“How do you find hope?  How do you let yourself believe that, this time, things will be different?”

I’ve had several conversations on this question, or variations of this question, over the past few months.  I know a few people who are also struggling with weight loss, and who aren’t having the same success I’ve had so far, and something like this comes up.  They’re frustrated because they’ve lost twenty pounds, then found those twenty pounds along with a few more, and then lost them again, and so on and so forth.  That frustration gets them feeling hopeless, like they’ll never succeed.

I… don’t have a solid answer for that.  I certainly understand where that question is coming from, because I’ve also tried to lose weight multiple times in the past.  I didn’t try very hard, mind, but I tried.  And I’d lose a few pounds, five or ten, and then I’d just put it back on with interest.  So, when I started this time, back in July last year, I didn’t really believe it would be any different.  I even wrote about that, extensively.

What made it work?  What made me believe it would work, this time?  I still don’t know.  I just know that, when I started, I knew I had to make it work.  Because I ached, and my blood pressure was ludicrously high, and I couldn’t keep up with my son or easily spend time with my wife or do anything else I wanted to do.  Because I was afraid I’d go blind, or have a heart attack if I didn’t.

There was certainly no hope in me, when I started.  Just an awareness that it was possible to succeed, if I cut back on my calorie intake and exercised.  And I very nearly gave up, several times.  Because, especially at the beginning, it was really, really hard to keep going.  But my wife encouraged me, and my friends encouraged me, and I kept at it.

Hope… well, hope evolved.  The first time I weighed in after I started, and discovered I’d lost 19 pounds.  That gave me a little hope.  Realizing I’d lost forty pounds, that gave me more.  Realizing I could climb a flight of stairs and not want to die, that gave me hope.  And so, slowly, I’ve come to believe that hope isn’t something that you need to have to get started.  It’s something that grows from small successes, as you work.  It’s nurtured in little changes, in daily evidence that things are getting better.

You don’t find hope, I think.  You grow it.


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