Thursday, January 24, 2008

In Competition With Myself

Like many/most of us, over the years I’ve resolved to lose weight. Sometimes an articulated resolution to welcome in a new year, sometimes just a quiet decision that I will shed a few pounds. And like many/most of us, my resolution or decision resulted in minimal or no weight loss. In the face of this historical reality I concluded that the whole conversation was a waste of time. The brilliance of my conclusion paved the way for a new (silent) resolution: don’t make resolutions about losing weight.

This has been my basic operating principle on the subject for a long time. Just shut up about it. Accept the fact that my belly and waist are not on speaking terms with my clothes. Don’t worry that if I place today’s image in the mirror next to yesterday’s photograph I don’t like what I see. Tell myself it is the aging process. My metabolism is slow. It has to do with genetics. Blame my parents.

Then, about five months ago I bounced up to an all-time high. The scale read 198, four pounds more than what had been my norm. I was annoyed at what I saw but didn’t realize until later that I’d crossed a line I didn’t know was there. I had entered the “Excuses are Bullshit” zone. I had entered “Who’s in Charge Here Anyway” territory. I had blown the starting whistle for a game called “Dan Against Dan.”

The context for the game was not about losing weight. Yes, if I were successful that would be a result on the scoreboard. What this really was about was whether I could compete with myself and win. Not because my doctor said so. Not because I ‘should’ do it. Not even because I didn’t like the way my clothes fit. But just because I said so. Just because I said I had what it takes to do what seemed to be impossible.

I didn’t begin with a timeframe or a specific target. And I didn’t want to fundamentally alter my lifestyle or eating habits. And I didn’t want to suffer or feel deprived. And I didn’t want to go on a diet someone was promoting. Okay, so what did I want to do? I would eat less and see what happened.

I would eat and drink exactly what I’d been eating and drinking. However, instead of continuing until I felt full I’d stop while I still was a little hungry and see how I felt a half hour or 45 minutes later. We’re not talking about a unique, world-shaking weight loss process here. Just portion control. Usually after some time had passed I felt satisfied. If I didn’t I’d have something else – a little bit of something else.

A miracle happened. I began to lose weight. There were ups and downs to be sure, but week after week I continued to lose. So I was encouraged to stay with it. As of today I’m at 178 – 20 pounds off my max. Yesterday I even hit 177.8. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen 177.

I still don’t have a timeframe or a target. I know that usually people who lose weight gain it back. I’m not making any predictions about that. I also know that I’m stubborn enough and competitive enough to want to continue to win the game.

One final word that I think is funny. Except for Sandra, no one has noticed that I’m thinner. Not one person. Go figure . . .


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