Thursday, May 19, 2011

Lessons Learned From The Other Side

I've wanted so badly to blog lately, but the longer I go without doing it, the harder it becomes to sit down and write. So this is my attempt to return to Blogville, and maybe I'll get through an entire post and hit publish before I give up and go do something else.
A lot of things have happened in the past few months, most of them internal. Because this isn't an anonymous blog, and there are things that I just don't want to get out to certain people in my real life on the off chance that they read this, what I can tell you is limited. But I can sum up by saying that I've been bothered by a lot of personal demons, and the end result of it all was that my weight got back up to 212 lbs. Now, before my cruise I weighed about 204, which was still up from my lowest weight of 201 in December. I really started struggling after Christmas. By the time I got back from the cruise, I weighed 208--not totally unexpected, but instead of working to take it off, I let it get worse and worse until I was back up to 212. You probably don't have to guess that I was devastated and felt very hopeless. A lot of hard work for nothing.  I was talking about all of this with Heather one day (which was kind of a rare occasion because increasingly I would go to extensive lengths to NOT discuss anything that was going on with me), and she told me that I amazed her because I worked very hard to accomplish my goals and then I turned around and worked equally hard to undo all the hard work I put in! She said it was like I would spend hours shampooing my sofa to make it look fantastic, and then I would go outside and spend hours digging up dirt and dragging it inside and rubbing it all over my wet sofa.  I realized that she was exactly right, and that cleared up a lot of my frustration. I would go on a really long run, burn tons of calories, and come home and drink a milkshake that I had "earned". Man, I really have "earned" myself a lot of food over the past few months! But the good news is, I'm back in the saddle now and I'm much wiser for my experiences. I'm now back down to 206 and going strong. I'm running regularly and even completed a 10k over Mother's Day Weekend. I've learned some valuable lessons and I'm putting them into practice. And I will now write them down in the hopes of maybe sparing somebody a lot of the heartache that I've had to go through.
Lesson #1: Eating in moderation can really be a crock of shit with the wrong outlook. Just because you aren't binging and pigging out on everything that you see does not mean that you can have anything that you want and still expect to lose weight. While "eating in moderation", I would often have at least one piece of cake a day (all the while being super proud of myself for limiting it to one piece or leaving one bite of it), one serving of cookies, or ice cream, or something fatty and delicious like a cheese wonton from the Chinese restaurant. I would have all of these things every day, just not a whole lot of them. And sometimes eating one thing in "moderation" WOULD lead to a binge. Which leads me to the second lesson that I have learned....
Lesson #2: Trigger foods are called trigger foods for a reason. STAY AWAY from them. This was the major thing about moderation that I could never grasp. Cake is my favorite food, and I tried over and over again to keep it in my diet and still lose weight. Won't work, not for me, not right now. Every delicious slice made me want to eat another one. If I somehow managed to avoid doing that, I was left hungry and wanting all day long, causing me to overeat other things trying to fill the void that cake left. But I refused to give it up, determined to find a way to eat it in peace and moderation. I don't know why I was so stubborn about it, or what I felt my life would be without it. But I felt like giving it up would be giving up control...and in fact I've learned that gaining control is about learning my limits. Right now, I can't have cake or any other type of baked goods. I don't buy them, and I won't be pressured by others into eating them. And ironically, now that these food items are off limits, I feel a sense of peace that I never had before. No more pressure, no more trying something out "just this once" to see if I can eat it like a skinny person would.
Lesson #3: "Just this once" really means "I don't feel like fighting right now and I'm giving up". I can't begin to elaborate on how close this one has come to destroying me forever. Allowing myself to eat something "for a treat" or not tracking my calories "just this once" always always ALWAYS leads to bad things for me. When I begin the justification cycle, I have a hard time breaking out of it. When I eat something that I know I shouldn't, it just makes it easier to eat the next thing that I shouldn't, and so on. The more I eat, the more weight I gain, the more helpless I feel, the more I eat. I've learned that the easiest place to break the cycle is right after I have the "just this once" thought. It's my new warning sign. It's my cue to stop and pay attention to what I'm doing. It just works better this way.
Lesson #4 It's just food. Realizing that my life is not going to be made any better by giving into cravings has been a huge step. It's all about taking the power out of food. Who cares? No matter how delicious something is, the experience is over in 15 minutes max (more like 3 minutes for me). Then I'm just left feeling empty and dirty! Better to just skip it and focus my thrills for something else. Cravings will dissipate, and funny enough, they go away quicker when I know that I won't give into them. Last but most importantly......
Lesson #5: I'm not a failure until I stop trying. When I was at my very worst, this thought came to me and wouldn't go away. I felt like all of my efforts had been for nothing. I thought that the entire past year went wrong....I tried so hard to make it go one way and it took a completely different direction. When I ran my half marathon, I was supposed to be able to have these amazing "after" photos that I could put up on this blog and share with the world. I was supposed to be a faster runner, I was supposed to be at my goal weight, I was supposed to have a large following of adoring fans telling me how great I am. None of that happened. I am still as slow as molasses, and I have lost a negligible amount of weight compared to what I should have lost. I stopped blogging because I got tired of having to say the same things over up and disappearing would just be much easier. And it was easy, and I was almost totally gone. But then what? If I end it, then I end it as a failure. If I give up, then everything really was for nothing. If I stop trying, then in a couple of years I will wish I was still only 212 pounds. Better to do just one thing right. Better to make just one good decision today and hope that it triggers another one. Better to claw my way up, even if I never get anywhere,  because as long as I'm TRYING then I'm not FINISHED.

And I am here to tell you that I am NOT finished, not by a long shot.


  1. Oh I'm so glad you came back and you're NOT finished. I want to read all about your good days ahead and even the not so good days. We, your adoring fans, love you!

  2. Amen!!!! Just take "One step at a time", just like the title of your blog!! sounds like you've had your biggest loser "breakthrough" moment!! Now it's all downhill from here!

  3. Yay I can finally comment!!!
    And I think I need to read this every day. Every. single. day.

  4. Alright...this is the first time I read this post and it really hit home for me. I could have written it myself. And I agree with the above comment that you should read this every single day. It is so motivating and well written too! Thank you for this... Maybe I will print it out as a reminder. Its like you summed up all my thoughts...