Oh the straws I’ve desperately clutched at over the years in an effort to transform from fat to thin: liquid fasts, prepackaged food, the unwavering elimination of villainous carbohydrates, writing my meals out a day in advance and reciting the list to my Overeaters Anonymous sponsor. Anything imaginative, humiliating, cunning, and illogical – I’ve done it.
And then there was the celebrity advice I sought and paid for in the form of workout videos or the “How to Be As Fabulous as I Am” advice-laden memoir. Here’s a short list of celebrities whose svelteness and (seemingly) flawless lives I sought to emulate: Brooke Shields, Cindy Crawford, Cher, Linda Evans, Joan Collins, Suzanne Somers, Raquel Welch, and Victoria Principle.
We all know how crystal-clear the accuracy of hindsight is, so I have no problem admitting that the infinity wheel of obsessive searching was really in the name of avoidance. What better way to sidestep my own life and the pain that drove me to destruction than to shut my eyes, click my heels three times and pray that a magic wand would rearrange the details of my life to resemble Cher’s? Memorizing the skincare regimine and eating habits of a movie star did little to heal the throbbing core that I kept protected with trance-eating and the ensuing wall of fat.
Notice all the stars I mentioned above did their advice-peddling in the 80’s and 90’s? You might have guessed already, but I eventually stopped looking to an outside authority for help and realized I had to rescue myself. No one else was going to do it. So you could call the 20 years I spent at 300 lbs. + a vision quest of sorts. Burnt out by dieting and unable to do it even casually, I abandoned restriction in favor of unmitigated indulgence. But I needed to…for a variety of reasons. For the fat kid who was shamed by her mother for wanting more than the tiny portions she doled out at dinner. For the awkward, heavyset teenaged girl who grew up hearing women refer to themselves as ‘disgusting’ or ‘pigs’ just because they had eaten something they enjoyed. And for the outraged woman of size who couldn’t for the life of her reconcile the vitriol aimed in her direction simply because of her dress size. Let’s see…had I stolen anyone’s money…molested anyone’s children…murdered anyone in cold blood? Nope. Therefore, after finally taking a step back from the ridiculousness, I found the answer to freeing myself of the labels. Oh, the masses still had their opinions of me…it’s just that I no longer agreed with them. And that is where and when the true healing began.
The story very could have ended there: the cowering fat girl sheds her shame and learns to be proud of who she is. That’s where I thought the theme of my life would conclude. It was a pretty good ending as far as I was concerned.
But Life had other ideas. Probably because its infinite wisdom knew all along I wasn’t really happy (from a physical perspective) weighing 345 lbs. Getting winded walking half the length of my neighborhood mall, not fitting into airplane seats, and wearing black every single day of the year didn’t make me a bad person, but they’re undeniable joy-killers.
And just like the spiritual adept who, after years of steady practice, is ready for the next level of enlightenment and suddenly finds the perfect guru in her path to take her there, I was given a guru. And what a doozy it was!
Could there be a more whimsically odd pairing than a writer and a wrestler? Diamond Dallas Page turned out to the be the polaric opposite of me in every way…and that was a very good thing. With him, there was no bargaining. If I wanted his mentorship, the price of admission was to do his DDPYOGA workouts regularly and eat sensibly. He gave me a few do’s and don’t’s, but DDP was wise enough to understand the necessity of eating plans being as individual as the fingerprint.
DDP and my other fantastic mentor, Terri Lange, were there for me…but only if I was there for me. And I was…ready to undertake the final leg of my healing – the physical part. Long ago I realized it was a mistake to try and get my weight in order and THEN work on my core problems. It just doesn’t work that way. And that’s a tough pill to swallow in this fat-phobic society.
This approach is the only thing that has worked for me long-term. I’m a veteran of lots of ‘little’ dieting attempts, plus two devastating 100-lb. regains. As hokey as this may sound, there is something both magical and solidly real about DDPYOGA. It changes one from the inside out. It simply is not an ordinary workout. And it comes with an infallible community of support via fellow members. I’ve made and continue to make wonderful, heart-expanding friendships and connections because of it. But best of all, my story is becoming more and more typical. DDP’s the first to cringe at the suggestion that he has a magic answer. That’s only half true. If you’re ready to meet yourself halfway, and keep trying even when fall down, you’ve got a legitimate shot at a transformed body, mind, and life.
The video below, made by the uber-talented Steve Yu, is no infomercial for DDPYOGA (though there is one on the market now). This is just a collection of before and after photos from ordinary Americans like me, who have realized there’s so much more to life than a bag of potato chips, remote control, and a couch.