Monday, November 29, 2010

Success Without Perfection

I woke up with a migraine and rather ticked off at myself for yet again having "just a bit" of off plan food *right* at the end of the day, after a perfectly on-plan, 100% great day. It seems to happen more and more often lately, just after I get the kids to bed at night, when the house is quiet and the kitchen calls me.

I woke up this morning and as I came to consciousness and realized what I had done, I got mad. A lot of thoughts went through my just-waking mind, from excuses to rationalizations to commitments:

WHY does it have to STILL be hard, even after losing 100 pounds?
I hate feeling like I am not in control of myself. I feel like my mind is not in control of my body.
WHY did I feel so much more in control last month than this month?
How is it even possible to go a solid month with NO off plan eating, feeling great, and then have weeks on end where it seems impossible to complete one solid day of eating right?

I started thinking about my friend who has seizures. How it is beyond her control and she can be walking down the hallway and boom, she is seizing. She can take medication, but she cannot make them stop completely. Her body is out of her control. My eating is not like a seizure... it is certainly *more* in my control than that. But it feels that way sometimes. I feel like I step outside my body and watch my hands going to the cabinet and unwrapping a granola bar and putting it in my mouth while I helplessly observe. It makes no sense. I rationally KNOW that I am in control of my body, so why does it feel so out of control in the moment?

I dunno, it really bothers me. I am an intelligent person. I have decided I am NOT going to be obese anymore. I have put myself first, given myself the tools, focused on my goals. I do not want to eat off plan. Yet I do it. Like an alcoholic drawn to the drink even with the images of his small children in his mind. Why? Why does a person go to a bar and have that first drink when they have already become sober, changed their life, focused on the important things? It happens. Drug addicts relapse. It's more than just habit, or lack of "will power" or lack of character.

But for all those who relapse, there are many who don't. It IS possible to succeed... the get away from addiction or harmful behaviors that we no longer wish to continue. People do it every day. Yet look at the weight loss world. It's full of people trying and screwing up. Look at all the bloggers who start losing weight and stop or stall or regain. You cannot tell me that ALL of those people, myself included are "not committed enough" or "just making excuses" or "don't want it bad enough." There is a lot of physical and mental and emotional *stuff* going on far beyond the calories.

That said, I know it can be done. I truly BELIEVE any of us can succeed. If I can lose 100 pounds, with all my screw ups and lapses and hard days, I believe you can do it too. I am *so* imperfect that I *still* get emails and comments about what a failure I am when my eating is not perfect! Thank goodness I don't take them seriously... but I know some bloggers who do. You get that anonymous comment telling you what a screw up you are, and you start to believe it. Don't! It's not about you, it's their issue. Whether you have lost 5 pounds or 20 or 50 or NO weight or 100 pounds, people will complain if you are not fitting *their* ideal for THEMSELVES. So stop trying to fit their mold. Fit your own mold.

I know this post is a little rambling, but here is my point: you do NOT have to be perfect to succeed. You just have to do your best and CONSISTENTLY put forth the effort to lose weight regardless of the screw ups. You do not have to "cure" your food issues to lose weight. Do you think because I ate cookies last night that I will hate myself and eat junk today and think I will never reach my goal and gain back 100 pounds? No! I tell you what... I did wake up mad. I did wake up feeling like a victim. And then I said, listen, self. Just do your best, it is good enough, I love you. And I smiled in the mirror at the beautiful, powerful, successful woman that I am.

Let your results speak for you. If you have not yet found success, try something different. Add exercise, count calories, go low carb, eat more protein, find more support. Something. Keep trying. At any point, you can put down the drink and walk out of the bar. And if you find yourself there again, you can walk out again. Eventually you will start "waking up" sooner and sooner, notice you are driving towards the bar and turn the car around before you even get there. This is HARD WORK, more mental than physical in my case. But you don't have to feel hopeless and out of control anymore.


Lynna said...

