Monday, January 25, 2010

Oh, Jealousy!

My first Weight Watchers meeting of 2010 surprised me with how upbeat and positive it was. The long-timers were all vowing to have as positive a year in 2010 as 2009 – or even better! – and the fresh crop of new people were full of hope from their latest New Year’s resolutions. Our brilliant leader stressed how it was a new year full of new opportunities and asked us to leave on the carpet what was holding us back. I decided to leave my impatience and jealousy behind me in 2010. That didn’t last long.

At the end of each meeting, people are invited to share their successes such as their first 5, 10, or 50 pounds lost on up to losses in the hundreds. In this early January meeting, one woman had lost her first 5 pounds and danced her way to the front of the room to receive her sticker and bookmark. It was so cute. A few people received a charm for attending Weight Watchers for 16 weeks. As he gave one woman who looked to be close to me in age and weight her charm, he asked her how much she had lost. She replied 25 pounds. I joined everyone else in smiling and clapping, but inside all I could think was, “I hate you.”

At 16 weeks, I had lost 15.4 pounds. Heck, at 32 weeks, I had lost only 20 pounds. To further share how ugly my thoughts can be, it sometimes kills me how much faster our guest bloggers have lost weight than me. Sometimes it feels like everyone in the whole world, even my mother, loses weight faster than me. I hate it. What’s wrong with me? I’m working as hard as I can. Why can’t I lose weight faster? Why can’t I be naturally skinny? Why is this so challenging for me? It’s not fair. Wah, Wah, Wah!

The feelings of jealousy I struggle with in terms of my weight loss are very similar to the ones many writers can feel when they compare their career to others. Everyone who joined RWA at the same time I did is now published. My fellow ’06, ’98, insert your own year here GH finalists have all sold, and I haven’t. The women who were nominated for the best first book Rita the same year I was have published many more books than I have. My fellow category writer who started at the same time I did has now just signed a big, multi-book, single-title contract, and I can’t get my category editor to sign off on my latest revisions much less sell a single-title book. This sub-genre author who was published by the same house as me in the same year is now on the NYT list, and I’m clinging to my mid-list status. Does any of this sound familiar? Are these feelings helping you?

I know my jealousy does not help me one bit. Sometimes, it can even make me want to overeat or do other acts of self-sabotage. It certainly makes it harder for me to keep going and figure out ways I can plan and prepare for success. Furthermore, I can’t control what others do or what they achieve. I can control what I do and how I react to the feelings I have about it and others along the way. This takes discipline to acknowledge regularly what I am feeling and how this can affect my forward progress and to ensure I don’t let my reactions turn into ways I self-sabotage myself. I’ve gotten much better at this over the past year and plan to keep working at it this year.

I still want to leave my impatience and jealousy behind me in 2010. I now know that it’s going to be harder than I originally thought, but I’m up for the challenge.

Do you ever struggle with jealousy? Have you figured out ways to control your reactions to those feelings? Do you have any advice for me?


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Tawny on January 25, 2010 at 1:53 AM said...

Ahh, Michelle, I so feel your pain. Jealousy and impatience seem to go hand in hand with writing, don't they.

I've never been able to step aside from the impatience, since it seems to come as natural to me as breathing *g* but the jealousy? I finally realized that the only person I can compete with is myself. Because I'm the only one facing the same challenge, right? That gives me a certain Zen kind of focus.

For writing, at least. For the weight loss? Again, I'm impatient and I'm competing with myself - and I always feel like I'm losing by not losing. But I'm working hard to remember that if I want to win (aka lose the weight) I can only do it by staying in the game.

I don't know if that helps *g*

Michelle Butler on January 25, 2010 at 8:07 AM said...

It does help. Any reminder that "the only person I can compete with is myself" is good.

Elise Hayes on January 25, 2010 at 8:58 AM said...

I used to feel jealous when I heard stories of women who wrote a first manuscript and then just...sold it. Like that. Sent it off and sold it. Why wasn't that happening to me???

That jealousy has faded over the years, mostly because I've realized what a disaster it would have been if I *had* published that first manuscript. I didn't have a productive writing process in place (book #2 took 7 years to write) and I still had a lot to learn about craft.

That realization has helped a *lot* in getting rid of the green-eyed monster when it comes to not having published yet.

So I'd agree with Tawny that it really helps to try to keep the competition focused on you, yourself, and you.

