March 15, 2010

“Deep down, in your heart of hearts, if you are completely honest with yourself and you had unlimited resources, what do you think it would take for you to lose the weight you want to lose?” asked Dr. Vogel.

I was sitting in the office of the third endocrinologist I had visited in as many months, trying to understand why hours and hours of exercise and months and months of dieting hadn’t worked–why I felt faint when I stood up, ached for days after running a mile, and felt like I was living in the body of an 80-year-old woman.

Despite my best efforts, all the frustration and anguish of my unsuccessful 6-month battle to lose weight welled up in my eyes and spilled over in tears of defeat as I replied “I think I would have to exercise 6 hours a day…that would have to be my job. I couldn’t have any stress. It would have to consume my thoughts, my life…” she nodded sympathetically as my voice trailed off and the words I had spoken hit my consciousness. The tears came from the realization that I had increasingly come to believe that this task was impossible.

Surprisingly, Dr. Vogel didn’t try to reassure me. She didn’t tell me I was fine the way I was. She didn’t tell me that I was wrong about the kind of lifestyle I thought I would have to live to lose weight. In fact, she told me the last thing I expected to hear: that my expectations were unrealistic. “Genes are powerful. They’re not everything, but they’re something. If the women in your family are bigger, you’re just going to be bigger. Learn to be happy.”

I had two primary and contradictory reactions to this news: anger and relief. The anger came from being told that this was something I couldn’t do, and that it was out of my control. In 24 years, I’ve never believed that that anything was out of reach, if I was willing to put in the effort. It went against a fundamental principle of my life: hard work = success. The relief part is hard to explain, but I think it stems from this: for the first time in years, someone was looking at me without judgement and telling me that my inability to lose weight wasn’t my fault. I realize now that her words placed me at the fork of a dangerous crossroad…one path leading to complacency and defeat; one leading to freedom and content.

God’s grace led me (albeit somewhat blindly) to take the latter. This blog is my attempt to share my journey down that road and bring as many people with me as I can.


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