Monday, October 4, 2010

Success Without Compassion

There are a lot of people out there who have had great success losing weight. Many are very close to their goals; some have been maintaining their goal weight for years. Some have lost 50, 100, 200 pounds and turned their whole life around. That kind of success can be inspiring! Or it can be discouraging.

When I was 278 pounds, I read a lot of books and surfed a lot of websites. I looked for those "success stories" of people who were fat like me and lost all the weight and got the happily-ever-after I was dreaming of. I didn't know how to do it myself, so I was looking for the magic answer as well as the HOPE that somehow, I too could lose this massive amount of weight. It seemed impossible to me. Lose over 100 pounds?? Very scary. But if other people had done it, maybe I could, too.

Now that weight loss blogging has become so popular, there are real life success stories all around us. We can click through blog after blog of people who are trying to lose weight, and often we find those who are actually succeeding. The ones I always loved to read were the ones who were *really doing it* or had done it... lost 100 or more pounds on their own, without surgery (which I knew I didn't want) or harmful pills (which I couldn't risk). I wanted role models to follow. I wanted to follow them, not just in reading, but it *doing.* I wanted to lose the weight, too.

There are, as I said, many people blogging or writing books or talking on the radio about their weight loss. There are many many success stories out there. But sometimes, that success gives the person some sort of superiority complex. Instead of being ever so grateful they found their way out and remembering the pain and fear of being "stuck" in obesity, they start to have a change of heart. "If I can do it, ANYONE can do it," which may be true, or not, but that phrase can be said in one of two ways... surrounded by a particular message:

"Do not give up! I have faith in you. It is very hard, I know. I have been there and felt the hopelessness. I have not forgotten. But please believe me, and believe in yourself. I am nothing special. It took a lot of hard work and falling down and getting back up, but it is so worth it. If I can lose 100 pounds, there is hope for you, too!"

Or

"I just made the choice to stop eating all that junk. I ate less and I started moving. It is not rocket science. It just takes commitment. Anyone who wants to can lose 100 pounds, they just have to stop indulging themselves like spoiled brats. If you are not losing weight it is because you just don't care enough about yourself."

Big difference there.

What good is success without compassion?

If you used to be so obese you needed a motorized cart to shop at the grocery store, and now you are fit and trim, how do you treat the people who are still obese and in the cart? Do you scowl at them, tsk tsk the contents of their basket, and look down at them because you KNOW they could lose the weight if they wanted to, because YOU did? Or do you remember, Do you remember how it felt to have people look down at you, to feel misunderstood, afraid, and hopeless in that cart? Do you remember the pain in your legs and arms and how you struggled to breathe at night when you laid on your back? Can you conjure up some compassion... not pity, but compassion... for that person? After all, you do not know her story.

Do you feel so successful that everyone who has not accomplished what you have, is a failure? Is less than? Sadly, I see a lot of this. Sometimes people lose their memory of how difficult and painful it is to struggle with weight. Let me tell you this. I will never forget. I have the vivid recollections of how lost I felt and how defeated I was after every attempt at weight loss. I remember crying because someone else was losing weight and I "couldn't." I know in my heart what that is like. Sometimes when I write a post about certain issues that come with obesity (like my post about breaking chairs), I get a response or two that says I seem to be looking down on obese people, now that I am not one of them myself. No. You may misread what I am saying, but I never, ever feel superior or look down on ANYONE, especially those on the same path I have trodden for over a decade. We are all the same. If I start looking down on people who are morbidly obese, then I am just looking down on myself. I love myself. And believe it or not, I love you. I love you in a sense that, even though I do know know each person who reads this, I want the best for you. I understand some of your pain. I feel compassion for it, whether it is caused by weight or hurtful people or disease or finances. I care about those suffering. I long to help. If I didn't, I'd have made this blog private a long time ago. I like to think that something here is spreading hope and information and a CHANCE for people who want to change their lives to do it. That's what I hope for. Because success without compassion isn't really success at all.

~~~~~~~
If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

~Emily Dickinson
~~~~~~~

57 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was enjoying your blog, but this seems to be kind of self-pitying, especially given your previous post about fatties who break chairs - not so much compassion from you there, to be honest.

Good luck with the weight loss though, seems to be going really well!

Ex Yo-Yo Dieter Debbie said...

Great post, Lyn! I don't know about you, but when I see obese people, I don't think "weakness", I think "sadness".

