After checking out the Web buzz on the recent TED MED conference, I discovered, when following some links on talks related to obesity that The Huffington Post has a pretty extensive section devoted to weight loss success stories. As someone who’s been on Weight Watchers for a while, I am familiar with the positive vibes and insights to be found in the story of someone who has lost weight and kept it off. The Huffington Post stories were longer than the typical Weight Watchers posts, though, so that made them even more valuable.
The story that I really focused on was that of Gabe Evans, who lost 200 lbs, largely by changing his relationship with food and his general outlook on life.
Gabe doesn’t really say what was going on in his life while the scale was going up, but he mentions settling into a self-limiting mindset. For example, without ever testing his theory, he stopped himself from going on roller coaster rides, saying,
“I never got turned away from a ride, but it was a mental barrier that I had put in place that made me not want to try to do these things, out of fear of being turned away.”
I have never considered whether I stopped myself from doing certain activities when I weighed more, strictly because of my previous weight, but I know that I have definitely been inspired to live differently now. I’m not sure if I can attribute that most to the success of having lost 40 lbs. having emboldened me in some way, or my exploration of the roots of my emotional eating issues inspiring me to make positive changes. Whatever it is, I can say that I am slowly becoming a different, stronger person in this process, and I encourage you to assess what limits you may have imposed on yourself due to weight gain, or the limits that spurred the eating habits that led to your weight gain.
Gabe goes on to describe himself as a generally happy person throughout this period, but says he decided to make a change to step more fully into his life. And the biggest change he made was to his relationship with food. On this, he says,
“We live in a time where fast food and packaged foods are king. Food isn’t special anymore, and you don’t savor it. Once I started looking at my food like a long-term relationship instead of as a one-night stand, I was able to dive into my weight loss journey.”
This was a powerful quote to me. I can relate to not thinking beyond tomorrow when it comes to reveling over a decadent dinner or dessert. I can definitely say that before I started losing weight I had a mindset that was focused on eating whatever I wanted, when I wanted it. These desires were urgent, and they were not ignored–generally, they were fulfilled on the spot.
Have I broken from a “one-night stand” mentality when it comes to eating? In some ways yes, but in others, the article made me realize that no, I haven’t. I am eating unhealthy food less frequently, and in smaller portion sizes, but it feels like I’m approaching eating one or two meals at a time, rather than focusing in on the big picture. Yes, I understand that a series of good choices or bad choices can crystallize a path of weight loss success or setback, but I sometimes catch myself focusing in on what I may pass on eating to balance out a day or a week, rather than reminding myself that the food isn’t going to go anywhere–the pizza joint won’t stop making pizza, and Hershey isn’t planning on halting its chocolate production anytime soon. I am not giving up on any food, I’m just not having certain things all at once in one sitting, or eating them as frequently as I did in the past.
The article was a good reminder to think of myself as being in a long-term relationship with food. I already understand that weight loss itself is a long-term relationship, but considering food and meals with those same perceptions will enable me to better respect myself and the food.
I also agree that I have often not savored meals, or considered them special, but that changing that mentality has been helpful. Slowing down, taking a moment to experience the sight of a well-presented meal or smell its goodness is a 180 from the fast and furious eating that was a hallmark of my poor eating habits.
Lastly, Gabe mentions exercise, and that’s the last weight loss frontier for me. I haven’t committed to a regular dose of physical activity, but he’s right that it’s important. He says he goes to the gym three times a week for an hour, which seems reasonable. One thing I’ve learned about myself during the weight loss process is that I never really had a strong set of priorities or values, that they were a shifting sand dictated by whoever I felt I needed to please at the moment. There is still work for me to do in sorting out what’s important and committing to a life that reflects that, but one component I need to add is a regular exercise commitment. Gabe’s inspiration strikes again.
This leads in nicely to an inspiring quote from Gabe’s mother, who is proud of her son’s weight loss, but not surprised by it.
“I’ve known that you’ve had this in you forever. Look at all of your talents. Look at all of the things you have excelled at. You’ve just started using your talents to improve yourself, because you’re worth it.”
I can say in my life, before I started Weight Watchers, I hadn’t been using my talents to improve myself. I do now, but I’m slowly realizing I’m not fully tapping into all of the skills at my disposal, due to the negative thought patterns I’ve held about myself for a long time. I am very slowly coming out of that self-destructive fog. think it’s worth considering for all of us whether we are bringing our full arsenal of skills into the weight loss battle–or if we consider ourselves worthy of the effort in the first place.
I have to say a big thank-you to Gabe for the inspiration he has given me over the past week! I now consider him a weight loss role model.