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Beating Kevin

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Today, my Weight Watcher leader asked our meeting: what was your motivation for coming to Weight Watchers? And she added: how has your motivation changed since you started Weight Watchers? This was a surprisingly hard question to answer. Why do I keep coming? My meeting is on Tuesdays, my days off. Wouldn't I rather have a calm quiet morning at home? I do love my group, but haven't I learned what I need to learn?

So I had to time travel to remember what 16 year old Dahlia felt like when she first stepped foot in Weight Watchers. I was sweet and friendly. Obviously, I was overweight. I was not overly ambitious and I didn't think I was very smart or capable. My self worth was low.

Many of us have stories of being bullied as kids for being fat. In 5th grade, the nurse was weighing each of us and checking our hearing. You remember those tests where you had to raise your hand when you heard that ping? Anyway, nurses did this terrible thing where they said your weight out loud in front of other kids.  I dreaded this every year. When it was my turn, she announced in front of my group that I weighed 110 (as a 9 year old). One schmuck made sure to tell the other kids who weren't there and I instantly felt ashamed. I continued to feel that shame until my 2nd weigh in at Weight Watchers. This time the woman who weighed me in said only to me after my first week on program: "You have lost 8 pounds." I couldn't help but cry.

I kept going to meetings. I gained incredible tools and losing weight just felt good. But something else happened. I began to love myself. Really think the world of myself. I had suddenly proven that Dahlia Bernstein was strong and successful at something. I would wake up in the morning and I couldn't wait to be me. And that was so different from how I felt before when I was envious of everyone else and thought that there was something inherently wrong with me.

I had transformed. I think of it like Jacob in the Torah who wrestled with the angel. They physically fought and Jacob limped the rest of his life as proof that he had struggled.  While I do not walk with a limp, I have the stretch marks to show how hard I have worked. After the struggle, Jacob begs the man not to leave without blessing him. And so he does: "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome (Genesis 32:21-31)." Israel means "struggles with God." Jacob was a changed man, with the name change to prove it. But something always bothered me.  You would think that the Torah would only call him Israel from that moment on, but that is not true. The text oscillates between the name Jacob and Israel. I have always hated this inconsistency, but it makes perfect sense to me now. Just because we have achieved something, it doesn't mean the work is done. The struggle continues.

Since my initial Weight Loss, I have joined and rejoined at least 4 times because I'm a Weight Watcher. I watch my weight go up, I watch my weight go down.  I am now at goal and I am holding on tight. Sometimes it feels like my control could slip away at any moment. I should give myself more credit, but this is hard. This is a struggle. I wish that I could say that I learned it once and therefore never make those same mistakes, but this is just not true. When I feel panicked I immediately want to eat something chocolaty. But I refuse to go back to a place where I don't love myself. That self worth is too precious. My weight may go up but I know what I have achieved and know that I can get myself to where I want to be again.

It's clear to me now: I continue to go to meetings because I discovered the best version of myself and I'll be damned if I'm going to let that go.

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