What follows is a conversation that should have tremendous meaning for many. I know it did for me. It revealed to me how far the Lifestyle has evolved and even how far I’ve come since the release of Leanness Lifestyle V.4. It also enlightened me to the many ways PARTS of the Lifestyle could be taken while not taking it as a whole–and just how unproductive one can become when they do this.
Statements in quotes other than single words or phrases are what my student said to me. Everything else is my voice.
So you’ve lost quite a bit of weight but are having trouble getting off the last 20 or so huh? “Yes I am” he says. “And what I don’t get is you say that leverages and accountability are the real deal. They’re important. Well, I’m here to tell ya, I’ve got a whopper of a leverage yet I still don’t reach my goal so your whole leverage thing …” Wait a sec. I hear what you’re saying. Leveraging doesn’t work. Oh, but it does. But it will likely never “work” for you. You see, like so many other issues relating to the Lifestyle this is another example of why you cannot cafeteria-style the program and expect it to work.
Leveraging works well for a great many people. But it almost never works when ambivalence is strong. I wrote about this in Leanness Lifestyle V.4. Over the past few years I’ve come to realize that strong ambivalence is stronger than any leverage and most peoples’ character. In talking to you I know that you have a strong desire to change. “Yes I do, very strong!” Right! But I also know that you have a great many reservations and borderline resentment about the thought of that pending change. You resent the fact that losing the last 20 pounds won’t make you the whole person you long to be but can’t figure out how to become. It gripes your ass that you will have to give up certain foods and activities again. You resent the fact that losing the weight itself won’t make you happy.
You now realize that with all the weight you’ve lost it hasn’t made you happy even though it’s made you happi-er than before. You, like many people, have had a battle or two with this injury or that, and this illness or that. It irks the living crap out of you that there is no guarantee, that if you blood, sweat and tear yourself to the last 20 pounds, that you will be healthy and stay healthy for life. Kind of a “Why bother?” approach. “I suppose you’re right.” Next, you are about half mad that the great many people who have been telling you to finish finish finish finish finish because you will feel better about finishing may actually be right–so you set out to prove them wrong. Finally, last but not least, there are many opportunities you’ve been putting off “until the weight is gone” and you’ve told me before that the excuse you’ve used for a decade has been that you would do the grandiose thing or take the next big career step WHEN the weight was gone. Hey, if the weight never goes away I guess you get to stay safe. “That’s absolutely right.”
“Another thing I gotta talk to you about though is this whole thing that you say I may be a food addict.” Right, go ahead. “Well, I will confidently say I’m not a food addict.” Really? Why? “Because I’ve lost quite a bit of weight already and I haven’t put that weight back on. Lord knows with all I’ve gone through in the last few months that if I was an addict I would definitely be back where I started and I’m not.” Interesting. So if I’m hearing you correctly your contention is that you are not an addict because you haven’t put back on all the weight you’ve lost, only part of it. Yet, there are still many times when food controls you, you cannot say no to the larger portion, you make sloppy food choices that don’t apparently match your desire to get leaner and you’re several pounds heavier than your lowest so far. Did I say anything that isn’t true? “No.”
Well let me ask you this. Can we agree that addiction of any kind is a vile beast; sneaky, conniving, insidious and a control freak? “Sure.” Well then if you were addicted what might you expect the addicted voice within you to say to you from time to time? How about this “You’re not addicted. Of course not. Look! You’ve only gained back 10 of your 40 pounds lost. See, it’s all okay my friend. We’re in this together and don’t let anyone else tell you differently. And besides, don’t we KNOW that food addicts always hide food?” Does that sound like something the voice of the addict might say? “I suppose it does.” So just because you don’t hide food, does this mean you aren’t an addict? “Probably not.” That’s right. It doesn’t. And if you leave the door to addiction shut as a possibility you just cut off a whole slew of recovery choices at your disposal. It’s impossible to fix that which we don’t acknowledge. At least keep the door open to the possibility you might be an addict.
“Well, I gotta ask Dave. I see your videos and success pics overflowing with successes recently. And I realize I’m not far from reaching that pinnacle. Do you consider your members failures or addicts if they don’t reach the level the people in the Success Gallery reach?” No, I don’t. Not at all. But I will say this. The ones I see as addicts and the most problematic with unresolved emotional issues and ambivalence are, without a doubt, the ones who say they are going to do something, set leverages, write out goals, write out a why, and still fail to reach their goal time and time again. It’s the TIME AND TIME AGAIN that is the tell-tale sign that they are not controlling food, food is controlling them. For these individuals we certainly have some strong ambivalence and emotional issues needing addressed and likely have food addiction issues too.
“Well, yah but, I still can’t get past why I’m not back at my starting weight if I’m an addict.” Ever met an alcoholic who was most definitely an alcoholic but was still functional as a human being? “Sure.” Well the same applies to food addiction. There are millions of food addicts out there who are a success in every single way in their life except fitness. They are very functional. Many are very successful. But it doesn’t change one, simple fact–they are food addicts just the same. Until one at least realizes they are an addict there is no recovery. Kay Sheppard believes the traditional 12-step approach is necessary to beat addiction. She believes you must admit yourself powerless over the addiction. Others believe that a more “take personal responsibility and personify the addict beast” system works. I believe no one way works for all. My preference is for the one that works for you. The bottom line is this. You don’t have to exhibit every possible symptom of addiction to be an addict.
