Jan 17, 2014 0 Share

Measuring Self-Esteem


Man's standing on scale that reads "Help."
Thinkstock

I will never forget that moment when my son stood looking at a snapshot of himself standing on the beach, wearing only a pair of swim trunks. He weighed almost 300 pounds then and for the first time I could see he did not like what he was looking at. The expression on his face was very sober at first. Then I noticed the tears welling in his eyes. His expression turned to one mixed with both sadness and growing rage and then in a gruff, angry and tearful voice he said, “Put it up!” Then he slapped the picture face-down on the highest shelf he could reach in Bill’s office and ran into the other room crying.

My heart breaks every time I think about that day. We had tried everything we knew to help him lose weight. We tried walking every day, going to the gym, and workout videos. We tried diets that were low-calorie, low-fat, low-carb, wheat-free, gluten-free, dairy-free and taste-free. Nothing worked. But then something happened which we found remarkable.

We noticed Cody was suddenly paying attention to anything which highlighted facts and statistics regarding diabetes, obesity and heart disease. If a news segment on one of these topics came on, we couldn’t get him to move until it was over. Any commercial advertising products for people with these illnesses had to be watched without interruption. Walking by those products in the store often triggered a five-minute discussion. Cody would basically repeat a commercial script verbatim and then ask, “Do I need this yet?” as he stood nose-to-nose with me, holding the package and tapping it with his index finger with great vigor.

Thankfully, Cody never got to the point where he became diabetic or suffered any other kind of severe health complication due to the excess weight he was carrying. Then, all of a sudden, the pounds started coming off. The change came from a diet of Cody’s own invention. It’s a very simple plan where Cody eats and then says, “I’m done!” The difference is that now there might be food left on the plate—and no more seconds and third helpings—portion control at its finest. And since Cody has always seen any beverage left unsupervised as being up for grabs, I started placing glasses of water on the table. As expected the glasses would mysteriously be empty before long.

A year passed and Cody dropped 50 pounds. Bill and I had promised him we would have a pizza party once he had reached that point. And we did it, but with anxious reservation. Pizza is one of Cody’s favorite foods and we had hoped that he would enjoy his party in moderation. Sure enough he did. He ate only a couple of slices and then came the words he seemed to have adopted as his new mantra. “I’m done!”

This was a striking contrast to the times when he used to inhale almost an entire pizza by himself. We were both elated and extremely relieved.

The next year another 40 pounds vanished. The scale that once read 298 now read 217. He was now just above what would be considered a healthy weight for his height, age and bone structure. I was so proud of him!

That was about two years ago and not only has Cody kept those extra pounds off, he’s lost another eight. At 209 he looks awesome. He no longer has puffiness in his face, dark circles beneath his eyes, nor a spare tire around his mid-section. His whole being beams with energy and vitality. And the biggest reward was when Bill took down the photograph that had remained face down on that upper shelf for nearly four years.

He showed it to Cody as they both stood in front of the bedroom mirror. I saw my son’s eyes sparkle with pride as he looked back and forth from the picture to the mirror. The grin on his face was priceless. He even began to tease Bill as he exclaimed, “My belly’s flatter than yours!”

Visible evidence of high self-esteem in Cody has been small and fleeting in the past. But there was no denying its presence at this moment. And oh what an amazing moment it was!