Thursday, November 20, 2014

Will Anything Work?

I've gone over it and over it in my mind... not just this week, but for years... decades, even. But twenty years ago when I wondered "will it work?" in regards to a weight loss strategy, I had nothing much to base my opinions on. I was new at being fat, and new at losing it. I didn't have a background in dieting aside from watching my mother weave in and out of Weight Watchers meetings, losing and gaining the same 30 pounds while eating frozen WW pasta meals for dinner and then breaking down into a bag of potato chips every so often (sound familiar? Except for the WW part...) I didn't have Internet yet so I just trial-and-errored my way through losing weight and regaining it and losing it again through six pregnancies and 15 years. And then the Internet came into my life, I found weight loss message forums, learned about the many, many ways people lose weight and eventually, started blogging. The rest is history (or archives).

Now that there is an overabundance of information available online... everything from scientific studies to people's personal opinions. And you know, like they say: anything will work, if you work it. Weight watchers will work, Atkins will work, Any of hundreds of plans, diets, lifestyle changes will work. And all of them don't work, too. For every person who doesn't lose weight, there are others who have succeeded with the same plan. Heck, I tend to think now that losing weight is the easy part, but keeping it off is the hard part (and that is, at least in part and maybe subconsciously, why I am so resistant lately to losing again. I know I can get the weight off somehow, but I am very leery of doing it just to end up regaining it all again. It's painful).

So I ask myself, will anything work?

Counting calories and biking worked, until it didn't and I spent almost 2 years trying to keep losing by that method and failing.
Medifast worked, until it didn't and I spent another year or two trying to get back on plan with Medifast and failing.
AIP worked, even though it wasn't a weight loss effort, until it didn't and I gained all the weight back.

Those are the three methods that have "worked" for me over the course of blogging. Nothing else I have ever done in the past decade has "worked" (and by working I mean weight coming off consistently). But why did they stop working? Well, AIP stopped working because I stopped doing it (got sick and couldn't cope). Medifast stopped working because I got packet fatigue and couldn't bear to eat them anymore after ten months straight, and I didn't transition back to real food properly. Calorie counting and biking stopped working because... well I think it was because even if I was "on plan" 26 days a month, I could be "off plan" the other four days and it would negate all the weight loss, resulting in no loss (basically up and down the same few pounds for almost 2 years).

I can't "cheat" on AIP and lose weight.
I can't have a few days overeating each month while calorie counting and lose weight.
I *can* cheat some on Medifast and lose weight, but I can't stand to eat packets anymore.

Basically what I know "works" and what I know I can do is either AIP or counting calories and biking.

And yet I don't know if I can do it enough to make a difference.

I don't want to do the diet/fail/diet thing anymore. I am tired of the cycle. I am sick of getting all excited and working hard and sticking to a plan (call it diet, call it lifestyle, doesn't matter) for weeks or months, losing weight, feeling good about it, and then fall back down the rabbit hole of off-plan eating and not exercising... whether it be because I got sick, I got stressed, I had an injury or got depressed or lost a loved one or just got sick of vegetables and wanted to eat cheesecake. So I hesitate to "start again" with something I am 100% committed to when I know that I am not perfect and cannot be perfect, that something, someday will come up and I will eat too much of something or the wrong something, maybe for a couple of days. I will get sick or busy and not get my regular exercise in. Stuff is going to happen.

I know if I can hold it together 95% of the time for six months I will lose a good amount of weight. I am pretty sure I can do that. I know I am capable... I've done it before. The fear is what comes next? What comes after the six months, the year of weight loss when I screw up like I have done before? I don't think I can stand another 50 pound loss and regain. It's tough, emotionally, physically. I am afraid of a regain more than I am afraid of staying this weight. That's probably the real, "deep" reason I have stagnated lately. Fear. Will anything work... forever?

Some days I think it's not worth another try. Other days I can't stand it and have to believe I can lose it again AND keep it off. But if I lose it again I *have* to keep it off. Can I? Can I... that's the big question.


O. said...

I don't usually comment but, Lyn, I think this is why people often suggest counselling to you (and I think why your ED counsellor has prioritised "normalising" your relationship with food).

