As someone who who is able to share with others that I used to weigh over 450 pounds, I’m not sure which they are more impressed by—the fact that I managed to take off over 250 pounds of excess weight through balanced, healthy eating and exercise (as opposed to fad diets, pills or elective surgery) or that I’ve kept the excess weight off for over a decade.
I must admit that these two accomplishments still manage to “wow” me as well. Not in an egotistical way, but in a manner that humbles me. After all, I know that if I were to forget about these feats and let my guard down, I’d be in trouble. That’s because maintaining my health and weight loss is something I have to constantly work at. But when I share this tidbit with people, sometimes their “wow” smile takes a sharp turn and becomes a “that completely sucks” grimace.
I admit that back in the day, before losing all of my excess weight, even I used to visualize losing all of those unwanted pounds and then being able to “Eat whatever I want, whenever I wanted.” And yeah, it was kind of a slap in the face to realize that steamed green beans and broiled chicken were going to remain a part of my life forever. This didn’t mean I couldn’t revel in the occasional cup of frozen yogurt or gluttonously dip the occasional sweet potato French fry into a puddle of ketchup. But the key word with these kinds of treats is occasional, as opposed to every day. And that’s because my everyday requires work to stay lean, mean and healthy—minus the mean. (Just going for the cliché there—sorry.)
I often liken my staying healthy to riding a bike. I must constantly keep pedaling. And the minute I stop pedaling, I fall down, skin my knees and gain back over 250 pounds. But in today’s society, it seems like people shy away from the word “work”—especially when realizing the word (and the actual effort behind the word) need to be constantly applied to things in our lives that really matter.
The concept of work doesn’t just complement a healthy weight, of course. One of my dearest friends is madly in love with her husband of over 11 years and has what I consider to be one of the happiest marriages I know of. And yet she’ll be the first to tell anyone that asks, being happy and in love requires a lot of work. Again, people balk—perhaps wondering why something like love should require that particular 4-letter word. And yet when I think about it, it makes all the sense in the world.
Having to work for something doesn’t mean we have to be miserable doing it. It just means we are hopefully committed to whatever it is we are working toward or working on maintaining. Whether it’s losing weight, maintaining a healthy weight, getting healthy, nurturing a relationship, raising children or any number of other activities, work is often the common denominator. And why shouldn’t it be? Aren’t all good things worth working for? Of course, they are. And when we put the required amount of work into things, the outcomes usually turn out better and, just as important, help us to feel better.
Rather than sigh and haunch our shoulders when considering what kind of work will be involved in accomplishing a particular goal, why not embrace the effort it’s going to take and approach said work with an attitude that embodies happiness and commitment—knowing that whatever we’re setting our sites on is worth it? Suddenly, work isn’t such a 4-letter word and, instead, is a healthy conceit that we don’t have to groan and moan about.
It’s all about adopting a positive attitude, right?
So even though maintaining my healthy weight (and holding off the 250+ pounds that would love nothing more than to settle back onto my body) takes daily work (365 days a year), I do the work knowing that it’s essential to maintaining my health-related goals. I feel better, I look better (yeah, I said it) and I am better—not so much because of the actual goals I’ve accomplished, but because of the work I’ve been willing (and remain willing) to put forth toward attaining and maintaining these goals.
So why not try readjusting your mindset toward this particular 4-letter word? You might be surprised to find out that the concept of work is suddenly one you embrace, rather than begrudge.