I have even pointed this out to people when I hear them say, "Oh, look how fat that woman is!" I tell them in as nice a way as possible that most likely that person has had to cope with some pretty bad things, and that they were trying to take care of themselves with food. I've also said that everyone has problems...we can just see it more on people with weight issues because food is the problem. We can't see an alcoholic's liver or a smoker's lungs or a gambler's bank account.

The people who are "success stories" who put down other people who are still obese, and are lacking compassion for them, are not really as successful as they think.

Twix said...

(((((Lyn)))))) love ya too!!! :D

Debbie said...

Now this post brings back memories. I have come a long way since I wrote that post. Thanks for your thoughts...

Hotheron said...

Lyn, as an obese person, I want to tell you how MUCH I love your blog. You say the words I cannot bring myself to speak, and your words are honest, brave and true.
Thank you so much for sharing your journey and msking the journey easier for me.
JoJo
xoxoxo

MargieAnne said...

Lynn you are one of the caring people. I think anyone who comes here and reads your whole story will see that no matter how hard it is there is always a way.

You have shared from your heart and been extremely honest as you've worked through the issues around an eating disorder.

Many of us are stronger, motivated and more determined because we have read your journal.

I hope that one day breaking chairs and other problems related to being heavy will be a very distant and vague memory. When that time comes I know that you will never cease to feel compassion for those who still struggle.

Sometimes I wonder where you would be without Medifast. It seems to have come along at just the right time.

I don't have it all together. I don't think I have the strength of will you have. But I am encouraged to continue and to be persistent. I must admit I wanted to swear in frustration when I saw you go past me and continue toward your goal weight. *giggles*

Like you say if you can do it anyone can. It's a matter of finding that inner strength and desire that nothing can turn off.

Bless you for being you.

Jane said...

I would hope that dealing with being overweight would make most of us more compassionate--because we have been there. I don't believe that anyone is fat by choice. It is a very tough condition to overcome for a lot of reasons--both physical and emotional. If it weren't, I doubt that many would choose to be overweight or obese.

For those who have had success, the message can be one of inspiration and hope, along with ideas for food, exercise, and other tools that have worked for them. Peddling shame is never a solution for obesity.

CathyB said...

Great post! I have gotten those less-than-compassionate vibes from some former obese people, but thankfully not very often. It's the SKINNY b*tches I have trouble with!!! If most of them had to exert one-millionth of the willpower most of us have lived with for years, they wouldn't be so dang skinny, or so judgmental!

I hope that I never, ever exhibit a less than compassionate attitude to those who still struggle. Because I see myself struggling for many years ahead, and don't want to be the recipient of someone else's attitude. :-)

Melissa said...

I hate when people are like that - have no compassion! Argh!!! I will never forget either - once i finally get there :) i am only 22.8 pound down, so i have a lonnnng way to go! Thank you for your constant encouragement!

Scale Junkie said...

This IS an amazing post and YOU are an AMAZING woman. Thank you for your words.

Just Me said...

Lyn, I have never felt that you're "one of those" people who have lost weight and look down at others. Specifically because you share your angsts and your victories. I especially dislike the "If I can do it, anyone can." In others words, if you can't do this, now, at this exact time you must be a real "loser," (no pun intended).

I prefer your Do not give up. I have faith in you because the last thing someone needs is another kick in the chops, when they are already down and kicking themselves.

I like positive role models to follow. Just because you lose weight, doesn't mean your personality changes. Grouchy fat person = Grouchy slim person - except probably with a worse attitude. I really like the lyrics to this song by Everlast - http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=105x5978544

A little raunchy but, "God forbid you ever had to walk a mile in his/her shoes..."

Love you, Lyn. Keep being you! I get you.

Tammy said...

I've come across several of those "success w/o compassion" blogs and it's a shame. This is an excellent post Lyn. :)

Anonymous said...

When I see a very overweight person at a store, etc., I make a point to make eye contact with them and give them a smile because my heart aches for them because I know their struggle, and I know how tough it is to navigate a fat-hating world just trying to go about my business, being pleasant and not bothering anyone, and being confronted by over ugliness. I was once accosted by a stranger, a well-dressed older woman who was upset about supposedly being cut off in line by me (she wasn't) who proceeded to yell at me about being so fat and needing to lose weight.

Asshats come in all shapes, sizes, ages, appearances and income levels. Manners are free, and compassion is priceless.

And to "Anonymous" who used the epithet "fatties": GROW UP.

