I’m pretty confident I’m not the only American who battles their weight. In fact, I bet most of us do. Recently I’ve been poking around a community of people trying to lose weight on a website called Reddit. The community is called LoseIt, and while I don’t wade into the conversation much because my own struggles pale in comparison to some, I do read it every now and then. I do it partly to be encouraged, partly to encourage others, and partly just because it’s interesting.
Chickpastor and I were talking the other day about weight loss and LoseIt (over breakfast, no less), and we realized that we had made the same observation. That observation was that for most people trying to lose weight, the first option was usually exercise. It seems to be our default. We all seem to think that we should work our way to weight gain. It makes sense. After all, we’re Americans. We’ve been raised to believe that we can achieve anything through hard work. We apply this to everything: jobs, school, weight loss, relationships. Just work harder, we’re told, and you can have everything you want.
But we have both found that weight loss doesn’t work that way, and most of the folks on LoseIt agree. Exercise alone was not enough for either of us to lose weight. We have both had to reduce our calories. The pace of that decline is such that by the time we’re sixty lunch will be two carrot sticks and an apple. Nonetheless, that was the only way either of us could do it. We couldn’t work harder and lose weight. We had to eat less. We had to take things away.
This doesn’t seem very American to me. If I just work hard enough, I should have want what I want, when I want it. Of course I want to be super skinny and have chickens wings for dinner and chocolate cake every night. But I can’t anymore. I just can’t. I can’t work hard enough to have it all. I can be skinny, or I can eat a lot of chicken wings and cake. It’s simple, but it’s hard, and it’s harder than hard work. It’s harder to give up things I love than it is to work a little extra. But that’s what I’ve had to do. Whether it’s weight loss, or relationships, or work, or school, sometimes we need to give up good things if we want something better. No matter how hard I work, I can’t have everything, and that’s the hardest part of all.