Thursday, June 23, 2011

Identity overhaul vs. trying things out

I recently read a post by Suyin Nichols (one of the weight-loss teachers in "The Inner Weigh," which I keep meaning to review but haven't so far) about cutting her hair short and making the decision to stop dyeing it. I love her new 'do, but something about the post struck me as a little odd. Both before and after the decision, she seemed to identify very deeply with her decision to either dye or not dye her hair and to wear it long or short.  (Maybe I'm sensitive because I have long dark hair that is helped along with professionally-done color every 4-5 weeks. No stained towels for me.) I wondered if she might feel pressured to keep her new hairstyle even if she decided it wasn't her after a few months because she had made the decision into such a statement about who she was.

I  think I especially noticed this because I do this all the time, I think it's natural to do it. We come across something new and we decide, "This is who I'm going to be now! The No-More-Clutter Girl or the Vegan Warrior or the Weight Watchers Wonder Woman. This is the person I always should have been! I will never be anything else!" And then we sheepishly realize we can't throw away our high-school yearbook or get a craving for a BLT or decide that counting PointsPlus Values makes our teeth hurt. And then we have to come up with a new person to be so we're not just a failure at whatever we just announced we were.

I had a college friend who was especially notorious for evangelizing her new obsession, whether it was Aikido or do-it-yourself group therapy or the Atkins diet. If you made the mistake of joining her in her new kick, it wouldn't be long before you were going to Aikido classes by yourself, because she would be on to her Next Big Thing. But here I am writing a blog where I have publicly declared my wonderful reasons for being "on" and "off" Weight Watchers a dozen times, and gushed about a lot of other things that have since fallen by the wayside.

I think I'm going to take a cue from Peter Walsh's interview with Koren Motekaitis (my latest podcast find). He says to "commit to something fully and re-evaluate in six months." I am with Koren, who said that six months is probably too long, so she commits to a week or two at a time.

I'm hoping that if I take the attitude of trying things out to see how they work for me instead of dramatically altering my identity to fit the new thing I'm doing, I might be more successful.  For example, instead of striving to get to the "goal" weight where I will finally be able to be my "real self," why not try out the lifestyle of the thinner person I want to become (thanks Russ & Jeff) and see if it works for me? When I lose weight, I don't have to declare the "old me" dead and change who I am. I can see if I like the new weight and see what parts of my life I want to change and what parts are fine the way they are. Maybe starting to think this way will keep me from sabotaging myself so much.

1 comment:

  1. Trying out the lifestyle of where you want to be is good advice. How is it different from where you are now, other than the weight part?


"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07