Like many of us, you have identified your own behaviour as the weak link in losing weight and maintaining a loss. So I think that you won't be able to lose weight and keep it off until you figure out why it is that you go off-plan and self-sabotage and work through that until you can make something reasonable and moderate like portion control/calorie counting work sustainably for you. Before you can lose weight, you need to have a healthy relationship with yourself and with food. I believe that's why Cloe suggested normalising food first: her goal is not really to help you lose weight, but to help you heal your relationship with food. Does that make sense? I also believe the relationship with food needs to come first, and then the weight-loss secondly — if only because it just doesn't work the other way around.

I know you've said in the past that you don't think you have any issues you need to work through using counselling ... but if you're still engaging in behaviours that you have identified as counterproductive to your goals then I think counselling would be useful not just in trying to unravel why that is but developing strategies so that you don't do that any more.

Wishing you the best of luck.

Deniz said...

My dear Lyn
I've been reading your blog a good long time, and if I know anything at all, it is that you both can and will do this. You have got to be the most determined and well organised person I've had the priviledge to know (even if at a distance) and your journey has been more of an inspiration to me on my own path than you could ever know.
Don't give up - you will be victorious because you've dealt with every single thing life has thrown at you like a champ... always!
Zen hugs from the UK, and all the best with the next step.

Betsey C. said...

I firmly believe in not doing anything to lose the weight that I am not willing to do for the rest of my life to keep it off.

With that thought in mind, I am trying to find a moderate way of eating that will allow me to lose weight now and keep it off later. Nothing faddish, and without demonizing any food groups. I don't have binge triggers, so I am lucky. I can eat a bit of sugar on occasion and not be damaged physically or psychologically.

I have more energy when I have plenty of whole grains and legumes along with my lean protein. I love white potatoes, etc. If I limit calories to about 1,500 per day, with a bit of walking, I lose weight very comfortably.

I know the paleo bunch will think I am woefully misguided, but I am 60 years old and have successfully lost 35 lbs eating moderate portions of all kinds of healthy foods along with a few treats here and there.

Lyn, pick your favorite healthy food, eat it with moderation, get some exercise, and remember this great saying from AA -- "easy does it". Best wishes to you!

Anonymous said...

You know, Lyn, I've been thinking two things lately when it comes to your struggle. Well, actually it's one thing with two parts. :}

I haven't mentioned it because I've been to lazy to reread your blog posts so that I can document my theory. so, here it is and you can search it out if you want.

It seems to me that at some point, regardless of weight loss plan you follow, you have a post that says something to the effect that "this is great. I love this food/plan now, even tho I hated it before. This is the way I want to eat for life."

I distinctly remember that post when you were on AIP.

And, every time, soon after that "I love this." post, you go off the plan...and can't get back on.

It's happened so often that when I read the love post for AIP, I wondered if there was going to be a crash and burn. Sadly, there was.

Like I said, I didn't read thru your blog to verify the times/frequency that it happened, but it had to have happened a couple of times before the AIP love post, or I wouldn't have caught the flag.

Here's the next part: I'm not sure that you need counseling to stop binge eating. You really aren't BED. I think you need a counselor to help you figure out what's up with this business of shooting yourself in the foot the minute you find success and enjoyment in your weight loss plan.

Do you think your current counselor would be willing to do that? Once you check out my memory of your posts and if you discover that pattern--Ask her.


Margaret said...

Yep, either accept the weight (it will be your highest plus about twenty) or choose life-long restriction.

There are significant pros/cons to both sides (I'm not judging which is the way to go.)

But you are getting the worst of BOTH sides by looking for a third option that doesn't exist.

It's pretty simple -- what you do to get there, you have to do to stay there.

If you aren't willing to stay (fill in weight loss method) for the long haul, don't bother putting yourself through it.

Believe me, I wish there was another way too.

Maria M said...

I totally understand how you feel! I've tried a ton of 'strategies' with success and failure that I've given up with the 'strategy' and am focusing on my thoughts and beliefs. I've learned my 'all or nothing' mindset was causing a lot of the stress. If I did 'good' for awhile, lost weight, then regained, I was 'bad' a failure. Now I've lost 60+ lbs twice (made lifetime at WW) and having to go back with my tail btw my legs because I was so ashamed. Yes, the program is great, but my 'head wasn't in the game'. My thoughts are not in the right place and that's what I'm working on now. Gaining weight/losing weight is a sign of something larger. Some of it physical (sugar/fat/salt addiction), some of if psychological (think emotional eating) and some coming from my beliefs. Until I'm able to tackle those beliefs, then the weight will not stay off because I haven't dealt with the core issue, my beliefs that I am good enough to eat right and take care of myself, that immediate gratification is overrated.

