Working It Out: You Can’t Lose Weight Alone
If I was stranded in the middle of the ocean and someone nonchalantly cruised by with a lifeboat, it’s quite possible I might drown. That’s just how strong my aversion is to asking for help. Some call that having a big ego, I personally think my M.O. is the result of watching too many people around me have to depend on others and possibly taking my oath to never be like that to the extreme. Whatever the case may be, as I thought about what’s made this weight loss journey different from so many others in my past, I realized this was the first time I didn’t go at it alone.
When I say I didn’t do this alone, I’m not talking about the fact that I hired a personal trainer — though I’ve already explained how invaluable that resource has been to me. I’m talking about opening myself up to the encouragement — and accountability — of others, which I didn’t realize I was doing at the time, or was so necessary. In the past I’ve always kept my workout missions to myself, mostly for fear that if and when I didn’t lose the weight (or at least as much as I wanted to) I’d be judged. There’s also that look of Thank God some people get in their eyes when they find out you’re planning to lose weight that just reinforces how unhealthy you are and always made me feel some type of way. (Read: Insecure) Of course, when people noticed I dropped a few pounds I told them I’d been watching what I was eating or exercising, but that was the extent of my conversations about what I was doing. The struggle was too personal, my doubt about the end goal was too real, and being the independent person I am I knew that just as I’d gained the weight alone, I’d lose it alone. Except I didn’t, not for any significant length of time anyway. And then someone would remark about how I was gaining weight (again) and I’d get an attitude and think, see this is why I keep this ish to myself, and then I’d keep on re-gaining until I’d surpass my previous pre-weight loss weight and repeat the cycle.
This go-round, not being able to maintain my weight loss hasn’t even crossed my mind once. Prior to last week, I thought that was only because I’m finally starting to feel comfortable with my body and I know I don’t ever want to go back to how I felt before. But then I discretely, or so I thought, grabbed a bag of Doritos at the office because I was starving and hadn’t had a chance to eat all day and one of my coworkers kindly marched over to me with the Black girl “uh uh, what are you doing face?” and snatched it out of my hand. That’s when I realized I don’t just have myself in check, everyone else does! As I explained my poor eating choice, she explained to the rest of the office, who’d witnessed her actions, that “we have to keep each other accountable” and then she went out and purchased a much more sensible plate of salmon, spinach and baked sweet potatoes for me to eat. #BlackGirlsStickTogether
Funny enough, what she did sparked another co-worker to point out she saw me use the hashtag #effadiet on a picture I posted of a glorious waistline-bloating meal I had in New Orleans (because there’s just no hope in that city) and was more than willing to tell me about myself before she saw me clarify that I was only about that life just for the day. Over the weekend, another friend asked me to come over and help her with something work related and then proceeded to get the full rundown of my dietary needs before making an amazingly healthy brunch that included only one piece of bacon for us the next morning. And just last night when I was at the office past six, another co-worker started to chastise me because she thought I wasn’t going to the gym. Thankfully, I was heading to a late class or it would’ve been game over.
See, truth be told, sometimes those around me care more about my weight loss journey than I do. There are some days during some weeks that I look for any excuse to skip a workout, or eat something I have no business, or drink one too many and then here they come telling me in no uncertain terms “Do better!” and I do. And then I question whether I would’ve gotten this far for this long without their watchful eyes. My trainer gets on me because I pay him to. My friends and coworkers get on me because they see how hard I’ve worked to get where I am and want what’s best for me. I used to be the type to scoff at weight loss tips that suggest having a workout partner or an accountability partner. I have about six of the latter that I see every single day from 8-5 and they are just as invaluable as the man I pay to make me swing kettle bells and jump rope ’til one of the “girls” nearly pops out of one of the two sports bras I wear to contain them.
If you’re thinking about starting up a fitness routine, don’t feel like it’s an embarrassing secret you have to keep to yourself. No matter how little or lofty your goal is, tell someone about it. It doesn’t have to be six someones. (In fact, I don’t recommend that because it can’t be a bit much at times.) But confide in a best friend, or a co-worker you trust, or hit up someone whose done it already on social media. In those moments when cake and ice cream are calling you more than the elliptical you’re going to want to talk to someone who can relate to your struggle and keep you on the right path, and most times your conscious simply isn’t going to be enough.