Dealing With the (Overweight) Elephant in the Room

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Teresa Shields Parker
Teresa Shields Parker before and after losing 260 lbs. without dieting. (Teresa Shields Parker)

I watched a YouTube video the other day of a full-grown elephant strolling into a couple's backyard and schnozzeling up water out of their swimming pool. Then she casually strolled away like this was her normal routine.

To those taking the video this was not a normal day. There was an elephant in their back yard!

Today, I got an email from a woman I know. Even though her question deals with an elephant, it is similar to the ones people ask me all the time. Though I can't answer every email I receive, I'm answering this one in public because I think many will benefit.

Here's her question: "What brought you to the place of making real changes to get free of the elephant in the room? I know from reading your book you struggled with coming to that place of, 'Today, I will do this. I will deal with the truth of being unhealthy.'"

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The idea of the elephant in the room is an interesting one. To whom or what does the elephant refer? When we answer that question, we may be able to get at the truth. So, let's go on an elephant hunt.

I Am the Elephant

We have met the elephant, and she is us. If we are overweight or obese and beyond, we think the elephant refers to us.

Every Sunday when I walked in the door of my church, I would automatically look around to see if I was the largest person in the room. If I was, I would cower as far back as I could. I didn't want my elephant size to be too overwhelming.

I truly hated being the largest person in the room. If there was even one person larger than me, I'd breathe a sigh of relief. Since losing weight, I know that most folk don't look around to see who the largest person is in the room. Most don't even notice.

Size is irrelevant to most. It's definitely more noticeable to us than others. We are the ones who have to live with ourselves. We know the difficulties our size brings.

If anything I find people are more considerate than accusatory. They are concerned for our health. They would genuinely like to help, but are afraid to for fear of making us angry.

She Is the Elephant

Someone else is the elephant. Someone made us angry, hurt our feelings, abused us, gossiped about us, hurt us physically, snubbed us, told lies about us, left us, fed us unhealthy food or didn't love us.

There could be any number of reasons we blame someone else for our weight gain. What they did seems like a difficulty that looms so large we cannot see around it nor can we get through it. So we stay stuck and we eat.

The reasons we turn to food can be many and varied. The truth is everyone has difficulties, but not everyone chooses to go to food to solve their problems.

This elephant remains in the room because we choose to keep it there. We feed it by rehearsing our victim status. It's easier to be a victim than a victor. It's easier to blame our pet elephant than ourselves.

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