04 Jun The Light Is Always On
All my life I’ve generally been the fattest person in the room. It’s something I’ve just gotten used to over the years, though I’ve always felt like a big loser for being the fattest person in the room. Like it or not, being overweight (for me) has been painful all of my life, from the physical discomfort to the health issues to not fitting into clothes and being made fun of and bullied. It has gotten a lot better for me (thanks to the help of Psychologist, (and author of “The Pleasure Trap”) Doug Lisle, but it is still hard sometimes. If you’ve been overweight, or you are overweight you might have felt like I have many times, I just want to do one of two things:
1. HIDE. That way no one else would notice you are overweight.
2. Tell everyone that you are trying, that you work really hard, that you have lost weight, that you are eating right, you are working out, you are doing every thing that you possibly can.
(or maybe for you it has not been the same experience)
Currently, I’m pretty sure that I’m at least 100 pounds heavier than everyone on our team. My boss (the greatest boss in the world) just happens to be a competitive triathlete, has broken a ton of swimming records, works out with Lance Armstrong, and works out a few hours every morning. It’s taken me a while to feel comfortable around the rest of my team. Don’t get me wrong, being on the Engine 2 Team is about the best gig you could ask for, and each of our very small team is a phenomenal person. Rip is as real as they get, and I’m not just saying that, I wouldn’t be doing my job if he wasn’t a genuinely awesome (and nice) guy. Yet still, I can’t say I didn’t feel awkward for a long time around my very fit, very healthy looking team.
A few months ago I was going through a rough patch. It happens, I’ve been on this journey long enough now that rough patches are just part of my life. They aren’t even patches anymore, they are more like just part of the journey. When you start from such a high weight (well over 400 lbs) the journey is going to be long, difficult and at times heart wrenching. There are days in which I wish I could rub a lamp, a genie would pop out and grant me just one wish – just be at my ideal weight. After all, haven’t I worked hard enough for it? Haven’t I done everything I need to do to finally be at my ideal weight? Nope. Apparently, the journey is a lot longer than I ever anticipated. And the funny thing? I haven’t even been at it that long. I’m approaching my third (ish) year of doing this plan-strong thing, and I’m down over 200 pounds, I’m off of all of the 15 medications I was on, (everything from cholesterol, T2 diabetes meds, insulin and high BP to neuropathy and hormonal stuff). I feel a lot better, but why is that not good enough? Why, despite all of the work I HAVE done, do I feel like a failure at times?
So back to the reason I started this post.. A few months ago I was feeling like a complete failure. My weight wasn’t budging, I wanted to make my team proud, my family proud, people online proud. I wanted this entire thing to be over, and it seemed that no matter how hard I tried, the scale would not budge. I told Rip that I was feeling like a failure, that I was so tired of the journey. I thought for a moment – how on earth can Rip know what it’s like to be me? He’s Rip for goodness sake, the picture of health, he’s never had to worry about his ideal weight. I was having a big old pity party for myself.
So Rip calls me up and he tells me to listen to him, he had something to say, and he says, in a loud, assuring voice:
“Failed. There are plenty of others willing to call you a failure. A fool. A loser. A hopeless souse. Don’t you ever say it of yourself. You send out the wrong signal, that is what people pick up. Don’t you understand? You care about something, you fight for it. You hit a wall, you push through it. There’s something you need to know about failure, Natala. You can never let it defeat you.” (from the movie “Tintin, but with my name added in)
Rip has this way about him, like you know that he is telling you the truth, that he really does believe in you, probably more than you believe in yourself. That is where I was that evening, I had lost hope, I felt like the biggest failure.
We hung up, and I sat there for a few moments, really thinking about what he had told me. I stopped feeling so sorry for myself. I realized that everyone, no matter what their size or their health condition has gone through junk in their life, we’ve all felt like failures (even Rip). My weight has been this ongoing struggle since I was a kid, rather than wallow in the failure I thought I had become, I decided to quit feeling sorry for myself, and decide to just press on, not give up, not call myself a failure ever again.
I decided in that moment that I needed to keep fighting. That no matter how impossible it seems to have this goal of getting to an ideal weight, which means that in the end I will have lost about 300 lbs, I need to keep fighting.
I’m in the last 100 pounds of my weight loss. It feels as though I have just started, like the first 200+ pounds didn’t count somehow (though, I know how insane that might sound). 100 more pounds. There is a lot of fighting ahead, a lot more obstacles, a lot more to learn. I don’t know what my life will looks like in the next 100 pounds, but I will say something – I am glad for my team, I’m glad for Rip, but mostly I’m glad for all of you. This online Engine 2 community has exploded in the past year. The support, the kindness that I see online is truly remarkable. It is like we are on one team, one big team of support and a lot of plant-strong encouragement. I know that it is not always easy. I know that sometimes the piece of chocolate in the pantry wins. I know that not every day means getting up an hour early to get in a workout.
No matter where you are in the journey, what I want you to remember is that you are not a failure. No matter what you think you did to get to the point you are at right now, it does not matter one little bit. It doesn’t matter if the goal takes a few months, or a few years, you now know what you are fighting for. I’m here to tell you what Rip told me – if you believe in something FIGHT FOR IT. In this case, YOU. Believe in YOU.
Rip likes to end his talks with “Remember, the Engine 2 light is ALWAYS on”. So I want this post to be a reminder that we’re here for you, cheering you on, ready to help when we can. We’re working hard to come up with ways to help and be there for each and everyone of you even more. We’re a very small team, but we care a lot, and we believe in you, we’re all very passionate about helping as much as we can.
And, as someone who is traveling along the journey with many of you, I am glad we can walk this road together, no matter how hard, how impossible and how tired we might get. Let’s all pull together and remind one another why we’re doing this, and more importantly that we CAN do this.
If you need the reminder – maybe copy and paste this quote, as a reminder that you cannot let failures (big or small) defeat you, push through, you will be glad you did.
“Failed. There are plenty of others willing to call you a failure. A fool. A loser. A hopeless souse. Don’t you ever say it of yourself. You send out the wrong signal, that is what people pick up. Don’t you understand? You care about something, you fight for it. You hit a wall, you push through it. There’s something you need to know about failure. You can never let it defeat you.”
Natala Constantine is certified in plant-based nutrition through Cornell University. She has a passion for helping people become plant-strong, because of her own journey of health. She has been working with the Engine 2 Diet Team since August of 2011 as their online director. She also plays a mean violin.