Monday, March 3, 2014

Confessions of a Weight Loss Fanatic

I could sum up this post in one word: Obsession.  I am making this post in hopes to give you a little bit of insight into what it feels like mentally to go through this process.  And so that I can look back and remember what I went through, and that I never want to have to go through this painstaking process again.  This is the most personal post I have written so please be nice, and unless you have gone through this process yourself (losing close to 100 pounds- Don't get me wrong.  Losing even 5 pounds is a challenge, but it's a whole different ball game when you have close to 100 pounds to lose.) you really can't understand what it is like.  This past year has been very challenging, and my weight loss journey continues to be challenging.  But that doesn't really give you an idea of what it is like day to day, hour by hour to go through this process.  No one who has not gone through this process can fully understand what it is like.  The difficulty of of changing your life, I mean really changing it to the point where you are a completely different person is unsurpassed by any experience I have ever had.  There is a reason why I was 211 pounds (A BMI of 36.2-Obese. That is only three point eight points away from the category of morbid obesity).  I ate too much of the wrong food.  I did not exercise.  Really that is what it boils down to.  Changing those two things.... Who would have thought it would be so hard?

The beginning of my weight loss:  I thought about the next numbers on the scale all the time.  I wondered if what I was doing right now was going to result in a loss or a gain.  My mood was totally and completely dependent on what the scale said that morning.  I tried to only weigh myself once a week, but I was too obsessive about needing to know what my weight was, so I found myself weighing in more and more frequently, even though I only had one official weigh in a week, I weighed in nearly every day.  As time passed and my weight slowly came off, it was never enough.  I was never satisfied with where I currently was.  When I exercised and ate right, if the scale did not reflect a loss (if it just showed that I maintained or even gained) I would be so upset, I would be angry and grumpy until the scale showed a loss.  Fast forward to today: it's still exactly the same.  I still obsess over weighing myself in on the scale and I have to fight every morning not to.  I lose that fight about half the time so I am weighing myself about every other day.  There was a while when I was weighing myself twice a day, fortunately that didn't last longer than a week or two and I no longer feel the need to weigh myself at night.  But the need to know and the mental need to see a loss on the scale can be so overwhelming that I cause myself anxiety, and distress.  I get frustrated when the scale doesn't go down and I think it should, I get depressed when the scale goes up, and I am elated when the scale shows a loss.

Slowly, as my body changed I stopped hating myself so much.  I stopped hating the way that I looked, and every once in a while I caught myself thinking "hey! I look pretty good!"  But it is not enough.  I know where I want to be, and even though I have lost 63 pounds, I am still not happy with my body.  I still think I am fat (and I haven't hit my healthy BMI yet so there is truth in that).  Weight loss has consumed my life for the time being, so much that I can't hardly think of anything else.  I obsess over what I eat every day, some days I go to bed hungry, not because I didn't eat dinner, but because eating 1,200 calories in a day is not very much food and Yes you will be hungry sometimes! Until you shrink your stomach, and mine is still shrinking.  I think about food and exercise and weight loss all the time.  When I take my kids to the park I think "This is going to help me get in some extra exercise and should help me lose weight".  When I play with the kids in the backyard or dance in the living room I think "I wonder if I will weigh less tomorrow because I am getting this extra movement in".  When I take the kids to the zoo I think "This is a great way to get in a ton of exercise, as long as I keep my eating on track today, I bet I will weigh less tomorrow!".  When I eat cookies and desserts that I did not plan on eating I think "Oh crap I blew it today".  In fact the only days that I am not eager to weigh myself in the morning are the days after I mess up on my eating.  Then I don't want to go anywhere near the scale because I don't want to see the damage.  It's like my mental state is fragile and can't handle seeing higher numbers on the scale.

I literally think about weight loss every hour of every day.  It has consumed my whole being so much that I can't work on or think about anything else.  I know other areas of my life are suffering... but they were suffering before because I was so lazy that I wasn't being a good mom to Lily.  I was so unhappy with myself that I was taking it out on those I cared about the most.  All of my energy, all of my focus, is zeroed in on this one thing: reaching my goal weight and no longer being overweight and unhappy with myself.  Reaching my goal weight has seemed unattainable for so long and now it seems real.  I know all of the problems and hardships in my life will not disappear once I reach my goal weight, but it will help a great many things.  First it will free up my soul to start improving myself in other ways besides fitness and nutrition.  It will greatly help with my self image/self esteem.  I will have more energy throughout the day to get things done and keep up with the daily hustle and bustle of life and raising kids.  I have already had an increase in energy, and things are not as hard for me to do (such as going up and down the stairs.  Before, if I were in the basement and I was going up to the bedroom I would have to stop on the main floor to catch my breath before starting to go up to the bedrooms upstairs).  Making healthier food choices is getting easier since I mostly buy healthy food, but I still keep some things around the house for Matt that are very hard to avoid.  Such as chips, and occasionally we keep candy around the house.

Matt loves sweets which makes it hard for me to stay on track, it can seem like a constant battle sometimes of "I want to eat that brownie, no I want to lose weight, no I want to eat that brownie, no I want to lose weight".  Now don't get me wrong.  I am a big advocate of things in moderation and there is a time and place to eat that brownie..... just not every day.  I usually make a large batch of sweets and then they linger around the house for several days.  (I will often splurge on the day I make them and then resist their temptations until Matt eats them all over the next week).  But everything I eat, whether I track it or not, my mind makes comments to myself about how healthy that was and if it will affect my weight loss.

I have noticed I am incredibly numbers driven, that is a big reason why I haven't lifted weights for exercise until I was forced to because I couldn't do cardio after injuring my foot.  Lifting weights builds muscle, muscle weighs more than fat.  That means that the numbers on the scale do not go down!  At least not at first.  Muscle burns fat, so the more muscle you have the more fat you will burn, but the results take some time to develop and my mentally fragile brain almost cannot handle the strain of waiting so long to see a loss on the scale.

This journey has not been fun, it has sucked in many many ways.  Exercises where I thought I was going to die (I cried a few times), times when I felt like I was missing out because I chose not to eat dessert and I really badly wanted to, times when I wanted to splurge on a gigantic bowl of buttery popcorn, or eat a whole batch of cookies, or stuff my face with pasta or skip a workout.  Sometimes I did all of those things, but it is the times when I exercised self control and exerted my will power over food that I grew in character.  It is important to say that not every moment of this past year has been terrible.  There have been many fun events like when I went to the Zumbathons and realized that I could make it through 90 whole minutes of Zumba!  The feeling of accomplishment as I made it to the top of the Incline, the humor of realizing that my pants fall off when they are fully buttoned and zipped, the thrill of buying new clothes in a smaller size.  I am taking my life back and reclaiming it for myself, no longer allowing myself to be tossed about in the sea of food that is available to us.  Who is in charge?  Will you let yourself be conquered by food or will you be the conqueror?  This is my life, and sometimes I mess up.  Sometimes I miss a workout, or I don't eat as healthy as I would like to and yes I obsess over the consequences.  I berate myself sometimes for making a poor choice, but sometimes I say "screw it all, I am eating that!"  You know what?  Just get right back on track.  Am I in control or out of control?  That is what this journey is about.  It is about building character, gaining self esteem, reclaiming my life, changing my life, becoming a better person, learning and growing.  Although the view may be narrow, the effects are far reaching.  This affects every aspect of your life from here on out: personal, work, spiritual, mental, physical.  If I can do this..... I can do anything.

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