We started this conversation with an insinuation that leveraging doesn’t work therefore the Leanness Lifestyle University system is flawed. True? “Well, I suppose that is true. But I have to say that I’ve never in my life stayed this lean for this long and I have no doubts that your program and all I’ve learned are responsible for getting me this far. It’s without a doubt the best success I’ve ever had in controlling my weight.” Great! “But it’s gonna be a rough road to tow for the next little while.” Oh really? Why is that? “Because my home environment is out of sorts due to a relative and I don’t have total control over what food is in my house. Pretty tough to stay away from certain foods when someone else in the house needs those foods or wants those foods. It’s not all up to me what is in my house.” I see. And who might you think is voicing that concern? Or maybe I should say it this way, What voice would love nothing better than to set you up for failure by giving you a victim mentality and an excuse to eat like crap? “I see what you’re saying.” That’s right. The voice of addiction.
Every time you play the victim you let the addiction win. Every time you internalize an excuse to have more than your share because you deserve it you give the voice of addiction a euphoric and triumphant feeling that IT has won and is keeping you just where it wants you. You may feel that addicted euphoria as short-term satiety and contentment (even though it’s really a binge or gorging coupled with the mental drug release of serotonin or dopamine) but your addiction knows just what it wants and how to get it. And the addiction knows how to press your buttons my friend. Oh, yes indeed. It knows every trigger you have, every emotional hot button you could ever dream of and it knows you like no one else knows you. But ultimately, you still have one thing available to you and that addicted voice knows it. It hopes and prays you won’t realize you have it too. It’s called choice.
Through choice you can use higher reasoning to separate yourself from the addiction. You can choose to seek help. You can choose to read about food addiction. You can choose tonight to re-listen or listen to my Kay Sheppard interview (available via download for students). You can choose to attend a local meeting. You can choose to be more aware of who is talking to you (internally) and what IT is really saying. You can choose to personify the IT and begin thinking of it for the despicable creature that it really is. You can choose to help yourself well no matter how strong the voice of addiction is.
The Leanness Lifestyle is most certainly mostly about lasting weight control. But I’ll tell you what. It’s really about getting right with your life so your daily performance can provide you the outcome you initially came here for. Until you are right with your life, past and present, there will be no great body transformation that will unfold and last.
I can’t hand-deliver all that any one member needs to make their life right. I can’t clean up the past for you. I can’t make old debt go away. I can’t make you forgive the despicable things done to you by others in the past. I can’t make you forget either. I can only help you see that help is available from many sources. While one source MAY be the answer–most times it is not. Many times, from my current experience, recovery occurs when the student seeks a strong foundation like the Lifestyle and then expands it with life-enhancing readings, meetings and events continuously led or authored by a variety of bright, good, sound individuals. Hoping one reading, one listening or one meeting is “gonna do it” is foolish. It’s like saying that bathing once “is gonna do it” and keep you clean for life. It’s idiotic when you think of it that way.
“You know Dave, in listening to you I just gotta say. I’m not completely better yet. And I’m not totally right with myself or the world. But I’ve really improved. My worst day now is better than my best day a year ago. I’m more active, am happi-er but not consistently happy, and have done and experienced things recently I only dreamed I ever would. I really feel like I’ve progressed even though I have struggled so much over these last pounds.” I hear what you’re saying. And I agree. You HAVE progressed. This is a journey. And not only is this a journey but each of us is writing our autobiography every day.
Each leg of the journey could be thought of as a chapter of the book. If you’ll step outside yourself and think about the book you are writing every day you’ll see that whatever is happening in your life is really just a page or a chapter in the book. When you are 80 years old I guarantee you that whatever you are experiencing right now in this period of your life will be looked at differently then and you’ll realize it was just a chapter of the book, not the WHOLE book. It feels like the WHOLE BOOK when you are living turmoil on a daily basis but each day is a page and periods of time are just chapters of the book. Again, and this is what I’ll leave you with today, the book you write is yours. And you get to choose what’s on each page. You can’t always choose how the chapters will be ordered nor how they will end and begin. But you can choose, on a daily basis, to realize that your weight only fixes weight issues while making all of life’s highs and lows better and more easily managed. No matter what turmoil-filled thing is waiting for you right around the corner, when you choose to be more fit the potholes are easier to navigate. I didn’t say they were easy–just easi-er.
Losing weight won’t make you happy if you’re simply a miserable person. It won’t make you a person with patience if you’re a nervous ninny who makes everyone around you upset and nervous over every little whip-stitch of a thing. And it won’t make you a champion if you are someone who never takes responsibility for anything. But choosing to be fit and healthy will make every seemingly catastrophic event easier to manage and it will certainly provide you some peace in knowing that of all the things you just can’t seem to control your weight and overall fitness isn’t one of those things. If you have fully arrived at your potential or goal you can awaken miserable or happy, sad or upbeat, broke or wealthy and you’ll have one thing to feel good about and not worry incessantly over–your fitness, body or health. There is no “should” to this conversation. You don’t have to lose a single pound from here on out. You don’t have to do anything for that matter. It’s all about choice. You choose your next meal. Therefore you choose the body you wear as a result. “I see what you mean. Man I never thought of all of this this way. Thank you.”