Last week, my coworker walked over to my desk to talk about her New Year’s resolutions. She said she wanted to study for the GMAT, the U.S. entrance exam for business school required to take her career to the next level — and also lose weight. But she felt she could only tackle one of those at a time, and she had to choose one to focus on.
Well…guess which one is going on the back burner. It was plain to see that she had already made up her mind: 2018 would be dedicated to losing weight, and her business school ambitions would just have to wait. To a chorus of “good for you”s from other coworkers, the stage was set.
In our size-obsessed culture, it’s considered perfectly normal, even admirable, to put off your biggest dreams until you get smaller.
When you resolve to lose weight, you’re not just resolving to lose weight. You’re putting the rest of your life on hold. Weight loss is time-consuming. It depletes your mental, physical and emotional reserves, leaving you without much to give other aspects of your life.
Many women share the difficulties they face with the career vs. motherhood quandary, but I wish we’d speak more honestly about the career vs. weight loss quandary. It breaks my heart that women, in particular, tend to be so vulnerable to the pressures of weight-loss propaganda, and we sacrifice career focus to chase an arbitrary number on the scale.
Studying for business school won’t get any easier as the years pass, but at the end of it all you’ll have the advanced degree that your career growth requires. Weight loss won’t get any easier as the years pass, either, but at the end of it all you’ll have……an even harder time maintaining your new weight. The more you try to lose weight, the harder your body will fight to hold onto it. The more you restrict foods, the worse your binge eating episodes will become.
It kind of reminds me of the difference between mortgage debt and credit card debt. With a mortgage, if you keep taking baby steps and making those minimum payments every month, eventually you will own your home — a home that you’ve been building a life in all these years. But with revolving debt, you keep taking those baby steps and making those minimum payments, but your debt just keeps growing and growing.
Either way, the years will pass. But you get to choose how to invest your time along the way. It’s 2018. Let’s dream bigger than diets.