Smutty Fitness: The Shame Cycle
I read your column regularly and decided to ask for your help because I don’t think I can solve this problem by myself.
I am almost 20 years old, and at 5’4 I currently weight 175 pounds, which is terrifying to me. I have weighted more or less the same for the last couple of years. I have made attempts at losing weight by eating less and doing sports but always ended up feeling discouraged by the lack of effects, giving up and gaining all the weight back (something you have repeatedly warned against, I know).
I work from home and it involves a lot of sitting at the computer. I think it is fair to say I have bad eating habits. My husband and I have been talking about having kids and I got so scared thinking this means I might wake up to be over 200lbs!
The biggest problem for me is that I have reached the point where being overweight and unfit is ruining my life – it makes me feel unhappy, make me – a naturally sociable person – unwilling to go places and meet people because I Feel so ashamed of being fat. It is all I can think about when I talk to others – how they must be constantly judging me and thinking how ugly I am. Whenever it starts feeling like too much I go jogging or work out at home like crazy, but every single time I just get discouraged after a while and go back to bad old habits. I have been though this cycle time and time again. It makes me feel like a loser who cannot accomplish anything. All I do is fail.
It is really hard to live like that. Please, can you tell me what you would do in my position? I have been having thoughts of contacting a dietician but it makes me feel so ashamed to have to talk to someone in person about these things.
I would be grateful for your reply.
It is pretty obvious here that you are sick and tired of being unhappy and hating yourself and you want to stop this but you do not know where to start.
I want to share something with you; I am the unhappy with myself when I am not on the path that I want to be on. It is when I know that I want to make changes and I need to make changes but I am not making the changes that I feel the weight of anxiety hanging over me. Whether it is being unhappy in my career, or in my relationships, or with my education or with my physical fitness, if I am not on a path to change, my unhappiness grows.
I think you know what a great person you truly are, as does your husband and everyone else that surrounds you in your life. Where I think your unhappiness stems from is your inability to make change. You probably wake up every morning with the best of intentions and then go to bed having accomplished nothing and feel like all you did was fail. You are not going to break this cycle until you start to make consistent and realistic changes in your life.
Taking the first step is the hardest but here is my advice on how to start. You need to create a plan because we all know the classic cliché “if we fail to plan we plan to fail”. Figure out where you require the most support and go seek it. NEVER be ashamed to talk to someone in the health industry because this is why we are here and we would never judge anyone who seeks our advice. Go see a dietician or a personal trainer but go to them with an open mind. They are not going to solve all of your problems; rather, they will provide you with the tools that you need in your life to begin to solve your problems on your own. Learn from the professionals and implement what you learn into your life, your partner’s life and your family’s life. The bigger the support network you have around you the more likely you are to succeed, so talk to as many people as you can and ask them for their support and encouragement.
Create daily goals that you will attempt to reach each day, such as getting outside for 45 minutes of cardio, or cooking all of your meals from scratch, or drinking the required 8 glasses of water in your day, or moving 10,000 steps each day for a week. If you reach the goal then be proud of your accomplishment and build on it next time. If you fail, rather than becoming upset with yourself figure out why you failed and try again, ensuring that you do not make the same mistakes. Take it one step at a time, as I say so often, and do not expect magical results within the first week, month or even 3 months. You need to understand that the most important factor in making change is staying consistent so with a little consistency you will be successful.
When you fall back into your old habits, as you say you so often find yourself doing, fall back out of them again. What is the point of sitting around and drowning your sorrows by eating a bag of potato chips or a tub of ice cream? It is not all lost with one fall back but it is all lost if you let that continue. Accept your mistake then move forward. It is simple.
You sound like you are tired of living this way because you know it is not you, so get out there and be that person you want to be. Build on your successes and learn from your mistakes. Do not be afraid to fail because failing and mistakes is how we learn.Photos: