Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Wausau, WI
There was no straw "this time." All of my other significant weight losses begain with the proverbial "last straw," but not this time.
I thought that the straw was necessary, and I thought my previous failures were due to a lack of will power on my part. I think I was wrong.
I didn't lack willpower, but I was repeatedly dashing my head against the same brick wall.
Seeing that dieting (the way I knew how to do it) only in the end resulted in weight gain, I gave up dieting forever (I thought).
And then without any effort (or even awareness, as I didn't own a scale) I lost 20 lbs. When my pulmonologist told me this would likely happen after prescribing a cpap machine for me for sleep apnea, I thought he was nuts (I'd never lost weight accidentally in my life).
A year later at my anual checkup I discovered that I lost 20 lbs. What was especially ironic was that it was during a time in which my activity level had drastically fell because of disabling illness (fibromyalgia, insulin resistance, autoimmune disease, arthritis, and copd). I could barely walk, barely breathe, and barely stay awake.
I was so astonished at the 20 lbs, that I decided that if I could lose it without trying, I should be able to keep it off with a little effort, and maybe I could lose more, but I knew I couldn't go back to dieting the way I was used to dieting.
I decided that I would only make changes that I was willing to commit to for life, whether or not they resulted in any weight loss at all. And for two years those changes didn't result in any weight loss at all (but I was able to keep the 20 lbs off, which was a small miracle of it's own. I'd spent most of my life gaining steadily or losing steadily. I had very little experience in maintaining weight loss).
Even though I didn't lose any weight for those two years, I did gain some pretty incredible health improvements. Just being able to shower standing was a big milestone (I had to have a shower chair), and being able to sleep in a normal bed with my husband. For a year, we had to sleep in seperate bedrooms because hubby could not sleep with my snoring and with the incline I needed. We had to jack the head of my bed up a foot higher than the foot of the bed. All night it felt like I was sliding out of bed, but I needed the steep incline so gravity would help drain gunk from my lungs.
It wasn't "hitting bottom" that made me desperate to make changes (as much as it would seem logical), it was finding out what made losing easier and less stressful. And for me, it was dieting "backwards" from the way I'd been taught to.
I'd always been taught (by the example of people around me, and the books I'd read) to diet "full-speed-ahead" with the idea that hopefully when I reached goal weight, I could back off. Start with 1,000 calorie diet (or less) and as much activity as I could handle without puking, and (eventually in theory) at goal weight I'd be able to eat more and exercise less. I only knew how to lose weight by doing almost nothing else (social life, education, career they all didn't just take a back seat, they virtually were abandoned).
Eventually I'd always get burnt out on the intense effort and having no life, and would decide that "I'll never be thin, so what's the point..."
My doctor also recommended low-carb eating. It took more than a year for me to give it an honest shot, because I was so used to seeing low-carb as an unhealthy and even potentially dangerous diet. But eventually I learned that low-carb is the only way I'm able to control hunger. It was another way to make weight loss easier.
This is the easiest, lowest stress weight loss I've evern accomplished. Sure it's slower, and I do want to pick up the pace, but not as badly as I want to keep the easy, low-stress pace, because I think the ease and stresslessness are the secrets to my success. I've never lost nearly this much weight before. 70 lbs was my previous record, and that was with amphetamine diet pills and my best (teenage) metabolism.
I think the biggest change though has been in how I view weight loss. This time I value every ounce lost. In the past, I thought only making it to goal weight counted or mattered. When I felt like I couldn't lose any more weight, I felt "what's the use, I'll never make it to goal." Now I think "Even if I can't make it to goal, I can keep off what I've lost so far."
Even if I can't make it to goal, I can keep off what I've lost so far.
I think it wasn't so much a "last straw" as a paradigm shift - that is "thinking outside the box." I realized that there are a lot of dieting myths and "traditions" that I had learned without realizing I had learned them. One of them was giving up when the process became frustrating. I'd seen my mother do it, my grandmother do it, so many friends and strangers at WW, TOPS, and OA meetings. I realized that I had learned to do weight loss wrong, just because it's how I saw most people doing it.
Every parent says "do what I say, not what I do," but observational learning is an extremely powerful force. Mostly we learn what we see, even if we know it's not the most effective strategy. It isn't very easy to learn from other people's mistakes (especially if the mistake is almost universal).
It's a bit like swearing when you bang your thumb or toe. If it's what you've learned, unlearning it can be more challenging than you imagine.
Unlearning. I think that's really been the "secret" of my success this time. And some of it, I didn't realize I had learned, which made unlearning that much larger a challenge.