Monday, January 3, 2011

The Hardest Day

The hardest day in weight loss is the day after you had cookies, chips, and candy. The first day of "restriction," even if you don't call it that and instead refer to it as your "lifestyle change," is hard. No matter what you say about "no food being off limits" or eating what you want in reasonable portions, you just can't eat a pint of Haagen-Dazs ice cream and a bag of Lays chips as a snack and lose weight (not to mention get healthy). You...we... have to change *something* in order to change our bodies. And the first few days of change can be brutally hard.

You get up and begin with a bang, determined that "this will be the day." You have your healthy/smaller meals, you feel good about it, and then sometime in the afternoon you remember those cookies you wanted to eat or that burger and fries you wish you'd indulged in before starting your diet. You consider "going off" and eating the stuff you missed and still want. Or maybe some stray random piece of chocolate on the counter grabs your attention and you want to eat it. You remember that cupcake you had yesterday and start to mourn that you can't have it today, too. The mind games begin.

For some folks, the novelty of being on a diet and losing weight is enough to keep them going for days or weeks before they start feeling like it's hard. I've even seen some rare folks who *never* think it's hard, and just lose the weight and are done with it. Great! But me, I have a problem. I think I am addicted to certain types of foods, and I also think I am addicted to the actual process of eating... overeating, to be specific. More on that later.

But after I get going and stay off sugar and carby stuff for 3 or 4 days or a week, it gets easy for me. I don't have to battle myself every day, I feel great, and I do tend to drop the pounds when I stay on track. In case you're new to my blog, I started at 278 pounds and dropped 64 pounds through eating healthier foods, lots of vegetables and fruits, calorie counting, and a bit of walking and indoor biking (nothing strenuous). Then I stalled out for a long time, gaining and losing the same 20 pounds over and over while I dealt with the mental and emotional aspects of binge eating and using food for comfort. In March of last year, I began Medifast (the company is providing me its products for free in return for sharing my experience here) and lost 59 pounds. I started screwing around and having a hard time, especially when I got to 175 pounds and felt rather uncomfortable with being "so thin". Today I weigh 185 and am working to get back down and into a "normal" BMI range as I do Medifast and work with a physical therapist on my mobility issues (pain caused by severe degenerative arthritis and bone spurring in my knees).

I felt sick over the weekend and was doing a half Medifast, half crackers type of thing until in the evening I noticed the leftover birthday cake sitting on the counter. I made it from scratch; I hadn't so much as licked the beaters and I just watched as everyone else ate. But even with an upset stomach, something drove me to have a slice and a scoop of ice cream, *knowing* it would make me sicker. I just *had* to have it. And I did, and I felt worse. But yesterday I got up and said, "self, look. This is enough. What is going on with you?" And I got these answers, jumbled and random:

I am fine with this weight, who cares if I never lose more?
I am 100 pounds less and that is good enough.
Remember when you grabbed the leash of that big stray dog, and it ran and yanked you right off your feet? That never would have happened 100 pounds ago. It's scary to be lighter!
I am sick of NOT eating candy and cookies and chips, I like them.
Maybe it is worth it to eat crappy food if I can stay THIS weight... best of both worlds?

To which I answered,
Dude, that is so messed up. You need to be healthy and feel good and be a good example to your kids. Stop making excuses. Don't give yourself permission to drown in an addiction.

And off I went to eat my Medifast. I did great, but it was the hardest day. We went out to run errands and I took Medifast meals and a water bottle with me. By 3pm I was losing it. We went to WalMart and all the FOOD was bothering me, mocking me, taunting me. In the checkout aisle the candies were just ASKING me to buy them. "You can start again tomorrow!" They said. I could almost feel them melting in my mouth and oozing sugar into my bloodstream. But I held out and got outta there.

Driving past another grocery store my mind flashed to that extra-special ice cream they sell *only* in that store which is 30 minutes from my house. We rarely go past it but there it was. Should I run in and get a pint or two? Oh I wanted it. I drove on. On the way to pick up my son from work, I drove past my favorite cheese steak place. That was IT. I HAD to have one, HAD to. The whole way to pickup my kid I was thinking of cheese steak. The plan began to form: I would pick him up and then get a cheese steak and then go to that grocery store and get that ice cream, and how about some chips... and my mind went nuts thinking of ALL the foods I wanted to have before I started losing weight again, because after all it's better to binge BEFORE you get going on the diet than it is to waste time losing weight and then regain it all with a binge, right? I picked up my son. I was sooo dying for that cheese steak. I got to the intersection, a red light, and sat there. To the left was the cheese steak place and the ice cream. To the right was the way home. I sat there not sure which turn signal to put on. The cheese steak. No, home. No, EAT. No, don't. "It doesn't matter, ONE meal off plan will NOT matter, you can start tomorrow!" And reason answered, "But you don't want to feel like crap. You don't want to hurt and be sick. You feel better when you eat right." And the light turned green, and it pained me terribly to turn right as everything else in me pulled the other way, but I did it and went home.

