What's Your X Factor?

I went to this really nice dinner at my friend's home the other night, and I heard a woman there say she wasn't eating any wheat (bread, pasta) or sugar (practically everything). My immediate reaction was, "Good for you -- you'll lose a ton of weight doing that." But was she doing this for her health? No, she wanted to drop 20-30 pounds.

I don't know if you've ever given up foods or comforts in an attempt to lose weight or be healthier, but it's very difficult. This woman and I proceeded to talk about the process and how she was feeling. Then we hit upon a very delicate area regarding weight loss, what I call the "X factor." I don't know why I felt so comfortable speaking frankly with her (maybe because she was my good friend's friend, or because she just seemed so open and smart). Either way, I decided to really take advantage of this chance to talk with her about her quest to lose weight.

Of course, the question that followed "What are you eating?" was "Do you exercise regularly?" To which she replied, "I am exercising very hard right now." There you have it -- the formula for success. Well, almost.

This was the part of the conversation I don't normally get into with someone: the X factor -- the thing that influences why we have a challenging time losing weight, even when we're doing all the right things. It could be that a parent or lover smashed your self-esteem. Maybe an adult touched you inappropriately. Perhaps kids at school ragged on you about being different or weird, so you put the weight on to isolate yourself. Or maybe your parents' divorce destroyed your foundation. So, food became your comfort or therapist during tough times, starting when you were young. The list goes on and on as to why we still may be carrying around the hurt and extra pounds.

I have my own issues from childhood, but they manifest themselves in different ways. I know it can be confusing to figure out how to lose weight. The formula really is simple. Weight is all about calories in and calories burned, food, exercise, and -- don't forget -- almighty stress. If you're doing the right things regarding weight loss and still aren't losing the pounds, then this is where you have to discover what your X factor is that's holding you back. Talk to a friend or therapist, but whatever that X factor is, you have to address it or you will never be able to achieve your goals.

Is there buried pain inside that just keeps getting pushed down further and further by a burger and fries? Don't we all owe it to ourselves to be happy and healthy? We can't go around blaming things from the past, and not take the present by the horns.

I always write about food and exercise, but I'm never quite sure how to talk about the X factor. It's so abstract and different for each of us. Some people don't hold on to weight -- they get angry instead. Others become workaholics, drug addicts, depressed -- you name it. Pain expresses itself in many ways.

Let's all try and identify our own X factor and unload that bad boy. Today is a fresh start -- it really can be a new beginning.