Most of you reading this have probably struggled to maintain a healthy lifestyle for a huge part of your life. The reason 95% of those “diets” fail is at least partially because we struggle identifying what’s holding us back.
I had called myself a food addict for years, but truthfully I really didn’t want to face it. It was more of a punchline, a snappy explanation of why I was always eating chips or getting 4 helpings of lasagna or fried chicken or homemade battered fish and fries. (sorry for the triggers).
Last August when I was out getting some cardio in the thickest humidity southern Ontario had to offer, I was listening to an older heavy tune while I ran trying to put into words what has been different about this successful journey compared to the literally thousands of failed ones I had over the last 30 years. And the chorus of the song I was listening to hit me like a ton of bricks.
“Imagine accepting your truth”
Wow. That’s what’s different this time. It’s cheesy, but it’s dead accurate. I finally accepted my truth. I was a food addict, which means I needed unique solutions relative to someone with more moderate food issues. At 361 lbs my issues weren’t moderate.
I had spent a lifetime protecting a certain behaviour that I considered essential to my happiness. Binging. I came up with hundreds of reasons why I needed to binge on special occasions. And if I’m being honest, even when I tried to keep it semi reeled-in during special occasions (which I’ve already calculated as about 45% of the year), I still never had a strategy to succeed at that moderate “reeled in” goal. I thought I just needed to try harder, or want it more, or be more dedicated. Generic words that weren’t specific enough to turn into action. A cynic could say deep down I wanted to fail.
When I finally accepted my truth, I had to face stuff I knew I had been avoiding. I knew I had to stop planning binges. It’s what I’ve always protected, what I thought I needed to be happy. The reason I joined WW was specifically because of the “enjoy the foods you love” tag line. Perfect!!!. Christmas season binging is safe!!!!
I ignored the fact that every health journey for me that crashed and burned did so right after a binge. Somewhere along the line binging always became more powerful a force than my desire to get healthy. I tolerated hunger to make up for binges every week. I planned more extreme behaviours to lose weight as the binges became more common. Binging always won eventually. Always. Because in my mind what’s the point of life without enjoying food, and I couldn’t picture enjoying food without binging.
So when I started to specifically draw up what I needed to fight binges, my health and consistency improved dramatically. Living healthy felt truly sustainable for the first time.
And here’s a hint for knowing if you’ve honestly accepted your truth. It’s a phrase I copied off of a guy named Len I met at WW (Len’s a legend).
“It’s gonna cost you something big”.
That was Len’s answer to someone that asked him how to recover from a food addiction. It’s so simple and it’s the opposite of how health journeys are marketed. They all imply there’s an easy way to do this. But accepting your truth is harder than picking an apple over chips. I gave up chips when I was reforming my habits, they were a trigger for me. Now I occasionally eat chips. But binges can never come back.
For the sharp ones reading this wondering “what’s the difference between ‘figuring out your problem’ (blog entry last week) and ‘accepting your truth?’ Isn't that the same thing?“ Accepting your truth is the emotional acceptance that change is going to cost you something big. Figuring out your problem isn’t so hard, accepting your truth is very hard. To use a (pre-married) analogy, deciding that your relationship is making you unhappy is ‘figuring out your problem’ . ‘Accepting your truth’ is deciding you have to move on because it’s unfixable.
So I’ve described what my truth is. It’s not THE truth. There’s as many truths out there as people. Maybe you don’t love yourself, maybe you’re unhappy in your life and you think getting healthy will change that. Maybe you’re a turtle and you always eventually get tired of the slow progress. Maybe you hate tracking.
There’s hundreds more. Accepting your truth is emotional. It’s facing the things that have held us back all along. Accepting your truth almost always costs you something big.
But once you make that leap outside your comfort zone, once you decide you’re willing to pay the price and you make specific strategies to change, things get much easier. It’s really hard at first, but the pain is short lived. Eventually it doesn’t feel like you’re constantly marching uphill anymore, like it always has. There’s tough days and mistakes, but there’s also an enormous amount of relief and freedom from not denying your truth. At least that was my experience.
So if you’re looking for a boost, find out what your truth is. Accepting it will cost you something big. Maybe it’s talking to a professional about your self esteem, or it’s acknowledging that you can’t have triggers in the house while your reforming habits, maybe it’s confronting loved ones who discourage you from achieving your goals, maybe it’s talking to your doctor about the eating disorder you’ve kept secret for years. It’s emotional. It’s not easy. But it’s also a giant leap towards the life you truly deserve to live.