Two years is a long time to spend talking about yourself. It’s an even longer time to be thinking about yourself. One of the first conversations I had with someone who had already had lap-band weight loss surgery and managed to lose 130+ pounds was about how her “bandiversary” made her kind of sad over the years. One year after her surgery she was elated by the changes. The second year after surgery overwhelmed her because she wasn’t prepared for all the other changes her weight loss caused in her life. She had left her husband, walked away from a 25 year career, and was starting over all alone. Three years after the surgery she told me she marked the anniversary by sitting alone in her bedroom and binge eating all day, drinking all night, and filling her mind with negative self-talk wondering if she had made the right choice three years ago.
On this website and in my book (Fat Man Walking) I try to be really honest about all the challenges that come with this. The challenges were easy in the first year. You change the way you eat. You start to move more. You commit to a series of basic things: planned meals, portioned food, small bites, 30 chews, leaving one-minute between swallow and bite, and you watch the pounds fall off. The momentum that brings fuels you up and you throw yourself at things you never thought you’d be doing again, and some you just never thought you’d get to do at all.
Last year on my first bandiversary I was just about two months in to a new job, in a new city, training at a new gym, living in a new house, I was newly single, and fairly optimistic about the year ahead. I knew it would be a challenge. I knew that work would be much busier than it had been the last few years in Cape Breton. I knew leaving my support network at home could challenge the foundations of my success. I worried about leaving my closest friends behind. I knew that living alone for the first time since surgery gave me a chance to go back to old habits and eat whatever I wanted, unseen. This was going to be a real test of my resolve.
For the most part – the year went as planned but it had its ups and downs. I surely bit off more than I could chew at times, trying to put energy in to my job, keep on top of my outside writing, finish writing my book, and then commit to the promotion schedule that goes along with making sure the book was a success. Also, I’m doing all of this why trying to maintain some kind of social life, invest in new friendships, break old habits, and I spent a good part of the year just saying yes to every opportunity that came my way to make sure I wasn’t settling in to a comfort zone that would stop challenging me to grow.
It was too much. It is still too much. Talking with a friend last week it became clear to me that the rallying cry of my first year – to be selfish and put myself first – got muddled in my second year. I thought over-investing in work was investing in me. I thought that over-investing in the book was investing in me. I thought that challenging myself to be more social and say yes to every invite that came my way was an investment in me.
Each of those are important to me and are a part of my journey – but they can also be a distraction from the basic building blocks that first brought me success.
So – we’ve etched out a plan for this next year and it’s challenging me to focus on my core needs first – and see everything else as secondary. I’ve started this process now just like I did two years ago – by holding myself accountable for my time. The best way to see where a person places real life value is to see where they are investing their time. Time isn’t meant to be spent, it’s meant to be invested.
The truth is I can achieve success at work by defending where my energy goes, and by challenging things that pull on my time that aren’t serving my goals. It’s the same in my personal life. I get to draw big black lines around the things I need to do to invest in me – and everything else has to be secondary. If that stops working on any front – my situation has to change, and that can’t make me anxious. I can’t be willing to compromise my health and my commitment to me to meet any other goal I’m also committed to. It can’t be a trade off, or I’m squandering the reset this change has given my life.
I guess the reason I’m so brutally honest about what this whole journey has been like for me is because I don’t want anyone think it’s easy, or that I’m putting myself out there as a guy who has weight loss figured out. I’m just figuring me out. I think that’s why the whole weight loss industry is a false construct. So called “healthy” foods in grocery stores, subscription weight loss programs, and fad diets all claim to have the fix to obesity – but we all got to our heaviest weight in a way that’s unique to each of us. We’ll all reach our healthy goals in a way that is just as unique. I’ve shared (some would say over-shared) my story because I want people to see that the key to the pounds coming off isn’t the lap-band, the meals, or the workouts – it’s about honestly wanting to live a better life, and asking for the tools, resources and supports you need to reach your goals. I’ve never wanted that before, and now I feel like I’ve never wanted something more.
I’m proud of the last two years, and I’m proud of every choice I’ve made – even the bad ones – because I’ve owned them all. I certainly haven’t been perfect but I have been real, and I’ve been honest, and I hope that in my story some may find a spark of hope to start their own change, no matter how daunting it may seem at the time.
Just this month I’ve learned a hard lesson but an important one. Lasting change requires an evolution of thought and practice – not a revolution. Progress is success and you have to be willing to find victory in that.
I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t keep asking all these questions.
Thanks for your support, and for sharing this with me.