Should I Give Up or Keep Going?

Taffy in a knotHave you ever seen a spider suspended in mid-air, as if it’s the next Great Houdini; except, this time, magic is for real because there really is nothing there?  Then, you look a little closer.  I gossamer line catches the light, and you realize the spider is hanging from a single strand of web.  Sailing through the air, tethered to this fragile string, the spider goes where the breeze takes it, waiting for the perfect spot to land.

I feel like that spider right now.

This week, I approached my weekly weigh-in with a mulligatawny mix of hope, patience, and resentment.  Would the needle go down or stay there, stuck, hanging like that spider?  I’ve lost only 5 pounds in the last two months.  That darn needle hasn’t budged much, and I’m all twisted up about that.  Here’s some of the thoughts I’ve had in the last two months….

Stupid needle!  Why am I doing this anyway?  100 pounds in 1 year?  Yeah, right!

Be patient.  This is what a plateau looks like.  I bet if I just stay steady, keep doing what I know to do, then this weight will fall off.

But I want to lose weight nowwwwww (My little brat inside throws a tantrum and I contemplate visiting the McDonald’s drive-thru.  Maybe a cheap kids’ toy would shut her up.)

Anyone who’s ever tried to lose weight can relate to my reactions.  They’re the breezes of life, blowing us in one direction or another; just like the winds that blow the spider along on her spiderweb sail.

My question today:  do I let my reactions blow me into uncharted territory and wait for the perfect place to land, or do I drop anchor and stop right here?

It’s true that I’ve already come so far.  I’ve lost 56 pounds.  I feel strong, lean, and beautiful, like the real me.  Why not take a break and enjoy the new me?

I also believe that God/The Universe/Elvis (you pick) has more in store for me.  Losing all this weight has lifted a heavy burden; I’ve tasted the promise of an abundant life, but there’s more.  Abundance — by definition — is not just enough.  It’s more than enough.  There is still more for me, if I want it.

The truest truth, however, runs underneath all my reactions, like an underground aquifer that never quits flowing, even when I’m stuck in traffic, hungry as heck, and can’t even remember there’s a river only 20 feet beneath me.  When I contemplate whether to stop here, or keep going with my weight loss journey, I hear a truth underneath all my reactions.  The truest truth is that I can choose either direction.  Both are right.  There is no wrong reaction, no bad choice.  All of these breezes blow me to the perfect place because they all lead me to who I really want to be:  the real me.

This has been a hard lesson to learn.  Most of my life, I’ve approached living like I’ve tried dieting; with a desperation to discover and do that One Right Path that will make the weight fall off or all the badness go away.   My pursuit has always come at the expense of my confidence.  After all, if there is a One Right Path, and I’m off it now, then I must have made wrong choices.

Maybe not, though.  What if all my choices have been perfectly right all along?  Perfect — not in the sense of the One, Right Path — but perfect as in exactly what I needed at the time.

For example, I gained over fifty pounds while my depression went undiagnosed as Bi-Polar II.  I ate junk food and wore a couch pillow for a hat most of the time.  I was a mess.  But I was alive.  All that eating served as a pressure valve to keep me exploding from all that pain.  In a way, I can now pat my belly and say, “Thanks for keeping me alive.”

Seeing all my choices as valid — even the ones that helped me gain weight — is empowering.  This level of acceptance gives me space to be; permission to have gained weight back then and to lose that weight now.  Erasing all of the black and white feels powerful.  I am smudging the judgment into a new picture of forgiveness and acceptance.  I can undo all the shame I’ve carried for being obese.  I no longer want to hide because there is no mistake or blemish to cover up.  There is only me; in all my forms; in all my ways.

Still, warning lights go off in my conscience.  First, there’s the part of me that prefers a One Right Path because discovering that path would make me valid; like being part of an exclusive club.  Part of me wants to be set apart, to feel special.  Believing that all my choices are O.K. feels like watering-down my specialness.  If all my choices are valid, then nothing matters; nothing stands out.  How do I stand out then?  How do I feel special?   I want my choices to matter because I want to matter.

To all that, I say, Yes and Amen.  It is my right to matter, as it is everyone’s.  It is our purpose.  The simplest way to answer our compelling need to matter is to acknowledge that we each matter SO MUCH that EVERYTHING works to connect us deeper with ourselves.  In fact, our degree of importance is so profound that we attract circumstances and people all the time, so we can see more of ourselves.  We carry the gravitational pull of all the Universe in our attempt to find ourselves.  In this regard, my goal is not to find the perfect path, but to rest in the perfection I’ve always had; to possess my soul.

Ahh, but I hear another argument rising from my conscience…You think you’re the Center of the Universe; like it all revolves around you.  What about standards?  Giving yourself permission to choose anything; doesn’t that leave you lawless, without a moral compass?  I like that question.  It means something in me cares; something is careful.  Still, I have to say that most of today’s standards are a poor substitute for integrity.  The standards I’ve followed have been more like external thermometers for taking my temperature.  I’ve used church attendance to measure my spirituality.  I’ve used diets to feel disciplined.  I’ve used money to count my value.  All these measures are rooted in a deep desire to feel worthy and valid.  Still, they don’t get there; they can’t reach all the way in.  As my husband recently asked,  Why do we reach outside of ourselves in order to get to ourselves?