NewGilmoreGirl said...

Great message! Thank you. I think that sometimes I am turning into the bitchy dieter, and for that I am sorry. I will never forget how horrible it was to be obese, I just hope that I keep my compassion as you have.

CJ said...

I'm a new visitor to your blog, and have made my way through a good bit of the archives. Thank you, by the way, for maintaining those archives for those of us who would like to hear some of your early story.

I don't know what sparked this flame that "Anonymous" is tending. I never saw negativity in any of your words. I'm sad to note that your sidebar with other links is down. I hope you consider putting it back up; I had been reading some of the articles from those links early this morning.

Remember that you're visible, and many detractors hide in the dark. It takes strength and courage to stay open, and out in the open. It's okay to take a bit of a reprieve, but criticism and misinterpretation shouldn't redefine you. It doesn't.

No need to hide any more; take up space, and there will be plenty of us here who are happy to see you however you present yourself.

Jenna said...

I am down 41 pounds and am blogging my way for the remaining 79. I reread my older posts and remind myself how frustrated and defeated I felt, but without blogs such as yours, I may have given up. I hope when I reach my goal that my level of compassion matches yours. Thanks for the great motivation and great posts.

Lanie Painie said...

Let your light keep shining on through Lyn! You often articulate the feelings that I just can't quite get into words, and you do it so well.

"success without compassion isn't really success." I LOVE IT!

NAN said...

Oh my, Lyn, I so admire your writing talent. I have also read several 'pompous' blogs and you are genuine. You make some real binge blunders LOL but you always are truthful. I am thinking when your daughter gets settled in school you need to get out there and really motivate and 'help' people. I see a lot of compassion from you. I myself was a stay at home mother for many years! I work with the mentally challenged now but I have always hated bullies and rooted for the underdog. I have been accused of excusing people but hey, there are many justifications for behaviors. We can never know a person's history, can we?

Lyn said...

Anonymous~

My post about chair breaking actually did address compassion, especially since I was one of those people who broke chairs. No self pity here. Just reality.

Debbie~

Hugs to you! You are one strong woman!

CJ~

I didn't remove anything from ym sidebar; are you talking about the blogroll? It looks like it is working now, to me... maybe there was a problem earlier today. Let me know if something is missing or not working and I will try to fix it!

Just Me said...

Hmmmm, the word fatties is suspect - only one person online that I know uses that word. Funny how you can read through Anonymous.

spunkysuzi said...

I agree with JustMe!
I love how you tell it like it is, don't stop doing that because that's why we love ya :)

chris said...

Great thought. I thought I saw a little of this in your broken chair post, but usually you are very compassionate.

big_mummy said...

I have done that searching for fat storys thing too- and at my biggest (306) I would diss certain storys like... omg shes only 180 she needs to get an effin life if she think shes fat etc etc. I look back on that time and i feel sad for me, but I am glad I took the steps I needed.

Thanks for sharing some perspective

Anonymous said...

Lyn,

The currrent superstar of the weight loss blogging world that I frequent is a mean-hearted bully who constantly goes on about how loving and caring he is.

He has a large following of people who are so in awe of him that they seem not to see just how nasty he can be. Although he says he welcomes all to his blog, he only publishes those who worship at his feet, and reminds his readers frequently about the complaining, whining commenters who just won't leave him alone (though you never see their comments).

He succeeded in chasing one of the most interesting voices from the weight loss blogging community out of the weight-o-sphere and I know of at least one other popular blogger who has told me straight out that she fears his wrath and consequently stays well out of his way.

I do not respond to his posts and I am remaining anonymous here to avoid risking his hatred.

I wish this man no harm but I believe that one day his nastiness will catch up with him.

You are a brave, caring person, Lyn. People like you are the ones I love to read and for whom I have great admiration. Keep up the good work.

Mind Over Fatter said...

Lyn, very well thought out post. I have others around me with weight problems, some more than I and I have to say I feel a bond with them. Not a sadness or a sneer, I feel like one of them. I have a lot to loose but at this stage my feeling is I will always be one of them, even when I am thinner. I am a compassionate and caring person so I cannot see myself becoming self righteous or having a superiority complex... But I completely see you're point, you see it with reformed smokers too...

Fat Grump said...

How VERY strange that some people choose to see offence in a post about things that DO happen to some overweight people. To be so big that you wonder whether a chair will take your weight is probably something that the majority of big people think about.

