Thursday, June 10, 2010

Rocks and Boulders

Today I was thinking about how I have had a habit of viewing "weight loss" as a thing... a distinct entity that was either IN my life or NOT. Or, more accurately, I was viewing it as a specific event that is either HAPPENING or NOT.

I think that's kind of common among people trying to lose weight. It's not exactly the "on" or "off" a diet mentality, because you can consider yourself "on" a diet (or "on plan") and still not be losing weight week by week. Haven't you had those weeks where you are doing everything right, not eating crap, doing all the things you should be doing but the weight is just NOT coming off or is coming off at a snail's pace? You want the weight to be dropping off. You want to see results on the scale. So when that does not happen, you might have the thoughts I have had, of "I am not losing weight, this sucks."

I guess we all want to get on the scale and see a lower number every time, but when that doesn't happen, does that mean you are not still on your path to weight loss? For me, it has been a hard mindset to break. Not losing as quickly as I *think* I should feels like being stalled. It feels like failure, even if I am doing everything according to my plan.

I am always thinking, "If I had lost x pounds in y time I would weigh z by now" or "if I can get x pounds off by y date I will weigh z pounds." Always setting the weight loss to a time schedule; always looking for the "end of the journey."

I am starting to realize that there is no end of the journey. This whole thing is not an EVENT, it is just part of the currents in the stream of life. Every meal is a thimbleful of water, as is every bike ride or nap or trip to the park with my kids. It's flowing. It's dynamic. It continues regardless of some lame scale reading. And every drop is precious.

Anyway, I guess what I have discovered is that weight loss is not really something that you DO or something that HAPPENS. It is the result of a myriad little choices we make in everyday life, minute by minute, day by day. There is no ONE THING that can change whether you are "losing weight" or not. Not even a binge. When you eat a candy bar maybe it is like throwing a rock into the river. A binge is like throwing in a boulder. Is a boulder going to stop the river from flowing? Is it going to change its course? Is the river going to suddenly divert from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico because you threw a boulder in? No. It won't. And a binge won't divert you from your destination, either. Might slow the current a bit, but that's all.

Granted, if you throw in enough boulders there is going to be a big problem and yes, rivers HAVE been diverted with enough debris damming the path. But I think for most of us, any diversion is because we THINK one pebble, one rock, one boulder is the end of the world... so we throw up our hands and say "well, I already ruined everything! Now I am NOT losing weight!" and, believing we are doomed to destruction, we help the failure along by racing around throwing more and more boulders in our own river. And then we end up at 300 pounds.

I guess what I am trying to say here is that it takes a huge aggregation of events, decisions, and choices for our chosen paths to be diverted radically from a life that will carry us towards our goals to a life that carries us in the opposite direction. So don't let a couple of screw ups mess with your head. They really don't matter in the long run, unless you let them.

27 comments:

Karen said...

Lyn, that was amazing...and I totally agree. Although I am 56, I still get in this mindset that "once I lose all this weight life will be perfect." Its always a race to the end...and I have never won that race but even if I do, life will not be perfect. Eating healthy is just a part of my life and I too can get off that roller coaster of being actively losing weight or not. I will do the best I can for my health and I really like your new way of thinking!!!

Tammy said...

I agree whole-heartedly... I ate a candy bar this week for the first time in probably 6 or 8 months. I got on the scale the next morning, terrified that I gained 5 lbs...I'm so not kidding. I had actually dropped another 2 lbs. Interesting that you posted about the very thing I just noticed this week. :)

Michelle said...

I agree. It's so easy to eat one "bad" thing and then say well I ate that and already screwed up my chance of losing weight, so I may as well eat this and and this and 10, 15, 20 or more lbs later, we've decided we've failed at this weight loss "thing" instead of looking at the decisions we've made to get us where we are.

Spaghetti Cat said...

Its also good to remember, when youa re losing weight or making healthy choices, you didn't do that over night. You had to make many many choices to change. You had to say no to XYZ and yes to ZYX.

You turned down X and instead had Y. You decided a walk and talk with a friend was something yes important for weight loss, but also important for life, your friendship and everything in general.

So regardless of what the scale may or may not say, how many rocks and boulders are in this stream, when you dance hard enough, you can get more rain into your stream :)

Lily Fluffbottom said...

I needed to read this today. Thank you for knowing that.

Autumnforest said...

Very good comparison. I remember one time when I was in modeling training the teacher said something, perhaps to scare us, but it stuck in my mind. She said that your weight is an indicator of your life. If people want to know how you live, they look at your body. Fat is like you're walking around naked and exposed. People know what you've been up to and where your priorities have been. If you are fit, they know what you've been prioritizing. I remember thinking of it like being naked and I realized that every time I gained weight and got a little more soft, people could tell where I was present in my life and where I wasn't present. It has made me think. You are what you eat wasn't a really off kind of campaign. When I decided to make permanent changes in my life, I looked back at how I exercised and ate when thin and realized that I admittedly was living quite differently and it was showing. I reaquired the old way of doing things and my body is saying thank you by carrying less and less weight on my skeleton. My priorities changed and it shows that I am high on my list again. And, I don't mind being "naked."

Steelers6 said...

A wise woman once said, oh wait, I meant to say one of my fave bloggers once said..(plus she IS wise..........

"If I could share one big, important, *essential* concept with everyone who reads this, it would be this: NEVER give up. If it takes you a month, if it takes you six months, if it takes you a year or even if it takes you TWENTY MONTHS to go from 225 to 218, DO IT. Just do it. It is SO worth it, the time will pass anyway and you can be fatter or thinner at the end of that time". [yeah this was from Lyn]

I liked the last line; "THE TIME WILL PASS ANYWAY!"

