TL;DR – Limiting beliefs, kids. They’re real.
I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life, but never so much as I have in the last six years.
During that time, I’ve bounced between 220 and 210lbs. The pattern was always the same: approach 220, freak out, lose 8 pounds, then stall and slowly start gaining again.
Over the last six years, I accessed every resource I could think of to help me with this problem. I saw doctors. I hired weight loss coaches and nutritionists. I read all the diet books. I tried every approach to eating and exercise you’ve ever heard of, and some you haven’t. But still, I would approach 210 and my weight loss would stop.
I don’t mean to imply that these efforts weren’t valuable or important. Everything I learned gave me an edge. I got really good at losing those first 8 pounds. But nothing could push me below 210. And the experts would shrug their shoulders and offer vague guesses as to why it wasn’t working.
It was a mystery.
Up until this point, the significance of 210 was lost on me. But then, about a week ago, I was sitting around lamenting the state of affairs, and I started thinking about the last time I lost weight successfully.
That round started like any other. I resolved that I was going to solve this problem once and for all. In those days, I knew what to do. I joined Weight Watchers, bought a gym membership, and got to work. The same old brute force attack. And the weight came off.
I got all the way down to 170 lbs, and I thought, “I’ve GOT this. I am in control of my body. Finally!”
Two days later, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
During my treatment, I had several things working against me in the weight department:
- The stress of fighting cancer while simultaneously running my business and being a halfway decent mommy to my 2 1/2 year old.
- Mouth sores that would only tolerate Jerry’s pizza and Frosties.
- Crippling nausea that forced me to choose between living in the hospital and – ugh – taking steroids.
I’m not happy at 220. I don’t like the way I look, and I don’t like the way I feel. I can’t keep up with my kid. I can’t climb a hill. I can’t ride horses. And every time I exercise at that weight, I get dizzy and lightheaded and have to chug Gatorade to keep from passing out.
The Realization that Changed Things
So a week ago, I was thinking about all of these things, and I stumbled across something very important:
Subconsciously, I believe that if I start to lose weight again, it will mean the cancer is back.
Holy crap. I said it out loud. I said it again, with gusto. I jumped up and ran around the room like I was on fire.
I had hitched the weight loss to the cancer. All this time, my body wasn’t trying to kill me. It was trying to protect me.
This changed everything.
What I’m Doing Now
I’ve written elsewhere about how I intended to stop battling my body and to start supporting it, but frankly, that was impossible until I understood its motives.
Since I had my epiphany, I’ve been paying attention to how this limiting belief shows up in my life. I’ve become more sensitive to the fear that hangs out in the dark corners of my body and whispers things like “You can’t do that. It’s dangerous…”
Meanwhile, I keep surprising myself. I completed the “Hell”-oween challenge at OrangeTheory, working out six days in a row to earn the coveted t-shirt. Then, two weeks later, I jogged four miles and hardly felt winded. Last night, I crushed the 100 meter row in 22 seconds. I am stronger than ever, but I struggle with giving myself the proper credit.
I also changed the way I’m thinking about eating. For so long, eating was like a pendulum swinging between “I guess I have to so I don’t starve” and “I DESERVE THIS GET OUT OF MY FACE!” Now, I’m thinking about eating in terms of supporting my body and giving it nourishment.
All of this is easy to say and much harder to do. I paid lip service to these ideas for years, but I didn’t really believe it (or live it, or realize it, as Eckhart would say).
I’m just at the beginning of this journey, but I’m happy to report that I’ve finally broken through. As of this morning, I weigh 208.6 lbs.
Limiting beliefs, kids. They’re real.