Thoughts on the Run: The Real Why

New thing: Thoughts on the Run Sundays. Because I run a lot and that means I think a lot and sometimes I come up with some good, introspective stuff. And sometimes I come up with really random funny stuff. Either way, good stuff so this is now a thing. Bam.

Every good dieter knows you’re supposed to have to have a good “why” to  successfully lose weight. It comes up in every book, every program, every support group. “What’s your why?” is a semi-monthly topic at WW and I’d hazard to guess most other weight loss related groups out there. The theory is that having and regularly revisiting your reason for starting a weight loss journey will keep you motivated and on track. It’s a good theory but it’s majorly, massively flawed. See, there are a very limited number of socially acceptable “whys” out there. The ones that exist are, while true, superficial at best (and complete lies at worst). But you don’t want people to start throwing rotten vegetables (0 Smart Points!!!!) and low point snacks at you so you find a why that’s both reasonably true enough and palatable to the weight loss pearl clutchers listening. These whys usually come in some variation of the following: to be healthier, to be a good role model to my children, to shop in the “normal” clothing sections, etc etc. I know because I’ve used those “whys” and while they’re more or less true statements (I do want health and I do want my children to see my making healthy choices and shopping straight sizes is significantly more convenient) they aren’t my true why. If I look back at every weight loss attempt I’ve ever made, my true, deep down why has always been this:

to have permission

Permission for what? If I’m being completely honest, it boils down to having permission to want. Food, love, authenticity, sex, hobbies, dreams…wanting and desiring things becomes very political when you’re fat. Wanting invites judgment both internal and external.

You want another slice? But you’re fat! You don’t need another slice.

You want a promotion? But you’re fat! Fat people are lazy and lazy people don’t deserve promotions.

You want acceptance? But you’re fat! No one wants to be fat so you can’t possibly accept yourself and you’ll never find acceptance from others unless you accept yourself.

You want to follow your dream or be yourself or live authentically? But you’re fat! No one will take you seriously. Have you looked in the mirror? How can you even take yourself seriously?

Out of fear I’ve made my personality smaller and more tolerable to society in the hopes that once I lost weight I’d be able to unleash my big personality and be accepted…that I’d be able to want all the things without judgment. But as my weight decreased my fear of wanting increased. The small permissions I granted myself as I lost weight were conditional; I was worthy of desiring things for myself because I was losing weight. So long as I continued to lose weight I could dream big. I could want. But as soon as those wants interfered with weight loss I yanked the permissions labeling them too dangerous.

Being thin enough has been one, giant permission slip to do all the things, be all the things and have all the things I’ve ever wanted. But the concept of thin enough is slippery and the target constantly moves…I’m worthy when I get below 200 lbs. Then 199 lbs isn’t enough so I’m worthy at 150 lbs. Then in another 5, another 2, a little lower… there’s no end and you never get that permission slip.

Despite my somewhat flippant last post, for me the first step to authenticity…whole hearted living as Brene Brown calls it, is not going to be staring at paint chips. While figuring out the logistics of authenticity (like my true likes/dislikes) is very important work, separating the permission slip from the weight loss and allowing myself to want is the true first step.

This brings me to where I’m going to focus this blog. I’ve decided to, in addition to Thoughts on the Run Sundays, start working through Brene Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection bit by bit and blog about each portion and how it feeds into my own authenticity journey.  To keep things a little lighter, I’m also going to start doing Pinterest Wednesdays…a report back on some random Pinterest project, activity, recipe, whatever that I’ve decided to try. It sounds unrelated but I promise it’s not…paint chips, remember? It’s all part of taking the journey to authenticity.

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