Think you are overweight because you have no willpower? That might be true, but it has nothing to do with food and everything to do with indulging.
Let me explain.
My entire adult life has been a struggle to keep my weight in check, and my standard line has always been “I’m a woman of many appetites, and food just happens to be one of them.” Ba-dum-dum.
The thing is, I said that to make a preemptive strike against anyone who would dare think or comment about those extra 20-40 pounds that clung to my gut and butt at various points in the last 20 years. (“See, I’m witty and a little flirty, too! Isn’t that more noticeable than my large ass?”)
Couple that with the fact that I’m really not a dessert person – I’d pick mashed potatoes over chocolate any day – but Warren is, and you can see we have the perfect storm for couple fat-dom. My large dinner portions and appetizers contributed to Warren’s weight gain, and his daily dessert contributed to mine. <Sigh> It is a marriage made in foodie heaven.
As I approached 40, I became resigned to the fact that I would probably always be overweight. Warren was similarly discouraged and resigned about his expanding waistline.
And then we left on our trip around the world.
Our entire lives changed. Where I used to think about lunch during breakfast and dinner during lunch and after dinner snacks pretty much all day, I now spent my time thinking about what we had seen and done that day and what the next day held in store. Warren stopped grazing on snacks and chocolate during the day because he didn’t have time for it.
We both looked forward to daily exercise, though that is not what we called it as we hiked and walked around the mountains and towns of Ecuador.
Our biggest goal was to see more of the world as deeply in each place as possible, and to do that we had
to be frugal with our money. We opted for a bigger breakfast and lunch because it kept our energy up during the day and then just had a light snack for dinner because that is typically the most expensive meal to buy. We did not actively modify our diet any other way, and we continued to enjoy wine or beer daily along with sampling a wide variety of foods.
There were times when we were so busy or involved in an activity that we actually FORGOT to eat. (This may be common to some people, but I can assure you it is a phenomenon that had never, ever happened to me before.)
One day about 5 weeks into our trip my friend Catherine commented that I looked like I had lost weight. I remember the day, what I was wearing, and exactly how it felt. Those of you who struggle with your weight understand this completely.
Sure, I had noticed Warren losing weight, especially after a weeklong illness, but like before I expected that any weight we lost would rapidly come piling back on. After all, we weren’t paying any special attention to what we ate or drank or how many calories we burned each day.
Before long, it was apparent that we were both losing weight and keeping it off, and over the course of many weeks we began donating our too-big clothing at towns along the way. Friends from back home began commenting on our photos online. I nicknamed Warren “Flaco” – which means “skinny” in Spanish.
We weren’t sure what was happening, though we estimated we had each lost about 20 pounds. In fact, we worried a little that it would come back since we had no idea how it was coming off.
The ah-ha moment
It wasn’t until I posted a picture on our Facebook page recently of a night out with a fellow blogger that it all started to click. Reader Angela Barton said: “Funny thought- you could probably sell your adventure to a huge number of people by labeling it as a diet/makeover plan.”
Her comment surprised me since the picture had nothing to do with weight loss or food. But the picture did show some cheekbones, and that was pretty new.
Angela’s comment made me think, and I kept coming back to the same question:
Does satisfying your hunger for life keep your physical hunger in check?
I thought back to the reasons we became overweight in the first place, and they all stemmed from dissatisfaction with our lives: work, relationships, and lack of commitment to what we said was most important to us.
- Bad/tough day at work? Go out to eat. We deserve it for putting up with the abuse/frustration/hours, right?
- Relationship not going so well? Ice cream is the cure for feeling a little unloved.
- Bored with life? Check out even further by watching DVDs every night and stuffing our faces with junk food.
We had to treat ourselves because we were not treating ourselves well.
What does this all boil down to? Indulgence.
You can indulge yourself the rational way by following your dreams, living the life you want surrounded by people who love and support you…
You can find other ways to indulge this need through food or any other substandard replacement.
It has taken me 40 years to realize that eating comfort food every day means my life is out of balance. At least in my case, fat ass = skinny soul.