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Old 10-12-2012, 10:48 AM   #1  
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Unhappy Why do I keep sabatoging my weight loss? :-(

I met my husband 15 years ago and was not overweight before meeting him. I did have an eating disorder but I wasn't overweight. After meeting him and having children together I gained almost 100 pounds over the years :-( Every time I try and lose weight I somehow end up sabotaging it and then stop trying. Before I was 238 and got down to 203 and was SO excited to be almost under 200 but then I sabotaged myself. Weight went up to 230 after that and as soon as I hit 217 I did it again. Now I'm 224 and so depressed. Has anyone else done this and what did you do about it? We are taking our four kids to Disney World in May and I told my DH that if I wasn't a normal weight by then I'm not going. It's our families first "real" vacation and I'm just having a very hard time. I have a membership to the YMCA and will go daily when I go and I start feeling really good. I'm not sure if it's stress because we have ALOT of stress. That's putting it lightly. Could it have to do with my past? Was molested while growing up and was in a very abusive relationship for six years in my early 20's. I just don't know :-( Really depressed and just want to lose weight. Any thoughts? Going to sign off now and head to the gym but I'm feeling it's not going to be worth it since I seem to keep sabotaging myself :-( Help! I really wanted to be 130-135 by May 1st. and know that's probably now not to realistic since I keep messing up :-(
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Old 10-12-2012, 11:46 AM   #2  
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I spent most of my life wondering why I kept sabotaging my weight loss. I went into therapy and even chose my college major and went on to graduate school in the same field (psychology) primarily to learn to understand and fix myself.

The therapist surmised that my self-destruction was due to unresolved emotional issues from being adopted and jealousy over being "replaced" by my younger sisters (my brother and I are adopted and when we were teens, my parents had our sisters - biokids).

This didn't resonate with me, because I had always been incredibly proud of being adopted (as a child I would tell strangers and explain why being adopted was special), and my weight issues started in kindergarten (nine years before my first sister was born). Also, I wasn't in the least jealous of my sisters or the attention they received, in fact it was my sister's (especially the youngest) who was jealous of my brother and I when she was little, because she wanted to be 'dopted too (in her 3 year old mind, Mommy and Daddy had gotten to "pick us out," where they didn't have a choice with her).

When I brought this up to the therapist, she admitted I might be right, but her alternative theory was repressed sexual abuse (a convenient theory since if I didn't remember any abuse, there was no way to disprove the theory) or unresolved issues and conflict with my obese mother (and my supposed desire to be "just like her," which I found funny too since I have no problem being her exact opposite in almost every other way imaginable except devotion to family).

Still, being a psych professional, I didn't entirely dismiss any of these possibilities, and considered many more. It became my life's mission to discover and resolve the issues contributing to my obesity and my self-sabotage, and for more than 30 years I struggled and failed to master the obesity and the self-sabotage, looking for psychological reasons that I discovered eventually didn't even exist. For those 30 years I had been barking up the wrong tree.

What started turning me around, ironically was the Fat Acceptance movement, and their pet theory that it's actually dieting that causes weight gain. It sure had been my experience that diets only made me fatter in the end, much fatter. In a very real sense, I dieted my way to nearly 400 lbs.

I stopped dieting, and I finally accepted birth control medication for my severe PMDD (periods for me were absolute **** from the time they started at nine years old). At 12, my pediatritian offered to prescribe birth control for my severe cramping and the rabid hunger I experienced "that week" Most of my life I would spent "that week" eating out of control, and the rest of the month struggling to lose the weight I gained that week. We were told bc might help, but that bc generally had weight gain as a side effect. Neither my mother or I were willing to take the risk. When I got into FA, I lost my fear of being fatter, so I was willing to take the risk to improve my quality of life (because the periods had gotten even worse, and I was even missing work almost every month).

And a miracle occurred, I stopped gaining weight. My pms weight gain was now limited to water retention that disappeared without effort.

I think this experience planted the seed in my mind that perhaps I wasn't lazy, crazy, or stupid - maybe I wasn't sabotaging myself, maybe my biochemistry was.

I started finding more and more research that suggested to me that weight issues aren't a result of self-sabotage except in the sense that we're TAUGHT to self-sabotage. All of our models for weight loss are all-or-nothing, so when we can't give 100% we end up giving 0% (or worse 100% in the wrong direction). We're TAUGHT that the appropriate response to eating a single bite off-plan is to binge until the next appropriate "starting over" time.

