I was in my belly dancing class a couple of days ago and just before the session started a conversation on weight loss quickly spread throughout the whole group. There is a surprisingly wide variety of woman in that small collection of fifteen to twenty individuals. There are representatives from those in their 20’s through their 60’s, several people from different cultural backgrounds, and just about every shape that you can imagine a lady having is also present. I love the diversity!
At any rate, there was lots of discussion on the different ways in which to lose weight – fast versus slow, exercising as opposed to or in cooperation with changing the diet, and so forth. At one point, the very cute and well-proportioned instructor contributed her opinion that you just need to truly commit to successfully lose weight and that determination to stay on your program will ultimately be the number one tool to help you drop the pounds.
There was approximately half a second of palpable tension before one of the other students – a woman who has managed to slowly lose about fifty pounds and who is still working at losing at least another forty – voiced her disagreement. She was obviously offended that such a comment would be put forward by someone who hadn’t experienced all she had been through.
Our instructor quickly followed that up with a bit of a shocker by saying, “I’m five-foot-one and I use to weigh nearly one-eighty. I lost fifty pounds.”
The point of me writing this isn’t to start a debate on the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ ways to lose weight. Personally, I am of the opinion that it is the individual journey that makes it a success or not. The person who is going through the process is the most important factor regardless of whether their particular journey includes calorie counting, low fat options, copious amounts of weight training, simply walking, quick and large losses, slow and steady progress, the occasional gain, or any of the other myriad of things that can possibly come into play when talking about how to drop those extra pounds.
No, what I am delving into right now is the fact that every person in that studio had a serious change of perspective when the instructor revealed her history. Many had constructed assumptions simply because of what she looks like now, and some people gave consideration to her opinion based solely on what they saw in front of them at that moment. As soon as it was disclosed that she could relate to weight loss struggles on a personal level it seemed like her opinion suddenly held more bearing – that her experience as an obese individual granted her the recognition of a wider scope of wisdom on the topic from those participating in her class.
I am not sure what to think of that. I know that the few times I have mentioned to people I just met that I have lost a hundred pounds that they look me up and down in disbelief and exclaim, “Really!?” I, too, am reaching a point where half a lifetime of weight issues are now being erased from the view of the public. No longer are the majority of my scars visible. I do not carry the burden of obesity as heavy proof stretched across every inch of my body any more.
I wonder who will doubt my wisdom in the future simply because I fail to show outward signs of the battle I have long fought? I wonder whom I will question when they appear differently to my eyes than they may have if I simply looked, instead, with my heart?