Ready or Not?

At work, last week, I had a very uncomfortable conversation with some other co-workers.

I had just clocked out for my lunch break and was looking forward to just sitting down.  When I got to the break room, there was already 4 other people in there having lunch.

As I was getting my lunch from the fridge, I was listening to their conversation.  They were talking about another co-workers weight.  They were talking about having an intervention about her weight.  They were hesitant to do it because they didn’t know her very well.  One of them had been out with her once after work but still didn’t know her well.

I sat down to eat my lunch, just hoping that I wouldn’t get sucked into their conversation.  Unfortunately one of them asked for my opinion.  I told them that it was really up to that woman to decide to lose weight.  Having an intervention won’t make her be ready.  I understand that they are concerned about her health and weight but it may make for an uncomfortable work environment if they did the intervention and she wasn’t ready to lose weight.

I told them about how I lost weight.  I told them that many people had told me over the years that I needed to lose weight.  Some people even told me that I look good with some weight on me.  Ultimately it was still up to me to decide to lose weight.

Becoming the food police wouldn’t help either.

I remember a few years ago, at work, I was at lunch and decided to eat a doughnut.  One of the patient’s family members had brought in some doughnuts to thank the staff for taking care of the patient.  One of my co-workers walked in and sat down.  She said to me that I shouldn’t be eating that doughnut.  “A moment on the lips equals a lifetime on the hips” is what she then stated.  I didn’t pay attention and kept eating the doughnut.  I remember that hospital because most of the nurses were skinny.  It was only about 3 over weight nurses and I was one of them.  I was uncomfortable every time that I went to work because almost every one that worked on my floor was skinny.

Another incident that I remember was when I was in RN school.  I would change my eating habits when eating with the other nursing students.  I would eat healthy around them.  I didn’t want to expose my eating disorder to them.  One of the other nursing students told me that I should be skinny because of the way that I was eating.  I told her that it was the way that I ate at home that was keeping me over weight and I didn’t exercise.

Even some of my patients commented on my weight.  Some of them would say that I would look so much prettier if I lost 50 pounds.  At the time, I chose to take it as a compliment.  At least they thought I was a little bit pretty.  I didn’t want their comment to ruin my shift so I just smiled and laughed and went on with my day.  I was uncomfortable being at 180 pounds but to myself I was pretty.

Its become acceptable in our society to comment on some else’s weight and not to focus on the real issue.  That person might be going through a rough time in their lives.  Some people deal with their issues by eating.

I call that swallowing your voice.  In the process of eating, you temporarily get away from your feelings.  You don’t want to deal with your issues so you eat so that you can go numb from your problems for a while. 

The problem with swallowing your voice, is that the “high” or numbness goes away when you finish eating.  When you finish eating the guilt comes in because you may have eaten half a dozen doughnuts in one sitting. Then your issues still haven’t gone away.  What I would then do is plan what I was going to have for lunch or dinner.  That would usually evolve half a dozen doughnuts or a whole cake.

I was thinking about those incidents today and remembered something my life coach told me once.  She said that over weight people wear one of their problems in public every day.  When an over weight person goes out into public, almost every one can see that they have an issue with food, self care, depression, or some thing else.  Not every one who looks at a skinny person can tell what their issues are.

My life coach also once told me that people that are over weight are usually over weight for a reason.  That reason is rarely about just the food.  The over eating is usually a symptom of a deeper issue.  For example, my issues were my self esteem, not knowing myself, and not loving myself.  Until I dealt with those issues, I would continue the eating disorder and the up and down roller coaster of my weight.

You can tell someone else about their problems but they don’t have to do anything about it.

It is up to that individual to deal with their problems.  When I was over weight, I didn’t need any one to tell me that I was over weight.  I already knew it.  When some one told me about my weight, it would just make me feel even worse.  I would then reach for food to comfort myself.  It just became a vicious cycle.

