Because this column has been running almost ten years, I’m taking a leap of faith and assuming not everyone started reading it day one. Therefore, especially with a title of, “Striving for Imprefection,” (sic) one might not easily comprehend why I write so often about weight and diet.
Born overweight and battling obesity through my early and teen years, I for the first time in my life, reached my correct weight when I lost about 100 pounds at age 17. However, I put it back on when I was in my twenties (sigh…), having to shed about 80 pounds, and thereby becoming a leader/facilitator for a major international weight loss company. In those days, I was a rarity; being male and “young.” Moreover, my primary meeting had a weekly attendance of over 100 people. To further cement my bona fides, I was chosen as one of twenty people in the entire U.S. and Canada to be a role model for the company when they celebrated their 20th anniversary in New York City in 1983. We were escorted to Broadway plays, received a complete “make over” (which made me look ridiculous), and I got to meet the founder of the company. (Oh yes, we were indeed treated to copious amounts of food at five-star restaurants.)
Despite my “rock star” star status in weight loss circles, I stopped attending meetings due to a dispute I had with a supervisor.
To “teach her a lesson,” I regained about 70 pounds. Old feelings of humiliation and self-loathing re-manifested themselves, and yet I did everything I could to avoid returning. My back pained me 24/7. My marriage was a mess; my attitude was worse. People who know me today consider me “positive.” They would not have used that adjective then. I was forever unhappy.
Yet, I still refused to seek help, thinking the shame of returning was even worse than the nagging unhappiness and hurt that refused to leave.
On my 39th birthday, after everyone had gone to bed, I got down on my knees, bent over the garbage can, and ate the leftover birthday cake I had placed in the tin earlier that evening. Am I proud of this? Of course not. However, it is part of me and I’ve learned to release the shame I hold about poor choices. More importantly, it was the turning point that made me decide to seek help once again.
Still terrified that I would enter a meeting and, after being a “success” for so many years, would be laughed at and teased; I ratcheted up my courage and made the decision to return. Although the pain of that humiliation was almost beyond bearing, the agony of where I was in my life, was even worse.
As they say, “Man plans, God laughs,” and the meeting I attended was being facilitated by guess who? Yep, you got it – the “dreaded supervisor.” I wanted to drop through a hole in the floor.
Here’s the thing. She was warm and gracious, greeting me with a sincere, supportive, huge hug; delighted I had “come home. The others in the room were the same.
So, why the recap?
Recently, it came to my attention that each of us has “secret spaces,” those traits about ourselves of which we are not proud; call them “inner demons.” We fight and do battle to bring them under our rein and, because for so much of the time, they appear out of reach. We call ourselves weak — even “broken.” We feel embarrassed and ashamed, becoming our worst critics.
It matters not what is the issue; food, smoking, relationships, anger; we are all traveling the same path, seeking to better ourselves day by day. At times, each soul needs guidance. And in those moments, instead of retreating, all we need do is seek help, reach out, and take hold of a hand. There’s one waiting whenever we’re ready.
Scott “Q” Marcus is a motivational weight loss speaker and productivity expert. He is also the founder of 21DayHabitChange.com, guaranteed to help you change a habit in just 3 weeks.