Quests for better health can be a lonely process, but they don't have to be.
Every time I have failed at getting healthy it's because I made the process a secret. I was so ashamed that I even had to put myself through such drastic change to my exercise and diet that I didn't want to let anyone see me at my most vulnerable. I also removed a lot of the things I liked from my life under the pretense that "old me" was broken. I stopped playing video games because I connected them to binge eating and constant snacking. I stopped going to movies because I didn't feel like I could go and not eat candy. I stopped going out to dinner with friends because I hated the idea of not being able to partake in what other people were eating. My social life dwindled into near non-existence with very few exceptions. I'm an only child and I'm used to being on my own- it's even comfortable for me, but when I stopped hanging out with my friends as much, I really lost my perspective on my place in the world and began letting some of the negativity that can be a part of a challenging physical process take over in a very damaging way.
"I'm too fat to even exercise like a normal person."
"I didn't lose as much weight as I wanted to this week."
"I've lost a ton of weight but I'm still gigantic. It'll never be enough."
"Food is bad. Food is the enemy."
"I love food. I miss food."
"Why even try? This is impossible. It's going to take over a year to lose all this weight anyways."
"I hate myself."
I didn't have any friends around to snap me out of my downward spiral because in my version of "focusing" on my health, I had to shut them out until I was worthy to be a part of the world in all my unattainable skinny splendor.
This method of getting healthy wasn't healthy at all, let alone the fact that it was completely unsustainable. I would habitually push myself till I broke and then binge eat all the weight back on. I was afraid the doctor, of scales, of anything that would make me face what I was putting myself through. I went through long periods of trying to eat less than 600 calories a day with my hair falling out in droves every time I showered. I can remember hating myself for "binging" on five chicken fingers after I lost my willpower to stick to that malnourished diet and sticking my fingers down my throat for the first time to erase the mistake.
If I had been brave enough to face the world and to let my friends see what was going on, I probably would have gotten the help I needed a lot sooner and I would have had people to set me straight and support me as I picked myself up and got back to being healthy.
My point is that you need at least one person aside from yourself that you can be accountable to. You're going on a long quest and you need your Fellowship so you can toss your fat into the fires of Mount Doom! Your Fellowship should be people you trust. They should be people you see in person often and I would venture that you might want to make sure that some of them know a little bit about health and fitness, though that's not essential. The biggest factor is that they should love you unconditionally and you should feel comfortable succeeding and failing in front of them. These are people who you should chat with regularly about your process. They should make you want to develop your fitness around what you love in your life instead of shutting all the joy out till the turkey's done and ready to come out of the oven. Your Fellowship is there to reflect all the positive stuff back at you, help you find new ways to enjoy the healthier you, and speak up if it seems like you're derailing your progress somehow.
The next level isn't for everyone, but I've found it very rewarding to use social media like Facebook, Twitter, and this blog (SURPRISE!) to share my trials, tribulations, progress, and goals. It makes me feel good when someone I haven't seen in a while makes a comment about how great I look or when someone whose fitness regime I've always admired shares some great advice.
I'm not ashamed of what I'm doing anymore. I love it- and not just for the end goal, but because it's brought me closer to the people in my life, expanded my interests, and allowed me to participate in the things I love in ways I didn't think were possible before. I'm getting out and running three times a week (something I thought I'd never do!). I'm taking two or three yoga classes a week and today I caught myself in the mirror during the class and realized how graceful I'd become. Me? Graceful! INCONCEIVABLE! I get excited when I'm about to debut a costume instead of nervous about how I'm going to look next to everyone else. I treat myself to the special indulgences when I'm out with friends without going overboard because I've learned how!
None of those breakthroughs would have been possible without my Fellowship. I'm sort of tearing up thinking about it because I'm super sappy and I don't even think they know how much it means that I've been able to bypass the pain and suffering I put myself through in the past in order to make real progress that will last my whole life all because they supported me through this quest. So if you're reading this, you know who you are. Thank you!