To reach me, I need the ultimate standard:  unconditional love.  When I allow every reaction to be, giving every choice permission to lead to new possibilities, then I’m pointing my soul’s compass straight into my heart.  Nothing can steal me from my journey because I’m already home.  Even if I gain the 100 pounds back, I will know more of myself, more of why it happened.  No matter what decision I make, even I cannot take away the truth of me.  I just experience different ways of touching that truth.  That’s unconditional love.

Now, I’m learning to view my myriad of reactions and choices more like pulling taffy.  Sometimes it’s like a tug-o-war on the inside, but each pull works in harmony with the push.  All my desires and choices push and pull, not to tear me apart, but to expose me to everything that could keep me from what I want.  Over time, become softer, until my heart carries that perfect taffy sheen that says, I’m ready now.


Filed under Principles

15 responses to “Should I Give Up or Keep Going?

  1. Marianne

    Great post! It reminded me of the story of Robert the Bruce and the spider, which I learned in school in Scotland where I grew up. The spider’s perseverance inspired Bruce to defeat the English at the Battle of Bannockburn. It’s interesting to note in the story, he is also in exile after being defeated and contemplating the effort needed to fight again. Sometimes you have to accept the ebb and flow of hoped for progress as the mechanism by which you maintain the strength to work towards your goal.


  2. Que

    I would say treat yourself and keep it moving. I can definitely relate. May 1st I removed Pop/Soda from my diet. I found that I drank more calories than what I would eat. My goal is to drop 25lbs then treat myself to a 20 oz bottle of pop then go right back on for another 25 then take it from there. I thought by now I would have achieved my 25 pound goal but I’ve stalled. I was doing great the first 10 or little over but the last half has been -.5 pound drop here or weeks of no pounds dropped so I feel ya. I also know the upside. I was a Coca Cola drinker. I stressed, I drank Coca Cola, I wanted something other than water I drank Coca Cola 3-4 eight packs or so a week and many pounds later, borderline 40 years family history of various medical problems I wanted more for myself yet I told myself I wouldn’t be able to stop drinking the pop, but I have. I haven’t had a Cola or any soda since April 30th. Whatever you choose I wish you the best, and congratulations on all of your accomplishments, not just the 50+ pound drop. Great Job!!


  3. Absolutely do not give up, Shelby girl. I’ve been on a plateau for over a month, and I finally broke through this week. We all have plateaus, and I’m sure this won’t be my last, nor yours. 100 pounds in one year is an incredibly ambitious goal, and one that, given the date, you probably will not reach. I have two things to say to that: 1) 56 pounds to date is absolutely phenomenal–in anyone’s book–and you should be celebrating the little victories along the way that have brought you to this point. Just because you put that number up there and out into the world for everyone to see, it doesn’t mean it was reachable in that time frame. Does that mean you failed? NO!! It means you either can’t do math very well, lol 🙂 or you did not take into account that plateaus happen on every weight-loss journey, and you seriously miscalculated the plateau time periods. 2) You seriously need to look beyond the numbers at what positive changes you’ve made to get you to this point. If you really REALLY think about this journey in terms of health (Like I have been forced to do with diabetes) it’s a real eye-opener. You’ll get a whole different take on what you’re doing for YOU (a healthier, longer life), instead of what you’re doing for other people (being the bombshell you want people to see on the outside, when what really matters is what’s inside). That great body screaming to get out will easily follow when you seek to be, and ultimately obtain, a healthier you. Change your paradigm and you will slice off that plateau on the way down the scale.


  4. Great post. It seems the journey has served you well. Numbers are just numbers. I lend them more power than they deserve. Whatever you decide just try not to stop the journey 8)


  5. Unconditional self-love is a wonderful thing. I’ve had the occasional moment. But so many things block it: engrained edicts from childhood, setbacks when you take risks, mistakes made inadvertently, life itself knocking you on your fanny. Trying to be perfect is the worst since it is impossible. It seems to me that your ideal weight is the one that makes you the happiest. 🙂


  6. Rosie

    Love your self-inquiry and your willingness to share it.
    Many sailors drop anchor to spend time enjoying the splendor of where they are for a while; take a little well-deserved respite. Then they pull the anchor up when they are refreshed, rejuvinated and restocked to set forth on their journey again.
    Happy sailing and thanks for sharing!!


  7. kathy allen

    Shelby, numbers are just numbers…it’s what you feel like inside that counts! And you said you feel special and loved (and you are in so many ways), from losing all that weight! You have accomplished more than most people accomplish in life……YOU HAVE FOUND YOURSELF AGAIN, and that’s more important than any number!! Don’t be so hard on yourself, and sit back and enjoy the “new you”. Then if you think you want more, go for it. I’ve taken 3 years to lose 50 lbs., but I’m still proud of myself for losing it. And yes, I would like to lose more, but I’m at a stand still maintaining it(but I have’nt gained it back)…..and that’s the good part! So please pat yourself on the back and say WOW, I’VE LOST 56 LBS.! You know you have our unconditional love no matter what you weigh, but we love seeing you feel so good about yourself, as you should.
    Enjoy what you have accomplished! Mom


  8. Marcia Stehouwer

    Every once in a while in a journey you have a break – sometimes it’s a side trip to a scenic lookout. Sometimes the car/bus/train… breaks down and you need to wait. How you wait is important. Do you get off the bus and go back or do you find a different way to travel on? Do you wait it out until whatever is broke gets fixed? Or do you enjoy the place you’re at? You’ve done well, and that’s what matters. It wasn’t put on in a year, it won’t necessarily all come off in a year, inspite of what the numbers say. Sometimes there are other things that need to be resolved before we can go further!


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