Lyn said...


It makes sense. I am not sure I can change some of that stuff. I have two reasons I go off plan. One is because I like the taste of junk food and would eat it for two meals a day if I could get away with it health-wise. I do sometimes get to a point, with clean eating, that I lose those cravings... but that is partly why I restrict certain foods. They make it harder to not eat junk.The other reason I go off plan is due to comfort/stress eating, which is a bad habit that I've been able to break in the past by biking or walking or doing other things when I am stressed, but I always seem to fall back to food. Long-ingrained habit and has been a tough one for me.

I'm still in counseling so even if I don't see issues to work through I'll trust what the counselor says and see where that takes me.


I will ask her. I *still* think AIP for life would be the absolute best thing for me (with whatever foods get reintroduced successfully) and my doctor still wants me to retry an elimination diet. I wish I could zap the brain patterns that pull me to certain "junk" foods when I get sad or stressed. Sometimes when I have been doing well with weight loss, I'd see a someone eating a Snickers bar and almost go off the rails to get one myself. It's that food obsession paired with the fact that I was raised eating junk from infancy, literally. I loved hot dogs, chips, and ice cream as a baby and still crave them. Back years ago I used to blog those struggles and how it felt to "win" or "lose" against the food. I still go through that sometimes.

I appreciate all the comments and see truth and wisdom in them.

I think part of the issue is believing. I am not sure I believe being gluten free matters, but the doctor says it does. I am not sure if I believe grains are not good for me, but I felt so much better on AIP. I am not sure if believe I can keep the weight off. But then I do know I want to be healthy and take care of myself, so I can't give up.

I do know that eating more vegetables and being more active is good for me, so I do those things. One of these days I will start losing weight again consistently but I am very afraid that any little thing might set me off and start another regain. That won't stop me from trying, though, because maybe I can figure it out along the way and keep the weight off this time.

Alison Calderone said...

I want to commend you for being so honest with your struggles. It is helpful to me, as a reader, to know that I'm not the only person who struggles with food, and I hope it's helpful for you in that it may be therapeutic to share and get this "off your chest."

I have a question for you to consider: Do you have a good support system? What brings this up is that you mentioned in your comment some pretty strong cravings for junk food. Believe me - I too, have a long history of junk food love! About 10 months ago, I determined that I cannot eat junk food moderately and that it ALWAYS leads to a binge. So I decided to give up a number of binge-inducing junk foods. Now, when I get a craving (which can happen often because these binge foods are common in the office where I work), I have a little network of friends I can text or call and get support in avoiding these foods AND getting down to the real cause of my craving (which is seldom the mere existence of the binge foods - usually there is an emotional/stress component). This, and asking for God's help, I believe, are the main things that have allowed me to avoid my binge foods for these months. I wonder if this type of strategy would help you? Or perhaps you have already tried it? (I'm a longtime reader but don't recall if you have already tried something like this).

Wishing you the best, as always.

Lyn said...


Most of my friends haven't had issues with food (or if they have, I don't know about it) and I don't talk "diet" with them. But I do have a couple of friends who understand and have been there. Only one of them is available during the day to call/email and I do that regularly! The others are working so I can't really reach out to them. I guess most of my support for weight loss is online. I think I need to find a local group that exercises together or something... maybe in a class. Good suggestion... I can build this for myself. Thanks!

Karen said...

Great question for your counselor and your group support. I hope that you take those questions and do the assignments that the counselor gives you to move forward

Keep going. I realized time would pass and I may or may not have the same amount of years. I realized I could live the second 40 years much different than the first 40 years.

Be open to learning from the group as much as the counselor. Is the group different from the counselor? Karen P.

amythest said...

I just wanted to say that your journal is such an inspiration to me! I found it via JackFit's blog roll this past week and started reading...and every single post this past week has really struck a chord with me. I have a lot of similar thoughts, struggles, highs/lows- I'm just blown away by your honesty and self-reflection about the whole weight lost process. I just wanted to let you know that your journey has been a source of support for me and that I think you're awesome and you will get to where you want to be!!! -Down_w_the_man (MyFitnessPal)

Steelers6 said...

You are so worth it.
You have worth & value!


Ruth Hanna Strong said...

You can and you will.

You have evidence to support that you can follow a plan for a long time.

