Monday, August 30, 2010

The joy of figuring out things for yourself.

It's been pretty routine lately; eat well/exercise regularly Monday through Friday. Sometime between Friday night and Saturday night, my eating and drinking habits more or less go to crap. Monday morning finds me regretful, but also ready to start life anew. I feel focused, motivated and ready to dismiss my poor weekend eating habits for good! ... That is... Until the following weekend. The cycle repeats itself. And while I feel proud of myself every Monday morning for not giving up for good, I can't help but feel like a joke for letting the setbacks continue.

Instead of letting myself go into autopilot like I usually do every week, I've been productive this morning in taking the time to capture the details of my bouts of overeating in a separate journal. I've listed just about every possible reason why I let my healthy-minded guard down on the days of the week that I do.

Such thoughts have taken place in between my usual blog and twitter reading. I don't remember how I came upon it exactly, but I found a great site called Maria's Last Diet, while my self-analysis was taking place.

I've found myself reading post after post because there seems to be a regular, common theme: weight maintenance. There really is, seemingly, a bazillion blogs or articles that break down the ins and outs of losing weight. I'm easily a part of that statistic, if you read back far enough. But for me, finding a similar amount of reliable, practical weight maintenance resources hasn't been as easy. Maria's Last Diet is less about "eat this, do that" and more focused on the psychological side of losing weight and keeping it off. I have a tendency to ignore a lot of important psychological/emotional cues and doing so sets me up to make poor choices, even if my intentions of being healthy are still in place.

I still have more to read and even more questions to ask myself, but so far, I've noticed a few things:

1) While spending over 2 years losing 90 pounds, I devoted little-to-no time thinking about how to keep the weight off. Even after I hit my "goal" weight, my immediate thought was to keep losing. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I didn't even try maintaining for a single week to see if it could even be done. I  turned into a machine.

2) The majority of magazines, blogs, articles and celebrity trainers I relied on as my primary resources during my weight-loss journey rarely discussed post-goal weight maintenance strategies. If they did, I took the information with a grain of salt because somehow, I thought I would magically have it all figured out by the time I lost all of the extra weight. Flawless logic, eh?

3) Most tips on weight maintenance include continuing to track calories and/or points as you did while losing the weight. Makes sense, I suppose. But... Seriously? Do "they" really expect me to keep thousands of food logs until I'm on my death bed? Unfortunately, while losing weight, I became dangerously obsessed with numbers in just about every possible way; daily weigh-ins to record X point X pounds, Weight Watcher points eaten, activity points earned, calories burned, calories eaten, protein, fiber, fat, saturated fat, sodium, sugar, cups, teaspoons, tablespoons, ounces, grams, milligrams, miles, minutes, beats per minute, reps, inches, body fat percentage, dress sizes, resting metabolic rate... Buh. Believe it or not, ALL of those things were being captured in my head, throughout the day, just about every damn day.

Not to suggest that such knowledge is useless, but I clearly let it control my life and dictate my happiness for about two years. In all honesty, I've tried about 3 or 4 times in the past month to track my food in some capacity, be it Points, calories or journaling and each time, I've gotten frustrated or anxious once the numbers came back.

4) Each time I give up on tracking my food (usually after a few days), I tell myself it's because I need to learn to eat well and manage my weight naturally, without being a slave to points, calories, charts and spreadsheets. TRUE! Absolutely and completely true. BUT... I also need to be responsible for my food and exercise choices. Lately, I just haven't felt responsible or fully in charge a good chunk of the time.

5) Although some of the posts on this blog may imply otherwise, a lot of what I've been doing lately (re: food and exercise) has been out of fear. Fear of having to buy bigger pants. Fear of not fitting into smaller pants. Fear of gaining. Fear of being judged by others for slipping back into my old ways and "letting myself go." Fear of never becoming a "normal" eater. While I try to eat and exercise with better intentions (just being healthy and fit, regardless of weight or appearance), the fear runs deep and serves as my main source of motivation most of the time. Obviously, doing things out of fear is a horrible way to go. What kind of life am I living if such basic daily activities like eating and exercising are done out of fear?! It's absurd.

Anyway, it's time to face some facts:

  • I've gained back some of the weight I've lost. (Not specifying the amount, as I don't currently feel it's appropriate or necessary.)
  • It's not the end of the world.
  • I can find a happy balance.
  • Self-sabotage does absolutely nothing for me.
  • I, once again, need to pace myself and not rush into things or expect change in a week.
  • As of now, I still don't appreciate myself as much as I should.
  • Life is waiting.
  • Honey-nut peanut butter, ice cream, chocolate and chips aren't going to suddenly disappear from the world any time soon (though, some days I wish they would, haha).
  • The few pounds I've gained back don't cancel out my overall success in losing a shit-ton of weight. How quickly I forget that I was once clinically obese, unable to jog for more than 10 seconds or do more than 2 sit ups.
  • If I'm free to still watch and enjoy Spongebob, I'm also free to watch what I eat and enjoy being healthy.
  • I can't live in extremes. Not for long, anyway.
  • I need to stop rebelling against myself.
  • I need to stop being so strict with myself.
  • I need to make a new commitment to weight maintenance. And I need to think it over a lot more than when I committed myself to weight-loss. Things need to be sane and sustainable this time around. No more diving in head-first. No more autopilot. No more running around in the dark.

To help get me started in drafting the ins and outs of my new commitment, I'm using this post from Maria's Last Diet as a guide:

"Does keeping the weight off once you've lost it require more of a commitment from you? It does.

Despite the fact that you lost the weight and you were certainly committed to doing that, you now have another commitment to make.

Keeping the weight off is no easy matter, as the research shows. Most people who lose weight don’t keep it off. They may keep it off for a year or for a few months or for a few weeks. But they gain it back, and it is not unusual to gain back more than you’ve lost.

So if want to keep the weight off, you have to make yet another commitment. Here are some ways to make sure your commitment is solid.

Be specific—tell how, where, and what

Set up a consequence for not following through

Make sure to tell someone what you are doing

Take your past history of commitment into consideration

Anticipate commitment spoilers

Don’t force your commitment; give yourself a choice

Set up a self-monitoring plan

Support your commitment by attributing success to yourself

You’ve come this far. You already have a lot of commitment under your belt. Commit again and be a step closer to permanent weight loss."

I'm also reviewing some highlighted notes from Eat What You Love to remind me that it's possible to have a sane relationship with food. Good resources aside though, I need to be responsible and get serious. Seriously happy. Seriously healthy.

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