Why on earth when you tell it like it is...make remarks which so many big people can identify with, is it deemed to be patronising or condescending? What rubbish!
There are a million and one things that fat people think about all the time. Most of us feel self-conscious. Why in blogging is it all of a sudden taboo to mention chair breaking? Others mention seat belts not fitting, not being able to keep up with family members when out, feeling awkward when photographs are being taken.

Life can be very problematic for overweight people, and most overweight people are aware of just how life is difficult for them.

Lyn, yours is one of the most honest, open, touching blogs I have ever read. You describe so well your feelings..how it was when you faltered, how life was because you were big, and now how you can see mental, physical, emotional changes because you are finally doing it! I suspect everyone reading is cheering you on. You are me...a more determined me, and I am with you every step of the way! So many people can relate to the struggles and the successes. You are open, honest and compassionate. You were when I first started reading you, and you remain the same now.

Honib1 said...

as always a wonderful post... as I go on my way to live better.. in my own imperfect world... I do look at those who appear not to care... and sometimes I think if only... most times I just feel compassion and sad for them... because this life we have is not a dress rehearsal .. we get one shot.. and if we do not do the best we can with that one shot .. well..too bad so sad I guess... I hope one day those folks who are still at that dangerous stage will find it in themselves to make changes.. and you are right I do not know their story or what pain they are going through.. but I do know .. that they too are more than just the sum of their pounds!

Casey said...

Anonymous #1- wow, how could you read this blog and not REALIZE she's one of the most compassionate people ever?? Seriously? Stop judging.

Props, lynn, for being so open with every emotion and dissecting it for your readers out there. Its important to see all sides of some one going through a life transformation. I loved the post.

Sometimes I struggle with this. Not particularly judging but just wanting everyone to make the same commitment I did. Its hard to walk the line between encouraging and pushing and not pushing too hard to where you push the ones you love away a little because they're so fed up with your health kick.

You're an encouraging woman so keep up your transparency. Its awesome.

xo
Casey
www.runningoutofme.blogspot.com

Valerie said...

Wonderful sentiment, Lyn! I see a lot of that moral superiority in big weight loss bloggers sometimes, too. So much so that I stopped reading most other blogs!

thewomaninsideme said...

This is an absolutely outstanding post!

How on earth can anyone not carry compassion for others that are facing the same seemingly impossible to climb mountain that they once faced and conquered? I feel blessed to have read yours and other blogs that have achieved such astounding success. I am midway up that mountain now and I don't think I could ever turn my back on those that can't even fathom how to climb the first step. Obesity is a hard thing to live with. The scars are deep and can last a lifetime even if the weight is shed. I will never forget that.

Oh and I have broken a few chairs in my lifetime too.

Lori said...

I really try to be encouraging of people trying to lose, because believe me - those struggles don't necessarily end when you are at goal. Maybe for a lucky few, but stats show that keeping the weight off is not as easy as just eat less and move more.

I don't necessarily have compassion for a bunch of excuses, though. You need to own up to how you eat and not blame everything else. That doesn't mean you are going to eat perfect all the time, but just be honest about it.

I hurt for obese people, because I know how they feel inside and how they probably feel about themselves.

Lori said...

Just to clarify - when I said "You need to own up to how you eat and not blame everything else. That doesn't mean you are going to eat perfect all the time, but just be honest about it." I meant the royal you, and not you personally. :D

Finding The Thin Within said...

I have only just begun my journey, so I think I will journal some of the feelings I had as an obese person so that I NEVER forget. I want to be the kind of success story that motivates others, not tears them down.

Anonymous said...

It is especially hard to watch the bloggers who assume they have this all figured out, who think they have the obesity/overeating thing conquered because they made it to goal, or really close to goal, and they can't understand why it is so challenging for other people, and THEN it starts to get hard, really hard, and they slip a little, and soon a couple slips leads to a week of bad choices or binges, and the overeater in the brain is re-activated, and then the REAL struggle begins.

That is painful to watch. You can't warn them. You can suggest that they avoid those brief escapades back to overeating. They won't get it. They can't. They have to learn the hard way.

It is so difficult to witness. Again. And again.

The successful ones regain, for awhile, but then pick themselves up again after stumbling around as if in a daze for awhile. That's when we learn that this whole thing is never cured. It is in remission. One must remain cautious. One must have respect for the capacity of the human body to heal, while keeping a dose of respect for its capacity to relapse into unhealthy patterns.

