Admitting you were wrong

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

I am only about twenty pounds into my weight loss journey, but I have to say, things feel different this time.  It is not a new concept that I think about losing weight all the time. The different things that led me to where I am now, trying to connect the dots to better understand myself and thinking in general about human bodies and how they work occupy a lot of my mental energy.

Allow me to digress for a moment and say that human behavior and our mindsets/habits are an endless ocean of fascination for me.  I am analytical at heart, so I just want to figure everyone out, learn why they do what they do, and harness this information to solve problems.  Deep down, my wish, not only for myself but for everyone, is to live authentically fulfilling and joyful lives.  The problem seems to be that a lot of the time we (our patterns, our ways of thinking, etc.) get in the way.  I want to bridge the gap between where I am at and what I want in all areas of my life.

So as I stated - things feel different this time, so I wanted to dig a little deeper and see if I could figure a theory as to why.  A thought came to me several weeks ago and it has really stayed with me.  I meditated on it quite a bit and it began to make more and more sense.

I was wrong.

Three simple words that really sting.

I'd like to spend a few moments on the notion of cognitive dissonance.  For us non-psychology majors, cognitive dissonance is the discomfort we feel mentally when our thoughts/actions are out of alignment with one another.  The harshest term for such a thing might be hypocrisy.  Actually, hypocrisy is when you can bypass the feelings of cognitive dissonance and freely choose to not practice what you preach.  Cognitive dissonance is the vegetarian eating a hamburger, and hypocrisy is more the 'vegetarian' who always has hamburger breath telling everyone they ought to be vegetarians.  Cognitive dissonance causes us to lie to ourselves, or make excuses for things we shouldn't.

We want to be logically consistent in our thoughts, as it is human nature and how we function within the world.  Our choices and behaviors will align with who we think we are.  We have thoughts about who we are as people, and we do what it takes for those to hold true.  For example - I am a generous person.  I believe this to be true about myself.  We just experiences a city and life altering event for so many people - hurricane Harvey.  I don't need to go into detail for you to know many people lose everything, and a lot of people could use help.  The cognitive dissonance is what I feel when I know I am a generous person, yet I haven't given to one go fund me or relief effort yet.  And here are the ugly and embarrassing lies and excuses I've told myself: 1. my budget is a little tight this week, I will totally donate after payday 2. there has been such an outpouring of generosity from all ends of the earth, maybe they don't need my help 3. how do I know people really need my help -  what if they have great insurance and just being opportunistic, I only want to give to the most truly needy 4. I don't want to just give to a big organization, I'd rather help actual neighbors and places I trust.

I tell myself those things because I don't want to face the fact that I am not as generous a person as I give myself credit for being.  Since telling myself these excuses, I have since known of an old friend's sister, a cousin's mother in law, an employee of our sister company, 30 families that belong to our church, and my high school alma-mater - all have lost their homes or asked for help in some way.  I have done nothing, and I should be am ashamed.  

So cognitive dissonance - we all do it/experience it to different degrees.  I know I, and probably most overweight and frustrated people do it a lot.  I tell myself that I will do better tomorrow, because I am a person who is optimistic and can meet goals - but only when I am ready.  Tomorrow I will be ready.  I tell myself that eating fast food for lunch every day is fine because I usually have a healthful dinner.  This mental talk becomes a whole arsenal of lies and excuses that eventually leave you dumbfounded as to why you are even overweight - because you are doing everything right.  (ha!)

Well what I did was a separated my feelings about myself and how I do things from the facts of the matter.  That is when I could draw no further conclusions.  The way I eat and live my life is wrong.

Being wrong sucks.  I would go so far to say that for me, it is one of those internal things I think about myself - I am not wrong.  The times I am wrong are merely misunderstandings or my reply was based on bad information - but I am logical, thoroughly thoughtful/considerate/fair and smart, and basically never wrong.  

But I am wrong about my eating habits and health.  That's all there is to it.  It was like a light bulb went off.  I can't eat the way I used to eat and have a healthy sized body.  

Past times, when faced with my wrongness, I feel angry, and I feel hurt, maybe some denial thrown in there as well.  I don't feel that this time.  I've gotten cozy with the idea that I've been wrong all this time, to where it doesn't affect me in an emotional or getting defensive way.  

I was wrong.  I take ownership and responsibility for making the choices that got my body this big.  It is freeing to not spend the energy on mental gymnastics you need to do in order to justify dessert every night and also ponder why your pants don't fit.  The input equals the output.  

I was wrong.  I like to take a page out of books of people already succeeding at what I'm trying to accomplish.  My mother totally changed how she eats to manage her diabetes with no drugs (get it, girl!) and eats a low carb/paleo type diet.  Even when it is her birthday dinner, she is being mindful of what goes in her body.  Every restaurant meal isn't an excuse to 'be bad' like it is for me.  We took a cruise a couple years ago and hit the buffet on the main deck before grabbing a deck chair and setting sail- they do a big send off celebratory thing with food and music as we leave the shore.  There was a young woman on the chair next to me who was very pretty and a figure to die for.  I recall laughing to myself about her plate vs mine.  Mine was covered with chili dogs, potato salad, pasta salad, chips, giant brownie - because vacation! - and hers was a only a hunk of bbq chicken and beans.  I thought, heh, it is no wonder we each have the figures that we have.  My pre-2017/cheat day eating is a lot of fast food, a lot of sugar and desserts, a lot of eating until I can't eat another bite.  That is not the way a person taking care of their body eats, and I have the extra weight and diabetes to show for it.

I was wrong.  I have reflected, I have taken ownership, I am on a redemptive path.  Now I have a black coffee at breakfast time, eat about 500 calories of a low carb lunch, and about 700-1000 of a low carb dinner and nightly treat.  I am happy with this pattern, and I feel at peace with my body and food and my mental state surrounding it all.  Things definitely feel different this time, and I feel encouraged that I won't go back to my old ways - at least without being totally honest with myself.  

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