Every day I wake up and think “this will be the day I turn things around”, and for a few hours, I do! Then the familiar “you are a failure” mantra starts replaying in my brain, and it isn’t even AUDIBLE, it doesn’t even use WORDS. I just FEEL it. I feel it all around me. I feel it with every step. Every time I sit down in my chair or get up to do something I feel it. The large. The jiggle. The stress on my knees.
No words are even necessary to feel like a failure when you are fat. The “weight” of the non-words are exponentially compounded when you have recently been healthy. For me, it was 2.5 years ago that I was healthy. I had a BMI of 21 and a body fat of 23%. Now I look at myself, I FEEL myself all around me, night and day, and think “what the hell happened to YOU?”
I wish I knew. I’ve recounted the timeframe many times in my head, trying to figure out if there was a single moment where a flip switched to “fat brain” or if it was a slow decline which picked up momentum and steam with every pound gained. I couldn’t tell you. Every analysis of my then-circumstance or rumination of my then-thought process ends up sounding to me like an excuse, or blame, or both. It’s hard to look at it objectively.
The most objective way I can put it is that I STOPPED being in the habit of practicing health. I had developed healthy habits over the previous 5 years, and in the process lost 150 pounds, then maintained a healthy weight for 3 years. I had run a marathon for the first time in my life, and taken part in a sprint triathalon. I felt healthy, I looked healthy, and felt GREAT! Did I “forget” that my body was prone to gain weight? Did I feel SO good about myself that I took the health for granted? Did I take other so-called “expert’s” opinion of significant long-term weight loss (that it is IMPOSSIBLE to sustain for 5 years) to heart and allow those opinions to have power over me?
(By the way, true story, a professor in my graduate studies course in my Obesity Prevention and Management Master’s Program ACTUALLY SAID that significant weight loss is impossible to maintain for 5 or more years, and I KNOW THAT IS A LIE because I personally KNOW people who have lost 200+ pounds and remained healthy for TEN YEARS now! WHAT THE HELL IS THAT PROFESSOR DOING LECTURING IN A CLASS FOR OBESITY PREVENTION AND MANAGEMENT IF THAT IS WHAT HE IS TELLING PEOPLE STUDYING THHE SUBJECT???????????? – Why did I even let that into my HEAD?)
Did I let the stress from starting a graduate program knock me back into unhealthy stress-eating? Did my routine-change encourage me to give up on exercise, which started a slow creep, which demoralized me? Did I let small twinges of hopelessness that began with the slow creep turn into big scary monsters of hopelessness? Did I let that hopelessness turn into depression turn into more uncontrolled eating and drinking? Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes.
In other words, it wasn’t one thing. It was a perfect storm of things, any of them at any point I could have managed on their own, but I wasn’t ready for all of them together, some as a result of others, some contributing to others, but all translating into gaining 138 pounds over the last 2.5 years. Note to self: Develop the habit of healthy stress reduction which doesn’t include over-eating, and does include continuing my exercise program.
“I didn’t gain it ALL back! Hooray!”
That’s me, looking for the silver lining. I have to do that, otherwise I just want to crawl in bed and sleep all day. We had a debate in one of our courses last year, does depression cause obesity or does obesity cause depression? If one is not in management on one’s emotions, can that hopelessness be the cause of the weight gain, or is the weight gain a cause of the hopelessness that comes with it? What came first, the chicken or the egg?
All I know is that I felt happy when I was healthy, and I feel miserable again now.
But back to my silver lining:
It’s true, every time prior to THIS time that I would gain weight back it would always end up in me being HEAVIER than I had been before starting the last “diet”.
This time I did not do that. While I haven’t LOST weight significantly over the last 6 months, I don’t feel like I’m still on an upward trajectory, I have stabilized. Knock on wood. OK, that isn’t exactly true how I phrased that. My NET loss and gain has been zero over the last 6 months, although in the last 6 months I have actually lost 35 pounds and gained it back.
So, back to the big picture, today I will choose to focus on that single, deliberate truth, that I did NOT gain it all back again (the 150 pounds) before starting to get healthy “one more time”.
It’s what I have today. I will cling to it and follow my structured eating program TODAY.
Thanks for listening.