I have a dear friend who struggled to lose over 100 lbs for most of her adult life. She’d been telling me for years about her weight and how nothing she did worked. Her job had her traveling for weeks on end, so she was convinced this prevented her from losing weight.
“I live out of a hotel.”
“I can’t really cook healthy foods in the kitchenette they rent me.”
“I’m too tired after working ten to twelve-hour days.”
Then, after a few years, she claimed she was eating better and exercising and still, nothing had changed. She was so frustrated, she went to a weight loss clinic and tried diet pills, antidepressants, and bought prepared foods at exorbitant costs.
Still. . . No weight loss.
She was angry and certain nothing she did was going to impact her size, so why try? Not long after this, we traveled to a medical conference together. I offered to help her follow my “G.R.A.D.E” diet for the week. She had seen me lose weight a few years earlier using this method and with support and someone to share it with daily, I was sure she could finally see results too.
The first day we got to our hotel around 5 PM.
I asked her to join me in the gym for a half hour of stretching and walking on the treadmill. I desperately needed it after a long and painful travel day to decompress and warm and stretch sore muscles and I was sure she felt the same way too after sitting in those tiny seats for hours. She happily agreed, looking forward to getting a jump start on the week, and stayed the entire time, following my lead. We returned to our room, shared a wonderful salad, had a large glass of water and called it a night.
The next morning, we had breakfast with the worst fried eggs I’d ever eaten; she gamely ate half the plate and left the rest behind. We had stocked up on healthy snacks and munched throughout each meeting until lunch. This time it was a more palatable chicken and she finished the plate, even going so far as to wipe the last few crumbs. When I asked if she’d enjoyed it that much, she admitted it was more out of habit than desire.
That day, she joined me in the gym, but felt exhausted and achy after 20 minutes. She had enough exercise and returned to the room while I stayed behind to finish.
The third day, she tired after 10 minutes, feeling she needed to rest in order to get up early the next morning. Yet, I noticed she watched TV for another few hours before calling it a night.
By the fourth day, she was too exhausted after all the conference meetings to go to the gym at all. No matter how much I tried to convince her she’d feel better, even if she stayed a few minutes, she refused- saying, “I’m just not up to exercising tonight“.
As the days progressed, salad options were turned down for chewy steaks, vegetables for potatoes, and “grazing” just never “felt right.” By the end of the week, she gained a pound and was convinced that even G.R.A.D.E. didn’t work. It was heartbreaking. I could see how much she wanted the results but regardless of how kindly, or delicately, I attempted to reflect back the truth, she was unable to see it had to do with HER!
She didn’t exercise daily
She didn’t eat healthy.
She didn’t graze and eat every 2 hours.
She didn’t eat smaller portions.
She didn’t drink enough water.
She never wanted to hear the reality of her participation in the situation.
As we flew home, she bemoaned the fact that even though she had followed exactly the G.R.A.D.E. Diet and my suggestions, and despite her obvious efforts, she had not lost weight. She was even more frustrated and convinced weight loss could never happen for her.
I was shocked- in her mind she had done everything she was supposed to do and it STILL didn’t work! That’s when I realized that it was nothing I did. Nothing anyone said. I realized that nothing anyone offered, not support, friendship, not the belief she could do it, was ever going to help. Not until she owned up to the truth for herself. She wasn’t a victim, she was the victimizer. It hit me that it was no different than what I had done with my own weight and pain. I had searched for someone to “fix me” rather then fixing myself. I also realized that no amount of discussion or arguing would change her perspective. Just like me, it had to come from within her.
It’s been 10 years since that trip. In the last 2 years, she’s lost over 50 pounds! I wondered what finally changed? What finally happened to get her to actually lose the weight?
She said one day she looked at herself in the mirror and finally had enough. For the first time she wanted to change the person looking back at her. She actually started using those hotel gyms, cooking in that little kitchenette, carrying baggies of food to munch on throughout the day, and pushing away from the table after half a portion.
With persistence, patience, and hard work, she now has significantly less pain in her back and knees, is more confident, and happier the ever. She loves shopping for clothes that finally fit and look like she’d dream they would, and looks forward to socializing.
It didn’t happen overnight. And it didn’t happen until she decided to make it happen. Nothing anyone said or did was going to change that.
She taught me a valuable lesson, and gave me a wonderful perspective on how to interact with my patients. I can talk until I’m blue in the face, but until they are ready to see the truth for themselves, nothing I say or do will move them forward.
So now I share her story along with mine. Just as I had to acknowledge my participation in not getting better, she had to decide to take charge of her life and make the changes necessary to lose the weight.
The bottom line is you can too.
Whether it’s losing weight, getting in shape, or lessening your pain, it’s all possible when you see the truth of your own involvement and choose to take that first step.
You aren’t alone.
Let’s walk the path together.