I remember sitting in a weight loss support group once, listening to a new member argue down our counselor. The counselor was trying to help this new woman discover ways she could fit more activity into her work day and home life. And this woman slapped down every suggestion with “Nope.” “No way.” “Can’t do that.” “Boss would never approve.” “Family won’t allow it.” Etc.
Group support is a great exercise in restraint.
I really wanted to slap this new girl.
But I didn’t.
I also didn’t scream “WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO YOURSELF?” I let the counselor do her job, which she did brilliantly, over the course of several more weeks, steadily eeeeeking out more and more activity from this nay-sayer.
Normally I’m patient with obese people, my people. I battle obesity every day myself, and I know how hard it is to deal with the extra weight, the difficulty of losing it, the potholes in the road, the attitudes of people around us about fat, the toxic food engineering and crazy diet recommendations from trusted sources that lead to inexorable fatness. The stress of daily living that contributes to obesity.
Oh, man, there are so many roadblocks to good health.
And then there are the obstacles we create for ourselves by believing that changeable things can’t change.
That is, despite the real, hard difficulties we all face, we each tend to add another layer of barriers to this large challenge by believing we are incapable of changing our circumstances.
My wanting to slap that woman was not a helpful response. So, I’ll try to make up for that a bit here by suggesting ways of recognizing your own self-inflicted roadblocks and how to blast through them.
One good way is to find a group of other obese people who are not your current friends and family, and talk. Getting a fresh and objective set of eyes on the problem will often open your mind and life to all kinds of possibilities. I saw lots of things happen in group: The woman who was sure her husband would dump her if she didn’t serve bread and potatoes at every meal was encouraged over and over again to talk to her husband. Turned out he didn’t really like or need those starches. The one who couldn’t control her grazing while cooking dinner talked to her family about it, and two other members volunteered to trade chores with her. The one who was sure she couldn’t find more ways to be active during the day ended up encouraging her boss to install a treadmill and therabands in the company breakroom. The guy who couldn’t control himself around his kids’ snacks, got his kids to keep their snacks in a separate cupboard in the kitchen and not eat them around Dad. The guy who couldn’t afford a gym membership found out that his company would pay for half of it. All he had to do was ask.
What are your barriers? A jealous partner? Demanding kids? Overbearing parents? A busy schedule? A dead-end job? A demanding job? Your house? Your neighborhood? Your school? Other people’s habits and preferences? A tradition that dictates your role in your family or society? Your friends and their ways of spending time together? Feelings of futility? Self-hatred? Anger?
You actually do have the power to change all of these things. Naturally, you’ll need your journal.
Spend some time today or soon to write out your personal barriers, then pick one, and meditate on it.
Ask yourself and answer how this barrier came to be.
Ask and answer how this barrier has been useful to you in the past.
Ask and answer if this barrier has any use to you in the future.
Imagine three ways to break through this barrier. Consider them all from the most to the least stressful approaches.
Can’t think of a solution? Who can you discuss this barrier with? A support group? A counselor? A friend? Your boss?
If you need to ask for change from someone close to you, and it feels scary to do that, who can be present for the discussion to support you?
What changes will you recommend, and would they be permanent or temporary changes?
Consider a negotiation. If other people are involved in helping you knock down barriers, how might doing so benefit them? What can you offer in exchange for their help?
Is the roadblock in your head? (Oh man, I’ve got plenty of THOSE.) Do you need help from a counselor or a personal coach to overcome it? Try finding a personal coach online or nearby. There are personal diet and fitness and behavior and career coaches galore who can help.
Here’s wishing you more Cans than Can’ts, and a few Cancans,