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What's the hardest thing you've ever done?

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Old 09-03-2012, 10:01 PM   #1
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Default What's the hardest thing you've ever done?

For me, hands down, it's raising children. Which you may or may not find strange considering I am a physician and research scientist with umpteen years of formal education followed by a scad more years of internship/residency/fellowship which is actually apprentice-style education.

What is NOT the hardest thing I've ever done is lose weight, or even maintain it (though -don't get me wrong- it's d*mnably difficult). I subscribe to a blog called The Great Fitness Experiment (Charlotte Andersen the author is both witty and wise as well as a good writer) and she wrote a post about a woman (unnamed) who is apparently also a research scientist and "a rising star in her field" who apparently states that losing 100 pounds is the hardest thing she's ever done. Charlotte then goes on to state that while she doesn't doubt that this woman means what she says, she also thinks it's rather sad, especially that she also assigns it more importance than her degrees, her research or her ties with family and friends.

So, just wondering what you all think. Is there anything harder than the ongoing yearly grind of maintenance? And is there anything more important than maintaining your weight loss? Like, if you had to choose between weight maintenance and some other really important thing (like keeping your job or your marriage intact), which would you choose?
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Old 09-03-2012, 10:16 PM   #2
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I've done a lot of difficult things, but I've definitely put more effort into weight loss than anything else in my life. Far, far more effort than I spent on in getting my BA and MA in psychology, more effort and difficulty than being a probation officer, than teaching college, than all of my hobbies combined...

I've done more important things, but not more difficult things. There are a lot of things I would sacrifice my weight loss for if I had to, luckily none of those things have to be traded for weight loss, in fact nearly all of them will be enhanced by weight loss.

I have found (finally) ways to make weight loss and weight loss maintenance far easier, but I didn't discover them until relativelyl late in life. If I had known that low-carb and birth control would drastically reduce the "rabid" hunger I experienced most of my life, I would have embraced both as early as 12 years old (when my mother and I first realized that my incredible hunger was even worse during PMS/TOM and my pediatritian advised that bc "could" help but that the more common side effect was weight gain).

Too bad we didn't give it a shot, because my hunger is drastically reduced on birth control, and low-carb would have cinched it.
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Old 09-04-2012, 07:49 AM   #3
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I wonder if you will get different answers from people whose highest weight was about 30 pounds over what's considered healthy and people whose highest weight was 100 pounds or more over what's considered healthy.

My highest weight was over 250; I'll never know how high it got because I'd stopped weighing for several years. I have been overweight for most of my life, since adolescence. The first time I experienced life at a "normal" weight range since my childhood was when I was past 30. It was so thrilling and astonishing that I never, ever, ever wanted to go back to the way I was ...

Yes, losing over 100 pounds was one of the hardest things I've ever done. We aren't having a contest, here, and it's not a competition, so I'll just use my own personal measuring stick.

Yes, it was harder than getting through my 20s and getting a bachelor's degree. (Two separate things, the former more difficult than the latter.) Harder than getting an MFA, even when working on my thesis. Much, much harder than writing a book. Harder than submitting it to university presses and literary presses for three years, rewriting it, reordering it, resubmitting it, applying for grants and scholarships for literary retreats and conferences.

Harder than my job, which is definitely not a sinecure.

Harder than coping with the aftermath of a devastating flood.

As hard as being with & tending to my father for nine months while he died slowly, depressed and furious, of stomach cancer.

All those things went on for a limited span. Even at the darkest moment, I could see there would be an "after."

I see no "after" here. There is no end to this. It is perpetual.

Because what I am doing with exercise and eating is not mainstream or normal, though it's supposed to be a sane way to live, to eat cleanly and exercise. Really it's not and much of the larger world just pays lip service to that notion.

I was in line for an omelet yesterday morning at a hotel brunch buffet. Everyone ahead of me was getting all kinds of stuff in their omelets. Then, finally I was there at the head of the line: "Just egg whites. No cheese. But put in all the vegetables. Yes, all. Extra spinach."

