Last night, when my husband Larry took the dogs outside for their last romp of the day, big, hairy, passive, lovable Cooper – our flat-coated retriever – brought along his little stuffed hedgehog squeaky toy. Larry was feeling better (he caught the bug shortly after me) so he was happy to throw a few rounds with his favorite dog.
There are no lights that shine in our backyard at night. The back porch light only goes as far as the edge of the deck. Larry threw the hedgehog into the dark backyard and our black dog went chasing after it. A few seconds later, Cooper returned with what Larry thought was the hedgehog, and they began to play tug of war, as they always do.
Before long, Larry thought, Gee, this is much bigger than his hedgehog. Warmer, too. That’s when he realized Cooper had brought him a dead possum! Not only a dead possum, but a possum Cooper killed with one bite to the neck, all within a few moments in the dark. Cooper made no sounds and the possum probably didn’t know what hit him.
Larry wrapped the body in bags and put it out with the garbage and tried to wash the ooginess off his hands when he came in. But all the while he kept shaking his head and saying, “I can’t believe Cooper did that!”
We nicknamed Cooper “Killer.”
I don’t believe Cooper killed the possum for the thrill of killing something. Perhaps he was following some latent instinct, but my guess is he confused the possum for his hedgehog and grabbed it before he realized it wasn’t his squeaky toy. Either way, Cooper did something he’d never done before. And unlike the other two dogs who got spooked and ran away into the house, Cooper didn’t drop the possum and run away. He brought it to Larry in hopes they’d continue their game.
In hopes that I’m not stretching the analogy too far, successful weight loss is like accidentally killing a possum. You run into the darkness to retrieve what you think is your goal only to come back with something unexpected.
I am a product of New Year’s Resolution 2005: sh*t or get off the pot. I decided Jan. 1 I was going to lose weight and weigh 190 pounds again. 190 was a weight that felt familiar, a weight that made me feel less insecure and more emotionally available to the outside world. To go any lower would be futile since all the other times I’d gone below 190 before I just bounced right back up in a matter of months, so it was (emotionally) safer to settle for 190.
But a funny thing happened when I ran into that weight-loss darkness (for the gabillionth time). Somewhere between 300 and 190, I learned to *gasp* trust myself and trust in time. I developed *double gasp* instincts. I *in a near faint* began to love the person losing weight and committed to doing everything I could to protect her.
I surprised a lot of people when I kept going down the scale, past the familiar 190 pounds when people started saying, “You’re not going to lose any MORE are you?” And I’ve surprised a lot of people now that two years later, I haven’t gained anything back. I surprised a lot of people, namely me, when I killed that proverbial possum of a goal and came back with so much more. Something more than settling for the same old familiar fears and insecurities.
If you’re making a resolution to lose weight in 2009, be bold, be fearless. Run into that darkness and find what you’re really made of. Resolve NOT to revert back to old thinking and old strategies. Resolve to trust yourself. Resolve to trust time. (Newsflash: weight loss doesn’t happen overnight. One pound lost in two weeks is one less pound you have to lose the rest of your life. Or, to put it another way, you can’t lose ten., twenty or a hundred pounds unless you lose the first one.)
Resolve to do something you’ve never done before.