Every year when Independence Day rolls around, I’m reminded as much of my own individual independence as I am of the country’s. And both are worth celebrating.

It was years (and years!) ago when a friend of mine was having a July 4th picnic and barbecue at her lake house. There were lots of people there and everyone was encouraged to bring a food dish of some kind. I probably don’t have to tell you that virtually every dish there was not diet friendly. Even the fruit salad had been “goosed” with marshmallows, whipped cream and other sugary additives. This was to say nothing of all the other foods that were available.

After topping out at over 450 pounds and finally realizing I had to just stop eating so much, I had been on my new, healthier eating plan since March of that same year. So here I was at this July 4th picnic — roughly 4 months later. And while I’d had great success so far, I still wasn’t secure enough to go off my diet for a day — or even for a meal. Thus, along with the healthy salad dish I’d brought to share, I had also brought my own picnic lunch to the get together. But once there — and once surrounded by all the tempting smells and visuals — I felt overwhelmed.

I mentioned something about my eating insecurities to the party’s host, who admittedly had her hands full. Although a very good friend (and therefore very familiar with my years-long plight to lose weight), she dismissed my insecurities in a very curt fashion. And hey, she had every right to do so. But I had every right to do what I did next.

I found the friend I came with and asked her if she would mind leaving the party (even though we’d just arrived 15 minutes earlier). She was game. Thus, we “snuck out” as to not disturb any other guests and ended up going to a movie. My friend ate popcorn. I ate my little lunch I’d brought. And guess what? It was one of the best “4th of July Picnics” I’ve ever been on. And it was also a real turning point in regard to my feeling more and more confidant that this time I was finally going to take off all the excess weight once and for all. I had put myself and my needs (in regard to health) first.

Now, loyal readers of this blog know that I’m always reminding you (and myself) that we didn’t get fat from one cookie — or even one meal. And I suggest never cutting out every single treat from our lives (mainly because it’s the on/off cycle that teaches us to cheat). So I’m not saying it’s not okay to enjoy a 4th of July picnic (or other special meal) in a balanced and moderate fashion. But sometimes we know that a taste of a certain something just might trigger a binge — and therefore we decide to go without… And there are times that will mean taking ourselves out of (potential) harm’s way. Had I not left the 4th of July picnic, I might have eaten something I didn’t want to and that might have wrecked all of my efforts (and success) I’d attained during the previous 4 months.

I will admit that my friend (the party’s host) was miffed that I left the party. And I understand her feelings. But I also understand mine. And yes, me and that friend are fine to this day, friendship-wise.

Looking back, declaring a little independence was something I needed to do to prove to myself that this time I was really serious about not only taking the weight off, but keeping it off. By March of the following year, I’d shed almost all of the excess 250+ pounds that I needed to lose. And after some yo-yo-ing, as I got used to eating “normal” (whatever that is), I have kept those excess 250+ pounds off for over a decade. And if that isn’t worth waving a flag over, I don’t know what is.

Have you ever had a situation where you had to choose your sanity (or your diet) over a social occasion or (even more challenging) a friendship? Do tell!

Photo Source: Time and Date

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2 Responses to “Declare your independence”

  1. Eve says:

    I love this post, Gregg, because you tied two very important concepts together for me — triggers and independence. Many times have I been doing pretty well dieting on my own, when I have been invited to go somewhere with non-dieting friends that involves rich, creamy, dreamy, delicious foods that, of course, go straight to my already wide hips. Just seeing them makes me lose all perspective. Immediately I forget that I’ve been doing well and the reasonable part of my brain is overwhelmed by the part of my brain that wants to gorge. All those rich, gooey, cheesy full-fat appetizers? I eat them without thinking. Share the chips and dip with everyone else? Of course I will! This is why I so admired that you had the strength to “declare your independence” of this kind of bad pattern and remove yourself from a situation that could have led – had you succumbed to temptation – to a whole lot of self-loathing and recrimination the next day. This is bravery when trying to lose weight (or change any bad habit). Thakn you for always being full of inspiration!

  2. Gregg says:

    Thanks for your kind words, Eve. They are appreciated. And believe me, I can relate to EVERYTHING you’re going through. Proof? I started drooling while reading what you wrote about appetizers. LOL! And more seriously (although drooling should always be taken seriously), I share these blogposts not only to hopefully inspire others, but also to remind myself what’s important (my health) and that sometimes achieving or maintaining that can sometimes involve uncomfortable decisions. But at the end of the day (whether it’s the 4th of July or not), we need to take care of ourselves. Momentary sit-outs (of tempting situations) can result in lasting success. True friends will understand this and, perhaps, even plan events that don’t involved “Rich, creamy, dreamy, delicious food.” 🙂 Again, you had me at “Hello.” Or at “Chips and dip” at any rate! <3

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