I could feel the people around me getting restive. Their faces were interesting to observe. I made them uncomfortable, even a little angry. Because it was a buffet, it was at a nice hotel on the holiday weekend, and they wanted the default setting to be "indulgence," and I wasn't complying.

My constant noncompliance is very wearying to me psychologically.
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Old 09-04-2012, 08:22 AM   #4
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I can think of a dozen things that have been harder for me than losing weight/maintaining weight loss. Here are a few.

- Having a father who physically and emotionally abused my mother, my siblings, and myself, and trying to cope with that growing up.
- Moving out of my home state to go to grad school at my dream university, and having a breakdown because of the pressure and some unfortunate choices. Dropping out of that school.
- Making bad choices in my love life and paying the price for that.
- Quitting drinking cold turkey.
- Moving across country and finding that I was not as marketable in the East as I thought I would be, and running out of money.

I think that's enough.

But, I haven't been successful at maintaining loss.

I am not willing to have my life revolve around the numbers I see on a scale, my food choices, whether or not to eat a cookie (and feeling bad if I do), etc. ad infinitum. I am willing to pay the price for that, which may be a higher weight than the BMI chart says I should weigh.

I would never choose maintaining weight loss over keeping a (good) marriage intact, keeping my (good) job, etc. Weight loss/maintenance is just not comparable to the importance of those things, in my book. I am more than my weight, I am more than my body's shape and size. I sometimes think that obsession with weight is just a way to avoid the "real" issues in life.

I don't understand how weight maintenance can be as hard as watching a loved one die. Sorry, I don't get it. Something is wrong with that picture, at least for me.

I have to add that I am not in the place of someone who had to lose 100+ pounds. As you can see, at one time I dropped 50. Right now I'm up 30. I do think the viewpoint is different if one has a considerable amount to lose.

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Old 09-04-2012, 12:46 PM   #5
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Great post, Saef!
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Old 09-04-2012, 02:07 PM   #6
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As someone who only dropped 50lbs, losing and maintaining my weight is not the hardest thing I've ever done. The hardest things I've done are deciding to drop out of grad school and taking care of my dog after his back injury. Weight loss/maintenance comes somewhere after that (maybe about in line with planning my wedding, which was way harder than I thought it would be). I still have a lot of life ahead of me and I expect there will be many harder things in store later.

Maybe it's because I didn't have as much weight to lose, or because I had 3FC to help me, or because I was only 21 when I started losing, or because I have a supportive husband. I don't know. Sure, maintaining can be hard, but it's become a habit. The other things I consider to be "hard" involved a whole lot of crying and agonizing and feeling like the world was ending. Weight loss/maintenance has never been like that.
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Old 09-04-2012, 03:23 PM   #7
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Had to jump in on this one...I survived law school and a really demanding job and I can tell you that losing weight has been the hardest thing I've ever done. I started with more than 130 to loose. I've gone from a 24W to a regular 12 (and looking at a 10). With school, I could take a break...there was always a summer vacation or a Christmas break. It was not constant though demanding. It didn't require me to change the way I think, to challenge my concept of myself or to summons more discipline than I ever used. It didn't ask me to change the way I express love (usually through food) or to change my form of entertainment/stress relief.

I have 3 children as well. It has definitely been challenging but my weight loss requires 110% from me. I have a great husband and we partner together in parenting. They are in school during the day so I have somewhat of a "break." Not with weight loss and challenging my self image concepts. It is ALWAYS there. I don't obsess over it but it has called me to branch out into uncomfortable areas....like running...in front of a group...okay, in front of men on the trail...

I think the importance is debatable. However, making a decision to take care of my health and my body to ward off an early death is pretty important to me. I was MORBIDLY obese at 284+ (that was what I weighed when I finally got the nerve to get on the scale after 3 months of dieting- I probably hit 300). Making a decision TO LIVE....pretty important.

