I wrote the following piece almost two months ago. I was in a very bad weight loss place at the time; I felt like I'd almost completely lost my focus and, worse yet, didn't even know if I *wanted* it back. Yes, you read that right. The combination of being uprooted from DC and being mired in my usual summer doldrums really wore me down this summer; I was depressed and grumpy and just sick to death of all that healthful eating and exercise stuff.
I think I understand now more than ever that in the past, I've fallen off the wagon and gone back to my wicked old ways because I just got tired.
Then I decided not to post this; it seemed too gloomy and doomy, and besides, reading it over made me realize that I did too want to get my focus back. Even if I don't lose any more weight, I sure as hell don't want to put it all back on.
I'm just having ongoing trouble with the whole concept of "Yes, you have to keep doing this for the rest of your life if you don't want to go back to the way you were. That's the tradeoff, toots."
Anyhow, I hung onto this piece. And because there ain't a whole lot else going on at the moment, I've decided to post it anyhow. This isn't a plea for encouragement; I've since pulled myself back from the brink and am in a much better frame of mind now. But if nothing else, I need to remind myself that I can't ever take all these lifestyle changes for granted; it's scary how easily I can slip back into bad habits. And know that if you're in the same boat I've been in, you aren't alone.
How To Backslide.
As always, I'm not speaking for anyone but myself and my own experiences here. Your mileage may vary. I truly hope it does.
First, your weight loss stalls; you hit a point at which you will have to either really crank up your exercise or significantly drop your calories in order to continue to shed the pounds. You stare at the calorie range SparkPeople has given you for your goal weight, and you tell the computer that it simply *has* to be kidding you. You feel like you're barely eating anything, and yet you're still landing above the high end of the range. C'mon -- that's nuts. You and food were supposed to be friends now. You weren't supposed to be depriving yourself anymore.
And the frustration starts gnawing away at you. When the hell do you get to move on with your life and think about things other than weight loss? How is it that the closer you get to your goal, the harder you have to work, even after you've put in more hard work than you ever knew you were capable of? How is that fair?
That's when you start pulling the bricks out of the Healthy Living House you've built over the past couple of years; you do it so gradually that at first you don't even see that this is what you're doing.
You start adding an extra serving of pasta here, a post-lunch muffin from Starbucks there. You rejoin the Clean Plate Club, ignoring hunger and fullness signals in favor of eating everything on your plate. You start ordering the Large serving instead of the Small again. You tell yourself that you're only doing what you've been doing all along, or that "once in a while" isn't a big deal, even as "once in a while" is turning into "every day". You tell yourself that it's fine to overeat as long as you're aware of what you're doing instead of just mindlessly stuffing. You tell yourself that you've come so far and worked so hard and dammit, you deserve a break.
It's as if that little voice in your head that gave you all the right cues in the beginning -- "Just ten minutes on the treadmill" or "Measure out a real serving size and eat it slowly" -- has changed her mind; now she wants to sabotage you. And you're all too willing to let it happen.
And then you start skipping workouts, even though you thought you'd left the Couch Potato lifestyle behind for good. That lifestyle wasn't dead; it was only sleeping, and a few nights of lethargy woke it up. Bodies at rest want to remain at rest.
So you're taking in excess calories and you aren't burning them off the way you used to, and the inevitable happens. The pounds start creeping back on; all they were waiting for was one crack in your defenses. You tell yourself you're retaining fluid from the salty food the previous night, or that you're close to your period and shouldn't weigh yourself again until Aunt Flo has left town. You tell yourself the same things when your spiffy "skinny clothes" start to pinch around the middle. But you know what the bottom line is: The scale, previously the bearer of joyous tidings, is no longer your friend. You know you won't like what you see anymore. You know that you don't deserve to like what you see.
On your "glass half full" days you congratulate yourself for at least being aware of the problem, instead of being in denial until none of your clothes fit and you can't even figure out where you were while all this was happening. But being fully aware of what you're doing and how destructive it is doesn't make things better, really. In fact, knowing that you're sabotaging all your hard work makes the guilt that much worse.
The real hell of it is that this makes no sense. You lost 100 pounds; faced with a task that seemed impossible, you did it with only a few stumbles. And now you're struggling just to lean on the rudder and get the ship turned back in the right direction. It's ridiculous.
You think of all the forums where you've seen people smugly assert that 95% of all diets fail (often with an implied "So why bother?" tacked onto the end); that people who lose weight almost invariably regain it, often with interest. You want to prove them wrong, but it seems that you've forgotten how to do it. Maybe that' s not quite right: You know the way to do it. You just need to find that will again.