Thursday, April 26, 2012

Reasons for Losing Weight

I have a lot of personal reasons for losing weight.

It started out as just wanting to be able to enjoy vacations with my children. I was sick of hobbling around, sick of sitting on the sidelines watching my kids have fun without me, sick of having my husband drop me off at the handicapped entrances, sick of telling the whole family that we had to leave the beach after ten minutes because I could not stand any longer and could not get up off the sand if I sat down. I just wanted the basic human dignity of being able to be with my kids and being able to go up and down stairs to kiss them goodnight at bedtime. That was the driving force behind starting my weight loss and starting this blog.

Now, four and a half years later, I've accomplished that. In fact, a year and a half ago I was pretty much able to do everything that was important to me. I had a bit of sadness when I realized I would never be able to run, but running isn't so much a goal for me anyway. The goal is being healthy and able for life. And I got there.

I am not sure what happened at 175 pounds, but my goals changed. I had the life I wanted. The reasons for losing weight became a) get weight off my knees to stop whatever invisible damage was going on due to arthritis, b) be thin enough to feel a tumor if there ever was one, unlike my mother whose giant tumor went unnoticed in her giant abdomen until it was too late, c) get 'healthy' so I could live a long time for my kids, and d) look good. Yes, for that last one, I wondered how it would be to be 145 pounds like I was when I was 18 - 20 years old. I wanted to get down to that size again if possible, just for looks sakes and to experience that size again. I thought it would be cool and fun.

Apparently, those reasons were not enough. I started gaining again, because the call of food occasionally seemed more 'urgent' than the far-off/unlikely worries about a tumor, or the unfelt/unseen knee damage, or the vanity thing. Eh, those can wait, I think I will have a brownie.

Now I am in pain, about 40 pounds heavier than my lowest, aching with every step, knees crackling, unable to keep up with my dog or my kids. Life's not as fun anymore. My clothes SUCK. So now my reasons have become more urgent: stop the pain, be able to enjoy life again, be able to fit into my clothes again. And *those* reasons *are* enough to make me put down the brownie. Those reasons are more urgent.

It makes me wonder, though, if it will happen all over again at 175 pounds or at some other weight as I go down the scale. If the reason to lose weight stops being more urgent than a bag of chips, the weight loss stops. All I can do for now is keep working towards my goals. I know how great I felt at 175. And if I can get there and even if I stay there, that will be a life with SO much more pleasure in it than this one with the daily pain. I will try and remember that, and if 175 is where I stay, and if I can find no urgency in my reasons to go lower, I am okay with that. But we will see how my reasons change once I get there.

19 comments:

Lori said...

Maybe you just needed to experience the weight gain to remember how bad it was. Now you know, and you won't have to revisit that weight again.
Lori

Princess Dieter said...

I still feel shocked when 1. I can cross my legs completely flush and 2. I wake up and can feel my pubic and hip bones, and can FEEL the poo in there. WHen obese, you can't feel squat. Just squishy fat. To feel bones and organs is...fabulous and unnerving, too. I want to keep feeling that. I can tell when I'm bloated (sodium, carbs, etc), cause I feel LESS of my insides. I dislike that now, not feeling my insides upon awakening.

I remember hardly being able to walk, move. I have bad knees and am scared to death of more damage.

But I began this journey to NOT be diabetic and my sugar is great and my BP is normalized....I take my blood glucose less often now, but that and my BP are reminders. My knees, my innards, my vitals: this is why you did it. This is why you keep doing it.

Looking better is a nice, nice bonus. getting wolf whistles and cars slowing down to ogle and honk when i walk, a surprising bonus (a little creepy, but also a sign that, hey, at 52, I regained some girly glam).

So, just keep remembering how bad it was and how good it was and that will help. I do it DAILY.

Lindsey said...