I had goosebumps reading about what you told yourself this morning while looking in the mirror. I'm pretty sure THAT is the key that unlocks the fat suit that has been padlocked to our bodies. And the salve that heals our emotions and painful memories that lead us to eat to self-medicate.

Ex Yo-Yo Dieter Debbie said...

I absolutely agree! Much more mental than physical...

I don't have all the answers, that is for sure. But over the past year, I've learned something VERY valuable:

When I stop and question WHY I'm eating (or want to eat), and then just FEEL whatever it is I'm trying to numb or avoid with food, I'm breaking the cycle, tiny piece by tiny piece.

It's hard as hell and the feelings feel ugly and too much sometimes, but I'm learning I can make it through without abusing food.

By doing this over and over (and messing up, too!), I've taken back the power from food.

My whole life, the food has ambushed me out of nowhere, and like you, I've watched myself in horror as I ate piles of stuff I really wished I wasn't eating.

But no isn't a magical fix anymore. When I started really looking at why I was eating and addressing the "why", food lost its power - something I NEVER ever thought possible.

Anonymous said...

Lyn - My fat was my protective armour to keep the abusers away. When I lost the weight at first I felt so naked and very vulnerable. I had to develop new ways of protecting myself. I had to learn that a 55 year old woman need not be afraid of a dead mother, or uncle or whoever abused me. That I can make the right choices for myself, that I am strong and most importantly - worthy of love.
You are worthy of Love - take back your power to be loved.

gracies tough journey said...

I also agree that our fat is a protective armour. Even with or without it being armour. Its so frickin hard. I think more so when you have been dieting for so long. With most things the longer you do it the easier. I dont think that applies with dieting. The holidays make even harder. Dont minimize what you HAVE accomplished. You are a inspiration to a lot of people, myself included. We are after all, only human. Therefore not perfect. You need to sometimes pat yourself on the back and just give yourself a break. Sometimes we fall, but we need to pick ourselves up, dust off and move on. Best wishes to you always. Gracie

Anonymous said...

I think of it more like an addiction. Sure, a drug addict can control whether they take the drug or not on a given day....but after perhaps years of using, think how hard it would be to stop. That's my anaolgy for the battle I sometimes face. It seems like a drug addict has to go through a lot to get clean, and I think the urge is still there so some degree and some times are tougher than others. That's how it is for me. Some days it's a breeze to do what I need to do and other days it's almost like I don't have control (even though I do).

You have more easy days coming, hang in there and keep plugging along! You are an inspiration to many.

Leslie said...

Great post, Lyn. I really believe that for a true food addict, the occasional desires to "eat" (in addictive fashion) WILL come up, just like they do for an alcoholic, even after years of recovery. You're right - people do achieve long term recovery from drugs and alcohol, AND food. But I'm here to tell you that food is harder because we have to negotiate it every day. I never have booze in my house - and I can literally have perfect abstinence from booze. That will never be the case with food.

But as you said - we can be vigilant, self aware and courageous enough to own our occasional flubs if they happen, and understand that that is part of the nature of addiction. We don't have to act on a desire to overeat - but the desires still come for most - at least sometimes.

I love reading your mental processing about all this...fits mine quite well! I always say this is 95% a head game.

Lisa said...

I still think you are showing control. Those "little bit off plan" times would have been binges in the past.

Jen said...

Well, in the case of an alcoholic or drug addict, it is being found that their brains change over time in response to the drug's effect, making it harder to stop using as time goes on. Perhaps this is the same with food; our brains change in response to what the food does to us, and our subsequent behaviors. This does not mean it is impossible to change, but that it can be very difficult. More research is needed into food being an addiction, but I would not be surprised if neural pathways changing over time in response to certain foods is the cause of our struggles. Just my thoughts.

Jen said...

By the way, here is an excellent article on what I talked briefly about:

Ann K. said...

If you haven't already, you may want to check out Eating in the light of the moon on Amazon. The struggles of mind and body can be so daunting; after years of reading books on the topic, clinical and otherwise, and even more years journaling and analyzing, this is the only book that stirred something deep inside me and caused a paradigm shift for me and brought me closer to the root of my problems with food addiction and overeating. For where you are at right now, it may be especially appropriate for you, too.

