A few weeks ago, I was contacted by reporter Erica Quednau of WCIA-3's Current. Current, which airs after the Morning Show, focuses on a different theme each day and centers its stories around that topic. Obesity was the topic for that coming Thursday, and would I be willing to share my experience?
If you didn't know my story, you'd probably think I've always been healthy and fit. Perhaps you'd be be more inclined to take my advice, since it appears that I'm doing something right. At the same time, you might think I come off as holier than thou.
Who the heck am I – a "skinny mini" – to tell you about eating healthier and losing weight? What do I know about the physical and emotional pain of being overweight? (And yes, I have really been asked these questions in several of my workshops). And you know what? I totally get it. As an overweight kid, I went to a dietitian and hated her. I had the same thoughts and resented her just as much.
So in hopes of increasing my credibility, I made the decision a long time ago to be forthcoming with others about my own weight loss experience – and now, weight maintenance. Naturally, I agreed to Erica's request.
The next day, I found myself standing amidst the fresh fruits and vegetables, recounting my journey. One of Erica's questions cut straight to the chase – "What happened that you finally decided to lose weight?"
In my mind, I was catapulted back to the fall of 2005. I was a sophomore in college and tipped the scales at 190 lbs. I got out of breath walking to class. I had a hard time making friends. I felt isolated. I wasn't enjoying life. It nagged at me every day, but still I did nothing different. Until I did.
I won't go into the details, but I was humiliated in such a way that I hit rock bottom. Hitting rock bottom is often used when talking about drug or alcohol abuse, but I think it applies to any event in your life that forces you to take a good, hard look at yourself. When you hit rock bottom, you stop blaming others. It hurts something awful, but you accept responsibility for your past actions. You start taking the necessary steps to change your behavior for the better.
As I changed, I often revisited the memory of humiliation as a reminder of why, and understandably so. We want to continue to do things that will help us avoid negative feelings and consequences. But it may be more constructive to find something positive to focus on as your impetus – your reason – for change. Ultimately, I started concentrating on my desire to physically feel better.
To identify your reason, brainstorm a list of why you want to lose weight, change your diet, or be more physically active. Maybe you want to fit in your old clothes. Have an easier time starting a family. Be able to walk your daughter down the aisle. Not get out of breath when playing with your grandkids.
When you have a list, pick your number one reason (two if you must) and make this your focus. Think about it often – when you get out of bed, when you have a craving, when you're stressed. To be even more effective, set up visual reminders. Write out your reason and post on the fridge, on the computer monitor, on the bathroom mirror. Make it your screensaver. Set alarms on your phone so that the message pops up at designated times.
I talked with Erica about much more, and you can watch the full Current segment, "Woman Uses Own Weight Loss Story to Inspire Others," on www.getcurrentnow.com.
Just don't be afraid to reach a low point, because what comes afterward makes all the difference.
Today's post was written by Leia Kedem. Leia Kedem, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian and Nutrition & Wellness Educator covering Champaign, Ford, Iroquois, and Vermilion Counties. She appears weekly on WCIA-3/WCIX-49 and is a biweekly contributor to the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette. She also maintains Facebook and Twitter accounts where she regularly posts health tips and answers nutrition questions for free.