It’s rare that a person can truthfully say that a TV show changed their life. But, in my case it’s true.
Seven years ago I made a huge life change, in large part due to the NBC show The Biggest Loser. To say that I admire the men and women who have participated in the show would be an understatement. In my opinion, any woman willing to wear spandex and a sports bra while showing people her real weight, belongs in the Courage Hall of Fame.
As I began, I told myself that I was not going on a diet. Instead, I was going to make slow sustainable changes and I was going to do it without telling anyone.
The first week I worked on just two things. I tried to drink more water and watch my portion sizes. That was it. No major change in what I was eating. No exercise. Just those two simple things. Drink more, eat less. At the end of the week I’d lost two pounds. The next week I decided to add a little bit of exercise three times a week. The next week I began to count calories. At the end of the first month I was ten pounds lighter.
As time went on I tweaked what I was eating and began to exercise more. I used the Biggest Loser DVD’s and worked out 5 days a week. Three days of cardio and two days of strength. The next month I lost another ten and the month after that another ten. People started noticing. Now my motto was: “Eat less, move more, drink more water.”
Nine months later I had lost seventy pounds. While I’m pleased with the weight loss I am even more pleased that seven years after starting my weight loss journey, and six years after reaching my goal, I’ve kept most of the weight off. I still work out 5 days a week, I still try and watch what I eat, and I’m still drinking my water.
One of the things they talk about a lot on the Biggest Loser is what got the contestants there in the first place. I think it was Bob Harper, one of the shows trainers, that first brought up the idea of people using food as their “drug of choice.” I’d never looked at it that way. But the truth was, I had indeed drugged myself with food.
Like a lot of overweight people, I was a stress eater. But I also ate when I was angry or bored. Learning to ask myself, “Am I feeling hunger or something else?” was a big step in my losing and keeping the weight off.
So, when depression set in I saw no reason to delve into the “what are you really feeling?” thing. What I discovered was, I had barely touched the surface.
I was at lunch with a friend one day when she mentioned a book she wanted to read called; How We Love: Discover Your Love Style, Enhance Your Marriage, by Milan and Kay Yerkovich. Since it was on marriage, and that wasn’t an area I thought I needed help with, I made note of the title and that was it. However, the Lord kept bringing that conversation back to my mind and eventually I added How We Love to my growing books-to-read list.
When I finally got around to reading it, one of the things that hit me about my particular style was the fact that “Pleasers” can usually tell you what the other person is feeling, but rarely can they tell you what they are feeling. Was that really me?
The book had a list of “soul words” that the reader was encouraged to explore. The first time I used it, I struggled with what my exact feeling was. Was I really angry or was I feeling manipulated? Was I depressed or just sad? I felt overwhelmed at times as I struggled to pin-point where I was emotionally. But, just like I had done when losing weight, I didn’t give up.
Along the way I learned that God gave us emotions for a reason. That they are good. I also learned that many of us (me included) often use our emotions to make decisions, and that’s bad. ( How many times had I emotionally thought that chocolate cake was indeed the answer to all of life’s problems!) I also learned that I had a right to feel and a right to try and express those feelings in a healthy way rather than literally stuffing them into my mouth.
For me, getting in touch with how I feel is still a struggle at times. But I do know that it is possible. When people ask me how I lost the weight and how I’ve kept it off, I’ve often said: “In the past, when I felt like I needed to exercise I’d lay down until the feeling passed. Now I get up and exercise anyway because I know I’ll feel better if I do.” It worked for me. I know it can work for you.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the gym.