At first, maintenance seemed so easy. It was really hard for me to change my mentality from wanting the scale to go down each time I got on it, to hoping it stayed the same. And I think because that switch was so hard mentally, I was much more careful with what I was eating while I got my head around the concept, which is why maintenance was so “easy” at first.
When I think back to that time in my life where I hit my goal weight and then became a Lifetime member, I’m honestly not really sure I ever accepted that I was AT my goal weight. I thought I could stand to lose a few more pounds and while I didn’t want the scale to go up, I didn’t necessarily want it to stop going down either. I was still in weight loss mentality. I was so uncomfortable in my own skin despite being at a healthy weight, and I knew I couldn’t ever be happy with my body unless I did something drastic. So then I did.
Since then, I’ve gone through many phases in my relationship with food. I’ve been in great places. I’ve been in bad places. And since I’ve gone back and forth for my entire life, I guess it’s no surprise this cycle has continued, even though it surprised me. Before the surgery, I thought the complete opposite would be true. I thought that life after surgery would be the final chapter in my weight story. I was SURE that there was no way in hell I’d ever let myself gain back any weight after going through something like that to help my physical appearance. But it turned out to be just the opposite. I think in a way, after I had the surgery, I was so much happier in my body than I was at any of my previous weights that it almost gave me a free pass to eat and live how I wanted, regardless of the impact it would have on my health and weight.
And the healthy habits always slip away oh-so-slowly. An extra glass of wine here. An extra piece of pizza there. A missed workout one morning… and it’s a very slippery slope, especially for someone like me who has the tendency to be very all-or-nothing about so many things in my life.
I’m glad to say that I’ve snapped out of it before I got back to my before weight. I have truly recommitted to doing Weight Watchers and actually went in yesterday, weighed in, and purchased a monthly pass. (More on that in a different post.) While I know there will be ups and downs this time around and always, I feel in a really good place mentally and ready to do this.
A question that comes up again and again, sometimes just in my own thoughts, sometimes when talking with family and friends, and sometimes in emails and comments I get from readers, is how to start again? How to get out from under that blanket of guilt and shame that accompanies regaining weight and stand tall to face reality? How to stop sliding down that slippery slope before you get back to the bottom? And you know, I’m still not sure of the answers, but I do have a few ideas.
1.) Start with accepting the truth and forgiving yourself.
Anyone who has struggled with their weight knows how easy it is to come up with excuses and deny, deny, deny. That picture was just taken from a bad angle. These jeans must have shrunk in the wash. Stretchy pants are just so comfortable, of course I wear them all the time! I think getting to the place where I could admit that I was truly off track was the hardest part of it all. It felt like I was admitting I failed. But I didn’t. I just need to re-start. The time is now. Wishing and hoping that things were a different way doesn’t change a thing. Untagging yourself in pictures on Facebook doesn’t mean it wasn’t you. Not pulling out your summer clothes because you’re not sure if they will fit doesn’t solve any problems. Pretending that you’re not blogging just because you’re too busy doesn’t mean you’re using that extra time towards your health goals.
And the second major part of this step is to forgive yourself. It’s so easy to say mean things to yourself when you look in the mirror, to feel hate, shame and anger for letting it happen. To feel guilty and embarrassed to see people now that you’ve put back on some weight, especially those who complemented your transformation initially. But you know what? What’s done is done, and harping on it is not going to help. Accepting that we’re all human, we make mistakes, and we’re finally getting to a place where we are ready to commit to changing our lives once again is an essential piece of the puzzle.
2.) Set small goals based on where you are NOW.
After accepting that I actually gained some weight back and it doesn’t make me a terrible person, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty – the actual eating healthier and moving more portion of the program. While Weight Watchers is what I’ve found works for me, that’s certainly not the case for everyone. Some people are bogged down by tracking or do OK with restricting certain things from their diet (ie. Atkins, paleo, gluten-free, etc). Whatever works for you is what to do. But the important part is to set goals based on the RIGHT NOW. It doesn’t matter if I’ve run almost 30 races, including 5 half marathons, in my past life. If I haven’t been exercising regularly in almost a year minus a few brief stints, I have to start much smaller than running a half, or maybe even running in general. If I’ve been eating crap for every meal every day for a while, starting with adding good things (fruits and veggies, water, exercise, etc.) to make less room for the bad is key. Set myself up to succeed by making goals that are attainable right now is essential.
3.) Accept that it’s a lifelong journey.
This is the part I always get caught up on, which leads me back to #1 and #2 here. I have to admit that I can never stop trying. I can convince myself the opposite is true as much as I want, but that’s not the truth. I can never be one of those people that just eats intuitively and slowly devours a single piece of pizza, smelling and tasting each bit of it, and then feels satisfied. No matter how much I wish that was the case, or how much I convince myself I am getting there, I’m always going to be the kind of person that has to do a self check and realize I really don’t want to eat the entire pizza, so maybe it’s better that I don’t start. Or, maybe I do want a piece or two of pizza, but I need to move the box out of the room or throw it away to stop myself from going too far. I’m always going to be learning what works and doesn’t work for me, especially as I move into my 30s (in a few weeks – eeeeek!) and go through changes that impact my lifestyle and health.
And for me, I think step 1.5 was to realize that even though I have a blog, I don’t have all the answers, and that’s ok! I’m still very much figuring this journey out and the whole reason I created this blog in the first place was to have a place to document it. So turning away from my blog because I was struggling with my weight was the exact opposite thing I should have been doing. I convinced myself that not blogging regularly was not directly correlated with struggling to be healthy. And that, my friends, was a lie.
But you know what? I’m back. And maybe that denial phase was yet another part of this journey. And that’s ok. After all, I am only human.