As always, great post.
-Ann :)

Anonymous said...

I seem to be wanting to eat more at night lately too. I sometimes think we need a little extra weight to 'ground us'...especially if we are feeling a little spacey. It comes and goes. My weight is up about 5 lbs. from where I was and now I have to be more mindful about it too. You have done really great so don't beat yourself up.

Jane Cartelli said...

The connection between food and addiction is why Overeater's Anonymous just celebrated 50 years in existence. People who loose 100, 200, 300+ pounds are more likely to keep it off if they use program of recovery. You already have a very most important tool: You have the ability to be honest about what you do with food and share that with others. Many people do not even realize how dishonest they are with themselves about their food behaviors. It took me a while to understand and accept that even after I lost more than 215 pounds do not have all the answers.

Keep reaching out for help and you will get past this. You have come a long way - you can do it.


Cynthia said...

LOVE the title of this post!

You know, I had set a public goal of getting to 225 pounds by New Years. After two marginal losses in a row, I don't know that I'll make it, especially not with a planned two week maintenance period coming up in just a couple weeks. But I decided that I'll be happy and content if I can make it into the 220s period... and I'm close.

I actually feel happy with my .6 loss today. Because I am being consistent and getting steady progress. It probably isn't most people's idea of perfect weight loss, but so be it!

I never seem to manage 100% on track, but 85-90% is good enough.

So keep on with your journey, it may not be easy, but we know it is WORTH IT! Give yourself time. These old entrenched feelings and habits don't just disappear, they lurk in the background, ready to come out whenever we are stressed. But when they surface, we can make the choice to get right back to our current habits.

Rhi said...

Good post Lyn, and I have some food for thought:

When we talk about other addictions, such as alcohol or drugs, when people quit they stop using it all together. Unfortunately, with food this is impossible.

We need food to live, but if you are struggling with a food addiction, every day is a battle. You wouldn't give a recovering heroin addict a little bit of heroin 3 times a day for the rest of their lives, right?

So it's okay to struggle sometimes, so long as you are overcoming the mental relationship with food where it is live to eat vs eat to live. And you're getting there, you can tell just with how you post how your relationship with food is changing, and it's a great thing. Keep it up!

Kathi said...

Lynn, You can't believe how much I needed to read this today. After having one of my "episodes" with food and feeling like I suck at this weight loss journey my kind friend said to come read your post. It brought tears to my eyes. I know that I will never give up the fight and I will learn to love myself every step of the way. Thank for the wonderful post.

Diandra said...

Hmm... you're right, why eat crap at night after everything went well all day?

A few months ago I discovered that, unless I have my first coffee of the day with sugar, I will crave sweet things all day. One coffee, one lump of sugar, and my "sweet tooth fairy" is satisfied for the day. Maybe it is the same with some crap food ingredients? (I wouldn't advise having a few crisps for breakfast so you can do without for the rest of the day, but maybe there is something in whatever kind of crap food we choose that our body really believes it needs?)

Jen said...

I think you hit the nail on the head with this post. I think it's kind of funny that you still get messages from haters who chide you for your imperfections. Nobody is perfect, and people will always make mistakes. I'm kind of new to this whole weight loss blogging thing, and while most people I've come across seem nice, it seems there are more than a few judgmental people/haters out there. Anyway, I think it's important to look at the big picture. Sure, we all have days where we fall off the wagon so to speak, but as long as we're doing well overall, then we can be defined as successful.

Life as a Caterpillar said...

Amazing post. Your words have spoken to me so much recently.

I really do beat myself up if i don't do perfectly. I have lost 20lbs in 13 weeks, (the most i've ever lost) but i still get downhearted and think about giving up because i must not be trying hard enough when someone comments on my food diary that i eat too much fresh food and too many carbs.

This post and these comments have really helped me. Thanks everyone

Anonymous said...

You are an amazing, amazing woman, and I am so glad I have found you! :)