Having said that, of course, I'll also say that I finally feel like I'm turning the corner with my current book--that it has a kind of power my earlier two manuscripts didn't have (and I'm on track to have finished the book in under a year--way better than my old writing process!). If this one doesn't sell...well, I suspect the jealousy will be back, because this time I do feel ready.

Not much help, huh?

Sally Kilpatrick on January 25, 2010 at 9:08 AM said...


I really, feel your pain. I often get jealous of those who are losing weight faster, those who keep a cleaner house, those who are selling their work, and those who are finaling in contests. As a high school student, I won all kinds of awards, and I'm STILL having a hard time adjusting to the real world.

I'm right there with you when it comes to beating the green-eyed monster down. I wish I could give you some hints, but all I do is to remind myself of how genuinely happy I am for my friends. Sometimes it takes a lot of reminding.

As for weight loss, I just have to try to convince myself not to eat when I'm upset. And not to tell myself that I might as well have that cookie because I'm never going to be thin anyway.

At this point in my life, I think the most important thing I've learned is that I'll make mistakes, but the best thing I can do is to pick myself up, dust myself off, and try, try again.

Good luck! Feel free to commiserate any time.

Michelle Butler on January 25, 2010 at 12:40 PM said...

Thanks, Elise. It's helpful to know how others deal with jealousy - it's such an ugly emotion but can be so powerful. I look forward to reading your third (4th?) book. :)

Michelle Butler on January 25, 2010 at 12:44 PM said...

Thanks, Sally! It really kills me that I feel such ugly things when my mom tells me how well she's doing in weight loss since she's losing faster than I did. I've even considered asking her not to tell me how much she's loss - and that's not good. I really, really want her to lose her weight and be as healthy as she can be, but I can't get over how much it kills me that she's doing it faster than me. Ugh.

I know all I can do is focus on me and what I can do. I can't really know what other folks are going through and how hard they are working relative to me. Wallowing in these feelings hurts my forward momentum. I also recognize that I'm an emotional eater and need to be vigilant so that these emotions don't make me turn to food for reward. Sometimes I just need the reminder to be good.

Heather Snow on January 25, 2010 at 7:11 PM said...

Try losing weight with a spouse...that will really put things in perspective! Those pesky males will drop it lickety split while it hangs stubbornly to my hips. Blech!

Many a weigh day I've wanted to smack my DH over the head, particularly on a week where I was very very good and he was very very bad and he still lost more than me!

Jealousy/poor me has been something I have struggled with, as well. Growing up with a family of thin women, watching them eat worse than you are yet staying stick thin is hard. But when it comes down to it, all of that negative emotion has gotten me nowhere but fatter (self-sabotage is a b*tch). In the end, I have to accept my circumstances (metabolism, genes, whatever) and learn to be realistic about what works for me.

I wish you the best...try not to kill your mother, I'll try not to kill my husband and maybe we'll be happier with our own successes as the year goes on.

Michelle Butler on January 25, 2010 at 8:04 PM said...

Thanks, Heather! I've always heard that men drop weight seemingly with no effort. Sometimes, I almost tune them out at WW meetings. That would be so tough to be trying to do this with one.

Yeah, negative emotions often drove me to overeat in the past, so I know I have to guard against it. Thank you for your advice! Here's to a great 2010 for both of us. :)

Sally Kilpatrick on January 26, 2010 at 9:29 AM said...

I was thinking some more about it, and I thought I'd share some things that work for me (although not a lot is working at the moment because I celebrated my birthday a little much this past weekend) For me, up the veggies and the water. Oh, and if you haven't tried intervals for your cardio sometimes that will help you jumpstart your workouts--and to alleviate boredom.

Michelle Butler on January 26, 2010 at 9:49 AM said...

Thanks, Sally! I know I tend to do better when I really eat a lot of vegetables, but I can still struggle to get in my daily servings.

I have done some intervals at the gym. Another way I try to keep it fresh is alternate what classes I go to on any given day. It can help.

Happy Birthday!

Sally Kilpatrick on January 27, 2010 at 6:58 AM said...

Thanks for the birthday wishes!

I forgot to add that I keep Steamfresh bags then add a touch of sea salt and a tiny bit of Smart Balance--quick and easy vegetables. If it's not quick and easy, it doesn't get done around here.

Michelle Butler on January 27, 2010 at 9:33 AM said...

I'll check out the steamfresh bags. I've never tried one. I also think I'll just get over myself by next week and get out of this impatience/jealousy funk.

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