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Maintenance Lesson #2: Get over the need for external validation

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Sometimes external validation can be a positive source of motivation. Case in point: color-coding my fitness calendar with markers or stickers after I finish a workout is one more reason for me not to skip exercise.

Other times, it can be bad. Weighing yourself 6x a day, letting the scale dictate how you feel about yourself. Ignoring your intuition. Believing other people over yourself. Their opinions about your body; your life; your choices, goals, values, beliefs.

Say you spend 20 months *dedicated* to losing weight [in that, weight loss IS YOUR LIFE], in which time you grow accustomed to seeing the number on the scale go down-- a reflection of your hard effort and diligence. And you receive loads of compliments that make you feel just A-OK happy as pie, because you’re finally worth noticing and talking to! After a lifetime of being told "you’re too fat", "if you’d only lose weight, then ___" [fill in the blank with all sorts of wonderful things about life, and most of all, how you’ll *finally* be 'good enough'].

And then it stops.

Instead of compliments, some of the same people previously paying you them declare “You’re too thin!”

As for being 'good enough?' “That’s great that you lost weight. Now what are you going to do about fixing the rest of your life?” You find out that, contrary to a lifetime of thinking it’s all about the weight, it’s YOU, you at your core, who is simply not good enough. 258 or 145 pounds, there will always be something that makes you flat-out unacceptable.

You take your momentum and try to apply it to different goals. You fall flat on your face. Repeatedly. Like trying in vain to get a job, and, again, being found “not good enough” by someone else’s standards. Or training for a 10K and not being able to run or do much of any enjoyable exercise for months afterwards.

You don’t know how to empower yourself anymore, because pushing yourself physically was the catalyst for your empowerment and that’s not viable anymore (a lesson in and of itself, to be addressed separately).

You see the accumulated evidence whose breadth seems to suggest a phenomenon beyond mere happenstance, and you start internalizing all that junk; anyway, blaming yourself and thinking you’re a screwup is familiar: it’s what you’ve done your whole life. Before you know it, you’re firmly entrenched in your old thoughts patterns, and it ain’t long before your old binge eating patterns join the party. Cuz guess what? It hurts to believe all those nasty things about yourself, and you get desperate to squash the pain evoked by that voice and numb out for a couple minutes, even at the cost of gaining weight and believing you're a *total* screwup.

Until you’re graced with people who are generous and patient enough to spend months teaching you, phrasing in countless ways till you GET IT:

Lesson #2: You are good enough just the way you are. You know your needs better than anyone else. Trust your intuition. Live your life the way you want.

(That's technically 4 lessons, but they're all tied it into the basic premise, so I'm lumping them together.)
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Thank you for sharing this. Very insightful.
    1863 days ago
    I've learned that, in life, you will not please everyone. Everyone is a critic. And that sucks. Learning to tune out the negative and hold onto the positive is hard but is key in living happier life. I don't know your spiritual prefrences but I am happy and relieved that in the bible God tells us that we are "wonderfully made" Psalms 139:13
    It also says "whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. " Philippians 4:8
    I think the writers of the bible must have known that we easily fall prey to focusing and believing the negative things in life.
    I still find myself allowing someone's harsh remarks or my own internal cristisms get the best of me from time to time. But I am learning to take those remarks or thoughts and hold them up against what the bible tells me God thinks of me. Most of the time I can dispell the negative which is so relieving and refreshing.

    1875 days ago
  • KANOE10
    Great blog. It is matter what you weigh you have to figure out how to be happy! I am glad you h ave supportive friends in your life!

    1889 days ago
    Superb blog and I really really hope that, apart from finally GETTING IT, you firmly believe lesson 2; nobody is perfect and you are indeed good enough just as you are emoticon emoticon
    1889 days ago
    Some people just are not good for you.
    I think it's better to choose our friends wisely. I try to surround myself with people and things that make
    me feel good.

    Also finding activities that really make you happy.
    For me that is reading, knitting and my adult kids(most of the time). You will get positive feedback from other sources, not just from weight loss!
    1890 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/13/2013 9:33:47 PM
    emoticon You've got it!!!

    Sometimes we DO need Support and Love from our friends and family. I used to call it "fishing" for a compliment. Who wants to solicit their own compliment.

    Reach out to your friends and family. You just did it in this blog perfectly. You've got the tools or you are finding the tools and things you need.

    Now that you are proud of your weight loss, find something else to shine in too. That you could get more "natural" compliments for.

    I hope this makes sense. I LOVE ya! And think you are doing an incredible job. It is so hard to maintain and nobody really notices.

    Keep up the great work. You are STRONG!!!

    1891 days ago
  • MIRAGE727
    I find it very hard to control myself when I get the dumbest comments from the dumbest people! I will not let them take my peace! I control my life! No one will stop me from my dreams & my goals! THERE's a mouthful! Stay strong, Warrior!
    1891 days ago
    Brilliant blog! One of the toughest things about maintaining is no one is heaping accolades all over us anymore: heck, some people never even knew us when we were fat!! And lots of people are now annoyed by our careful eating: either interpreting it as a personal reproach because they aren't eating carefully, or asserting forcefully that we "don't need" to eat that way.

    Plus losing all the weight hasn't solved all the problems. There are always other problems!

    Maintaining requires wrapping our heads around both of these.
    1891 days ago
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