-Z.

Ice Queen said...

As always, a thoughtful and insightful post, Lyn.

For the record, I have never perceived anything but compassion and empathy for others who are also traveling this difficult road. And I saw no lack of compassion in your remarks about breaking chairs. I heard you putting that experience out there to show just how much you do identify with your readers.

Fit B said...

Another heart felt post from you Lyn and this one can never be truer. I personally will never forget how big i was and lose compassion because it still haunts me to this day. When I see larger people i feel sadness for them and I relive my "fat days" all over again everytime. I want to just reach out a hand and offer support but I am always worried i will offend.

Thanks for your blog it keeps me motivated!

Trevor said...

Excellent post! I hope you can check out my weight loss blog as well.

www.100PoundsGoal.com

Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think. Wishing you the very best in your own escape from obesity!

Dinah Soar said...

I--as do most--made myself fat through my bad choices.

I don't need to be mocked, ridiculed, made fun of or treated poorly.

But I also don't need pity nor compassion.

I need truth. I need to be held accountable for my own actions.

I don't need enablers patting me on the back when I make excuses for falling down.

Those who encourage by saying 'it happens to all of us, but you can do it...pick yourself up and keep going' I welcome and appreciate.

But being 'nice' sometimes means saying the hard stuff I don't want to hear. Help sometimes hurts.

The motive of the person giving me the cold hard truth makes all the difference in the world.

And truth be told, I'd rather have an honest person hurt my feelings in an effort to help me than a person who is less than honest just wanting to be 'nice' to me and withholding what I need to hear.

It disturbs me to read blog comments where no one ever points out the obvious because it wouldn't be 'nice'. Nice is as nice does.

And when a few brave souls are honest enough to say what they think, what they truly believe, those so called compassionate people attack and do the very thing they condemn. What--no one is allowed to have a different point of view?

Hypocrisy--isn't that what it is called when you condemn others for a specific behavior and then engage it it yourself?

Compassion is a two way street.

Bobbie said...

Lyn, the persons who criticize your remarks are reading something different than I am. I have never felt you were being critical or self-pitying. I have tried to read other peoples blogs on this subject but yours is the only one that I want to read every day. Yours is the only one that seems to share what my mind, body and heart are saying. You are a blessing to more people than you know. Please don't be discouraged by a few that misunderstand where you are coming from.

Linda said...

I will never, ever forget. I have struggled with trying to lose weight for 42yrs. A lifetime of pain, disappointment and not being able to attain whatever "normal" is supposed to be. I have and will always struggle with my decision on what to eat how much to eat etc. For me, compassion for others will always come easy because I will never ever forget what it feels like to be 411lbs and wanting things to be different, willing to do the work and still falling face down into the food over and over again. But, I will never give up trying!

Linda in Oregon.

Baby Stepping said...

Lyn, I am another that looks to your blog for hope. I have never, ever, felt that you were looking down from a position of superiority. Rather, I see you working very hard to make sure that you never forget where you came from. I have never, ever seen you indulge in self-pity. I have seen you never, ever be less than honest.

I am so happy for your success, and I am even happier that it wasn't all smooth sailing in that it gives the rest of us a lot of hope.

Hugs,
Mary

Barb said...

I love your blog.... and this is a great post.
When I see someone obese{me included} I have this desire to reach out to the person...To say, Hey... do you need support, do you want to go walking together etc.. I think support is a huge thing when your on this journey.

Your doing fabulous.

Can anyone tell me how to get ppl interested in thier Blog? I started one, but feel I am talking to myself all the time lol.. Thanks tons..
I will be reading{smile}

Lyn said...

Barb~

If your blog is on Blogger, usually if you sign into your account and then leave comments there will be a link to your profile and your blog (as many of the other commenters have). If you have your commenting name linked to your blog, people will often click on it and go read yours. Come back and post with your name linked or leave a link if you like :)

Anonymous said...

I think many of us could be more compassionate. I think most people can identify with the cravings that drive people to eat, as they are similar to those that drive people to drink, abuse drugs, or again and again love the wrong people. We all seek comfort in things that hurt us. We all judge others and most of us make mean comments, at least mentally.
I hate to say it, but I have gotten some judgemental comments from skinny people when I was overweight, and from overweight people once I lost weight. We could all afford to be a bit more compassionate, since we never know what other people are going through.

C D said...

