It’s not easy to take responsibility for our actions. We much prefer to blame someone else. But sometimes, we have to own up otherwise we get into a real mess. To show you what I mean, let me tell you about Florence.
A Weight Loss Case History
When Florence came to see me, she was 40 years old, 5 feet six inches tall and weighed 220 pounds (16 stone), which made her about 70 pounds overweight. She suffered from chronic tiredness, indigestion and occasional breathing problems. On top of this, her outlook was very pessimistic. For example, she didn’t believe she could lose weight. Why not? Because she’d been fat for years and she had no will-power.
I told her to relax and stop worrying. Once she started to eat properly she would feel a lot better and then maybe things would start to look more hopeful.
So she started dieting but got absolutely nowhere! After six weeks, she was no lighter than she was to begin with! Why not? Because each week, something happened which interrupted her diet and made her give up. In fact, during these six weeks Florence used a total of nine different excuses, as follows.
(1) One of her children got sick.
(2) Another one had a birthday party.
(3) Some friends came to stay with her for the weekend.
(4) Other friends invited her out for dinner.
(5) Her mother gave her an apple pie.
(6) A friend of hers brought round a box of chocolates.
(7) Her sister dragged her into town, shopping.
(8) Her husband picked a fight with her.
(9) She was left on her own, one evening.
I told her that these were normal occurrences, which would always happen, so sooner or later she would have to learn to cope with them. But it was no good. She was determined to act helpless, as though there was nothing she could do.
So, at the end of the six weeks I told her the truth. I told her that unless she started to take responsibility for her weight, she was going to make life very difficult for herself. She could easily end up a 280 pound (20 stone) bundle of misery with nothing to look forward to, except more fatty food and more drink. I apologized for being so blunt, but this was the truth and she had better know it now, while she still had the chance to change.
Her first step, I said, was to be honest with herself. She should go home and say to herself:
The only reason I’m fat is because I choose to be fat. I buy too much fattening food and I eat too much fattening food. Why? Because I choose to.
As soon as she admitted this, I said, she would find dieting a lot easier. Why? Because when we blame our weight problem on other people (and things), we give ourselves the perfect excuse to do nothing. Whereas, if we accept that we are fat from choice, we can start to do something about it. For example, we can choose to be slim!
I wish I could say that my talk did the trick, but it didn’t. Florence’s next few weeks were just as bad as the previous ones. However, it must have had some effect on her because she kept coming to see me and slowly (very slowly) she started to lose weight. And from then on, I never heard another excuse out of her. Whenever she had a bad week (and she had lots) she didn’t give up and blame something else she just went back on her diet.
Finally, a full 14 months later, when she was a fit, healthy 150 pounds (10 stone), she told me the real story of her struggle. She admitted she had never wanted to take responsibility for her weight. But after my talk with her, she did and gradually she had found things a lot easier.
If you have a weight problem, your first step is to own up and take responsibility for it. Because once you accept that you’re overweight from choice, not necessity, you can start to do something about it. You can choose to be slim! Just like Florence.