33. A Commitment to Myself

33. A Commitment to Myself

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Shaping the New You

A Commitment to Myself

Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become
the person you believe you were meant to be.
 ~George Sheehan

Hi, my name is Jeri. I’m a food addict. Not only am I a food addict, I am a food behavior addict. But here’s the exciting part. In spite of being a lifelong food behavior addict, I’ve lost 170 pounds. Picture it—that’s 680 sticks of butter kicked to the curb. How did I do it?

Well. . . I did not have gastric bypass surgery. I did not have lap band surgery. I did not use drugs. I did not use miracle diet gimmicks.

This is how I did it: Diet and Exercise. And water. And therapy and a support group. And journaling, crying. A whole lot of crying in the beginning. In other words, I did it the old fashioned way, the boring way, the my-insurance-won’t-pay-for-surgery way. For my food plan, I followed the Jenny Craig plan. My exercise plan consisted of my own two feet walking, and my bike. I was a gym member but cancelled. I figured why pay money to walk on a treadmill and ride an exercise bike when I can do those things for free?

I didn’t make a commitment to a program or a plan. I made a commitment to myself. A commitment that no matter what, I was going to do this. I was going to figure out what the heck had been eating at me all these years so I could be done with emotional eating.

My first step was going to my doctor, who sent me to a therapist, who sent me to Jenny Craig. My therapist told me to let her worry about my head and let Jenny worry about my food and, to me, that made sense. My food taken care of, my therapist and I tackled the head game. The game that says if you think you’re fat, you are fat and you will behave accordingly. I didn’t like that game anymore so I started playing another one. The I-am-so-worth-all-this-fuss game.

I discovered that weight loss is a mental game and willpower has very little to do with it. For me, willpower means white-knuckling my way through life, whereas if I change my thinking with regard to food and put food in its proper place—as merely fuel for my body—I will find lasting success.

I also employed The Secret to lose weight, putting into the Universe that I was attracting better health. I told the Universe, “I continue to attract my optimum weight. Whatever weight that is, that’s what I’m attracting. The best weight for my body.” Then I started envisioning my thin self. I thought up slogans, mantras, and Jeri-isms. Like, “Food is not my friend. Food is not my comforter, nor is it my confidante. It doesn’t sing to me or give me wisdom. It’s just food. And I am more powerful than food.”

I told myself that no matter what life threw at me, I would not gain weight. No matter what! I learned a better way to cope with my emotions. I emote, then get over it. I journal about it, then close the chapter. I move on. And when I sometimes feel a little low, I re-read my journal and re-visit my pictures so I can impress myself all over again. I’ve learned it’s okay to be impressed with myself!

I have learned that when my stomach growls, I will not die. I have learned that there are PEOPLE at parties just five short feet away from the food table to talk to if I just walk away from the table! I have learned that looking good really does taste better than a pound of peanut M&Ms. I have learned that telling myself I am the most beautiful woman on the planet and then behaving accordingly is not a puffed up mind-set, but an empowered one. And who can argue when the results of my head games are staring them in the face?

Now that I have “reached maintenance,” I play maintenance games too. Like, Yes, I can have those chocolate-covered macadamia nuts—but I can only have them in Hawaii. Yes, I can have cake. But I can only eat cake at a wedding, or a birthday party. I can’t bake a cake, buy one, or take leftovers home from a party. Yes, I can have one or two pieces of candy brought into the office—but I can’t buy candy. Yes, I can have one slice of pizza at a luncheon, but I can’t have a pizza delivered to the house. Give and take. Not so rigid, just a little more controlled.

So am I cured? Am I done with all this dieting? I’ve lost 170 pounds so you’d think I’d be cured. Alas, my food addiction is not cured—but it is managed. I can handle managed.

~Jeri Chrysong

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