General chatter - Excuse or Answer? - I failed because I was stressed/too busy.

05-04-2011, 11:38 AM
Daily I read a post from a return 3FC member who lost his/her way on the weight loss journey and is back to recommit. (I am one such person, myself!) The typical first return post explains that the journey was overthrown because of a major life stress/being too busy.

I find myself asking, do skinny people never have stress and that's why they stay thin? Or, do they handle their stress by eating less? Or, handle their stress in some other way? And, then, would the answer be more than calorie counting and exercising to find a different way of handling our stress?

For example, training ourselves to say - "Gee, I'm really, really stressed. Instead of taking a hot shower and then relaxing to a movie I'm going to run two miles and burn the stress out of me." Maybe that is the answer? Maybe as much as we watch what we eat and are careful to time our exercise we should take the time to find healthy ways to manage the stress.

Or, is it just an excuse? We quit so we say "I quit because I was stressed." For example, I haven't been to the dentist in three years. I plan on going in there for my appointment today and say "I've had a really rough three years." Which is true, I went through a really rough divorce. But, honestly, I was just too freakin' lazy to make the appointment and walk the five blocks to the dentist.

So, are we handling our stress poorly or are we just making excuses for failing? Or, a little bit of both?

And, this is what I really want to know. Are there any studies on this?

05-04-2011, 12:04 PM
Don't we all make excuses for not doing stuff? Going to the dentist is the perfect example! I used to go 3x a year. Now only 1x yr. Why? Because it sucks to have my sensitive teeth cleaned! I don't make excuses about that, though. I tell the hygenist very honestly about that so they don't hurt me. :)

To answer your Q about skinny people and stress, I can only tell you my personal experience as a skinny person (makes my laugh to say that. Like skinny or not-so-skinny peeps are two different species. LOL)

Anyway, when I'm stressed, I can't eat. I may be super hungry, too, but like when I went through my divorce, food would go right through me. Yeah, like, constantly crapping. Sorry if TMI.

I notice, too, that I exercise when stressed. Last Monday, I found out my ex is taking me back to court (some sorry-arsed dumb and unfounded claim I owe him more money). Within the hour, I was out running. Not just your leisurely jog, either. I ran three eight minute miles, and then I felt better.

"stress" is not the only excuse. I hear a lot of "hormone" or "medication" excuses. To be clear - those are legitimate reasons to feel more hungry or more tired. However, besides water retention, there is no excuse for eating more than we're burning.

The best excuse? "It's not easy."

05-04-2011, 12:52 PM
i do think some of it is excuses versus reasons. but weight loss for some of us is extremely hard, requires us to put a lot of energy mental and physical into it in order to keep it going. add something stressful to the mix and something has to give... why wouldn't it be that difficult task you've been forcing yourself to do? i can see the mentality and i can see how it happens, since it has happened to me over and over.

05-04-2011, 12:52 PM
A re-start post recently struck started with a list of life stressors, and ended with "so obviously I have regained the weight I had lost." I think a lot us think that way, but I do think it is a detrimental line of thinking. If we excuse gaining weight because of stress, it just gives us permission to do the same thing next time life knocks us for a loop, which it will do. A stress binge has many times been the end of my weight loss attempts, but stress is a bad excuse for overeating. I have always wished that I could be one of those people who cannot eat when they are stressed, I would be rail thin. I don't drink, I don't smoke, food is my vice. Eating makes me feel better, for a minute. I certainly know of better ways to cope with stress, but sometimes I choose not to use them.

05-04-2011, 01:27 PM
I am a chronic re-starter lol. I've lost HUGE amounts of weight multiple times in my adult life, and here I am again. I don't think stress is what does it for me personally. Heck, my husband lost his job a month ago and I have been pulling my hair out about that, but I'm still staying on plan.

I know exactly why I am a lifer. I friggin LOVE food. I specifically love junk/comfort food. I'd go as far as to say I am an addict. I think that may be the case for lots of us, and stress is just the trigger for relapse for some people-just like any other addiction.

Maintenance is my problem. It's not that I can't stick to a plan, that is an old hat for me. Once I'm "done" losing weight I feel like I can get off the plan, and without the structure and tracking I just spiral out of control until I'm back where I started.

I don't know of any studies or anything, but I do think that there is a definite correlation between the fact that such a large percentage of the world's population is overweight now and societies' focus on food today. Everywhere we turn there is a taco bell commercial or mcdonalds billboard. For me that is like a crack dealer on every corner lol.

