Monday, October 24, 2011

Reaction, Inaction, Action – Weight Loss and Empowerment

Last November, I approached a close relative about a pattern of behavior I’d noticed in them that had me concerned. I did it from love, but my timing sucked – and bringing up delicate matters is often dicey no matter what the motivation or the timing. This family member hadn’t asked for my two cents. And I approached the person as they were indulging in the (to my mind) bad habit in question. [I’m purposefully not outing my relative here, so please bear with the gender-neutral pronoun awkwardness!]
Well, dear readers, my relative turned the tables on me. Got up in my grill, called me fat, said my obesity was a far cry more serious health issue than their “perceived problem” and that I could come back to state my case once I had lost 100 pounds. As in the pages of the very best writing, the situation worsened for this protagonist when my relative said:
“100 pounds? Hell, lose 75. Then we’ll talk.”
I cried. I got mad. I gained more weight. I felt helpless and stuck. Gaining weight did nothing but hurt me, not my relative. But losing weight would mean they won. Right? Right?
I started a food journal in January and lost 12 lbs. Yay! Then I had a visit from the relative, stopped the food journal and over the next six or so months kept gaining and losing the same five pounds. In midsummer, I broke down and bought three pairs of pants in the next size up. I cried.
By the end of this summer, I knew I had come to a crossroads. I could take control by committing to a weight loss program or I could continue to punish myself. Act or react?
I chose to act. Since mid-September I’ve lost about a fifth of my intended goal. I feel fantastic, like I crawled from beneath a rock to frolic in the sun. I have a long way to go, but I’m moving in a healthy direction. My family member and I will come to rapprochement. Or not.
Either way, I've grown throughout this process, from having a better sense of when to keep my mouth shut to learning how to unhook my actions from someone else's expectations. I'm not losing weight because of my relative. I'm losing weight because it's the right thing for me to do right now.
How about you? Are you an actor or re-actor? Or somewhere in between?


  1. It depends on the inciting event, Keely, so I guess I'm somewhere in between. Good for you for taking charge of your health. I know feel so much better when I'm walking and eating at least mostly healthful stuff.

    Empowerment is good!

  2. Aww, what a story. I feel for you! Losing weight is incredibly hard work, but maintaining a healthy weight is so important to health. Keep up the good work. You're worth it.

    I'd say I'm more an under-pressure actor. Nothing to get me going like being up against a deadline.

  3. Jane - yes, it does matter what the inciting incident is, doesn't it? If my argument had been about something other then weight, I suspect I wouldn't have had the downward spiral and stasis.

    Ann - thanks for the cheers! Some deadlines work for me and others don't. Usually if the deadline is external, I'm better able to whup my butt into gear. If I've set the deadline for myself...well. We all know about that road paved with good intentions!

  4. Huge Congrats, Keely. Whatever the reason I am proud of you for following through (and slightly jealous as well).

  5. Hey Lavinia - that's the kind of jealousy I can live with. LOL! Yes, at this point the initial reason doesn't matter any more, it's the commitment and willingness to do the work necessary to get the job done that reign supreme. Kind of like "butt in chair, fingers on keyboard," eh?

  6. A HUGE congratulations to you!!!!! Losing weight is so difficult and emotional. You should be so proud of yourself - I certainly am! Keep it up! ;-)

  7. Kerri - thanks!! So far everyone's been so supportive - it's been wonderful. I keep grinning. Which makes others grin back. Which makes me grin some more. And for the most part, yup. Proud as punch. Or is it proud of Punch? Where does that phrase come from anyway...?

  8. Congratulations, Keely! I thought you looked smaller at Saturday's meeting.

  9. Keely, you are brave and also generous to share this experience with us. Congratulations on rising to the challenge that YOU set for yourself! I'm so glad you're feeling better and more optimistic! And thank you for the reminder that health should be at the top of our priority lists! Yay, you!

    -Kathy A :-)

  10. Congrats, Keely! I thought you were looking especially fine on Saturday. Thanks for sharing your story of struggle and perseverance -- it is inspiring. Go Keely!

  11. Keely - Keep up the good work! I keep trying to talk myself into going back on my diet. It's the cooking for me and cooking for everyone else that kills me. It's hard to be happy with 4 oz of chicken and spinach when I've made lasagna for the family. Sigh... Does that make me a reactor?

