In my experience, there is a whole lot of "head in the sand" behavior when it comes to weight gain (or regain). I've done it myself, and I've watched others do it. But let me talk about my own denial first.
Back when I was first going up the scale from 200 to nearly 300 pounds, which happened in less than a year, I simply did not notice how big I was getting. I know that sounds crazy. How could ANYONE not notice putting on 80 pounds?? Well, I knew I was gaining "a little" weight, but I shoved it in the back of my mind and covered it with brownies and Big Macs and pizzas. So what if I was "a little" fat? Who cared? It wasn't really affecting me. That's what I told myself as I closed in on 280.
It is easy to do. You start out seeing a bit of a gain on the scale, or feeling your pants get tighter, or maybe neither. Maybe you just do not check in with yourself at all. The denial comes from avoidance. I avoided mirrors completely. I NEVER looked at myself, I averted my eyes when I was walking towards a storefront window where my "distorted" reflection might accost me, I refused to get on the scale. I almost exclusively wore black (or dark navy blue) stretch pants. When the 18's got tight, I thought they must be shrinking. I saw the holes in the thighs and went to buy more stretch pants but those 18's just were too uncomfortable so I would buy 20's. That was not really my size, of course. I just wanted them to be a little looser for comfort. Baggy, you know. Just for comfort. And then later when those got worn out in the thighs and I went for more stretch pants, the 20's were snug. They must be a different brand. They have started to cut them differently. Oh, the fabric is just not as stretchy. I will buy a 22 this time. How annoying, but the number doesn't *really* matter, it is just a different cut or brand. And on and on this went, until I was buying 26/28's and 3X and even some 4X clothes. I just kept telling myself it was something else... the fabric, the brand, the cut. Oh, okay, MAYBE I had gained a LITTLE weight. Stupid pants fabric....
This is how I became morbidly obese. I knew I was kind of fat and I figured I would start tomorrow and do something about it. But for now, the scale would just be depressing and the clothes are comfy at 26/28 and I was not really that big...
Until I could hardly walk and was no longer tucking my kids in at night.
Until I turned around in that little store and knocked a glass shelf to the floor with my hip.
Until I was in the ER with heart palpitations.
Until my friend came to visit me and saw me with that 80-pound gain and drew her breath in sharply, almost crying at seeing me like this.
Until I couldn't fit on rides or walk to the beach or catch my toddler as she was about to dart into traffic.
Then I woke up.
We all have our wake-up moments but even when they are dramatic it is easy to sweep it under the carpet with excuses. I still do it sometimes. We want to go along la-la-la, nothing is wrong, and if it is we can deal with it later. That is dangerous behavior.
Look at all the weight loss bloggers who lost a ton of weight, got to goal or near goal, and then regained part of the weight and are struggling. There are SO MANY of us. It is a common theme. Regain is easy. Habits are hard to break. Food tastes good. We need a break. Lifestyle is easier spoken than lived.
How on earth did I gain twenty pounds and still think I was okay? How could I continue to think I was "189ish" when in fact I had gone over 200 pounds again? Well, the same way I gained that 80 in a year. Easy. Stay off the scale, tell yourself it is a "little" gain, avoid mirrors, ignore the clothing becoming tighter. I kept telling myself "oh my jeans all still fit so I am sure I haven't gained more than five pounds." But in fact, I was ignoring the fact that those jeans were super loose before and super tight after. They fit! It didn't matter that 2 months ago they were so loose I had almost put them in the Fat Clothes pile, and now I was walking around with them unbuttoned half the time because they were too tight. They fit! I haven't gained. That's how it goes.
I have never known a person who has regained all their lost weight while getting on the scale every single day.
It is very hard to watch the numbers climb. It cuts into our denial with a dose of reality. So we just stay off the scale and make up imaginary number in our heads instead. Dangerous behavior.
The only reason the scale is not still climbing is that my pants got so tight I was snapped back out of denial, along with getting back on the scale and facing the truth. If you have gotten rid of your fat clothes, and refuse to wear stretch pants, there is a built-in barrier to your regain. You can only go so far before you are naked.
Please, if you are in this state of avoiding the truth, turn it around NOW. Not tomorrow, not next week. If your pants are getting tighter or sizes bigger THERE IS A REASON. Get on the scale. Face it. No one says you have to go on a diet or change everything the minute you see that number. You can keep eating anything you want. Just do it KNOWING. No more mind games.
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