I could get pretty focused on the weather this time of year, particularly on the weekends when I need to be outside biking, and especially the last weekend in June. For each of the past 9 years I've been doing a selfish fundraising bike ride to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Why selfish? Because I was diagnosed with this condition 9 years ago. Now, back to the weather.
I'm struck by weather forecasts and how we interpret them. How do you hear “30% chance of rain”? Is it discouraging? For weather channels and websites, it’s represented by a visual image of threatening grey skies with rain. But what does “30% chance of rain” really mean? It means there’s a 70% chance of it not raining. Now doesn’t that sound better?
70% chance of no rain encourages me to get out and ride. I’m reassured there's a good chance I’ll stay dry. Even if there’s a very high likelihood of rain, let's say 90%, it's likely to rain for some time with a good deal of certainty, within a 12 hour period. That is, at least .01 inches. Now when I think rain, I think extremes, like being caught in the rain, not .01 inches of rain. So the weatherman could technically be correct and we might have a high likelihood of rain, but after it rains a bit, that may be it. The rest of the day may be bone dry!
What does the weather forecast have to do with you?
I've been told by many patients that I was the first person to give them hope, to believe that they could change. Yes, like the weather. Even when the odds were against them. And even when they didn't believe in themselves. The fact that someone else had the hope and expectation that they could shift and improve their eating and their sense of wellbeing, made all the difference. There's nothing worse than being given up on, whether you have a long standing eating disorder and your treater has given up, or your supports have tired of hearing that this time will be different. If you’ve struggled to control your weight and your relationship with food your whole life, it can feel like a bad forecast.
Similarly, when I was first diagnosed I remember reading websites about MS, including those reporting the abysmal statistics about disease progression. 85% start off with relapsing remitting MS, the type I'm labeled with, where symptoms can wax and wane. Within 10 yrs statistically more than half of us are doomed to progress to secondary progressive MS, characterized by worsening symptoms and more permanent disability. By 25 years, 90% of us are doomed to be there—or so the stats forecast.
It would have been easy to give in to probability, to feel like my health was not in my hands. Feeling that the odds are against us, can make us give up, to stop trying to take care of ourselves. You may see patterns of eating behaviors in your family, and feel that living with disordered eating is inevitable. Perhaps recognizing that eating disorders are truly diseases may make you feel you have less of a role in recovery. But attitude is everything, combined with a great team you can trust! Personally, I need to focus on the less than 50% chance that I will not progress with a worsening prognosis, the 70% chance of not-rain, versus the 30% chance of storminess.
I believe you can do the same. If you give up it is 100% guaranteed that things won't go well with your eating and ultimately with your health. If you decide that you are a failure at changing your behaviors and your thoughts and feelings, then it will be so—a self-fulfilling prophecy. So I ask you to skip the forecasts and make your own, brighter predictions for your future.
Just one thing I ask—please hope for at least 30% chance of non-rain for most of this weekend, June 25th and 26th, as I bike from Boston to the tip of Cape Cod.
PS: And if you feel inspired by this post and want to contribute to my fundraising effort, every dollar or euro will bring me to a greater percent of my goal! http://bit.ly/jNqx09
Thanks for reading.
As always, I am eager to here 100% of what you have to say!