Doubt that this is true? Tell me that you've failed this quiz?

It's Monday and you eat a single bite off plan, when do you start over?
(Tuesday morning).

It's Friday and you eat a single bite off plan, when do you start over?
(Monday morning)

It's Thanksgiving and you ate a single bite off plan, when do you start over?
(New Years Day)

We're also taught to give up everything for weight loss, then give up when we get sick of the deprivation. Gradual weight loss is seen as virtually as bad a failure as rapid weight loss (when was the last time you heard anyone whoop it up over a quarter pound weight loss, or for having a no gain week - both are seen as failures not successes, even though most folks who are trying to lose weight don't even manage these awesome successes on a regular basis).

FA also taught me that I didn't have to postpone my life because of my weight. And in fact, refusing to postpone my life actually made weight loss easier (so I'd beg you not to hold yourself or your family hostage over the the success or failure of possible weight loss. Blackmailing yourself isn't likely to make the weight loss any easier. Instead resolve to get into the best shape you can, so that regardless of your weight at the time of the vacation, you will be in the best shape possible to enjoy it).

Then I began reading dozens of books on low-carb, grain-free, and paleo dieting and two other books that changed my perspective and my life: David Kessler's book "The End of Overeating," and Barbara Berkeley's "Refuse to Regain," and I became even more convinced that I wasn't sabotaging myself at all, I had simply learned to eat and to attempt weight loss by methods that didn't work in the long term. I wasn't failing myself, my plan was failing me (even though - and actually BECAUSE I was following the "common wisdom." I had to learn that the common wisdom was WRONG).

In a nutshell, this is how I lost over 100 lbs, by unlearning and relearning what I thought I knew about weight loss. First and foremost I had to take "weight loss" off the table for a while. I was too used to seeing small weight losses and stalls as failures rather than successes. I would feel so discouraged by a half pound loss that I would give up, because I didn't see the half pound loss as a tremendous success. I saw it as tremendous failure.

I have to give my doctor credit for slapping me in the faced with reality when at near my highest weight I was losing only 1 pound a month and was getting very discouraged (I was also very disabled at the time and spent most of the day in bed). My doctor didn't see incredible failure, he saw incredible success, because as he told me that I was not failing, that most people who try to lose weight (regardless of their size) do not lose one pound a month. I was succeeding not failing, I was just defining my success as failure because I didn't know that I was succeeding.

Weight loss is like a huge city marathon, and we assume we're failing when we see 1,000 people ahead of us, unaware of the 20,000 people behind us. We're taught to think we're trailing in everyone else's dust, when we're actually in the lead or smack dab in the middle. Heck, even when we are at the tail end of the pack, we're still rarely as far behind as we think we are. We assume we're alone, when there are thousands if not millions of people in the exact same position we are, and many thousands behind us.

If we were taught to climb mountains the way we're taught to do weight loss, no one would survive it, because at the first stumble, we'd throw ourselves off the nearest cliff-face so that we could "start fresh" from the bottom.

We've culturally defined success in such a way that only the top one tenth of one percent meet the criteria for success. We've convinced the remaining 99.9% of people that they're failing. Where else do we do this? Isn't it more likely that being in the top 10 or even 20% isn't such a terrible thing. Isn't it more likely that if we rewarded each other for being in the top half, that we'd be encouraged to work towards getting even higher in the rankings?

Don't give up. That's the only secret to winning the battle with weight loss, but it's a very difficult secret to live because we're taught to give up (and we're taught to blame ourselves, even though we're given very few models for success). We're taught to label modest success as failure, because the only people we "see" lose weight are losing 5 lbs or more per week (especially now with shows like The Biggest Loser and Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition where people are harassed and verbally abused for "only" losing 8 lbs a week, or "only" losing 20 lbs a month).

If you see yourself as succeeding, even during the rough spots, you won't want to give up. I had to redefine success so that I could feel successful every day. That meant for me, giving up on weight loss entirely at first. I decided that weight loss wasn't even my main goal. My main goal was going to be "not gaining." So I weighed daily, and I celebrated "not gaining" every bit as much as I ever celebrated losing. When I lost a quarter pound, it was great, but it was "gravy" I reminded myself. It was an extra, not the be-all-and-end-all. Also, if I gained, I didn't beat myself up, I reminded myself of what I had maintained. So when I'm up a pound or five (as I am currently from a vacation in Illinois) I don't fuss about the five pounds, I celebrate the 100 I've kept off, even as I'm motivated to get back to my current "record" of 105 lbs.

I don't change my ticker unless I've kept a weight gain for more than ten days, because until then I don't consider it a gain, I consider it a "fluctuation."

I also use a sticker and reward chart for my weight loss. Every pound earns me a sticker, and every five stickers earns me a donut bead for my weight loss bracelets (I'm on my second bracelet. 20 beads on the first bracelet and 1 bead on the second).

I know I've told you just about my life story, but I'm very passionate on the issue of "sabotage." I think the word is grossly overused, and I believe that most of us are failing because we're taught to fail and because we're taught to eat foods that make weight loss more difficult and often nigh impossible. Even our idea of a "healthy diet" is often skewed towards foods that make weight loss extremely difficult for many people, especially those with blood sugar issues (which I'd also suggest you look into. Ask your doctor for a full metabolic panel to rule out diabetes, insulin resistance, reactive hypoglycemia...).

Hang in there, and reward even the smallest sucesses (though first you have to train yourself to see them).
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Old 10-12-2012, 12:41 PM   #3  
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I don't think anyone can answer more in depth or with more understanding that Kaploids. Read her post and read it again. It is a good reminder, even for those that are actively losing weight, that a week or two or months holding steady isn't a bad thing as most in the world are gaining steadily.

One thing I'd note though, you've put an ultimatum on yourself to be X weight by May, 8 months, but earlier in your post you stated over the years you gained 100 pounds. Why are you giving yourself such little time to lose what took years to put on? I'm a numbers person so let's talk numbers:

Let's say there are perfectly 4 weeks a month over 8 months. that gives you 32 weeks. You're 224 lbs and you want to be 135 by May. That's 2.78 lbs per week. 1 lb of weight loss is roughly a 3500 calorie deficit so you'd need a deficit per day of 1,390.5 calories. If your maintenance calories are 2400, you'd have to eat at just over 1000 calories per day to meet your goal. Not healthy or realistic. Your maintenance calories could potentially be even lower so it could be even more unhealthy, dangerous and unrealistic than this example.

Another thing is, weight loss doesn't come off at perfectly steady intervals. People have ups, downs, plateaus and it can take quite a while to find what works best and get a system going.

If you don't meet that deadline, and you probably won't, how will you react? It seems awfully unfair to yourself and your kids to miss such a momentous event for something that can't be obtained easily or in a healthy way. You'll then likely deal with guilt over missing it, feel like a failure for not losing weight "perfectly". Losing weight is hard enough as is, don't make it harder. :hugs:
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Old 10-14-2012, 01:44 AM   #4  
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I think Kaplods said it all. And my only additional advice would be not to wait until you feel good about yourself to start going back to the Y. I think you would feel a lot better if you started going. It's the best thing I've ever done. I love it. See if your Y offers the free 12-week Activtrax program for some coaching like mine does. It's wonderful. I graduate from the program on Wed and I'm really glad I did it. Also my Y is doing a fitness challenge for the 4th quarter of 2012 to keep people motivated to stay active during the holidays and finish the year strong. See if your YMCA is doing anything like that. Good luck! You can do this!
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Old 10-14-2012, 02:16 AM   #5  
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I think it can be a combination. I, too, was molested by a sibling while growing up. I was also abused mentally, physically & emtionally by others. Add on top of that that I suffer with depression (gee, imagine that!).

I find things that cause me to torpedo my efforts: Stress, especially stress from work or financial issues (being broke). The little voice inside that tells me "You're not worth it", "You'll never make it"...all the things I heard growing up. When my depression has the upper hand, which I find exercise & eating well helps keep at bay.

Have you seen a dr.? First is to rule out if there is anything physically "wrong". Thyroid, hormone levels, etc.

Have you gone to therapy? There is NOTHING WRONG with getting help. Sure it was years ago that horrible things happen to you, but be HONEST you can still feel it as if it just happened, right? You were a truamatize child & you still are if you haven't worked through it. Believe me, I've been there.

Also realize that you are HUMAN. It takes time, it takes effort & most of all it takes accepting & forgiving Y-O-U. Have you been setting unrealistic goals? Don't try to climb Mt. Everest in a can't be done. You didn't gain this weight last night while you were sleeping. It took time to put it on, it'll take time to take it off. Give your self small steps/goals & then build on them to become larger goals.

Lastly, don't give up on Disney World. You should go with your family. It's not fair to them nor you. They won't remember how heavy you were, they'll remember all the fun they had. I would have loved to have gone with my family to Disneyland/World when I was a kid, but there was 7 kids & not enough money. Nor enough parents to watch over all of us for that!!!

Last edited by MrsTryingAgain; 10-14-2012 at 02:17 AM.
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Old 10-14-2012, 10:30 AM   #6  
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Since I didn't address the sexual abuse, I did want to add one thing. A couple years ago, I heard a psychiatrist specializing in counseling weight loss surgery patients, speak on the topic of weight gain related to sexual abuse.

He (wish I could remember his name) argued against the the prevailing theory at the time was that sexual abuse victims put on weight to protect themselves from sexual abuse.

He argued that this wasn't the real reason, this was just the rationalization abuse survivors and/or their counselors made. He argued that the real reason was much, much simpler (at least initially).

His argument was that eating was a natural reaction to stress (so is not eating), and that some individuals (people AND lab animals) are prone to eat in reaction to stress and others are prone to stop eating. He argued that whether you're a stress eater or a stress starver is dependent upon your genes and your environment (which worked better as a strategy for you. If you vomited every time you were stressed, you might learn to be a stress-starver to avoid the vomiting...)

He argued that the weight gain was simply a result of the stress, not the kind of stress. If the abuse stopped when the person got fat, the person might learn to associate fat with safety (but he argued that this wasn't always the case, because obesity doesn't stop all abusers from abusing, so it doesn't offer any "real" protection).

He also argued that we all (whether we remenber it or not) are exposed to the theory that fat is put on for psychological protection (from sexual abuse, from social anxiety...) or that fat is a symptom of severe mental illness. So we all learn to assume that obesity is usually a result of SOME type of serious mental/emotional trauma, disease, or defect.

I remember even at 5 years old, thinking that there was something very seriously wrong with me that I couldn't control my eating (maybe it was all those adults saying, "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, WHY CAN'T/WON'T YOU EVER STOP EATING?" (Uh, 'cause I'm hungry?!)

I spent decades under the assumption that there HAD TO BE something seriously wrong with my mind. Instead, I learned that there wasn't something wrong with me (other than being born with a predisposition to eat when stressed and quite frankly, to eat whenever food was available). Though I think the early dieting contributed to the problem, because it taught my body and my mind to fear for food availability. I remember as a child being forced to go to bed hungry (because my parents said "you can't be hungry, you just ate, just go to bed and forget about it. Only I couldn't forget and I'd either stay awake for hours thinking about how hungry I was, or I'd sneak into the kitchen when everyone was asleep and would eat what I thought wouldn't be missed).

But back to what this psychiatrist said, because I think it's so radical it just might be true, he argued that the rationalizations we gave for the weight gain were just that - rationalizations. We as humans seek explanations, so if there isn't one we'll make one up (or use the handiest one we're given based on what "everyone else" believes). He argues that the eating can be triggered by the abuse (or any severe stress) but that it's maintained because of our rationalizations (if we see the fat as protection from harm, we're going to treat it that way).

So the sexual abuse doesn't doom you to obesity. It may not even have directly caused the obesity, it may simply have been triggered by the stress.

Eating (especially eating high-carb foods) does trigger endorphins, so there is a physical component. Once a person learns that foods can act as a pain reliever and/or as a mood enhancer, they often start self-medicating with food.

The psychiatrist argued that low-carb or at least whole food/low GI diets tended to work very well (though sticking to the diets can be a problem) because carbs act like a narcotic.

Maybe the reason I liked this guy's speech so much was that it really resonated with me when he argued that people who used food (carbs usually) for stress relief or pain manangement often do not do well on "cold turkey" dieting. Rather, just like many narcotic addicts, weaning the person off the drug slowly tends to work better (so reducing carbs slowly or switching from high-carb junk food to whole-grain carbs is a bit like going into methadone treatment for a heroine addiction).

