Finding more on a weight loss journey

A dear friend shares her journey and her heart.

To love yourself right now, just as you are, is to give yourself heaven. Don’t wait until you die. 
If you wait, you die now. If you love, you live now. – Alan Cohen

Often times, when we discuss love, it is in relation to our connections with others.  We give love anthropomorphic tendencies, describing its ability to create harmony, whether through our own personal connections or a universal exchange (that links all persons in a global community).  Discussions regarding self-love are relegated to conversations relating its pertinence in the face of limited self-worth.  The implicit necessity of loving one’s self is paramount in establishing worthwhile connections with others. 

Since this blog is about health & fitness, I will tailor this entry, relating self-love to my weight loss journey.   

Last summer I began a journey towards health & fitness, though my immediate goal revolved around losing a tremendous amount of excess weight, my exigent goal was to learn to love myself.  My excess weight was a reflection of my inner turmoil, my struggle to find acceptance (a struggle I presumed to be externally founded…. thereby, extrinsically resolved).  I assumed that loving myself would be a natural effect of changing the way I looked physically.  By changing my appearance, I would become more acceptable to others, allowing me to become more acceptable to myself.  This change would provide an avenue for me to establish connections with others (at that point I was socially isolated, spending tremendous amounts of time alone with limited social interactions) and increase my self-efficacy (believing I could accomplish the many goals I had set for myself).  To a degree these presumptions were accurate.  I have changed the way I look, I am more appealing to others and have a greater sense of comfort in my physique, but that has not translated itself into increased self-worth. 

There is still a sense of lacking and deficiency.  As I strive towards attaining what I believe to be the “perfect body” (for myself), I constantly have to face the impact of my limited self-worth. I am faced with the unhealthy habits I’ve developed, as I strive to love myself . . .. having formerly “loved” myself with food.  I developed a reliance on food to cope.  In the absence of self-acceptance and social relationships, food became an ally.  In losing weight, the foods I formerly relied on for comfort have become an enemy.  They no longer provide me with the same semblance of peace or “happiness”.  I have come to realize that my perception of myself is highly correlated to all of my struggles, I have to resolve my intrinsic feelings of worth, so that I may find the acceptance I long for.  The lack of connectedness I feel with others is greatly attributed to the lack of connection I feel with myself.  Changing my physiognomy has not changed the pertinence of answering these issues. 

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I have to learn to love myself, to be comfortable in my own skin, to appreciate who I am.  I have to become whole.  I have to learn to live, because I’m tired of feeling dead to myself . . .. not knowing or appreciating the characteristics that make me a worthwhile individual.  It’s exciting, this concept of self-discovery.  But this undertaking is by no means easy.  This process has been laden with valleys and peaks.  It requires changing my mind, literally.  Reframing thoughts, addressing hurts, and examining fears.  Exchanging unhealthy behaviors that were once associated with loving myself for behaviors that truly reflect love for myself.  In doing so, I am hoping to experience the tranquility that comes with loving one’s self.  Partaking in the ubiquity of love, as it connects me to those I care for. 

I am grateful for those who are willing to love me along the way, as I learn to love myself.

What has your journey shown you that you did not expect?

The Story of People

As many know, I can have strong opinions. Some would say conservative opinions. Sometimes I can tell you were the opinion came from, providing facts and figures of support. Other times, it simply is – this is one of those times. I hate the word people. I find it condescending, degrading, and disrespectful. And now, I am trying to determine why.

  1. Human beings in general or considered collectively.
  2. The citizens of a country, esp. when considered in relation to those who govern them.

So…general or collective. I am going to talk about a group of individuals in a general sense…or am I going to talk about people? This word is at the forefront of my mind right now because I recently drove from Texas to Minnesota and passed several Wal-Mart distribution centers with their tagline: Our PEOPLE make the difference. Ahhhh! It grates my skin.

I often hear others begin comments with “These people” or “Those people“…does that mean they are talking about a group of individuals of which they (or we) are not a part. I often perceive these comments as condescending and negative. Does this individual feel as though they rank above the group they are speaking of? I cannot say that I have ever been the subject of one’s such reference to people, but it bothers me a great deal. For example, I have had coworkers who have referred these people, as in our clients who are overweight or unhealthy, and implying that they are helpless, needy, annoying, unintelligent, etc. An individual who is overweight is not less of a person…so why would I speak of the population in such a degrading manner? Perhaps it affects me because I have been overweight and one of those people and I remember what if feels like to feel like you are treated as less of a person as a result. Further, I know I use this hypervigilance, being careful not to marginalize or degrade any population or group with my word choices.

As an over-analyzer  I try to determine where my perception begins. I’m brought back to 2004, in a class with Dr. Ruth Cronje…she told us that use of the word people should be avoided due to the resulting negative connotation. The birth of my perception that people is a negative word! So is this accurate? In my world it is. Then again…this is the same professor whose class 80% of us had to retake…

Back to people. “We the people…” begins the Constitution of the United States. This introductory clause is contradictory to me (based on my perceptions). Here is why: We is indicative of the speaker being a member of the group. As noted by Mr. Fred Rogers, using the collective pronoun ‘we’ when referring to oneself is representative of an individual who is others-centered rather than self-centered. However, we is quickly followed by people. And yet, I do not perceive this to be condescending – whether within the Constitution or independent of it.

I think that I’m getting somewhere with this…let’s take a look at the chorus lyrics of John Legend’s song, Ordinary People:

We’re just ordinary people
We don’t know which way to go
Cuz we’re ordinary people

Again, use of we in association with peopleimplying that the author is a member of the group – which he in fact is in this song. Therefore, use of the word people is not perceived (by me) as condescending. 

Final thought: As one would predict, the perception of whether use of the word people is condescending is dependent upon the context – both environmentally and rhetorically. I still don’t like the word and you will rarely hear me use it…although as I think about this, one of my favorite pastimes is drawing stick people that represent others in my life…

So how does people make you feel? What is your initial reaction to the word?