The path to health has a lot of dead ends, detours, and wrong turns. And no one is handing out maps. So what’s a well-intentioned person to do?
If you’re like most of us, you’ve tried to keep up with one too many strict diets, 2-hour-a-day workout plans, and total kitchen overhauls — all while working a full-time job, keeping your kids from killing each other, or managing your own business. Maybe all of the above!
It can be exhausting, and more often than not, it’s just one more thing on your to-do list.
Heather: We just wanted to get everyone today to talk about you guys, not us.
Dacia: We want an open discussion about the topics posted, not just our stories. We want to get a feel for where everyone is.
Thea: The whole point is to discuss what has worked for us. What has worked for us is three different things, but we’ve all come to the same mental space.
Heather: We wanted to talk about how we’re setting our priorities and how we’re talking to ourselves. Does anyone want to weigh in on any struggles they are having?
Audience describes struggling with social anxiety and how they perceive everyone thinks about them. Part of them knows people aren’t talking about them all of the time, but another part struggles to accept it.
Dacia: Personally I can say that I struggled with what others thought of me too, and it held me back for a long time. There may be people judging, but what do I care? That’s on them; their opinions should not affect my life. If someone comes up and says ‘Dacia you’re doing that wrong, you should be doing this, how could you wear that?’ Should I worry about that? It’s hard not to, but it’s not personal, it’s on them.
Another audience member describes struggling with this while growing up, as they were awkward but wanted to be a part of the group, so they overcompensated in order to appease others. Part of their struggle was with becoming the type of person that doesn’t care what other people think. People have to take you for who you are, or they can leave.
Thea: You have to constantly remind yourself that what you’re doing is for you. It’s not for them; it should be something you want for yourself.
Audience describes coming to this realization, and realizing they had isolated themselves for so long. Another member describes how you can think that people are only telling you what you want to hear, and how it’s hard to trust that someone is being honest when saying things like “I love you.”
Another audience member describes how they still struggle with thinking people are going to judge them, and how it causes fear in going out to meet people. They also talk about starting to think “what’s the worst that can happen?” and that unless its death, there really isn’t any reason to not put yourself out there.
Dacia: I’m in same mentality, and am trying to remember “what’s the worst that can happen?” The key thing is that it’s hard to remember that’s it not always easy, but it’s never always easy, so if you are doing right 80% of the time, then it’s awesome! It’s okay if it’s hard, but you can reach out and talk about it. No one has it all together, and that’s okay.
Audience describes a personal goal they had put off for a long time, only to realize that it wasn’t that bad once they started. They state that they are happy to have done it, even if others aren’t there to validate the experience.
Dacia: Right, that’s reframing your perspective. You don’t want to do that for validation, you want to help others.
Audience describes wanting to be able to run, as they are inspired by those around them, but struggle because of pain. They describe how Heather had asked them if they could do two minutes, and say that it’s a difficult idea, especially when they were able to run longer distances in the past, but admit that sometimes it is necessary to go back to step 1. They wonder if they want to put themselves through all of that though, and if they’ll ever lose the weight they had put back on.
Dacia: If you never lose it, are you a failure? No one goes around judging based on size. Why do we do it to ourselves? Why do we let the number make us feel like were a failure.
Another member states that it’s a matter of trying to stop a lifelong habit, and how they have always been their biggest bully. They know going back to step 1 is hard, but take solace in the fact that steps 1 and 2 are a little easier, and that they have a support system who has been through it too.
Dacia: Your step 1 isn’t really step 1 though, it’s step 4000. Where were you day 1 and where are you now? You have so many more tools that you didn’t have before. If you have to go back, it’s in a much better place than when you started this.
Thea: I keep hearing “go back”, but you cannot go back. You can redo something, but there is no going back to step 1, as you are not the same person you were at step 1. You know more, and have much more perspective. I needed to lose a few pounds so I could get pregnant. Twelve years later, I am at the same weight as when I thought she had to lose 20 pounds, but don’t feel I need to do that anymore. You cannot go back, you can repeat, but you cannot go back.
Audience describes troubles they have been having trying to break into the community, and how past weight loss efforts were thwarted because of hating how they look with excess skin, and then by a string a tragedies. They state they started to get back on track, but have plateaued and stopped blogging as a result. Their scared to continue on because of the original fears of how they look with the excess skin and hating how they look in the mirror.
