Back when I was in high school and college, I loved self-help books. They helped me figure out who I wanted to be, where I was going to go, and how I wanted to get there. One of the books I read was a book that was hugely popular at the time, Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
The aspect of the book that made the biggest impression on me was the discussion about personal integrity. Maybe it was because my dad often talked about the importance of integrity and pointed out ways that people disregarded it. Whatever the reason, everything Covey said about it made a lot of sense to me, and I really internalized the notion that integrity is key to successful relationships – not just with others, but with ourselves.
I’ve been overweight since I was about eight years old, when we moved in with my grandmother for a year to an area where I didn’t have any friends and got quite lonely. I learned to quash my feelings by eating, and that tendency got worse over the years. About ten years ago, I realized the connection between my emotions and food and since then, I’ve worked hard to break it.
In the last 25 years, I’ve been on dozens of diets and tried to lose weight countless times. Sometimes I succeeded, but it was always temporary, because my emotions would get the better of me and I’d start eating again. But now, I’m finally at a place where that doesn’t (usually) happen.
And this is where my personal integrity kicks in. During my teens and twenties, I hated myself for not being able to lose weight. I thought it made me a bad person. When I finally understood the connection between my emotions and food, I was able to be kinder to myself but I still felt out of control. But now that I am no longer hostage to my emotions (or to food), I know that failing at Weight Watchers would be a devastating blow to my personal integrity.
It’s not so much about the numbers on the scale as it is about the effort I give it. If I try my absolute best to lose weight and it doesn’t happen, I have nothing to feel bad about. (I will, however, head straight for my doctor for some tests.) On the other hand, if I slack off simply because I lack commitment, then I’ll feel terrible about breaking a promise I’ve made to myself.
I’ve been on Weight Watchers for four weeks now and I’m determined to succeed. The number on the scale is heading in the right direction, which is definitely rewarding. But the boost in self-confidence and self-worth that I get from keeping my promise to myself is even more rewarding than that.