When that person is ready to do something about a problem that they are having, then they will deal with it.  I was only able to deal with my issues when I was ready.  I got to a point where I realized that I couldn’t continue the way that I was.  I was stuck.  Like one of my friends told me, “when the person is ready, the teacher will appear”.  When I was ready to deal with my issues, my life coach was doing a special and I hired her and I dealt with my issues.  It wasn’t a coincidence, it was meant to be.  The teacher appeared when I was ready.

Another example is when I see patients coming back to the hospital with the same problems.  Those patients just tell me that their medications need to be adjusted.  I educate them on their diets, exercise habits, and taking care of themselves but they don’t have to listen to me.  The evidence that they don’t listen is when I see them a couple of weeks later back in the hospital.  I have to realize that I can’t “fix” their problems, it is up to the patient to take care of themselves when they go home.  When the patient is in the hospital, the hospital can control some things like their diets and their medications.  Sometimes that works and some times it doesn’t.  If the patient wants to have some one bring them unhealthy food ultimately we can’t stop them.  When that patient goes home, they can change their diets and medications when they want to.

I just told my co-workers that it was up to the other co-worker to lose weight.  We can’t force her to lose weight.  We can’t make her be ready just because we are ready for her to lose weight.  We don’t know what is going on in her life right now.  They said they were uncomfortable even talking to her about it and that is why they wanted to get some one that was close to her to talk to her about it and do an intervention.

Thankfully after I gave my opinion, the conversation turned to hiking and running marathons.

Pleasant Surprises

I was doing my laundry last month and happened to look at myself in the mirror.  I realized something at that moment that was a pleasant surprise.

I have maintained my weight for over a year.

I haven’t maintained my weight since 2001.  Ever since 2001, I have been going up and down with my weight dealing with my eating disorder.

This past year, I haven’t been dieting.  I just found a life style that I love and that I can maintain even when I’m traveling.  I was worried when I became a travel nurse that I wouldn’t be able to maintain my weight.

What I have found that works for me is not to deny myself any thing that I want.  Just last month, I went to the Cheesecake Factory and ordered a cheese cake.  I didn’t feel bad about it either.  I wanted it so I ate it.  I used to feel guilty when I ate certain foods or I was afraid that I would revert to my old habits again.

I finally found a balance.

So what did I do when I realized this pleasant surprise.  I wanted to celebrate.  I had already booked a photography tour of LA.  I was going to turn that into my celebration time.  I’ve learned to celebrate the victories that I have in my life.  I had a great time on the tour and I loved the photos that I brought back.

For me, consistency is the key to maintaining my weight.

I consistently eat vegetables and fruits and exercise.  Before working with my life coach, I consistently ate doughnuts, cakes, and lunchables.  That is why I consistently felt tired, sad, drained, and burnt out.

Consistency is also the way that I achieve my goals.

With the help of my life coach, we broke down my goals into small action steps.  Some times the action steps were easy and some times they were challenging.  Even when they were challenging, I still wanted to do them because the steps would get me closer to my dreams and goals.

I consistently want to feel at my best so I have to consistently take care of myself.  On New Year’s Day, I woke up in a sad mood.  I thought to myself, why do I feel so sad today.  I remembered that I had eaten some muffins the day before.  I realized that almost every time that I eat certain foods, the next day I feel sad.  I had no plans for the day but I decided to make some plans.  I looked up hiking tours in the area and found a sunset tour.  I immediately started to feel better and excited.  I know that being in nature always makes me feel better.  I ended up having a great time on the tour and getting to see an amazing sunset and the full moon.  That was another pleasant surprise.

Now when I talk to my patients about their diets, I tell them that consistency is the key.  I used to try to overhaul my whole diet in one day and that never worked.  I could keep it up for about 3 months and then I would go back to my old habits.  With my new life style, I just added in some foods gradually and let go of some foods gradually and over a year later, I’m maintaining my weight.