I just found your blog and wanted to say thanks for putting it (your own, very personal story) out there. I haven't read the archives yet, but I looked at the pictures and I love that you are photographing and posting 10 lbs lost at a time, whether or not you thought you looked different... especially the one with 60 lbs... again! :D

I appreciate all the comments and support you have, and wanted to put my 2 cents in.

Many people confuse sympathy, empathy and compassion... and FWIW, I'm putting out the dictionary definitions. The parenthesis are synonymous.

empathy (understanding): the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.

sympathy (shared feeling): harmony of or agreement in feeling, as between persons or on the part of one person with respect to another.

Compassion (tender feeling): a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

I weigh 336 lbs, and am ready to put my health and quality of life before some other goals... so I plan to be checking in often :-)

Desert Diva

Just Me said...

Thanks for posting the definitions, CD. I do think some people are not sure what is meant - it's definitely not pity.

Barb is losing it. said...

Thanks Lyn... I think I did it right this time...

Anonymous said...

What an interesting discussion! Thanks for putting it out there, Lyn!

I agree with a couple of posters who say that "nice" is an attitude they have little use for, especially when it comes to some bloggers who are clearly not doing much on their own behalf and then have a public pity party by reaching out for attention and strokes, which they invariably receive. I don't visit their blogs anymore -- I have no use for what they're putting out there, and their struggles don't mirror my own. But I still feel sympathy for them (excuses and all) PRECISELY because they're so lost. I don't believe most seriously overweight folks don't care about themselves (deep down). Denial serves its purpose when you still have to navigate the world but haven't found your healing path and committed to it. Can I get an amen that we've ALL been there? How can you NOT feel compassion for such folks? That's like hating on your overweight self, regardless of where you are today. And I don't consider generic support from blogland "enabling." In the same way that no one can do the work but me, no one enables me but me. I'd rather get a "carrot" from blogs -- I give myself plenty of "stick" as it is!

At the same time, NO ONE is going to make any changes for themselves by being hit with the cold, hard truth served up to them directly by someone else. Because, seriously, you didn’t know that your pants are too tight? You didn’t know you ate crap all last week? You didn’t know you flaked on working out? We are accountable to no one but ourselves. That's why the work is so hard, and it's also why it's so joyful when we make progress -- when we keep the promises that we've made to OURSELVES. I enjoy reading all your blogs, guys, but you’re not doing it for ME – I know that!

If ever there was a human endeavor where the phrase "There but for the grace of God go I" applies, it certainly applies to weight loss. And there's no zealot like a convert, which makes some high-profile loser-bloggers so preachy, condescending and humorless. I avoid those blogs, too. They're self-serving and negative. Self-discipline doesn't have to be joyless and judgmental. These folks remind me of dry drunks – not drinking, but not truly sober, and hyper-vigilant because they feel they could slip at ANY MOMENT, just like losers who binge out of nowhere. To all of them, I say: RELAX. I’m open to being proved wrong, but I can work my plan and be stressed out about it till weigh-in time, and the weight doesn’t seem to budge UNTIL I’ve decided to let go of the stress.

And while major weight loss is certainly transformative, I don't buy it when people say that they're a completely different person inside AND out. That's the weight-loss blinders talking. The different choices we make now reflect our expanded knowledge, experience, growth and maturity, but the "old" versions of us are still inside, and the less time we’ve spent in maintenance, the harder it is to keep our old selves from resurfacing, which is why maintenance is such a struggle and is truly lifelong. That's what we have to never forget, and that's why we need to remember to have compassion for who WE were, along with those who are still stuck where we were.

-- CK in CO

Julie Lost and Found said...

what a wonderful, thoughtful post! I could not agree with you more.

Beautifully written!

heather said...

I'm wondering, can the response of the formerly obese person be both of the thoughts you offered?

I lost 90 lbs after I had my third child and now am doing it AGAIN after the birth of my fourth last week. I feel the fear and the disillusionment of being fat, feel the stares at being well over 200 lbs. at 5'2". But I also remember the victory of being fit and strong at 133 lbs.

For me, it's really a combination. "I know it's hard, but it really is a decision. I know you aren't sure you can do it, but you DO need to eat less and move more to make your goals happen. If you're not ready, that's ok, but it IS YOUR CHOICE."

But maybe I'm arrogant and don't know it, I dunno.

Rosie said...

This is a very inspiring post. It has a ring of truth in it to me. I've been fat for too long to not be compassionate, but now that I have had some success, I can see that I haven't been as compassionate to those that are still struggling as I could. Thank you for this post, it really opened my eyes.

screaming fatgirl said...