My degrees mean nothing if I'm in the grave. My two cents....
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Old 09-04-2012, 03:50 PM   #8
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There's also a big difference between "difficult" and "painful." I agree that losing a loved one is more painful than weight loss, but more difficult? Definitely not for me, so far.

The pain is far more severe, but there was much less required of me to get through it. And I received far more support and sympathy (even from strangers) in coping with the loss.

And there are better role models for the grieving process, and while the grieving doesn't ever end, it usually does get progressively easier over time. I haven't found that to be as true with weight loss maintenance. It's nearly as difficult now as it's ever been. I've found some ways to make it easier, but for the most part the struggle requires nearly as much attention and effort as it ever has.

If giving up the weight loss would prevent a loved one's death, I'd gladly sacrifice the weight loss in a heartbeat (thankfully I can think of no situation in which such a scenario would occur). However, in terms of effort and ability to function in every day life, I'd succeeded more at the grieving process than I ever have at weight loss... much more painful, but far less concentrated effort required.

If by difficult you mean painful, then yes, loss of a loved one is more difficult. However in this thread, I interpreted difficult to mean "the most effort required on my part." In this regard, losing a loved one while very painful, didn't require more concerted effort on my part than has weight loss.
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Old 09-04-2012, 04:06 PM   #9
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I can try to represent the low end of the spectrum; I've only lost about 25 pounds and might fight my way to 35, eventually. For me, this isn't "hard". It is an annoyance because I don't get to eat as much as I want to. It's an annoyance because I can't count on my intuition with food. It's an annoyance because I know I'll have to pay attention to these details at least 90% of the rest of my life. Nothing I do, including job, marriage, parenting, friendships, pets, etc consumes this low level of brain activity on such a consistent basis. It doesn't consume every waking moment, and the world doesn't fall in for a week if I eat something really over the top. It's just *there* constantly, like the mosquito in the bedroom, or the 60 Hz hum in the fluorescent lights.

For comparison, "hard" was working full-time on the afternoon shift, an hour's drive away from where I was holding down full-time status as a grad student, which was another hour's drive from where I was living.

"Hard" is raising an easy-going (on the outside) 13-year old son with an IQ of 155 who is so paralyzed by his inner requirements for perfection that he'd rather not try to do anything at all, while being married to a full-blooded German who's also a Taurus, and who simply does not comprehend why not everything other people touch is done as perfectly as he can do it.
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Old 09-05-2012, 08:20 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saef View Post
Because what I am doing with exercise and eating is not mainstream or normal, though it's supposed to be a sane way to live, to eat cleanly and exercise. Really it's not and much of the larger world just pays lip service to that notion.
Absolutely.

Quote:
Originally Posted by saef View Post
I was in line for an omelet yesterday morning at a hotel brunch buffet. Everyone ahead of me was getting all kinds of stuff in their omelets. Then, finally I was there at the head of the line: "Just egg whites. No cheese. But put in all the vegetables. Yes, all. Extra spinach."

I could feel the people around me getting restive. Their faces were interesting to observe. I made them uncomfortable, even a little angry. Because it was a buffet, it was at a nice hotel on the holiday weekend, and they wanted the default setting to be "indulgence," and I wasn't complying.

My constant noncompliance is very wearying to me psychologically.
Oh I hear you on that! I've just come back from a holiday in the snow, and every morning, I took my 1/2 cup of home-made granola in a zip-lock baggie down to breakfast while everyone else was piling their plates high with greasy sausages, eggs and bacon etc.

Then there are all the constant remarks at work about how "good" I am with my food, and sniping about how I'm "only eating like that to make everyone else feel bad" and so forth.

The constant remarks and looks are certainly draining psychologically.
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Old 09-05-2012, 08:52 AM   #11
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I too am in the "small amount lost" category. For me weight loss and maintenance certainly isn't the hardest thing in life. It's tedious and boring but it is becoming a good habit and getting easier.

