Why? One little word, three little letters, one huge question. Why? Why do you do what you do? Why did you start? Why do you endure and persist? I have been thinking a lot about whys. The why is what motivates us to start, what we reach into our memories to retrieve when we lose our ways, what we hold onto with white-knuckled death grips when we struggle to carry on. I had a why when I began this journey six years ago but I lost it. I didn’t misplace it or lose sight of it – no, my why died, destroyed by the lessons I learned along my way. It can not and should not be resurrected.
Talking about it now, I speak of my why in a low voice, refusing to look you in the eye. I am embarrassed of my why. It was silly and ridiculous. Don’t think that means I regret my why because I don’t. I am grateful for my why, it got me started and I owe every gram of success since to it. Even the smallest spark can start a fire. In the simplest terms, my why was a boy; a boy I liked and who I wanted to like me back, a boy I wanted to see me. It is, of course, bigger than that and the bigger explanation is that my why was the belief that changing myself physically would change the way people felt about me. That is the fundamental problem with my why and why my why was always doomed.
As far back as I can remember, I indulged in fantasies involving my losing weight and some man who had spurned me suddenly seeing me in a new light, falling helplessly in love with me. It was like that moment when the nerdy girl removes her glasses and takes down her hair in the teen rom-com, leaving the most popular boy in school mouth agape and swooning – only my big reveal was my thin figure. I would be suddenly thin and suddenly wanted. Twenty years of this kind of thinking (and dieting) and my belief in my own lovability and worth was helplessly tangled up in the idea of weight loss. I had such a pretty smile, I would be so beautiful if I were thin. Right? That’s what I was told, anyway. And then I met another boy.
He was no prize, trust me. My self-esteem had flown the coop years before and he was an asshole (specifically, he was a self-involved, superficial megalomaniac) who had feigned interest in me for the sole purpose of feeding his own dying ego with the rapt attention of a sad, desperate woman. But the smallest, most pathetic spark can start a fire. While he was out dating women he felt worthy of his attention, I went to the gym and tried to make myself worth something. I lost over 100 pounds, metaphorically took off my glasses and let down my hair and he… he couldn’t have cared less. He treated me the same way he always had; like I was disposable. From this I learned something vital and here it is: losing weight can not make you anything you aren’t are to begin with (except for healthy). It can’t change the way someone feels about you. It can’t make you more likable, more lovable, it can’t increase your worth. The good news is, you are already likable, lovable, worth a thousand jerks who treat you like gum on their shoes and you will learn that along the way, too.
This lesson transformed my life more than anything else throughout my journey. If I hadn’t learned to love myself, to embrace my worth I never could have found the pure, unconditional love I have now. I never could have prioritized myself and recognized the importance of my own health and happiness. But, in learning this lesson, I lost my why and I think that may be the reason I have struggled to reach my goal, to sustain this lifestyle over the years. Without a why I am a kite with no tail, dipping and diving, adrift and spinning. I can no longer answer those questions: why do I do what I do? Why do I endure and persist? I can’t answer that for you today, I haven’t been able to answer those questions for years and it shows in my fight to get and stay motivated, in my inability to persist and ensure. I don’t know if I need to find another why or if, perhaps, there is already another why I am yet to discover that drives each new attempt, each time I start again, each flare of inspiration. Or can I do this without a why? Is it enough to simply know it is the right thing to do, to do it simply for the sake of finishing what I started? What do you do when you lose your why?
WEEK ONE CHECK-IN
Weight: 212.6 (2.4 pounds lost)