Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Wausau, WI
I'm no longer in my twenties, but I wish I had learned this in my twenties:
In the past, whenever I tried to lose weight, I would let a string of bad days or sometimes even just one bad day convince me that I was "doomed to be fat forever," so I'd eventually give up and regain. Then I'd get right back on the diet rollercoaster andI'd repeat the same cycle over and over and over again.
The biggest difference "this time" (and why I've been able to lose almost twice the weight I ever have in the past, and have kept on a downward "trend" for four times as long as any previous time, and really don't fear "regaining" anymore) is that I now don't ever worry about whether or not I can get all the weight off.
I think we're trained to think that only goal weight counts, so when we believe that we can't lose ALL of it, we decide that it doesn't matter if we lose ANY of it (so regaining doesn't sound like all that bad of an idea). I can't tell you how many THOUSANDS of times I thought "If I can't get to my goal weight, what's the use? If I'm going to be fat forever, anyway I might as well get to eat whatever I want."
But now, I realize that every pound counts. If I never lose another pound, there's still a whole lot of value in keeping off what I have lost (and I started telling myself after the first 20 lbs which I had lost unintentionally because of sleep apnea treatment).
Until then, I had vowed to never "try" to lose weight ever again, because in the past whenever I tried to lose weight, I'd lose a little but would always end up gaining more than when I started.
When I discovered that I had lost 20 lbs without trying (as my doctors said I would with the sleep disorder meds and cpap machine, but I thought they were nuts because I'd never "incidentally" lost weight in my life), at that point I was still afraid to try to lose weight, so I didn't. I decided I would instead try to MAINTAIN the weight loss while making other healthy changes - changes I was willing to make whether or not weight loss resulted.
For the first two years, I didn't lose any more weight (or more accurately I gained and lost the same 10 lbs), but for the most part, I did maintain the 20 lb loss. However, I did make some drastic health improvements even while struggling to maintain the weight loss.
I was nearly bedridden at the time, so I'm not saying everyone (or anyone) has to do this as slowly as I have, or the way I have, but I do think that a lot of us do have to "rethink" the goals of weight loss.
I had gotten so close to 400 lbs, and had gotten so disabled that I knew that if I fell into the old pattern, I would probably cross that 400 lb threshold, and end up even sicker and more disabled or even dead (or worse, wishing for death) So how to lose weight without TRYING to lose weight (for me, I really thought that trying to lose weight was the main problem. I really believed that I had to find a way to lose weight without trying to lose weight - or at least without trying very hard to lose weight).
When I saw that maintaining my accidental weight loss was possible, it got me thinking that INTENTIONAL weight loss might be possible, but I knew that dieting like I had in the past, was going to have the same RESULTS as it did in the past (temporary success, followed by regaining more than I had lost).
So I decided to stick with the plan of making my goal to add healthy habits while maintaining my weight loss and trying to lose "just one more pound." I emphasized the "maintaining" a lot more than the "losing" that way I never felt that if I didn't lose I might as well be gaining.
I still had days when I didn't control my eating very well, and I still had days when I regained, but I remembered to celebrate the "not gaining." And even if I gained a pound or two, I celebrated the loss I had maintained.
As an example (probably because my period is due), the past two days I've gone over my exchange/calorie alottment for the past few days. It's only been a couple hundred calories so it's really not enough to account for the gain I'm experiencing (that's probably water - because it happens every month and disappears every month too unless I give in entirely and go on a week-long binge, which I can't say has never happened). Anyway, today I am up about six pounds. I haven't changed my ticker, because I know that if I stay on plan those six pounds will disappear within five days.
However, when I weighed myself this morning and saw the 6 lb gain, I didn't think "Oh no, I've gained... what's the use of even trying...." as I did most of my life. Instead, I said, "Yes, I've gained six pounds, but I've succeeded at maintaining a 99 lb loss, and I'll get to celebrate 105 lb loss again in a few days, and I'll be able to celebrate 106 lbs before I know it....)
Focusing on the success, rather than the failure, removes the stress and misery of the weight loss process. Even though I'm doing more (exercising regularly, making much better food choices...) it actually seems like I'm doing less - because I only make small changes (ones I think I can manage without feeling overwhelmed) and I only make one change at a time, and I don't add a new change until I'm comfortable with the previous one.
