What Failing My Own Program Taught Me About Permanent Weight Loss
As a weight loss coach and owner of a weight loss business, finding a permanent weight loss solution has always been a focus. But my personal battle with maintaining my weight loss goal became more difficult in December 2016, the year my mom passed away from a two-year battle with ovarian cancer.
Rewind to four years earlier, I was in my early 40’s and had finally learned how to lose weight and keep it off…or so I thought. My program had worked so well for me. I felt that I had crossed a barrier and found a new path to a healthy lifestyle that I could actually maintain. And then mom got sick.
I started putting weight on about a year into her cancer journey and continued to gain weight until the end of 2017– a year after she passed. Over that two-year time frame, I gained 15-22 pounds. Right now, as I write this, I am still 20 pounds over my goal weight (compared to January 2012 when I first did this program).
The weight gain has caused me to examine what really happened over that difficult time frame. I had to ask myself a million questions in order to figure this out: I didn’t do the things I encourage my clients to do, the things that I know work.
Not only has dealing with the higher weight been difficult but so have these thoughts of feeling like a hypocrite. I am very hard on myself and, as someone who tries to be a role model to others on this journey, I hold myself to higher standards. I have tried and failed on my own program several times over the last two years.
Over the last 8 months, I refused to do the program at all. Why? I knew that I still had to defeat a mental hurdle. I needed to learn something about myself and my grief. And if I did the diet, it would remove the weight problem, but not the root problem. And that’s not a long-term solution.
Every time a new client asked me if I still had my weight off, I would have to tell them no, and explain what had happened. Each time a client would ask, I would walk away asking myself… what happened? And even though I didn’t get the answer I needed right away, I knew I would figure it out sooner or later.
Yesterday, September 13, 2018, I figured it out. And now, I can say confidently that I am finally free from this situation. That’s what I want to share with you.
This past week, I went to a sound healing service in Monroe with Rev. Naomi Fay. She was complaining of back pain and I offered my Deep Tissue Therapy services to her. She came in on Thursday, got work done and when we were chatting afterward, we somehow got into a conversation about my mom. As I was speaking to her, she stopped me and said when you speak of your mom, all I see is tiny purple flowers – Chrysanthemums. They are fragile, your mom was very fragile. She got tears in her eyes and I said yes, she was. I told her that ever since I was little, I knew I needed to take care of her. I would fake being sick often because I didn’t want to go to school and leave her.
As I got older and moved out, I felt relieved. But with that relief also came guilt about feeling that way. I rarely called her or stopped by the house. She always made the effort to come and see me which was fine, but I was not usually the one reaching out to her. She always tried getting the family together and put on special events as reasons for us to come together. She always tried making it perfect and beautiful, which it was. I know she didn’t understand why this dynamic was happening between us, and neither did I, but she kept trying.
When my mom got sick, I insisted that she was going to fight this and win. I jumped in immediately with nutrition and supplements and things she should do to win the battle– she wasn’t very consistent, but I kept it up. Trying to fight the battle for her. But after a while, I let go of trying and realized that this was hers. This past year, I had my first breakthrough pertaining to our relationship. And I wrote about it in this BLOG from Mother’s day.
Then Naomi went on, channeling some kind of spiritual instinct that felt right to me. “She wants you to know that she is sorry. She is sorry that you did not get to live the life you could have. She wants you to know that she is your number one fan. She wants you to be everything you were always meant to be. She loves you and always has.” I opened up to Naomi and told her that after my mom passed away, I was finally able to be angry with her. Yes, I did feel that my childhood was complicated and fraught. I had anger, and it was valid. Still, I never wanted to make my mom feel guilty. She had many things happen to her as a child and a young adult too, and still, she raised me and my brother as kind and compassionate, so she must have done something right!
After Naomi left, I spoke to my mom myself. I told her that I loved her too and that all was well. There was no need to say sorry because she didn’t do anything on purpose. There wasn’t anything for me to forgive because I didn’t take it personally, and I am the person I am today because of her and my dad. I love who I am. She did a great job!
This morning as I was squeezing into my jeans, I realized what happened. When she was slowly dying of cancer over that time frame, I too, had to suffer with her in some way. I had to sacrifice, like I always did, and which I always did since I was a child. I sacrificed and felt bad for her. My action of suffering was to regress back to my old abusive ways of eating. I punished myself with food. In my old days, I ate food that I knew I would get sick from, yet I did it anyway because it tasted so good, and why shouldn’t I have a small piece of what I enjoy? A small comfort, yet a big sacrifice.
But there was something else at play. Subconsciously, I was telling myself–your mother is suffering, you don’t deserve to focus on healthy goals, and healthy weight. After all, what right did I have being happy and healthy when she was dying? In some weird way, even though she didn’t know it, I was sabotaging myself. It was my way of saying “I too will suffer with you.”
I now know that that I do not need to suffer because someone else is. And neither do you. Whatever someone else is going through, no matter how much you love them, their issue is still theirs and not yours. Being kind, compassionate and helpful during their struggle is enough. Self-abuse to prove your love is not love. How can we be the light we know we are if we keep hiding it in the name of empathy, sympathy or some other misunderstanding we have about love? Love yourself first.
This is the reason we teach about affirmations, intentions, and any other self-love act you can do. Our weight issues have nothing to do with food. And until you realize that, you will always be on a diet or frustrated with your weight. Weight loss programs can change your relationship with food, but you’re the one that needs to change your relationship with yourself.
Over the last two years of my personal life, hence my business as well has been going through a lot of changes. I have been learning that I need to take care of me. I need to practice self-love consciously, and that doesn’t mean getting a massage or a pedicure once in a while. I need to change my personal vocabulary and recognize how powerful I, and all human beings really are! My belief systems (habits, decisions, coping skills, stress techniques, and lifestyle) need to change in order for me to be the best, most abundant, loving, peaceful, kind person I can be.