  12. Wow, Keely! To be a life winner AND a weight loser... Wow, oh, wow!

    And as inspiring as it is to hear about the pounds you've shed, it's amazing to hear about the other lessons you learned--like you'll be a-okay even if you and your family member never see eye-to-eye on the subject that caused such friction between you. When all is said and done, lessons like that may be the hardest for us to learn! But you're doing it!

    So excited for you!!!

  13. Hi Keely. Thank you for sharing. Sitting in on judge training with you, I think it's clear you are very fair and no question you care about others feelings. And, when concern and love are at the base of your decisions and actions, even if things are rough at first, the outcome has no choice but to have at least some positive fall out. I admire actors. Can't say that's always me but hopefully when it counts, like what you have done here.

  14. Keely ~ I am so proud of you. Your action is paying off. Thanks for sharing your poignant story. Interpersonal relationships are never easy, especially with family. And how we respond says more about our strength of character than anything else. By responding the way you did is more about weight loss and just taking care of your health, it's about taking care of the soul as well. Good for you! Again, just so proud of you. Can't wait to see you make that goal. I'm here to cheer you on!

  15. Sorry, that was more than about just weight loss . . . grrr. Early morning typos. Sigh. ;0)

  16. Michelle - your own journey has been an inspiration to me. Props to you!!

    Kathy A - you know what? I'm going to own that - I do feel brave, and it's way cool.

    Emily - dare I say a prolonged weight loss regimen is akin to a writer's career? Perseverence is a key element in well as having good friends to cheer you on. Thank you!

    Robin - I don't think it means you are a re-actor so much as that you're struggling with the usual load life throws at a working mom and wife. Busy acting on several fronts, not necessarily able to act on ALL fronts.

  17. I'm so happy for you Keely. I need to drop several pounds and just haven't had the motivation. This makes me stop and seriously consider what I need to do myself. I had a boss once who told me that people could either choose to act or react. That always stuck with me. I think I'm actually a bit of both, but far too often I react after the situation has become desperate, when I should have already taken action.

  18. Nichole - thank you, sweetie. I definitely feel like my understanding of self and others has deepened this year. Hopefully that process will continue!!

    Carlene - I appreciate your comment. I did approach my family member from a place of love. And I truly believe the FM was concerned about my weight, not just being mean. So we'll see what, if anything, comes of our next conversation.

    I think Jane and Robin alluded to this above, that acting and reacting exist on a sliding scale and no one person is completely one way or the other.

  19. Candy - I'm going to take you up on that offer to go outlet shopping!! I agree with you - action at this level feeds and heals the soul. It's a self-perpetuating loop right now: the longer I do this, the better I've felt, the more I want to continue so I can keep feeling great. Nice loop. Good chicken soup...

  20. Anita - I was a Mary Kay Consultant for a number of years and the leadership always did a lot of training and motivation workshops. One piece of wisdom that always resonated with me was: People only change when the pain of staying the same outweighs the pain of change. I don't know to what extent that's true, but I think it was applicable in my case.

    I understand where you're coming from, though. When you're in the worsening situation, it can be difficult to gain enough perspective to figure out how to get out of it.

    And then too often we (usually it's women, isn't it?) beat ourselves up about not being proactive enough in the first place. So we can't catch a break, most especially from ourselves.

  21. Keely - I am immensely proud of you. But, more importantly you should be proud of yourself. It's so so so hard to change a habit, especially one that you go to when you are stressed. I remember you telling me about it when this happened and how upset you were. I'm also so proud of you for letting this turn positive and not negative. Your family member attacked you because you said what they know about themselves and don't want to face. But you have faced yours and come out even stronger.

    I have been both reactor and actor. There are areas where I'm better at being an actor than others. Certain days when I'm better at it as well. But, I think in this life if we strive to do our best, then that's all anyone can ask of themselves.

    Be happy, sweetie. :)

  22. Good going, Keely! So glad you found your groove. :-)

  23. Lisa - it's a balance, isn't it? Acting, reacting...I was just reminder of a song lyric by Mary Chapin Carpenter - "sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug." Not completely analogous, but it kind of captures the spirit of the discussion - and you're right, on any given day all we can do is our best (and I'd add, forgive ourselves on the days when our best for the day is not the best for all time).

    Evie - thanks!