Hey Lyn,
It sounds like when you originally made your goals, you were trying to avoid certain things, rather than to reach towards what you want. You knew what you didnt' want. And when you were at 175, you had nothing else to reach for. I think what the Habits of Health teaches (did you read that book?) is that motivation towards a positive is always more powerful than motivation against a negative. If we want to get thinner, and then we get thinner, we lost our motivation to continue because we were trying to solve a problem rather than have a goal. When your goal is to be "healthy" and "eat healthy" then we can do that no matter how much we weigh.

i should be full said...

I know what you mean about the reasons to lose weight being less urgent than the reasons to eat the food. I'm pleased for you that you've found strong reasons again, even if they are pain related. My pain is present, but emotional. I need to find a way to remember that the emotional pain doesn't have to be here forever, it will go away if my food gets cleaned up. I keep letting my disease trick me into thinking that the food helps me. But it doesn't help me do anything except stay in pain. Such a tricky process. Thanks for your inspiration!

Anonymous said...

I have similar issues. Once I am happy where I am with my weight, I somehow think I am off the hook to finally live like a 'normal' person. (Even though, intellectually, I know that this is not the case. It is emotionally based.) I let myself trust in what my body 'wants' at a given time. Because, you know, this person is confident and will only choose good. Well, it turns out...not always. It's that 10% of the time making bad choices that got me up the scale in the first place, and I somehow forget all of that once I reach a 'comfortable weight'. I am in a comfy plateau now that is entirely of my own making, and it IS hard to stay focused and to always be a 'grown up' and do what is right for my body rather than what feels like it should be 'normal'. I suppose this happens to most of us at one point or another: what was ok for us to eat at 16 is not the same as what is ok for us now as an adult, at least, not without compensating with exercise. Those metabolisms aren't made like they used to be, darn it :)!

Jamie Mckay said...

You talk about food and your diet all the time but I was curious what you do for exercise?

Right now, I'm just coming off of a year as a full time student and working full time at the same time. I had no time to exercise! So now I'm in the stage where I'm heading back to the gym and have reassess what I can do.

When I'm this weak, I go swimming! Easy on the joints and it's grrrreat cardio. And then when I don't feel so weak anymore, I start running again.

Anna said...

Lyn,

I just want to say, this post really resonates with me right now. I'm having similar thoughts recently struggling with my experiences of losing weight and then gaining some back. Thanks for posting.

Reesie said...

Hey Lyn, what I noticed when reading your post is that your original reasons were mostly focused on things for your family. Your children are so important to you, understandably. So putting their needs first as you lost weight was a very good reason for you. Maybe now it's time to focus on your life and your health being reason enough to lose the weight and enjoy all the things in your life you mentioned in this post.

Colleen said...

There is a lot of psychological and behavioral theory about "prevention vs. promotion" focus. I.e. "I need to stop being so fat" vs. "I am working on maintaining healthier habits."

After 4 years of maintaining my weight at around 175-180 I can tell you that a promotion focus is psychologically healthier for me. When I freak out about "nothing fits, I am so fat, look at how much blubber I can grab, I have to get this weight OFF" I start having panic attacks about my appearance. If I force myself to focus on having kept off 40 lbs., and fitting into size 10s and 12s (rather than my 6s and 8s being too tight), then I actually not only feel better but I tend to make better choices - I'm more likely to eat healthier, go out and exercise, etc.

At this point I would say that most days a month, I think promotion: I eat healthy almost all of the time! I have a healthy waist circumference (under 30")! I like my figure, my face has gotten more defined as I've gotten a bit older, etc. etc. etc.

But I definitely have my "prevention focused/harm avoidence" days: I need to lose 7-10 lbs. before summer because I kind of have back fat when I wear something with a tight waist band. I am still really overweight according to the weight charts and what if I'm eroding my joints. What if my muscle density has gone down because I haven't weight trained regularly in a long time?

And then I reframe: I am working on increasing my weight training to get my muscle density up and body fat down a bit, because that's better for my joints.

I hope this makes some degree of sense. It's what we call cognitive reframing. There is a negative and a positive way to frame absolutely everything. I'm not saying I don't slip into the negative, just that I force myself back into the positive as quickly as possible. It's the same way you have to self correct after a binge and go back to eating lean protein and veggies, and not let one day of binging turn into weeks - don't let one hour or day of negative thinking turn into a huge funk.

