When I began this "just another try" weight loss journey, I had no idea it would 'stick.' I mean, I always tried. I always gave it my 'best' effort for a day, two days, a week, even 3 or 4 months. But then I'd give in and the world would cave in around me and I'd be buried up to my neck in Little Debbie cakes and pizzas. I wasn't sure what was wrong with me, or why some people were able to just "do it" and lose their weight but I couldn't. I'd watch other people and think, "Why can't I do that? What is it going to take?" But I didn't have the answer.
So I'd embark on some new journey, be it calorie counting or South Beach or Atkins or the cayenne-pepper-maple-syrup-lemonade diet. I'd do it for awhile, then "go off" and regain all the weight. Why? That was the big question. Why why why? Am I doomed to failure? Am I just not committed/motivated/smart enough? Is there something in my genetics making me stay fat? And I'd just eat and binge and be sad for a few months before trying again.
When I started this blog in 2007, it was on a whim. I had taken those "before" pictures while I was on vacation and too big to enjoy any activities with my children. I really, really wanted my life to change. So I went to the Farmer's Market, bought a ton of vegetables and fruits, came home and started blogging. In my heart I knew I was capable of losing *some* weight. Thirty pounds maybe. But I was scared beyond that. I'd never lost much more than that. I was tired of feeling like a failure and didn't really see the point of all the "dieting" effort when I always regained the weight. Even though I often did the whole popular "lifestyle change" thing including seeing a dietician, it wasn't really working. Even after 3 or 4 months eating healthy I still just wanted Big Macs and candy bars. Wasn't sure if that was fixable.
So when I started posting on a weight loss message board I had to pick a goal weight for myself. I chose 168 pounds for two main reasons: 1) it was the smallest I could imagine myself EVER being as an adult, and 2) it was a nice even 110 pounds to lose. One hundred and ten pounds seemed absolutely impossible and overwhelming, but I figured I could dream big. I didn't think I'd actually ever get there. Back in 1996 I had joined a gym and was counting calories and got myself down to somewhere in the low 170's. My lowest recorded weight in the past 15 years is 174.5 in November 1996. I was over 200 pounds before that.
Anyway, now I have lost 102 pounds. I am only 8 pounds away from that original goal weight. I know it will happen... it is not just a dream anymore. So is that my goal, then? 168?
Actually, it's not. I want to get to a normal BMI, which will be at 160 pounds. And after that, I want to lose a little more, and then see how I feel and how much fat is still hanging on my body. I love my curves and don't want to be SKINNY, but I also have a medical need to get more weight off my knees to continue postponing knee replacements. I am only 41... I still feel way too young to be going through that kind of surgery (although I would, no doubt, be having surgery NOW had I not lost this weight). It's not so much about looks anymore... not that it ever WAS my primary focus, but yes, I wanted to LOOK like an average sized person and not draw attention to myself as "the fat one" when I walk into a room. I always hated being the biggest person in a room, which I often was. Not anymore. I am very pleased with how I look (in clothes) and am not concerned anymore about my appearance. I know I look fine! But my knees need more relief, and in fact I believe that losing another 20 or so pounds will also lower my risk of heart disease and cancer.
I have other goals besides weight loss, of course. I want to be fit and strong. I have slacked a LOT on the exercise this year, but I did that in order to truly FOCUS on my eating and my emotions about food. For me this is working. It takes a lot of reflection, in my case, to change my MIND. I will work on aerobic conditioning and building muscle later. Not a lot later... but not right this minute. I still walk and will add in some biking but I just do not feel ready yet for a big fitness routine. I think I have enough on my plate, so I will go at the pace that will lead me to long term success.
Now, in retrospect, why was this "just another try" weight loss journey successful? After so, so many attempts to lose weight, what makes this time different? What happened that made it stick? What can I pass on to you who are EXACTLY where I was back then, feeling hopeless, wondering what is wrong with you, desperate and wanting to give it one more try but just not sure it will stick? I did learn one thing. One thing that truly made ALL the difference in not regaining all the weight. Here it is.
NEVER GIVE UP.
That, my friends, is THE KEY. It is not WHAT you do, or HOW you do it, or even HOW YOU FEEL about it. It is the one important thing. Never give up. Do not quit. You might lose 10 pounds and then "go off" and start bingeing and hating yourself and wondering why you "failed." Stop! You didn't fail. Not until you let weeks go by without trying again. You might go off and eat crap for a week. Hey, it's not ideal, but SO WHAT? You cannot change the past. You can change the future. Start immediately, get right back on plan, whether it be calorie counting or low carb or Medifast or clean eating or Lean Cuisines. I don't care what you do as long as it isn't causing you more harm than your obesity is. Ask your doctor. Do whatever you feel like doing and get the weight off. Mine came off in small chunks. Look at my Weight By Month list in the left sidebar. It took a long time. See the months where I gained 8, 9, 11 pounds? See the 20 months where I went up and down and didn't have a net loss at all? I never gave up. Yes I binged, and then I got right back to work and took the weight back off. THAT is the key. Accept that you will mess up. Forgive yourself, do NOT allow yourself one more day to "eat whatever you want" and just get right back on plan. Change plans midstream. Try something new. There was absolutely nothing new about THIS TIME for me, except that I refused to give up. Three years and counting. Not what I hoped for in the beginning... but BETTER than I hoped for. True change. I believe it is permanent change. It takes time. Accept that, and do not let a day go by without trying again.
I have no magic insights but I do know that at any moment on this journey I could have quit for months and been right back up near 300 pounds. It was just a breath away... a bite away. And reaching your goal is a breath away too. One bite away. Put the bite down the garbage disposal and grab onto your chance.
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