You continue to engage in ways to find support.

All behavior change "recipes" call for exercise (practice), monitoring (your blogging and other tools), and support (again, your blogging, and also your ED counselor and your doctor).

You've got this. You're doing this.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lyn:
Loved this post. There's so much insight into yourself, and the whole diet/fail cycle you're trying to break out of. When diets work until they don't I think it's because we feel it's all or nothing and a slip leads to months of rebound eating. I think this is one thing your ED therapist is working on by normalizing all food for you. If it doesn't matter what you eat, then you haven't failed at your diet when you have a piece of cheesecake.

Of course, your situation is complicated by your health. If AIP makes you feel better why can't you stick to it? Again, something to explore with your counsellor.

Others express what I am trying to say much better than I can. There's a blog a love by a nutritionist/ED therapist
She's a really good writer (like you are) that I visit when I need some support. You might enjoy it too.


bigmomma said...

Lyn, I'm new to your blog but I feel like I know you well because I feel the same way as you.

Will anything work? It's the million dollar question I think anyone who wants to lose weight asks themselves. The answer is I don't know if anything truly works. I think it's a struggle day in, day out whether you're changing lifestyle, exercising, bingeing, starving, carolie counting or not.

I get up every single day, telling myself "you can do it", and try not to beat myself up if I misstep for that day or 6 months. I've got 217lbs to lose and I've lost 16..that's a long way to go, but I get up every day and believe in myself. Somedays, even that doesn't work. I slip, I fall and a lay on the ground of my mind crying and calling myself all kinds of names because I failed. The last thing I tell myself before I go to bed at night is tomorrow is another day.

If you lose the weight and gain it back, it's worse I think. I've been there over and over and every time I feel worse about myself, and put more weight on. I think the trick is trying to keep reaching for the end..I don't know if I'll ever get to the seems like it's so far away. I feel what you feel in your blog.

You aren't alone. I ask myself the same questions over and over, and I really don't know if there is an answer.

I'm supporting you in your journey. you CAN do it!

Amy said...

"Who looks outside, dreams; who looks within, awakes." Carl Jung. The answer lies within, and it has very little to do with your mouth.

LHA said...

Lyn, this was an excellent post, and gave all of us who are attempting to get their weight under control a lot to think about. Like you, I have lost and gained many times. Five years ago I lost 55 pounds and have kept 40 of it off. The way I have kept it off is by struggling! Or at least that is what it feels like to me. I share the same love of junk food and sweets that you do, and I also use food as comfort in times of stress. The best, and most successful, strategy I have found is to stay on my eating plan almost all the time, realizing that there will be days when I am not compliant.....and that's okay. The struggle is not letting one slip turn into a month long binge or worse yet a complete collapse into old eating habits.

Believe me, if I thought that I could stay on a strict no sugar/no grains diet for the rest of my life I would do it. I know others can, and more power to them! For me, it is about minimizing the off plan eating and recognizing that it is a part of life without freaking out about it. If I have a piece of birthday cake, I know for sure I will wake up in the morning craving sugar. I have to prepare myself to be extra careful about carbs the next day and also to stay extra busy doing things I enjoy. That helps me a lot to not sit around and dwell on my food cravings. Sometimes it is pretty easy to get right back to eating well after indulging in less optimal food, and sometimes it is a white-knuckle struggle for a few days.

I totally agree with the idea stated by others that if you are going to lose weight and keep it off you need to be prepared to eat the same way in maintenance as you did during the weight loss phase. It just doesn't work any other way. Good luck, and just know you have a lot of us out here rooting for you!

Anonymous said...

A couple thoughts.

1. We need to dig deep and find out what dynamic/belief our coping mechanisms was originally created to meet. specifically. Not just, "My mom gave me sweets when I was sad; sweets made me feel good; I now want sweets when I'm sad.) Yeah.

Almost every American could say that. If the coping mechanism is still active and feels like it's controlling you, you haven't gotten to the original decision that caused you to adopt this particular method to survive.

2. While you're digging, do what Stacy said. :) Her comment is stellar. When I hit publish here, I'm gong to reread it. I need to remember her truth for the weak times.

3. Use the link below and read the post it's connected to. The blogger basically echoes Stacy in how to lose weight. She says to decide, commit, honor your commitment with your food choices.

Here ya go:

Hugs, Lyn. This is hard and we're going to succeed at weight loss. Yes, we are.