From time to time, I’m given to reflect on why exactly it is that I do what I do with this whole weight management thing. After all, despite having no real authority or expertise, I voluntarily place myself out there in the world as a ‘role model’ and draw specific attention to myself, my journey and my experiences.
As I was out doing my standard 9-mile Sunday run today, I was thinking about the fact that the first 40 years of my life I spent 95% of the time overeating and 5% of the time starving myself. I’ve only had five years of healthy eating, and even then I have my lapses and challenges. If anything, my main experience in life with food and eating has been what NOT to do!
So why do I feel qualified to lead a weight loss support meeting or write a column on weight maintenance? I think its mostly because of my ego. And I don’t think of that as a necessarily negative thing. I have a strong desire to feel as if I can help others and to feel that I have something valuable to contribute.
Every now and again, a member in one of my meetings has said something, or a reader has sent an e-mail that makes me feel embarrassed, insulted, or hurt. At times like that, I reflect on my Mother.
When I was a kid, my Mother was a politician. She started out in the League of Women Voters, then became a town councillor, was eventually elected mayor, and finally served in the state senate. None of these jobs paid anything worth mentioning, and they involved long and gruelling hours. But she loved it.
Whenever someone challenged me and said ‘all politicians are corrupt, there must be something that she is doing wrong’ I would say ‘My Mother has the purest motive of all. She’s not in this for the money. She’s not in this for the electoral campaign. She’s not even in it for the power. She’s a politician because she likes to be in the spotlight, she likes to be a part of something, and most of all, she likes to stand up as a valuable role model and leader in the community.’
Ironically enough, my Mother has a thicker hide than I do, and she’s much better at handling the critics. But she has taught me that its okay to put oneself into the forefront, warts and all, and still feel able to say something worthy and helpful.
An unexpected part of all of this for me is that by putting myself out there I have come into contact with lots and lots of amazing people that I never would have found otherwise. There are many wonderful, funny, insightful, caring and warm people that contribute comments to the Skinny. Each week I work in meetings with dozens and dozens of people who inspire, educate and motivate me.
It may be my ego which gets me to write this column and pretend to be an expert. But the payback is fantastic, and I feel the richer for it. I was recently listening to a former newspaper columnist who used to write about his life in Paris, but decided that as soon as he began saying and doing things with the express intent to turn them into story ideas, he decided to come back to the U.S. I respectfully disagree with that guy. For me, the opportunity to make new choices, see the world in a different way, and to engage myself fully in the process is the whole point.
So, thanks. If it weren’t for you reading this piece today, I might be sitting in the kitchen scarfing down a box of oreos.