The Goal is the Process

Jan 27, 2011
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When it comes to weight loss, nothing fits.  I’m not talking about my old clothes, though it’s true enough that they hang in my closet like silent jurors, pronouncing me guilty of being overweight by their mere presence.  I’m talking about all the resources that are available now to help people who struggle with obesity.  I am one of those people, and nothing fits.  Nothing fits because I am also a person with a disability.  I have spastic cerebral palsy and use a power wheelchair.

I’m told there are a lot of us, and why shouldn’t there be?  Activity comes hard to people with mobility impairments, and eating may be one of the few physical pleasures we know.  So why have I felt like the only person with a disability in America who’s trying to lose weight for the last two years?  Why have I felt so discouraged on this journey?  Largely because none of the resources I see take my body into account, and many truths about weight loss are bad news for anyone with my limitations.

I can’t go on Biggest Loser or something similar because I can’t do the exercises they do. Sometimes the activities I can do aggravate other medical issues.  Weightwatchers is problematic because their scales are inaccessible, their point system assumes that a ten minute walk takes almost no energy, and I lose five pounds in three months if I’m lucky.  Accessibility and inclusion issues aside, there is also the biological reality that weight loss increases with the movement of large muscles.  In other words, you lose more weight moving your legs than you do moving your arms.  I can’t move my legs, so my attempt to be healthy is apparently doomed to failure.  Unless. . .

Unless I redefine success.  What if success wasn’t just about the numbers?  What if it was about choices, about a process I choose to engage in; not an outcome I can’t control?  If my goal is not weight loss but making healthy choices, I can do that!  I can choose to eat fruit instead of candy; to drink water instead of Coke.    Healthy living is a process which includes but is not limited to weight management.  Yes it would be easier without my disability, but that doesn’t mean I can’t succeed.  If the goal is the process, then every healthy choice I make—from getting up in the morning to eating a piece of fruit—counts, whether or not I get the results I hope for.  Maybe knowing that can change this from a discouraging journey to one I can celebrate!

Author: Mary Stainton

  • Jenna Feldman

    I absolutely agree that healthy living is NOT about numbers. It’s not about counting calories, the number of your clothing size, or numbers on a scale. I would argue it’s not even about how you look in the mirror. It’s about daily choices, and the results can be measured in how you feel! This is a wonderful post, thanks NCPAD!!

  • sbonne2

    Love this post, I agree with everything you said. It also makes me want to start a movement to get programs like Weight Watchers and Biggest Loser to be more inclusive and incorporate changes in their clientele, instruments, and point systems that can benefit a wider variety of people. It can be done and can be hugely beneficial, we just have to make THEM see that.

  • Christine

    Great post! Keep your focus on the healthy lifestyle and making healthy dietary choices and the weight loss will follow!

  • Caitlin J. Perry