Another audience member states that there is no point in not loving yourself and what you look like now, because the hatred will get your nowhere. They state that they might not always like the way they look, but they know deep down that they are awesome.
Dacia: I came to terms with excess skin. What is more important, dying soon…or having excess skin? I will never be a model, or have what a body looks like in magazine. We will all look different. I feel lucky but loved myself at 260 pounds. I had to be selfish, because otherwise I would die soon, so I switched my mentality from “I want to be skinny” to “I want to live.” I was afraid to do anything or go out in public…and watched life pass by, knowing this is where I would die if I didn’t change. I chose to live, and lived more.
Audience describes observations they heard about the “batwings” (the excess skin on arms when losing weight). To this person, the batwings show all of the work they have put into losing weight, and that it’s beautiful.
Thea: You have to reframe…or flip the script. I don’t wear tank tops or expose skin, but it’s because I am comfortable covered up, not because I am uncomfortable showing skin. You sometimes need a completely different mindset.
Audience asks if we would ever accept the bad things we say about ourselves if they came from another person.
Dacia: We have decades of experience telling ourselves we’re imperfect. Those things you are saying to yourself, would you say that to your best friend? We cannot not make ourselves not think negative thoughts, but we can decide what we want to do with it.
Audience describes the bad choices they have made, despite knowing better. They believe they are hurting the miracle that is their body.
Heather: You have to remember that you are also making good choices.
Audience describe the need to love our fat selves. They weren’t bad people, but they were in a bad place. Another audience member states that it was the fat self that go them where they are today, because they were the one to who decided to change their life.
Dacia: It’s still you, but in a different shell. Your body is different, but at the core you are still you. It makes me sad that I hated myself so much, but I need to let it go, as that person made the tough decision. The fat person also has all of the same accomplishments do now, which can be hard to remember because weight loss defined me. I use to work at NASA…THAT is the most interesting thing, not that I was fat. There are so many wonderful things that define us.
An audience member describes wishing they could watch themselves from another’s person body, so they could get a new perspective and be objective.
Dacia: I have an “I don’t give a f***” mentality. I saw picture from the fashion show and the fat roll over pants, but what do I care? I live in Florida, it’s hot, and I want to wear a tank-top!
Audience asks if anyone really just sits around judging people in the outside world. Another replies that they are less impressed with those who are already really healthy.
Dacia: Are you relating size to struggle because you’ve been there?
Another audience member responds with their struggle with “kind of” running –
Thea: Stop with the “kind of” running. Are you walking or are you running? Do what you do, but don’t quality it.
Audience member responds that running has a lot of negative thoughts due to their past, but they signed up for a triathlon anyway and did it. They describe the rush of getting high fives and cheers from strangers, and state that’s the people they run with do it because they love it, and don’t care what they look like.
Heather: Find things you love and you’ll keep doing it. I hated running, but love yoga. Stop worrying. The goal is to finish and have fun.
Audience member states that they don’t look like everyone else, but they can still do what everyone else is doing.
Dacia: I don’t look like anyone in fitness class, but if you let that stop you then you’ll never accomplish anything. We are all the same…we are all athletes.
Thea: You are still climbing a mountain, regardless of whether or not you are in a tank top.
Audience describes telling the top finishers at their events about how inspiring they are, when it turns out the finishes are inspired by them. Another describes struggling with an injury, but how they eventually decided that they can’t let life pass them by.
Thea: You have been dealt a hand of cards…and you can only do so much. You can’t lose skin now, so should you stop? Be realistic and base goals on where you are now. Don’t not do things because you don’t look the way you want to look.
Audience describes a technique where they thing about what their 95 year old self would look back on and remember.
Dacia: 95 year old you will not wish you looked better in tank tops.
Thea states that she hopes they aren’t simplifying the struggle one of the audience members is facing. Another member states that this tribe is the best thing there is, and the only difference between the vets and the newbies is that the vets have been her longer. They also state that the sessions are the best way to meet people, and they lead to conversations after.
Thea: You will gravitate around those with common interests.
Dacia: We all recognize we want to do better and that we don’t have all answers, but we have each other.
Heather, Thea and Dacia thank everyone for attending.