In his book The Greedy Bastard Diary, Eric Idle talks about the person that his fans want to meet. He mentions that that person didn't have a paunch, ate meat, and wasn't a Buddhist. He observes that he misses that person, but he doesn't exist anymore. Idle realizes that who we were then is gone. We are who we are now.
When I think about the past 15 years or so that I've spent in a state of being semi-crippled and in sometimes agonizing pain, and know that I could have made the situation largely better (if not entirely so) by losing weight (as I have over the past 7 months), I have a fleeting thought about why I didn't do then what I'm doing now. It's possible to think, "if only I'd gotten my crap together and learned to control my eating back then, I wouldn't have suffered for all of these years."
Well, I take Mr. Idle's words of wisdom to heart. The reason I didn't do it then was that the Screaming Fat Girl who exists now had not yet been born. People often relay this notion by saying, "you weren't ready to lose weight," but this is a misleading phrase as a fat person is always "ready" to lose it. This could be replaced by, "you weren't able to lose weight," but that is also misleading as it implies a lack of absolute biological capacity to shed pounds. As is so often the case, a simple, pat phrase is incapable of conveying a complex situation.
Being able to lose weight requires a great many factors to be in place in order to achieve success. Until and unless they are there, it won't happen, and each person's situation is different so you can't clearly define when it might happen. There's simply no objective measurement for what is required for the alchemy of weight loss success.
To be successful, you not only have to be the person you are when you succeed (who wasn't who you were before that point in time), but you also had to have the circumstances in life that you have during the time you achieve success. In my case, there was a combination of a strong motivating factor (a big life change coming along in a few years) and finally reaching the point where I could fight my addiction to food with my current level of wisdom as well as behavioral changes.
I liken this situation to an educational one or one of a type of emotional maturity. You can't expect the average second grade child to read a college textbook. Yes, the child can read, but the level is both beyond his educational level and his intellectual capacity to digest the material. Experience is required to understand various concepts or to take certain actions. Lacking both the education and experience, you cannot perform the task. Losing weight is no different, but it's much more highly individualized than something as concrete as reading. You can know everything about food and weight loss and seemingly have a life that is perfect for tackling the problem, but you can still fail because your psychological situation isn't where it needs to be.
I rarely think about how I "wasted" all of those years when I could have been doing something about it because I believe that there was nothing I could do about it. If it were possible to deal with it before, I would have done it, but the person who existed then couldn't do it. I don't mind this as I see no point in regretting lost years. The only thing I do mind is the certain knowledge that the person who exists now and is capable of success won't exist 5 or 10 years from now. This is a source of some discomfort, but I'm hoping that that person will not be lost when it comes to food, but even better about it than the person who exists now.