The dress was a topic of conversation again at a meeting of my weight loss group this week. THE dress is a dress that one of the women had purchased in a smaller size, thinking that she would diet herself into it by her son’s wedding day.
“Mother of the Groom” pressure motivated her to find our little group, and we heard her anxious hopes for a body to fit the dress by the day. Week by week, we all felt her stress. And week by week, she lost weight, but not fast enough – at least not fast enough for the dress to fit in time.
Still, as time went by she started to laugh a little more at her “dilemma”. It began to seem a little less important each week. It helped that a couple of women in the group shared stories of their own weddings. They told about similar self-conscious worries beforehand – fears that exposed arms or extra inches of flesh would overshadow the joy of their day. Their message: “You will not even think about it. You will have a wonderful time and everyone will think you look beautiful.”
We discussed how important it is to be comfortable (enough) today to stay positive (enough) to change with time. How counterintuitive that is! “How can I change if I am comfortable with myself?” is the obvious question, yet without acceptance of the current situation, the positive attitude needed for improvement is next to impossible.
After a couple of months of this, a surprising thing happened. Floating into the room on a cloud of enthusiasm, the Mother of the Groom announced, “I bought a new dress . . . and I like it better than the other one!”
A few weeks later, she watched her son get married. She reported feeling “beautiful”. She had lost a little weight, but we could all see that the size of her dress was not what gave her that little extra glow. It was her acceptance of herself at that moment – and the release of all the stress that the dress represented.
I watch too many women struggle with weight loss because of similar negative motivators. Do you have your own “dress” that just keeps reminding you of how far you have to go to be thin enough (or good enough)? It may not even be a piece of clothing, although that is a common one.
It could be a picture of a perfect body you put on your refrigerator. In either case, it is just a big fat reminder of how far you have to go to get to where you want to be. In other words, it is a visual “in your face” that emphasizes the disparity between reality and expectations. That is a pretty good definition of stress. . . and stress is a pretty good way to derail your progress.