Thursday, October 18, 2007

Long Term Goals Cut Short . . .

I attended support group last night, as I have once a month for the last nine months, and I had another fun evening with friends old and new (lookin' good Hank, Cathy, Kate and Julie, etc.) and, as per always, the evening was well worth the time invested.

The only lowlight (overall - a very upbeat and fun session) was something that I don't know if anyone but me in the room even realized or took as a slight but, in my beady little brain . . . there was another sign that no matter where you are, people will sell you short because of your weight.

The set up . . . we had a guest speaker (who was great and he meant NO harm (to level set)) who gave us all a quiz at the end of his presentation.

Got your pencils ready?

Question number four (paraphrasing) . . .

A long term goal to lose a large amount of weight is a good short term motivator: TRUE FALSE

What is the answer?

THAT is where the "conflict" was born.

Our speaker, in his medically trained and professionally qualified experience (and in his ignorance that I was in the room), felt it was absolutely false that deciding that you want lose a large amount of weight over a longer period of time in any way motivates you to work harder in the short term. He felt that it would only be appropriate, if weight loss was your goal, to set short term goals to work towards in the short term. It makes sense, right?

Not to me. Here's my thing (get out the soapbox, kids, I'm climining on it) . . . don't sell me and my fat peers short. Don't decide for us what motivates us or what motivations will work for us. All of our lives - no matter where we go - people are doing that. Making decisions about who we are and what we are and what we are capable of based on our physical bodies and our inabitlity to maintain our weight BUT every journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single step BUT - if you are foolish enough to WANT a 1,000 mile journey . . . you were working for that when you took that first step, right?

The medical community has long sold obese people short. My primary care doc, her degrees on the wall behind her, treated me like an idiot that would not even read her pamphlets on healthy eating and blood pressure management because of my fat. I'm heavy, not illiterate, you twit!
I get why she did that, I guess. Our culture sells us short. Our friends and family often sell us short. Shoot - we sell ourselves short most of the time.
There is ONE place where we need to get all the credit in the world . . . in that room. In that support group. In the medical and social treatment of us before, during and after our surgery. We clap for every little thing in that room - because none of them are small things in that room.

No one should be able to sell us short in that room. No one should doubt us.
We are all coming to grips with (before or after surgery) a HUGE decision, a HUGE life change, a HUGE defining moment in our lives and a HUGE challenge to live the next x days of our new lives knowing that all we knew is gone. All we used food for is gone. All that our weight meant to us (good and bad) is leaving. We need to be supported and encouraged. Even if we fail. Even if we aren't able to motivate ourselves. Even if we are frustrated and annoyed. We need, most importantly, to believe in the power of ourselves. That WE (you, me, the new guy, the former Marine, Cathy's sister . . . WE CAN GET THERE - we CAN overcome our weight - in time.)

Here's my thing - I have always been fat and was always gaining weight (with brief periods of diet and loss here and there). I knew, with every pound I gained in my life (and I gained 520 of them) that I would eventually want to have those pounds off me. I would lose them - one after another - or I would die and my soul would leave all 520 behind at once. One way or another . . . I would lose them.

The week before my surgery, I set my goals. I wanted to add 20 years to my life. I wanted to dodge diabetes and cholesterol and heart disease and stroke. I wanted to climb stairs and have my breathe when I got to the top. I wanted to skydive.

More relevant to this rant . . . I wanted to lose 10% of my body weight (48 pounds) in one month. I wanted to lose 10% of the remaining weight of my body in the next three months. I wanted to lose 10% of the remianing weight of my body in the next three months. I wanted to lose 10% of the remaining weight of my body in the next three months, etc. etc. etc. One week before my surgery, at 483 pounds and in my car in the drive thru at McDonald's (ah, inspiration strikes where it wants to strike, I guess), I decided that I would some day weigh 220 pounds (I've since changed my goal weight to 200 pounds).

So, how am I doing? GREAT, thank you. Ahead of schedule, thank you. Still losing weight, one pound at a time, thank you. Still BELIEVING that I will get to my long term goals based on short term success and incrimental movement towards those goals, thank you.

Will I get to my goal? Hard to say. Am I MOTIVATED to get to my long term goal to lose 263 pounds eventually by the loss of each individual pound in the meantime. You betcha!

Bottom line - enough of this doubting and trying to protect us from setting big, long term goals. Enough of the nay sayers and the doubters and the cynics and the people who will decide that because you are fat and you needed this surgery to battle that fat that you can't get to where you want to go with your weight. Enough of the negative reinforcements and doubting the will power of the obese. No more of the implication that you can't dream big about getting small.

YOU can do it, my friend. Set yourself a nice, big, lofty, ambitious and brazen goal. Hell, set TWO of 'em.
If you can take it one step at a time and if you can follow the rules and ride out the low moments . . . I'll look you in the eye and repeat that you can and you WILL do it any time you want to hear it.
YOU, like skinny people (if I understand how the world really works (smile)) can do anything, if you just take it one step and one pound at a time.

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