05-04-2011, 01:28 PM
I have never understood the desire to put things in the category of "excuses". From my perspective, it's all just information, that we can either ignore or use in preventing it from happening again.

Everyone develops coping mechanisms for stress. It's part of growing up, and depending on your family and life circumstances, your coping mechanisms can be along a whole continuum of healthy and unhealthy behaviors. I don't think skinny people don't have stress - rather, I think that their coping mechanisms for stress don't involve eating more food than their bodies require. That doesn't mean that they're necessarily HEALTHY, just that they don't show in terms of weight (someone who binge drinks to release stress, for example, may not gain weight, but I wouldn't say that was "healthy" coping...someone who doesn't eat in response to stress, also, might be thinner, but won't be healthy after prolonged periods of stress). There's a whole range of coping mechanisms, and only a small number of them involve food at all.

In terms of the "Excuse vs Answer" debate, this is where I think people really get judgmental. If I say, "I fell off the wagon because of intense personal stress", that's information. How I choose to USE that information may further my weight loss goals, or not, but that doesn't mean it's just an "excuse" - it's information about what happened. I might decide, knowing based on my experience how I use food as a coping mechanism, that I want to actively work on developing new coping mechanisms for the next time I'm stressed (in which case, acknowledging that "I fell off the wagon due to stress" will ultimately make me more successful, since I can develop strategies to work around it). I might also decide that falling off the wagon was inevitable given my stress levels, in which case, it probably won't help me be successful the next time I face a stressful situation.

I've found that 3FC gets very heated around the idea of "excuse" vs "reason". For me, the distinction is unimportant. What matters is having an idea of what happened when things go wrong, and if you don't want it to go wrong again, coming up with ways to work around it if possible.

05-04-2011, 02:02 PM
I'm a "skinny person" but unlike the above skinny, I can eat when I'm stressed and don't exercise that much (although I'm always active). I'm not someone who ever loses their appetite. In fact I definitely do comfort eat and over-eat when I'm tired or stressed. I don't drink or smoke either so I relate to the above post about food (chocolate in my case) being my vice.

I am, on the other hand, very health conscious so the thought of eating anything deep-fried, for example, or drinking even a single can of soda, makes me cringe a little bit and I'd have to consider it carefully.

If I think my eating is getting out of control or my jeans are even a little bit tight, I'm on it right away. My diet is generally very natural (no processed foods) and healthy, so what I consider "losing control" or going over-board might be someone else's version of eating very well.

It takes me quite a few failed attempts to get back on track and get my motivation up but I keep trying until I feel ready to get back into gear.

Also, my diet has been pretty much consistent my whole life, which I think means my metabolism is fairly responsive.

I do get stressed and I do know what it's like to not be able to stop myself eating more and more on a full stomach, but I never stray very far from my usual weight 'cause I get worried about putting any on. I'm about 105lb and my jeans feel a little bit tight. At christmas they fit perfectly so I'm eating little and often of the right foods at the moment to take me back to what I was and how I felt comfortable.

My point is, just because someone is slim, doesn't mean they don't turn to food for comfort. When I'm majorly stressed it takes a lot not to go and buy a family-size bag of m&m's to cheer myself up. If I buy the large size, I'm gonna eat the large size!

05-04-2011, 02:25 PM
I think the reason many gain back weight is b/c it wasn't a real lifestyle change where old bad habits were traded for better ones. If you are always thinking of the day you go off plan or can quit your plan, you haven't found a long-term workable solution to balancing your diet to maintain a healthy weight IMO. Did you add stress that changed your lifestyle?

Some circumstances aren't in our control and we have to adjust to them to get our weight to readjust to a healthier range, that's perfectly ok. You can't help injury, illness, surgeries and the weight that sometimes comes with those while we are getting our bodies back on track. Sometimes you have to revamp everything from eating to exercise but such is life, always changing.

It's important to realize that thin people don't have the corner on healthy exercise and diet either. There are many people who will have lifestyle changes (weddings, babies, deaths, illness, surgeries and recoveries) and gain a few pounds. But there are just as many people that hover over a healthy weight who have very disordered eating/exercise habits although it doesn't necessarily show so much on the outside, well, until later. It's a shame that our society prejudges overweight people so badly. What can you say? Many of us are ignorant about situations and how to deal with them until we have to confront them ourselves.

05-04-2011, 03:02 PM
My husband quit smoking 2 years ago after reading a book entitled "The Easy Way to Stop Smoking." He told me that he believed the book could easily be adapted to cover other things that people have issues with, like food or alcohol, so I picked it up and skimmed through it. One part that stuck with me was the way people handle stress and use it as an excuse to smoke (or eat). The author's point was that our addictions do not instantly make the stress go away and they don't make everything better. So if we can learn to handle our stress in a different way, we can break our habits.

