Friday, October 29, 2010

Where To From Here? Goals Revisited

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.

24 comments:

Twix said...

Never give up! ;-) Very happy for you!! You can get to 160!

christina said...

I love your post - each one makes me have something to reflect on within myself. Thank you!

Christina
http://last-weight-loss-journey.blogspot.com/

Blossom said...

You have truly worked hard to get where you are. I have no doubt you will get to whatever goal you decide on.

Faith said...

Thank YOU! I am where you have been. I found your blog one day earlier this month, went back and read from day one, and was inspired to start my own blog. Currently I am at a point where I'm gaining a little, but I'm not beating myself up; I'm not giving up. I realize that this journey will never end for me. So, I'm sucking it up, looking at what I'm doing or not doing, and going from there.

Congratulations! You are a blessing to so many.

Diana said...

Lyn, I've been following you for a very long time. Since the beginning. I'm thrilled that you're so close to your goal and seem the happiest I've ever seen you.

There's just one thing I really don't understand. It's the exercise. I really think you're doing yourself a disservice by not putting more focus on exercise.

You keep saying you're going to start, but you just can't do it yet. Why are you putting it off? To truly be healthy you need some intense cardio and strength training.

There's nothing wrong with walking a mile here and there, but it's not really intense cardio. This is just a suggestion, but I think it would be really good for you to start the exercise sooner rather than later.

Congratulations on your incredible accomplishment. :)

Leslie said...

Thanks for this great post Lyn. I feel it was written directly to me! (Don't worry, I'm not that egocentric!) Not giving up is indeed the key. I'm so happy for you and your success.

varunner said...

Sorry it took me a while to get over here to say a HUGE CONGRATS to you! You look so amazing. I mean SO amazing! I always knew that you could do it, and having seen through your blog how much you've struggled and yet achieved so much makes it all the more inspiring. You should be proud :-)

Lyn said...

Diana~

Thank you :)
I have read your blog as well from way back and I know you understand how tough the journey is.

As for the exercise, I know I will never be FIT and truly healthy without it. However, I do not have to do it *right now*. Over the years, I have tried to ramp up the exercise while losing weight (throughout my blog there are periods of biking hard and strength training) but it always felt like *too much* while trying to deal with the physical, emotional, and mental battle with binge eating and trying to get away from using food as a drug. For me, once I just allowed myself to do this at my own pace, I started seeing success. Right now, healing my heart and mind and getting this weight off is #1. It won't be long before I will be done with this phase and on to building fitness as a priority.

I am sure some people can do it all at once, but for me, this is working better.

NewMe said...

Lyn,

You have worked very hard and deserve a lot of praise for the in-depth work you've done on yourself.

Dare I make one suggestion? I've been doing a lot of reading on the effects of calorie restriction on muscle loss. As a woman who will probably go into menopause within the next decade, you really, REALLY need to start shifting (or balancing out) your focus and begin to think about building muscle now. Women lose a lot of precious muscle every decade and it's muscle that burns fat. The more muscle you lose, the harder it's going to be to keep weight gain at bay.

Have you thought about getting tested for your muscle to fat ratio? Do you know how much muscle you've lost while you were losing the weight?

The BMI will give you no information on how much muscle you have and that "perfect" BMI could easily give you a false sense of security.

I say this as someone who has been following your story for quite awhile now and wishes you only the best.

Vee and the Kid said...

Well said. Never give up. Vee at http://veegettinghealthy.blogspot.com

The Captain's Daughter said...

Never Give Up is also the title of a book written by Richard Simmons. He signed a copy and sent it to me in 1992, after I'd lost 125 pounds and wrote to him about a comment he made on TV about losing his hair during a crash-diet. I'd lost the 125 pounds in a little over 5 months and my sink was covered in hair too. Fortunately, he gave me the advice I needed to keep from going bald (I have TONS of hair...) for which I was and still am grateful.

I applaud your success. You have motivated me these past five months (June 1st to today) as I've dropped 73 pounds using the CLEAN program. And, I agree 100% with your decision not to pick up a workout routine, and instead, staying focused on your feelings about food. That was my downfall the last time I dropped this amount of weight... I became a gym-rat and because of the workouts, was hungry ALL the time - and, because I wasn't ready to eat properly, I gained almost all of my weight back. This time, I'm doing the mental work FIRST! I do take an evening spin class once a week at the gym we have here at work, but it's mostly because it's so much fun and I'm enjoying the fact that I actually CAN spin!

