The Power of Words

The mission of Fitegic Planner’s blog is share with – and learn from -others. Fitegic Planning is a system you create and, when put into place, is your personalized weight loss tool – not only lose weight, but to sustain a life-long healthy weight in the real world you live in.

The power of words is amazing.

The words we hear others speak to us, the words we speak to ourselves, can inspire us – or they can tear us down.

 

This is a story of how a single sentence from the mouth of someone I didn’t even know changed my life over 30 years ago.

One little sentence.

I’m sure that person has absolutely no idea what their words meant to me.  How they inspired me, motivated me.  I’m sure they don’t know that they still ring true in my mind – that I quite often go back in time to listen to them again and again when I feel stymied, paralyzed, lesser-than, lethargic, and just want to give up.

Here’s the story of the eight little words that have kept me going:

My last known weight before I committed to get healthy was 215 pounds.  I’m 5’2″.  The only reason I’d even stepped on a scale was because I worked at a clinic and came down with a very nasty case of what they then called “Swine Flu”.  One of the docs literally grabbed me as I was walking down the hall, said I was too sick to work, and he was going to examine me.  What he didn’t tell me was that he was also taking this opportunity to run a few extra labs – not to mention the getting me on the scale part.

I’d closed my eyes – but that damn Thinnie Minnie nurse said it out loud – 215.

I got sent home that day and spent the next several days recovering.  When I returned to work this same doc called me into his office.  I thought he just wanted to see how I was doing.  I was wrong.  What he wanted was to give me the results of the lab tests he’d snuck by me.

Speaking of the power of words, you would have thought that what that doctor said to me would have been enough to change my life:

“Your lab results are those of an unhealthy, grossly overweight, old man.  You need to lose weight.”

He meant well, he was a really nice guy who had my best interests at heart I have no doubt.  But he was not only a doctor, but also a very fit runner – all of which were quite above me, things I thought I could never, ever hope to be.

All I felt when he spoke those words was shame.  And that same shame fed my urge to eat (and eat).  It was the same shame that had driven me from a skinny little kid to a 21 year old with the lab results of a heart attack waiting to happen.

I don’t know what my highest weight was – but I do know I got fatter.

Jump to two years later:

The incident of not being able to help my four-year-old down from a tree (here’s the post about how that became a “meaningful why”) led to my taking a daily morning walk around a local lake which was also frequented by runners.  And I’m talking the real thing.  I wouldn’t have been surprised to see the same doctor who’d described me as an unhealthy old man flying by.

I pat myself on the back now for sticking with it even though all I felt on those walks at the time was shame.  I did not belong out there with all those fit, fast, skinny people.  I could easily avoid the gaze of those who ran past me from behind – and just looked down when confronted when someone came running towards me.

I didn’t want to be seen.  I wanted to be invisible.  I have come to learn that in some strange and convoluted way that my layers of fat did that for me – gave me the sense of being invisible because very few people want to have a close relationship with a fat person.

And then it happened.

It was a bad morning.  Very bad.  I had no idea what I weighed, or if all this walking and learning how much and what to eat was working at all.  I’d been religious about it and was walking daily about 4 miles for a month or so.  I didn’t have a full length mirror in my home – but, from what I could tell from the little mirror over the sink in my little bathroom, nothing much had changed.  I was still fat – very fat.

I can still remember after all these years the fight I had with myself to get into the car, drive to the lake, get out in front of all those people, and start walking.  I still felt stupid and ridiculous out there in my Bermuda’s while the “real people” wore those now silly late 70’s running shorts.  Why was I even trying?  I was never going to become one of “them”.

But I went.  I was so lost in my depressed reverie of worthlessness I didn’t notice him coming towards me.  To my horror I found myself staring right into the face of a very good-looking, in terrific shape, male type runner.  Of course I’d seen him from a distance many times – always averting my gaze as he ran by me.

I felt like a deer in the headlights just waiting to get hit.

And then he said it, and said it with both a smile and a wave – like I belonged there on that running trail.  As if I was one of “them”:

“Either you’re getting faster – or I’m getting slower!”

He couldn’t possibly be getting slower, I thought.  Which could only mean that I was getting faster.  It was working – I was progressing, getting better at it – and someone had NOTICED!

I actually felt proud of myself.

When he first spoke them, his words had the power to quicken my step even more.  I also wanted to find out if he was right – so I started timing myself which, of course, spurred me on to get even better times.

One day, and I will never forget how exhilarating it felt – my body just stopped walking and instead broke out into a run.

I wasn’t just one of “them” – it was ME running!!

So now you know why I hold onto the words that kind man spoke to me that fine day.  And now you know why it is that I hold these words as a precious source of inspiration and motivation to this very day.

Most of all, I hope you now know how powerful words are.  How important it is to be careful with our words to others – and how important it is what words we use when we speak to ourselves.


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