As an example, my first "exercise" was simply clipping a cheap $5 step-counting pedometer to my shoe (not my clothes, because I kept forgetting to remove it, so I lost a lot of pedometers to the washing machine), and every day I tried to beat the previous day's record even by just a few steps.
By focusing on improvement and letting weight loss be the reward rather than the goal, I really am not tempted to quit. Even when I have "bad days" or even total all-out binge days, I don't interpret it as failure. Especially since I try to keep good enough food/health log records to be able to see my progress. I can show myself that the loss-of-control days are smaller and less freqhent.
You know how factories post their safety record (91 days without an accident)? I've even recorded something similar in my journal (28 days without a binge).
In my TOPS (taking off pounds sensibly) we read a poem in which the people who've lost the previous week are rabbits, the people who've maintained are turtles, and the people who've gained are squirrels. I created a weight loss contest a few months ago, and as part of it, I made refrigerator magnets for everyone of each animal to use during the contest. I still use mine.
When I get home from my meeting if I gained, I put the squirrel magnet on the front of my fridge. If I didn't lose, I put out the turtle, and if I lost I put out the rabbit (the unused magnets I put on the side of my fridge).
All week, when I go to the fridge, I remind myself that I want to see the rabbit there as soon as I can (or if the rabbit is up that I want to be able to keep her there). I don't like the squirrel all that much, but I'm fond of not only the rabbit, but even the turtle (because we do know that the turtle can win the race).
All these little ways to "focus on the successes" even when they seem rather small has kept me going. I may never reach my ultimate goal (of between 135 - 150 lbs), but I can keep off what I've lost so far - and that's a worthy goal.
The American "weight loss tradition" makes weight loss so difficult and miserable, that the prospect of doing it forever seems like cruel and unusual punishment (especially if the ultimate goal is never reached).
There's no way I could have lost 105 lbs "that way." In fact, the most I'd ever lost "that way" was about 55-70 lbs (and that was with prescription diet pills and/ or meal replacements). The longest I ever spent on a downward trend of loss was about 18 months. So far, it's been 7 years without a significant gain (which I consider 10 lbs, because I can gain that much during PMS/TOM even if I'm perfectly on plan the whole time).
I used to have a list of all the things I was going to do "after I lost all the weight," and about 15 years ago I started realizing that I might never accomplish any of them. So (even before I started to lose weight) I started working through that list. Dating was one of the first. I hadn't wanted to date for fear of hooking up with a guy who ONLY was attracted to large women. I solved that problem, by writing my own personal ads that made it clear I was looking for a guy who could accept me at any weight, and who was perhaps interested in working on a healthier lifestyle together (and that ad brought my wonderful husband to me, 10 years ago).
For me, looking at my health goals as "ways to pamper myself" rather than ways to punish myself, it gives me another reason to never give up. I now choose fruits the way I used to choose high-calorie foods. When I add exercises, I try to do that with fun in mind.
I learned that a lot of the things I thought I couldn't do UNTIL I lost the weight were perfectly doable (or could be worked toward) even if I lost nothing.
Not all of my attempts have succeeded. I bought a bicycle a few years ago, and because of my joint and balance issues I'm not able to use it most of the year. But it's not the weight holding me back it's pain and balance. And as I get more control of both, I get more and more use out of that bicycle. I may not ever be able to use it more than a few days a year, but it won't be for lack of trying.
I know I've kind of rambled on here, but the main point I'm trying to make is that if you can find a way to make your health, wellness, and weight goals just a normal (and actually a pleasant and even fun) part of your normal life, it doesn't matter whether you ever lose "it all."
It's like all of your other life goals. You may never be a millionaire, but that doesn't mean you empty out your bank account when you realize that might not happen. You do the best you can, and enjoy your life in the meantime while you work on all of your goals in life. You won't acheive every goal, but you'll make progress on all the ones that matter to you.
I may not reach any of my ultimate destinations (goals) in life, but I'd at least like to know that my toes were always pointing in the right direction.
Last edited by kaplods; 03-05-2012 at 07:43 PM.
Reason: grammar and punctuation