On Wellness and Weight: The First Step Could be Saying "No" to Seconds

Russell Rawlings

North Carolina Bar Association

Early this year, on Jan. 7 to be exact, I quietly celebrated an anniversary. It was on this date in 1978 that I set about on the mother of all resolutions in my quest to lose a hundred pounds.

Much like my marriage, I outkicked my coverage: I lost 140 pounds instead.

Forty years is a long time, yet I remember it as if it were yesterday. I was halfway through my senior year of college working as a sportswriter for the local newspaper. I had a basketball game to cover in Charlottesville, Va., and as was often the case in those days, one of my fraternity brothers came along for the ride.

The first moment of truth came at halftime when I joined other members of the media in the press room. Generous fare was traditionally provided at these events and this night was no exception. I constructed a fine sandwich of deli meat and cheese and probably more mayonnaise than I presently consume in a year.

I'm not going to lie to you: it was good!

Without giving it much thought, I fixed another sandwich. But at that very moment when I was about to take the first bite, I paused. I took a long look at that sandwich and gave serious consideration to how it might impact what was at that point an unspoken resolution. My mind raced as I looked into the future and considered the possibilities that lay before me if I would just stop overeating.

I tossed the sandwich in the trash can. It was as if a spell had been broken.

On the long ride home that night, I relayed the sandwich story to my fraternity brother, along with my quest to lose weight in the coming year so that I could live a better life. He was the only person that I ever told.

In January, those same two schools – the University of Virginia and the University of North Carolina – renewed their rivalry in Charlottesville. Texts were exchanged. Memories were rekindled.

Lord only knows how many moments of truth have transpired since then. What I do know and what I do believe with all my heart is that if I can do it, so can you.

Are you ready to lose some weight? Are you ready to change your life?

Are you ready to throw away your sandwich?

It won’t be easy, regardless of what time of year you resolve to discover a healthier, happier you. But if experience has taught me anything it has taught me that if you want it bad enough and are willing to dig deep enough, your dream can come true.

Wrapping your mind around the notion of losing weight can be a peculiar experience if you’ve never been through it. It takes time, patience and perseverance. Some days are tougher than others; you will learn to work through them. Some days are complete failures; you will learn to put them behind you.

It is important to remain positive.

At its core, losing weight is a test of character. There are millions of diets that have proven successful, and millions of exercise routines that will get the job done, but without character, none of them will work.

With character, however, anything and everything is possible.

Character is that special quality that we all possess. It is that little voice inside your head that tells the rest of your body no. It is that surge of willpower that enables you to order what you should eat instead of ordering what you want to eat, or what everyone else around you is eating and wants you to eat.

It is a friend that you didn’t know you had, the one that allows you to take ownership of what goes into your body. It is that silent partner that sends you to bed when you’d prefer to stay up, and gets you out of bed the next morning when you’d rather hit the snooze button. 

Character is this wonderful, powerful creature that lives within all of us, the one that screams out for all the world to hear: I am in charge of me!

How about it?

Isn’t it time that you took charge of you?