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Defeated

May 6, 2012

Have any of who’ve struggled with weight felt defeated? That you’ve tried everything and it doesn’t work? That you might as well give up because you’re going to be heavy for the rest of your life?

 

I’d forgotten that feeling until recently when I asked another woman what emotion came to mind when she thought of losing weight. “Defeated,” she said without hesitation. My heart went out to her as she went on, “I just can’t stand to think that I have to do this again.”

 

Like so many, she’s lost weight before and gained some back. We hear the phrase yo-you dieting, but a yo-yo is a toy, an object of play. What it really feels like is a war. The world is enemy territory, attacking us on all sides: holidays, weddings, birthdays, the snacks in the checkout line, beaming Girl Scouts and their boxes of cookies, the ease of the elevator and cars to transport us. People who go on diets talk about having to maintain constant watch and vigilance, never letting down their guard.

 

And like a battlefield, it’s exhausting. You make progress, only to lose it. In the constant give and take, you find yourself giving more than you ever wanted. Giving in to the doughnuts at work, the chips in the vending machine, the bucket of popcorn at the movies. You make compromises, telling yourself it’s for the greater good, even if that good never materializes.

 

Is it any wonder that, when entering the fray again, you might feel defeated?

 

I know I did when I was younger. Even thinking about losing weight was overwhelming. Especially after a certain point, where you’ve put on more than you ever expected, and the amount that you need to lose is beyond daunting. How do you even start? If you’ve tried all the strategies, what’s left?

 

But I wonder what would happen if we reframed this. To think of it not as a war, with victory and defeat. After all, if we’re demoralized, if those polar opposites are the only options, it’s far too easy to lean towards defeat, and as we know, that becomes self-fulfilling. Even if you win at losing, if you think of yourself as the victor, you’re setting yourself up as superior, someone who’s better and more virtuous. That leaves you wide open to later attack.

 

What if instead of engaging in that long, drawn-out fight to lose weight, you simply walk away from it? Maybe, if you refuse to engage and simply live as a healthy person, you will start to become that person without ever going to war at all, and without even presenting the option of defeat. Perhaps that, too, will become self-fulfilling.

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