I also liked MargieAnne's comment to your post, "in forever mode".

Chrissy

Anonymous said...

For me, the eating disorder (ED) mindset tells me that the scale should be something I can *control* if only I make good choices, much like the magical thinking of a child who believes bad things won't happen if she is good enough.

The ED also tells me that controlling my food makes me stronger or is a reflection of my strength. How simplistic and self destructive is that? My food choices are just that: food choices. They do not reveal my inner strength and they do not determine my power in the world. My food choices are not a reflection of my goodness or my self love. My ED tries to make my food choices about EVERYTHING, when they are just choices. My ED also *suggests* that I need to restrict my food more or exercise more to make the damn scale move. When, really, doing those just leads me to more disordered eating. My body will lose weight or not at its own pace, and trying to manipulate that pace is more harmful than helpful to me in the long run.

I want to do what makes me feel happy and relaxed. A binge does not do that. Excessive restriction or exercise does not do that. Caring for myself, nurturing myself, and taking my needs seriously (honoring myself): those actions bring me contentment.

-Robin

My Body In Motion said...

Great, great, great post! Wow... that is a wonderful analogy, Lyn!

Anonymous said...

EXCELLENT!!!!

Pamela

kim@dietbegone.com said...

Lyn,

Thank you! Your an encouragement to many ppl that you may never see or even hear from again. I am a newbe I just became a blog friend on your site. I was 189lb and I felt great. Awesome, until the following year my baby brother died and I lost site of everything. Now I am 237lbs and trying to find my mojo desire to exercise and lose weight again. I read your blog for the encouragement you have come a long way and I can't wait till I can put this addiction behind me. I will write as often as I can and read every chance I get please continue to encourage us all.

Cozy in Texas said...

I stopped by your blog today - Wow congrats on your loss. Our minds play games with us. Someone at Weight Watchers told me that we have to view it as a mountain climb and sometimes we have to camp for a while before tackling a higher altitude. Thanks for the encouragement.
Ann
Less of Me

screaming fatgirl said...

It's interesting how we regard our issues with eating and exercise (and resulting weight issues) as a situation where we are walking on a tightrope and once we fall off it is fatal to the process, yet we realize that all other areas of life quite reasonably include complete, partial, or limited success or total failure.

I think the way in which we feel it is the end of the world and plunge into misery and despair when we fall off the food wagon is a reflection of society's judgment of us. We see it as the end of the world because they constantly treat us as objects of scorn and whose weight displays a fatal character flaw (which they, of course, do not possess). In essence, we tend to view failure as the end of the world and an indication that we will never succeed because this is a reflection of society's opinion of ourselves.

I wonder if we'd all do a lot better if we could disconnect from society's view and judgment of us. If they didn't see us as hopelessly flawed and disgusting, perhaps we'd have a more balanced view of our success and failure and understand that *all* processes in life are fraught with the same difficulties and uneven success as weight loss efforts. We could forgive ourselves when we fall down, get up and dust ourselves off, and just get right back to it instead of feeling that the whole river got clogged up because of one stone that was dropped into it.

Amy said...

Well said. I like of it as a journey. I nver use the word DIET. This is my LIFE. It always will be.

Deniz said...

A lovely, lovely post Lyn, thanks. That rocks and boulders analogy is definitely one to hang on to.

Christie said...

Your words ring very true, and I love the analogy with the river & rocks/boulders. I guess this is also tied up with that mindset we can often fall into of "putting your life on hold" till you get slim. When in fact success is more likely if you are enjoying life now - it's all part of life after all. Loved this post, very thought provoking!

I Said So... said...

Wow! Very profound. I needed to read that! If I had a very good week with eating and exercising and still didn't lose weight, I'd think "What a waste!"

I'm seeing the error of my ways thanks to your post!

Thanks!

Sarah said...

Took the words right out of my mouth!

Anonymous said...

I want my way of eating to flow, and simply be a part of my life. Forever. And I believe that eventually it will evolve to this.

But as it is now, sometimes there's a battle taking place in my mind. It's me vs. food. Then other days, it flows, it's light, and easy.

It's going to take time to overcome the old patterns.

I have definitely had a few weeks where I was doing every . single. thing. right. and losing nada.

So what I do is go back to the drawing board and change up my routine. Shake things up, have a big calorie meal, change up the exercise routine. And it always seems to help.

Hope @ Hope's Journey said...

Amen sistah!

Brandipants said...

Very well said. I use to do that but for the past few years I have managed to loose weight and keep 35lbs off. i get frustrated that I am not loosing but I keep working out and keep at it. I still have a long way to go, at least 100 lbs but I am taking it one day at a time and I refuse to give in.

Love this post and it just says so much! Thank you!

Laura said...

Great blog! It is the perfect way to describe this lifestyle. :) Thanks!

Dinah Soar said...

Great post Lyn...love the rocks/boulder analogy.

McCulley's said...

YAY I agree. I recently started a blog for my journey titling it the Beginning with no end. I too believe there will not be a finish line, this is life in life we are given one body and we don't get exchanges or refunds so I need to keep it healthy which is why there is no end. I can't stop being healthy it is a life journey, not for weight for health (I took the battery out of my scale)!

Hanlie said...

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post! This is so true.

julielopez3 said...

I love your post you said it so well! I have had those same feelings of this is taking too long, I am losing too slow. But when I finally decided to stop focusing on the number on the scale and just live healthy by making better choices, exercising and allowing myself to make mistakes. I feel so much better about myself.
Again, Love the post.

Brandi said...

This was beautiful.