My hardest thing was overcoming a totally dysfunctional upbringing as the only child of a psychotic abusive father and alcoholic mother. I had no other family to turn to or any adults in my life to direct me positively after the age of about 8.

Took me almost 40 years but I'm there. That is my great life accomplishment - becoming a "normal" person.

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Old 09-05-2012, 11:09 AM   #12
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I've done plenty of hard things in my life. Some harder than others, of course. Here is a short list:

--public speaking. I'm very shy and speaking to a crowd is difficult to say the least. I managed it over and over while serving two terms as president of a charity organization.

--leaving my husband behind to accompany my friend on a trip to Italy. Seriously. I was terrified. And I'd been to Europe before! I was shaking and crying before I left. I have no idea why this was so hard (even though I had a great time).

--watching my mother die in hospice.

--raising two great kids without them falling in with the "wrong" crowd.

--quitting my dreaded job and going to work with my husband in an industry I had no qualifications for and being responsible for the day to day operations and cash flow.

--moving hundreds of miles away from my home state right after finding out I was pregnant with my first child.

--making friends (that may sound strange, but I'm terribly shy).

But I have to say the single most difficult thing I've ever done was to make the horrible decision to put down an animal. I've had to do it three times and it never gets any easier.

(You notice that losing weight is not on the list. Yeah, it's hard but it's not so hard that I count it.)
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Old 09-05-2012, 04:40 PM   #13
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The last year, almost without comparison, has been the hardest year of my life. My weightloss was part of that year... but honestly, it was the easiest thing I dealt with all year. (Except, perhaps, these last 10-12 pounds. They've been and continue to be a PAIN, lol.)

But seriously, weightloss is difficult, no two ways about it. I think it's a matter of what we are dealing with while we lose weight, too. Losing, for me, was the one small pleasure I had this year. When nothing else went right, just being able to get on the scale or look in the mirror and see that I done something good for myself was helpful. It also encouraged me to continue down the path that was getting results. If the weight had been the only thing plaguing my mind, I'm not sure if I would have been as successful.
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Old 09-05-2012, 09:51 PM   #14
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I'm young, so I'm lacking in the life experience department, but weight loss is one of the most difficult things I've ever done.

One of the most difficult years of my life was the one year of grad school: somehow, someway I did my Master's in one year. Weight loss, however, beats that.

It really wasn't difficult so much as in the process, but more so the mental toll that it took (and still takes on me). Yes, I was stressed when I was going to grad school and working full time, but mentally I was in a good place. With weight loss, I felt as if my sense of self was constantly being messed around with and that I was losing one identity and gaining another. It's difficult for me to describe in words, but I think that saying that I felt as if I were living in another's body sums it up nicely.

I think, however, that one of the most difficult things I've ever done so far was my job hunt. With the economy the way it is and people my age being pushed aside AND how horrible it is for teachers in my area, it was a wonder that I even found a position. My job search only lasted a few months, but it was the most difficult few months of my life. I had so many frustrating experiences and had to face the reality that for the first time in my life there was a possibility that I would have no job—it was just scary and stressful.
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Old 09-06-2012, 02:49 AM   #15
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By far, the hardest thing I've ever done is to run a marathon while suffering with Parkinson's Disease. My muscles literally locked up when I hit the 20 mile mark, and I had this strange gallop all the way to 26.2. The pain I felt was incredible, but I was so determined not to give up that I think I went into some sort of shock, because my legs became numb. I kept looking down at them to see if they were still moving.

BUT, apparently I am a glutton for punishment, because I am currently training for another marathon, which will be number 4, and they haven't gotten any easier for me. Doc says I may be addicted to the pain that comes with them? I feel that I am addicted to the adrenaline and dopamine rush that comes with running.

Losing 110 lbs. was not hard for me. Maintenance however is another story and is exactly how others here have described it. So annoying at times I could just scream. It makes me feel like an outsider and a weirdo (not all the time, but frequently), and that can be exhausting.
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