Now having said all that, I do believe in counseling (personally, I think everyone should have a family doctor and a family psychologist), so I'd recommend that you consider seeing a psychologist, both for the weight issues and for the sexual abuse - just don't assume that the counselor will necessarily know you better than you do. A good counselor has insight, but doesn't make quick assumptions. Also, a cognitive/behavioral counselor is probably your best bet, because they're taught to focus on helping people make changes NOW, not after years and years of delving into the roots of the problem expecting the problem to resolve itself once the origins are uncovered.

Good luck to you, and about all remember that you and your family deserve the best life can give you NOW, not just some time in the future when you're thin. Don't wait until you're an "acceptable" size to do things, because you're an acceptable size to do things right now. You deserve to live your life to the fullest NOW, not just x number of pounds from now.

I know I still resent the fact that my mother let her weight prevent her from doing so much with me as a child. Not only because it taught me to prevent myself from doing things that the weight didn't need to prevent me from doing, but because even as a child I could see the difference between using the weight as an excuse and when the weight truly did prevent her from participating. I didn't expect her to play on the monkey bars with me, but when she wouldn't go swimming with me, because she was embarassed I felt "cheated," (especially since I was a fat child willing to be seen, despite my own embarassment because swimming was so darned fun). I wanted my mom to learn to have fun in the water with me (and sadly my mom wanted me to learn that fat girls weren't supposed to have fun in the water, because they weren't supposed to ever let anyone see them in a swimming suit).
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Old 10-14-2012, 02:04 PM   #7  
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Wow, Kaplods! That is interesting. I know for me when I'm stressed/depressed I DO reach for those comforty foods. Gotta love those endorphins!
Yes, going cold turkey NEVER works! I see changing your lifestyle as like a game of Jenga. If you don't move pieces carefully & thoughtfully, your tower (efforts) will come crumbling down. If you have been leaning on food to get you through life & all the sudden the things you love are gone? Will a bridge stand if all the sudden it's supports have been removed?

For me, since I'm starting over I am removing my "bad" habits & making a conscious effort to put healthy ones in their place. Example: Sodas. I'd be drinking a 6-pack or more a DAY! Now if I have a soda it is only ONE & it's with a meal. In this last week, I've had a total of only 4! (WOO HOO!!) What have I done to replace my soda habit? Flavored sparkling water, regular water & unsweetened iced tea. Now my sodas are a treat not a "necessity"/"crutch".

Thanks for the insight, Kaplods! And congrats on your great weight loss. Your ticker is impressive! Keep up the good work!
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Old 10-14-2012, 02:34 PM   #8  
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There's a lot to think about in the answers you've gotten so far but I'd like to propose that you're not "sabotaging" yourself, but you ARE setting yourself up for failure. If you insist on setting a scale number as your goal, how about 200 lbs by May 1? Expecting to lose nearly 100 lbs in 8 months while you raise a family sounds out of reach to me. Personally I think you'd be better served by setting a behaviour goal such as exercising a certain number of minutes per week. When you successfully accomplish that goal, then add another one. Work on setting yourself up for success, not waiting for "inevitable" failure.
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Old 10-14-2012, 04:48 PM   #9  
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I'm of the mind set that we all have to find what works for us. I quit eating crap cold turkey. And joined a gym and went every day. That worked for me. I KNEW a gradual cut back wouldn't work - for me. But here are some things I believe to be true:

1 - If you do nothing, nothing will happen. Make whatever changes you can for RIGHT NOW and stick to them.

2 - If you set a realistic goal you can stick to it and you will see results. ("I will eat below 1500 calories a day and will exercise 45 minutes every day even if it's just walking" will get you results and keep you motivated.)

3 - If you set unrealistic goals that you can't control, you will probably be disappointed and give up or backslide. ("I'm going to lose 15 pounds a month and be at my goal by May 1st.")

4 - Don't ever stop your life because you're overweight - What's the benefit? No one else cares as much as you do about how you look. Why miss out on life? Your kids would rather have you with them on your vacation.

5 - Love and forgive yourself. You are you, no matter your size. Your kids love you, your husband loves you. Now, you have to love you - regardless of weight and size.

6 - I went to Disney at over 250 pounds and fit all the rides. If that's a concern, forget it, plan your family trip, take things as they come, and have a great time from today until then getting in better shape for the trip and for your life.

7 - There is a wealth of information in this forum. Read, post, listen, get involved. You'll do this. Good luck.

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