It's this mental health hygeine component that I find people don't talk about.

Diandra said...

Of course I do not know what Medifast products taste like (which is what you were living on for a long time), but I know that as I changed my life, my taste would change as well. These days most ready-made treats are not appealing because they taste "too sweet" or "too salty" for me, and I prefer healthier home-made treats. Maybe this is something that will happen to you as wlel, and help you keep the weight off over time?

(Right now I am experimenting - baking with stevia to cut back on calories, and the recommended amount usually turns out as "too sweet!")

InWeighOverMyHead said...

I feel the same way... will the reasons change? Why does the snack become more important than the goals? When you find out, let me know. :)

Cee said...

Aww, I know how you feel. I have lost and gained many times and I can remember how I felt when I was close to goal. It felt awesome, so why do I blow it and will I blow it again? I don't know, but I have to try, again.
Good luck to you!

Anonymous said...

Old habits die hard and the brain doesn't want to kill them off (there's evidence that it never erases the pathways the underlie old habits, the brain just lets them go quiet for a while). You're beating yourself up for experiencing the effects of biological processes that have millions of years of evolution (and decades of learning/habit formation) behind them... there's no point to that Lyn, absolutely none.

Instead of framing this as putting food above your health, why not accept that certain pathways in your brain (which were established when you first began overeating) are now driving you to eat? That way you can strategize to circumvent those biological/learned urges instead of shaming yourself for being indulgent or gluttonous, or something ridiculous like that.

Your body is going to fight your weight loss (that's a reality we must all accept), but it's not invincible. You just have to learn from each lapse and go forward without giving up, smarter and better armed.

Susannah said...

Lyn,

I don't think you will regain again. You might not reach 145, but who knows? Maybe you will. You have more tools now for when you reach 175 again and I have confidence that you will not regain. Enjoy your weekend!

Lyn said...

Anonymous~

not beating myself up, and never thought I was gluttonous. Just exploring my thoughts and feelings. I do understand about the pathways; I also believe that while it is very hard to resist sometimes, I always have a choice. Which is, I think, what you are saying as well.

Willow said...

I have been there so many times. About 8 years ago I lost 100lbs only to gain them back again. I just recently started a new blog to help me lose my fat again. I have always enjoyed reading your blog. It is an inspiration. Don'
t give up.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing. I'm single with no kids and have always been lacto-ovo vegetarian but I can relate to all the stuff about binging and yo-yo dieting and so on. My stepfather won't even let me visit anymore, says I ruin the vehicle and the furniture by sitting in it. I am determined to do what it takes to get back down to 140lbs, step by step. And reading your blogs helps, so thanks.

Anonymous said...

I've been doing the weight loss thing for a few decades now, and I don't find that it has a lot to do with motivation. The things I need in my life to keep it going: enough time to cook, enough access to affordable vegetables and fruits that I'm not stingy with healthy foods, and access/ time to exercise. One of the surprising things is that cooking and exercise are less important for the calories, and more because they offset hunger. Handling food, smelling it, cooking for other people if necessary, satisfies some of my caloric needs. Same with exercise, I know I eat less often and less heavy things when I have just gone for a run or when I know I will go for a run. It all seems psychologically therapeutic as well. My point is that weight loss is not about motivation, it's about having the lifestyle in place. Oh, it also became effortless when I controlled my pantry - I can't eat junk food at midnight if there isn't any in the house. It became more difficult when I lived with other people who bought junk - short of locking it up in a cabinet; I always found a way to rationalize eating their junk - they don't mind, I'll replace it, they have plenty, etc. Having the right lifestyle in place makes motivation a non-issue.

Anonymous said...

As an anonymous poster said above: "I can't eat junk food at midnight if there isn't any in the house." That's so true, and I really try to not put any junk in my grocery cart.

Now, if there just weren't any pizza delivery places a phone call away ...

Regardless of what the scale says, this is a lifelong effort for all of us. We just have to take things one day at a time.

Best wishes on your Sunday weigh-in.

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