I have thinking about my friend Karol all night. She was the inspiration for me to give weight loss one last try back in 2010, to join the gym and eat healthy. She had been losing weight and watching her transform gave me new hope. Soon, we were losing weight together. We ate lunch together every day at work, we went grocery shopping and exercised together on the weekends, we checked in with each other, supporting each other and holding each other accountable. Now, in a way I’d never have wished our paths to run parallel, she, too, has been struggling with regaining weight. She, too, has been bouncing between being motivated and being complicit, comfortable. We have been commiserating as of late, trying to recapture that lightening we’d both had bottled together all those years ago, heartbroken at where we find ourselves now and desperate for lasting change.
I can’t speak for Karol, but I had always thought if I lost all the weight I could just have a “normal” life like everyone else. I could and would be like all the fit, healthy, normal-sized women I saw dining out on weekends, drinking with friends. I could follow the advice of fitness magazines and work out for an hour two to three days a week, indulge on the weekends and still enjoy my new fit figure. I don’t think that’s the case – not for me, not for Karol, not for anyone who has lost a significant and transformative amount of weight. I think, because we had gained so much weight at one time, we are always going to be fighting to keep it off. As hard as we worked, as much as we sacrificed to lose the weight, well, that’s how hard we’re going to have to work, how much we’re going to sacrifice to maintain our weight loss. Otherwise, the moment we let our feet off the gas, we’re going to start rolling backwards. I think maintaining that kind of weight loss is going to be every bit as challenging and take every bit as much dedication as losing weight.
We will never be those “normal” people who can go to the gym a couple times a week, indulge without guilt on the weekends and holidays. We sealed our fates when we lived without exercise and restraint for years. This is our path. Our bodies will always strive to return to that state of obesity. The way I see it, we have two choices. We can make peace with being overweight, be comfortable with those bodies, and ease up on the diet and exercise. Or we can dedicate ourselves like we had seven years ago; never missing a workout, meal prepping every day, boring our friends and families and coworkers with talk of workouts and calories, making our fitness and health our priority.
I heard once – and I don’t know if it’s true, but that really doesn’t matter in this context – that the word sacrifice comes from a Greek work that means “to make sacred.” If you think of it that way, sacrifice isn’t surrender, it isn’t punishment, it isn’t suffering – it’s an exaltation of something to the level of holiness or sanctity. If we believe your bodies, our health, our physical and mental well-beings are worthy of being treated as if they are sacred, then we make the sacrifices. We quit all the pity-party self-talk about how we’re giving up so much for this journey, we quit focusing on the things we don’t do (binge eating and couch sitting) and start focusing on the things which make us feel healthy, strong and accomplished.
Living 2,000 miles apart, we can’t eat lunch together anymore. We can’t go grocery shopping or work out together during the weekends. But we can support each other, we can hold each other accountable, we can inspire and motivate each other. We can fight for this together, sacrifice for this together. What do you say, Karol? Are you ready?