Regarding the comment by "Anonymous" about choice:

"For me, it's really a combination. "I know it's hard, but it really is a decision. I know you aren't sure you can do it, but you DO need to eat less and move more to make your goals happen. If you're not ready, that's ok, but it IS YOUR CHOICE."

One thing that people constantly say is that it is a matter of choice to change your lifestyle, but some choices are not on the menu for people. I have blogged about this before, but it's important to remember that every choice in life is directed by the momentum of personal history. Each choice is not a choice in isolation.

The momentum of personal history can make it impossible for a person to say "no" to eating the wrong food over the long term. Their psychology (again, based on their upbringing and biology) will push them harder than the next person to make an unhealthy choice. Before they can make healthier choices, they first have to break the connections and forces that compel them to make those choices. The manner in which they can be broken is highly personal. No one can tell you how to make it work for you because no one else has lived your life nor driven by the same history as you. In essence, it's the difference between becoming obscenely wealthy if you are born dirt poor in Appalachia or born to a wealthy family. It's a much harder task for one person than the other and it has nothing to do with "choice", "commitment" or "hard work." Some people start from a very hard place and the journey is fraught with difficulty and is longer and harder. People who lack compassion fail to recognize the fact that, long and hard as their road may be, others may face worse ones that are nearly impossible to successfully navigate.

So, saying it is a matter of choice, is a gross oversimplification that has no value in addressing the problem or providing any useful information, because we don't all have the same choices nor the same capacity to make them.

Lynne said...

I'd rather get a "carrot" from blogs -- I give myself plenty of "stick" as it is!

Anonymous said it... somewhere in all these comments, but I agree wholeheartedly... I can't believe there is anyone left on the planet that doesn't know how to lose weight... I for one can recite the calorie and nutritional content of pretty much any food... and yet... I am still overweight... I can tell you why I didn't lose any weight last week. I can tell you why I huff and puff when I climb the stairs to my bedroom. I KNOW it is a choice to eat what I eat and not to exercise... I believe that there is such thing addiction and it is hard to over come, but people do... People choose not to drink or smoke or shoot drugs... eventually it is a choice to get better... Same goes for weight loss... Reading your blog keeps me grounded. It shows me that the only way it's going to work is to recognize that it is about choices and yes, deprivation to some extent. You have to recognize what you want ultimately and do what has to be done to get there...

I don't want pity, but I don't need a reformed carb addict telling me what I need to do or shame me for making wrong choices... I appreciate that you don't do it. You show us what you've been up to; share your ups and downs and what you've learned about your mind and body that has made it possible for you to be successful... Everyone needs to find and tweak their own recipe...

When I see a severely obese person I see sadness. Their life can not be fun. Their future does not look good. It doesn't mean that I look down on them... I only hope that "something" will happen for them which will cause them to see their potential.

screwdestiny said...

Pity is one of the worst emotions you can feel. It basically means we're giving up on the person ever being able to improve whatever bad situation they're in. And that's a sad thing. We shouldn't ever give up on people.

brighide said...

I'm going to be straight up honest. I'll tell you why I get angry when I see someone in a walmart cart, it's because I'm 300lbs and I know I am step away from needing one of those carts and that anger comes from a place of fear. I know it has nothing to do with the person specifically, but when I do see someone obese who cannot walk it brings me to a place of panic. I don't want to be there next. I have alot of anger I deal with inside for my obesity. I'm angry because I let myself get to 300lbs. As I lose this weight I'm going to remember your posts about this and remember the importance of compassion for others. I don't ever want to become one of these people who drop the weight and look down on others. Thank you Lyn.

brighide said...

As an obese woman I would not take well to a person reaching out to me say, in the store for some sort of encouragment or look of understanding. Right now with where I am, I would mistake it for anything other than that and it would make me angry that someone felt a need to draw attention to my weight. A family member who lost 80lbs came to take me to the doctor the other day and she offered one of her fitness magazines to me to read while I wait. I took this as an insult, as her hinting to me to do something about myself. I already know I need to do something with myself. So I would not take kindly to someone reaching out right now. I am coming to the total realization that for me, my eating goes quite deep down the rabbit hole, and I'm about to go there if I want to get healthy again. Yes, I'm scared. I quietly read this blog mainly because Lyn gets it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so very much.

emma