Have you ever experienced a diet intervention? I’m talking about this is our last ditch effort before we call the men in the white coats type of intervention. Mine was in the heat of a sizzling parking lot in mid-summer. I had left a meeting and couldn’t wait to retreat to the air conditioning of my car when two, dear friends tagged up with me. I call them dear friends because only my sincerest buds become the Truth Tellers in my life.
As I reached for my keys, they wedged me between two SUVs. They had concerns about the HCG diet I had been on during the last week. The intervention went like this…
“It’s just that, we don’t think eating only 500 calories a day is very healthy,” Karen explains, fingertips resting at the edge of her chin (Which was slight, given that she worries more about how to eat 500 extra calories each day to keep her flesh on.)
“Yeah, 500 is not a lot” M.C. coos in soft solidarity.
“Yes, I know,” I agree, lifting my right hand in the air, like I’m swearing on a Bible. “That’s why I am being careful.” Big pause. Their faces remain unconvinced. “I’m watching for the typical signs,” I add. “You know, headache, dizzy, fatigue; I’m not getting any of that.” My hands fall to my sides, making a slapping sound against taut jeans. Didn’t they see my hips? Why were they grilling me like this?
“What if it doesn’t work, though?” Karen presses, leaning in. “What if it’s not safe?” M.C. overlaps.
“I know, I know.” I step back and bump into a car door. I clench for a millisecond, waiting for the alarm to make this moment even more embarrassing.
At least the alarm would’ve squelched this mutiny. Instead, they’re silent. They shift in their sandals. They cross their arms. They want me to capitulate. I know I won’t, though. I’ve made my decision. This is not about what makes sense. It’s deeper than reason. “It’s just that…how do I explain?” I let out a gravelly grunt and rub salty sweat into my brow. I’m determined to express in words what my body has begged for every day of my life. I dig further. I stretch my brain. Then something cracks. A protective layer, fortified for years, splits and spills out what my soul knows, but I cannot hear. This feels like open-heart surgery, and I’m angling the scalpel for the crucial cut. Then, I have it. My eyes spark. My lungs expand, so I can release my inner truth in one breath, “I want my outside to match my inside.” My shoulders slump as I depressurize. That was it. That’s all I got. Then, smiles push up their faces.
They feel it, too. Perhaps they recognize the ache. Maybe they want the same, not about weight but about their outside lives. At some point, we all feel that disconnect between who we are and what we want our life to be. Maybe they understand the raw place I had just exposed. In any case, there’s no more discussion after that. I accept their gracious hugs. We get into our cars and drive away into our lives.
That day, my friends helped me connect with myself. I knew that I had always believed in the existence of the best version of me, on the inside. I just didn’t always look like her on the outside. I had little experience walking in her shoes, wearing her clothes, or doing what she would do, but I could always sense her there. She’s always been with me. My biggest challenge is how to let her out, how to merge my world with her wisdom and live the life I’ve always wanted.
I see her inner wisdom when I examine the wake of my journey so far, particularly the last six months. My weight loss has slowed as I get closer to my healthy body weight. Biologically, I’m right in line with a weight loss pace that will ensure I keep it off. My inner wisdom knows this; it is not discouraged at the extra time I’ve needed to lose weight. Shedding 100 pounds is taking longer than I had planned, but my effort has not been a waste. I’ve had all this extra time to excavate the real me and adjust my self-image to a real-life reflection of that girl inside. I’ve needed the pounds to come off slower and slower in order to reprogram my self-image. I know I’m not alone in this need. Many people live with a disconnect between their true image and how they see themselves in their heads. For a stark example of this difference, check out the Dove Real Beauty Sketches…
Still, if I had lost 100 pounds right away, I could’ve gotten what I wanted. However, my heart and mind could not have kept up with my new body. In time, without a new self-image to anchor my course, I probably would have reverted to old habits and regained the weight (exactly what happened after that HCG diet.) Instead, I’m using this extra time to rewire my brain. I’m nurturing a new image with a new neural net. This time, I’m flipping it around. I’m matching my inside to my outside.
To reshape my self-image, I’m practicing a technique stylized after Jeff Olson’s book, “The Slight Edge,” in which he centers tangible success on a single principle. According to Mr. Olson, the Slight Edge principle cultivates success using a series of steps which are
Think of the things that are easy to do and easy not to do. That difference makes all the difference. Small actions produce big returns because they compound over time, like the blue chip stock of life.
After reading this book, I brainstormed my own slight edge strategy. It’s easy to do. In fact, if you’ve ever lost any amount of weight, then I bet you’ve already done it. It’s also easy not to do, which is why I gained 100 pounds to begin with. To keep that from happening again, I’m practicing one thing: noticing. I notice when I do more than I could before. I notice when my clothes fit different. I notice when I don’t hide like I used to. When I spot these tiny victories, I write them down. I’m dubbing my observations “Weekend Way-Ins.” The pun is totally intentional. No more weekend weigh-in’s on the scale to measure my progress. Instead, I note the “way-in” to the girl inside. Each celebration is a way into her.
Small actions produce big returns because they compound over time, like the blue chip stock of life.
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