Book Excerpt: Chapter 12 “Spreading the Message: Changing Our Lives So We Can Change the World”
When people ask me why I decided to write about my struggle with my weight, I tell them that sometimes I secretly wish I could just sit down and shut up about it. Truly, I find it embarrassing to talk about my food demons, my unhappiness in my marriage and my home life, my failure in my career, and my inability to control my weight.
But as difficult as it is for me to talk publicly about my struggles, I know that there are lots of people who share my pain. And not to sound immodest, but I’ve learned a lot about how successful lifelong weight loss works. Maybe most important, I’ve learned that I can find success even though I am still a deeply flawed, far-from-perfect human being. I am moved to share my story and my insight with others so that we might walk this path together.
Moving forward, I plan to be an active voice in the public arena, talking about how we can shift to a healthier approach to our eating habits. After years of hiding from the spotlight of political life, I’ve now found my own reason to stand at the podium, as a leader. To keep my personal goals in the forefront of my life, I like to emphasize non-scale-related goals. Staying real about my weight means, for me, weighing myself three times per week (first thing in the morning, after I pee and exhale deeply). But I always like to be working toward something specific, not just a number on the scale. I find that having a tangible goal (usually a race, in my case) keeps me focused on something I want to accomplish. Striving to see a certain number on the scale has never been helpful for me; it makes me anxious, and I find myself reacting out of fear. Unless a bear is chasing you, fear is a poor motivator. As soon as the initial fear wears off, poof! There goes your motivation.
Besides, I don’t define success by a number on the scale; I define it by how I feel. Am I happy? Do I feel a sense of satisfaction in my work and in my home life? Am I proud of what I did that day as my head hits the pillow each night? If I can answer those questions with a resounding Yes! then I am successful.
The three things that I asked you to commit to at the beginning of this book—to dig deep, to create a vision for yourself, and to embrace change—are really just the beginning. And the truth is, even though we’ve got a good solid start, there is no finish line. Despite what the diet programs, weight-loss books, and infomercials promise, we won’t ever “lose the weight for good.” As if somehow we do it once, wipe our hands of it, and we’re done.
Healthy living is a daily commitment.
We eat like it matters because it’s a part of living like it matters. Living like it matters also means working, moving, learning, teaching, leading, and loving like it matters. It all matters because we matter. And we don’t just matter because people depend on us. Or even because our families love us. We matter because, I believe, we each have a purpose in life. My own journey began with the very humble realization that, even though I may not have known on those very dark days what that purpose was, I knew at the core of my being that my purpose wasn’t to be miserable for the rest of my life. I felt—in a visceral way—that my life was meant for so much more than I could see from that vantage point.
I may have set out on a weight-loss journey, but what I found was a whole new way to be. I came to realize that happiness on my terms is possible. And, of course, I also found that weight loss is possible. Whether you’re eleven years old, like my son was, seventy-plus years young, like my mom, or pushing the upper limits of middle age, like me, transformative change is possible…
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