I made myself a nice, on plan "cheese steak pile" with beef, peppers, mushrooms, and leeks sauteed in a nonstick pan with salt and pepper, and mixed in a wedge of Laughing Cow light cheese. It was very good and after I ate it, I was okay. I had my Medifast brownie later and went to bed, having completed One Good Day on plan... the hardest day.

It will get easier from here. I know I can do it. So can you.


Chubby McGee said...

It's a struggle, but we're worth it. So are our kids.

Keep on goin', sweetie! You've come too far to give into temptation so easily now. Ya know?


Anonymous said...

I could have written this post. (minus Medifast) Even down to the 175 stall out.

Every time I approach 175, something happens. I finally broke thru it, got to 169 (for about 10 minutes), looked in the mirror and saw my mother's face--and that was IT! I gained 15 pounds in 3 months.

I'm back on track (at 182)--but between the addiction and the mind games--well, I could have written this post.

Let's get this thing done, THIS YEAR!


Shonna said...

Hi there. I have been on Medifast since Oct. and I have lost almost 40 lbs. In addition to Medifast, I go to a weekly group nutrition meeting through my medical center. Most of the group is on Medifast. The nutritionist always says that losing and maintaining weight will be the "fight of our lives." Your post here reminds me that she is absolutely right on. I had a really bad night last night, but managed to get through it. I wanted to let you know that you are not alone in this fight and I get great insight and comfort from reading your blog. Thanks! Keep fighting the good fight!!

Kurzweil - MF Boards said...

I haven't ever seen someone describe the first day of a "recommit" so well. If you (I!) have binging and overeating issues, this just nails the experience.

What a good reminder of why it is so important for me personally never to take that first detour. The mental part is the toughest.

spunkysuzi said...

I have always found that trying to get back on plan was so much harder than following the plan! So now i'm trying to just stay on plan without doing things/tasting things that i know trigger me to go off plan.
You are going to kick it up a notch this year of that i have no doubt.

Ann-Marie said...

Yeah it's hard. But not as hard as as it would be if you had to lose it all over again. The last couple of months I felt some of the things that you said " This is good enough" and so on. Well I had to decide that I'm worth more then just good enough. LETS DO THIS

Caitlin said...

Oh Lyn. Thank you so much for this post. It almost made me tear up to read it. I could have written that second paragraph. I am sitting here thinking of all the stuff I 'should' have eaten yesterday 'while I had the chance' even though I didn't eat them yesterday because I didn't want them! Mind games indeed.

You know, I am currently at a weight close to yours. For me it is my high weight, my weight that I reach when I have not made exercise and eating well a priority. When I have stopped saying no to myself - no to foods and habits that make me feel bad, no to getting the exercise my body needs and thrives on. I've gotten below it several times, but there is something about this weight for me that requires a break-through. Much of what you write about what you are going through lately at this weight is exactly what I am experiencing here as well. It is so helpful for me to read what you write.

All this to say, I am really looking forward to being on this journey with you the next few months. Thank you for doing what you do. You are truly an inspiration. WE CAN DO IT!

Deb said...

You kicked ass!

The Captain's Daughter said...

Hugs go out to you!

I sat at that same intersection a few weeks ago. For me, it never gets easier - and, even when I made the right turn, it didn't feel all that much better.

You don't know it, but you cheer me on through your blog!

Shan said...

Just had to post a (((hugs))) to you, girl. I know your pain...and I'm proud of you for turning right instead of left. We all need more "rights" in our life. Bravo!

RP said...

Great post.

I'm an emotional eater too, but if being sad/anxious is my #1 trigger, then simply being hungry is #2 (and happens a lot more often).

I have 90-calorie chocolate chip granola bars and 100-calorie popcorn bags that are my sweet/salty fix, and I've found that 99% of the time when I'm craving something, eating one of those will make it OK.

In the really rough moments I'll eat both, but I still tell myself that it's TONS better then giving in to .

By that point, I'm just too full to eat anything else, so the crisis is averted for another day. :)

Jack Sh*t, Gettin' Fit said...

Even the excitement of knowing you're doing the right thing and knowing that you're soon going to feel oh-so-much better seldom tempers that "first day back" shock to the system.

