranked up the music yet for the after-work muscle crowd.

Anyone who decides to act will face the same question: How much personal attention do I want—-or need—-from others to succeed? It helps to know yourself: Are you a person who will exercise only in a class setting? Or are you a private person who would rather die than show up in spandex at a jock gym? Could meeting one-on-one with a personal trainer keep you motivated? Or would you thrive with the encouragement of a support group? You're in this for the long term, so it pays to make a good decision upfront. Or, to change direction quickly when you find something isn't working for you. So, what's holding you back, and how do you think can you overcome it and get going?


  1. I'm sure people see me differently than I do. I've seen pictures of myself that I don't recognize and think, hmmm... is that REALLY me? For good or bad.

    I am just like you. I go to the gym during the day. I don't like to talk with anyone. I just like to go in and do my thing and leave.

    Nice post.

  2. One of my problems is my sweet husband! He always insisted that he loved the way I looked. I believe he was telling the truth. But in the end I had to decide what I wanted for myself. I still see myself as heavy... I'm the classic pear shape, even at a size 10. I'll never be svelte, and it's been hard for me to come to grips with that. But a size 10 is still better than a size 16!