Any way, this isn't about me, it's about you and I just wanted to say THANKS for always saying what's going on in my head as we take this journey together!

Lyn said...

NewMe~

I do appreciate that suggestion. The only body fat testing I had done is with calipers, which is not the most accurate thing in the world but it's something. I will have to compare those measurements soon.

Honestly I am not terribly worried about muscle loss, because studies I have read suggest that eating a diet as high in protein as I am eating (100+ g/day) result in very little muscle loss. My doctor agrees.

And while you say I should start building muscle "now," to me, it is relative. I would be foolish to wait 5 years to begin that. But I am personally comfortable with waiting 3 months. In the big picture I am far, far healthier than I have been in 20 years. The *most* important thing to me is to maintain control of my eating. The muscle building can wait a few months if need be.

Lisa said...

amen girl! You inspire me so much!

Anonymous said...

I know people mean well. But this is your journey and you have to find your own way. You are a fabulous inspiration. I always have hit the exercise hard in the past to lose it. Then I injured myself several times. Now I am taking it a bit easier on the exercise and working on the foods. It's all about finding that balance that works for you. You are doing fabulous, have I mentioned that. I feel like now I have a plan just in case I do hit that plateau where I can't work out any harder (due to injury) or eat any less. I think Medifast sounds reasonable as long as it's used as a learning tool. I would do it for a bit to get past that hump which I often hit right about now. Anyhow I feel like you are in my head at times....
Wonderful, thought provoking post as usual. This time (try #4 for me I believe) I told myself first I just needed to lose 34 lbs. I did that, took a break and now i'm working on 70 (45 in) I'm not sure where my end goal will be, and I can't really look at the whole amount, just getting to the next decade. This is so much more do-able in smaller chunks. Thank you for putting yourself out there.

~~Misty

Heather said...

finally caught up on my google reader and CONGRATS! you look fantastic and you should be so proud.

beerab said...

You are such an inspiration Lyn, I'm happy for you :) Congratulations on losing over 100 lbs!

pinkvision said...

I like that, "Never Give Up". It's going up as a reminder on my fridge for me. :) Thanks Lyn.

Oh yes, and looking forward to your 110 lbs lost pictures!

Reitmans Fat Girl said...

I'm not giving up! Ever!

Claire said...

Exactly! Just keep going...was my mantra as well.

spunkysuzi said...

You gave continually inspired me to never give up! Thanks

Mind Over Fatter said...

Now that is a powerful blog, another one for my "interesting posts" board, many thanks. One of my major mantra's at the moment is DO NOT QUIT - the eating well, the going to the gym, the TV exercise videos, the positive thinking - DO NOT QUIT!

Mandy said...

Thank you for writing this. I started reading your blog right before you started doing Medifast, and sometimes I have wondered......is she a robot or something? HOW IS SHE STICKING WITH IT?? FOR SO LONG?? Because I can't seem to do it. For the last 9 years - I go all out for a week or two, eating perfectly, exercising twice a day, only to have my time of the month, or get sick, or just have a bad day and then completely give up, binge and regain everything, plus a little more. Ten years ago I was so dedicated, ran a half marathon, and was my lowest weight ever, and now I'm 75 pounds heavier and can't stick with a program for the life of me. I really don't know if it's possible for me sometimes. Anyway, I've gained so much insight from seeing you push through the hard times and find success. And it's also nice to know that I'm not the only one that has given up countless times. I see you succeed and think maybe there is hope for me.

I think you're smart to focus only on the eating for now, if that is what is right for YOU. I can see how I do to much at once, only to be completely overwhelmed and give it up. Maybe I will try to relax and focus on getting my eating under control before I go nuts with the exercise.

Thank you for your words of wisdom!! And congratulations on your amazing success! You look fantastic!

Lyn said...

Mandy~

Thank you so much for your kind words! I do believe it is possible for you, too :) Getting off sugar has helped tremendously. If I eat sugary stuff I go nuts.

Remember, I fall and screw up too! The whole month of September was a wash, because I ate off plan so much that I didn't lose a single pound. But yes, we just have to keep on. Even if there's a regain, just work to get it back off. Do the best you can... that's all we can do!

Best wishes on your journey :)

Angela G said...

Thank you... I am truly inspired to keep on my own journey.