Tuesday, July 06, 2010
I saw myself in someone - and it was not the new me.
Since starting my journey, I have noticed that I am much more aware of my surroundings, especially those related to health, fitness, and food. When you are losing a copious amount of weight, the concept of health takes over your mind. In a way, it has to. If it didn't, a person would fall victim to various pitfalls every day, making the weight loss journey more of an American Gladiator type challenge.
The problem is that I don't just pay attention to what I'm doing. I notice what other people are doing. When I'm at the grocery story, I notice what other people have in their carts. When I am at the park running, I notice how other people are running. When we go out somewhere, I notice people who are destructively thin, healthy, and larger. I watch their demeanor and how they interact with the people around them.
I believe the primary reason I notice these things is because I'm on an initial journey to lose 120 pounds... But, we'll leave that conversation for another blog. The second reason I notice, in my opinion, is because I am going to school for a degree in public health. I can see where my personal journey is affecting my professional interests and vice versa.
The third reason is because I genuinely care about people. I think it is somewhat a standard in people who go into any field associated to the mental health of others - the professional must be hyper-sensitive to people, body language, tone of voice, behaviors.... if you aren't sensitive to it, something so slight could be missed - and that, when dealing with the severely mentally ill, could be detrimental.
But I digress.
I sometimes find it hard to bite my tongue - but I have to constantly ask myself (as a reminder) "how would you have felt, one year ago, if someone had said something to you about how you were eating... or talked about how many excuses you had to not love yourself enough to take care of yourself"
The answer to that is obvious - I would have told them to stuff it where the sun don't shine. My life, my body - back off. And in the case of it being a family member or friend, I would have told them the same, just in a more colorful fashion - so colorful, it would make the next family gathering a little bit awkward.
It's the truth.
It's sad, but it is the truth.
As much as I wanted to scream at this person that they were hurting themselves and their health was being affected, I just couldn't do it.
I am stuck in this very strange place - I want to help people but I don't want to make anyone hate me. I don't want to be insensitive, but I want people to realize how their decisions affect their health. I want people to know that I can appreciate what is going on in their lives as far as health and weight because I am/was that person.
Sometimes, I wish I had blinders so that the only health related issues I notice are my own - but that's just not how it is. And honestly, would that really be for the best? Or is it just way for me to lock down and hide so I don't feel uncomfortable having difficult conversations? I know there is a tactful way to do it. I have found it easy to talk to someone who approaches me - I have learned how to gracefully accept the compliments and honestly answer any questions - conversations of that type are easy. Of course, it helps that I'm a rather chatty individual anyway.
I do know that this journey is one where the first step must be taken by the individual. If that individual doesn't want to take that first step, no one can help them along the path. So I know any conversation I have with someone must be taken slowly and only on queue. Maybe only talking to people who approach me is the best method considering if I approach someone about their health/weight, it may not be well received.
Finally - the last thing I must blog about is how the entire experience made me feel. Yes - me.
I was very understanding of the excuses I heard because they are some of the same excuses, or from the same excuse family, as the ones I used. I did have moments where I thought back to the old me and how I felt. How those excuses made me feel and why I had them. I did not go into a tailspin, which is good. I just had thoughts of what it used to be like and had an understanding for how this other person may be feeling too. And then I thought about my progress and how now is not the time to stop. I am a little over halfway to where I wanted to be - and I know that I do not want to go back to those feelings I had before. I do not want to go back to hiding and excuses. It was a sombering encounter, to say the least.
So, what is the value of this blog? It's just me writing down an encounter that caused self-reflection and analysis on what I need to be doing to help others. It is not much more than that - but each of us at Spark, especially those of us losing a lot of weight, need to know how we impact other people - how we make them feel when they see us and our successes, how we can impact someone else's life, and how others' decisions to embrace health or reject it can affect our lives and successes.
The world is a dynamic place and our interactions are imparative to our journey - understand it, learn from it, and embrace it. What you do today could save someone else's life tomorrow.
I wish you well in your journey,