But you're right... there's no way to have our cake and eat it too. It's either in the boat or flailing around in the ocean. Me? I think I'll join you up in the boat...

Dillypoo said...

I refer to it as The Crap Theory. If we eat crap, we crave crap. And it is hard to stop eating it, but doing so helps end the cravings.

Excellent and insightful post! And what a way to start the new year - in control and on plan! Good for you!

Happy Fun Pants said...

I can completely identify with this...and today? It's been my hardest day so far.

Tomorrow's no looking much easier.

But I'll do it anyway. :)

Anonymous said...

May your new year be full of nothing but right turns all the way to your goal.

Lisa said...

Good job!!!!!!!

Louise said...

would it work if you just fantasized about the cheese steak and the ice cream? I mean, don't fight it, but let yourself imagine eating it, what it would feel like, taste like, etc. Would that give you the same rush?

And then once you've "had" it, you can get back on plan.

Melaina said...

SOOO true! You are so great at writing! I love to read your posts. I have started back up trying to get control of my eating. I am going off desserts completely this year.
I would love some support over on my blog at
Also, could you add my blog to the Bethany McDonald blogroll? My old blog is on there but I am starting this new one this year. I'm making this one anonymous!
Anyway, you are doing great. Keep it up! You look amazing too!

Anne H said...

The awesome troy continues!
Hard day will come and they will go.
How well we know this by now!

Allison said...

Thanks for the daily posting- it's really a help. My husband and I started Medifast a week ago and the novelty of it is wearing off and I'm having a hard time staying completely on plan.
Last night I had a 100 calorie bag of popcorn and today all I can think about are other ways to cheat. But who am I really cheating?

Leslie said...

I feel every word you wrote. And every emotion. And every agonizing quandary over "to eat or not to eat" had a little victory yesterday. As we string them together they become success. Sloooowwly.

Steelers6 said...

Good job on turning the right way! Away from bad choices!

I think it was around this time last year you posted something to this effect;

"It only takes a split second to make a decision. [to buy, to eat, to throw away, to dump water on something...]
Each decision is either in the direction of disease and obesity, or health & wellness."

I may have altered your exact quote some, but it was and is helpful to me. So glad you made a good split second decision to turn away from ice cream & cheesesteaks, & drive toward health and wellness, friend.

We are all so proud of you and glad for today's happy ending.

Happy 2011, Chrissy

Pubsgal said...

December seemed to be a tough time for a lot of the longtime maintainers, too, not just the more recent folks like myself. And from what I've read, our bodies adjust insulin response to the level of carbs we consume, so when we cut back on the junk, the cravings are actually false hunger signals from our bodies, not moral weakness. I've also read (and have experienced) that they fade once our bodies readjust. I'm taking that to heart as I get back to my normal eating. You hang in there, too!

Anonymous said...

Right turn , left turn ................ You made the right choice ! I just want to get to that stop light and make the dicision to follow you ! Great post as you have " nailed " the emotions all too well !

beerab said...

I felt the same way today as well. Everything I saw was an internal battle today. Leftover cookies and chocolate and all sorts of stuff were at work and even while drooling I managed to say no and I'm glad I did :) Glad you said no also :)

mensa said...

Some days you've got it ... some days you don't. Glad you had it today because it'll make tomorrow a bit easier.


Stacy said...

Wow so true. I gotta keep that right turn signal on.

Keep up the good work!

Kristi-Bisti said...

Wow. You write so vividly that I can picture myself right there with you. My cravings aren't cheese steak and ice cream, but I have definitely heard the call of fat and sugar in many different forms. You are right, the first day is definitely the hardest. You make me proud that you said no to those crazy thoughts and impulses and made it through. You are great!

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is difficult stuff. I do think you have to stay at a low weight for a while to get comfortable with it, but I also think we have images in our head of what "too thin" would look like. Have you seen these?
I like the way "4" looks, but "3" starts to look "too thin" even though it isn't and "2" looks anorexic (which it also isn't). "5" feels okay but "6" feels fat. I need to shift my mental images down a notch so that I will be comfortable at that lower BMI.

Sarah said...

Good for you!! I've found myself in your position almost everyday for the past two years! lol.

Some days its just so hard to not give in to cravings. My problem is trying to determine which cravings to give into and not feel guilty about afterward.

I'll have to remember your story the next time I'm stuck and want to give into my unfortunate food addiction. The thing I have to focus on is "why" I want what I want. Because its good? I haven't had it in a while? Or because I'm in a mood and it will make me feel better. Unfortunately, most of the time its the latter. Food is a comfort and a crutch for me and its hard to break through sometimes.

Look forward to following your blog.