I am guilty of using food, especially carbs, as a comfort item and I have been working to break that association. Now when I am stressed, I take a bubble bath and read a book. And I don't keep loaves of bread in the house :-) But, I think that the key issue is that people use stress as an excuse to slip back into their old ways because they view their old eating habits as a comfort in times of discomfort. Realizing this has allowed me to break out of the cycle and start looking for other ways to release my stress.

05-04-2011, 03:55 PM
As I found myself pondering this question this morning, I wondered if all of the dieting and exercising is really the answer. What if I just sat down and asked myself why? Why do I weigh more than I like? Then, once that is answered ask "why is that the answer?" If I was able to identify exactly what it was that got me to the point I am right now and corrected *that* would the weight just fall off as a side effect?

Not that I'm going to stop counting calories, but it was food for thought. But, why wouldn't I just stop counting calories and address the above? Not sure. Laziness? The thought that it wouldn't really be the answer? The need to feel like I'm actively making a change that is more tangible? I have no idea why. But, it did give me pause.

Secondly, the comment about some people have incredibly terrible and unhealthy food relationships, too - so true. It IS unfair that those that are overweight are judged so much harsher. I have a girlfriend that's never weighed over 130 lbs. a day in her life. She cannot climb one flight of stairs. She has gone between skipping major meals, only eating smarties, going on a yogurt diet and lipo. He health absolutely sucks. But, she's thin.

05-04-2011, 04:52 PM
Be gentle with yourself. Don't let your self-worth fluctuate with a number on a scale or how you look. Everyone is striving to maintain balance in their own way, everyday. If you work on it long enough, you are bound to make positive changes that will stick to form good habits. The more you practice your good habits, the more routine they become. Just continue to mold your habits into a sustainable routine that you enjoy. Keep doing it until you have a healthy lifestyle that you enjoy.

Did you enjoy the lifestyle you were living while losing or were you toughing it out?

05-05-2011, 07:02 AM
've found that 3FC gets very heated around the idea of "excuse" vs "reason". For me, the distinction is unimportant. What matters is having an idea of what happened when things go wrong, and if you don't want it to go wrong again, coming up with ways to work around it if possible.

I agree. I think words like "bad, blame, and excuses" are counterproductive. Sometimes I almost get the feeling that there's this culturally reinforced belief that "the only good fat person, is a self-hating fat person." And if you don't hate yourself enough - if you don't beat yourself daily with the lash of self-recriminations you must "be in denial" and therefore will never receive redemption and salvation from the obesity gods.

Making changes doesn't require self-blame. Deciding how much blame is yours and how much is the universe's, doesn't really "do" anything, so why waste the time.

Also a lot of us have learned to use food to treat and numb emotional pain like guilt (because it's a culturally-endorsed tradition - and because it works). Labeling ourselves as a lazy, excuse-maker (and the guilt that comes with that) can make it just that much harder to break the cycle.
How many times after thinking "I must be lazy, crazy, and stupid, to have gotten here" do we reach for food to make us feel better (at least in the short term).

Oh sure, we promise to "start fresh" and get down to the business of losing weight tomorrow or Monday or some other point in the future, but the first reaction to the "my fault" logic is to medicate the bad feelings or to binge them away "one last binge before I never eat anything 'bad' again."

All those bits of fat = bad or fat= blame logic are all related, and they make the road to weight loss more of a briar patch. I prefer a smoother road, working on what I find helpful, rather than trying to classify and quantify the factors that got me here (I spent decades doing that and it didn't help).

05-05-2011, 10:44 AM
We live in a finger-pointing society. Why? Because sometimes it's really difficult to accept our own truth and our own reality.

Think about your income, for instance. Do you have a "reason" or an "excuse" why it is what it is? I know I do. Actually, I have 2 reasons. One I share with others - locationally challenged -and the other I keep to myself- laziness.

Ironic that someone who works out 5 times a week is considering herself lazy! The more I look at it, that's EXACTLY what it is. I don't want to pick up a night job coz I rather decompress/recover at home!

Apply that to changing a lifestyle to total health and fitness. If you don't WANT to do that deep down inside, you won't. You can tell others any mariad of reasons, but deep down we all have our own truth.

Funny, I just thought of another excuse for me not picking up another part time job - I don't think it would be healthy for me. I wouldn't get enough rest or sleep to recover from exercising. HAhahaha! That's a good one. But it's still B.S. ;)