Thursday, March 20, 2014

Back to the very beginning, it's a very good place to start ....

 
So the scale was kind this morning, especially so in light of my lack of elliptical time lately: for whatever reason (maybe because I haven't left the house since Sunday and I've been living on Lean Cuisines, low-fat cottage cheese, non-fat yogurt, and fruit), I somehow dropped 4 lbs since the 10th.  (I need to go to Panera less, I think.)
 
Depressingly, though, my refrigerator spreadsheet and this blog tell me that I'm exactly where I was on February 1st ... of 2009!  That was when I had an epiphany and I decided I was going to dig in, take charge, blah blah blah.  And I was going to weigh 100 lbs less when I turned 50.  Ha!  So, after all the intervening upping and downing and running and ellipticalling (hey, if I say it's a word, it's a word), I'm exactly where I was 5 years ago, except with a 5-year older and slower metabolism.  *sigh*
 
I suppose, on the bright side, it's better than being worse off than I was 5 years ago.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Persistence - Virtue or Willful Stupidity?


I keep a spreadsheet on my refrigerator door.  It tracks my weight back to 2004.  During that time - almost a decade now! - I've weighed as much as 294 and as little as 202.  It shows my best efforts, like the 18 months when I managed to stay below 225, and my worst, like the most recent 20-plus months, when I've remained stuck in the 270s and 280s.  Anything encouraging on this spreadsheet seems more than cancelled out by the rest of it: not only have I failed to maintain substantial weight loss on the relatively rare occasions I've achieved it, but the weight losses I did temporarily achieve were never even enough to move me on the BMI chart from Obese to Overweight.  A rational person would not predict future success based on this decade's worth of hard data. 

But yet, I keep stepping onto the scale and recording my weight on the spreadsheet 3 times every month.  And every so often I summon up a surge of will power, clean out the kitchen, and try to be more conscientious about using the elliptical machine.  I'm not even sure why, because I honestly have a hard time imagining that (or how), at nearly 50, I'm going to be able to achieve and maintain the kind of weight loss that's consistently eluded me throughout my 30s and 40s.

But yet, I never quite give up. Maybe it's the fear that if I ever listed the elliptical on Ebay and gave my running shoes to Good Will, then soooner or later my weight would cross the 300-pound mark, I'd turn into a recluse, and someday I'd be on the news when the EMT's had to cut a hole in the side of my house to get me out!  Or maybe it's the simple vanity of still hoping that someday I can reach and maintain a weight which wouldn't be the first thing people noticed about me.

So, I'm persistent.  But, given years of only insufficient and temporary successes when my body was younger and responded to diet and exercise more readily, is persistence still a virtue?  Is it even smart?  I have no idea.     

Monday, May 20, 2013

Why It All Seems So Futile Sometimes ....


That feeling of futility .... 

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/20/many-fronts-in-fighting-obesity/
 
I quote:
 
"When an overweight person cuts down significantly on what he eats, the body defends itself by using fewer calories. The effect can be long-lasting: If a person’s weight drops to 150 pounds from 250, significantly fewer calories must be consumed daily to stay at that weight than would be necessary if the person had never been overweight. 
 
"Even if a 170-pound person loses 20 pounds, he needs 15 percent fewer calories to maintain the new weight than someone who always weighed 150."

Really, the dispiriting thing about an article like this is that it basically says, "If you're already overweight, forget those fantasies of losing weight and living like a 'normal' person, because even if you do, you won't.  Oh, and did we mention?  Once you've been overweight: there's about a 99% chance it's already too late." 

*SIGH*

Sunday, March 11, 2012

... and start all over again!


"Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again." That's the attitude I'm taking right now, faced with the reality that not only did I fall off the wagon, I tumbled all the way down the hill, too.

As the graph and the weight log to the right show, over the last several months I've managed to surrender all the territory I won since I started Sancho Panza's Weighty Thoughts back in February 2009. I decided, though, that I wasn't going to delete the blog or even reboot it - pretending that I didn't lose over 70 pounds and then gain it back is not going to help.

Instead, I'm leaving the unvarnished truth up here for anyone to read who stumbles onto this blog. Yes, I lost a substantial amount of weight, and yes, I gained it all back. But I'm going to focus on the first half of that statement. I did lose it. That means I can lose it again. My new target date for losing those unnecessary 100 pounds: October 26, 2013. The day I turn 50. It would be very cool to weigh myself that day and see a number representing a real achievement like that.

Wish me luck.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Making Myself Scream

In her excellent book Refuse to Regain and on her website of the same name, Barbara Berkeley has coined the phrase "scream weight" for a previously heavy person's new upper limit - the number which will trigger Full Diet Mode the moment it shows up on the scale, heading off any further backsliding before it gets out of hand.

I like this concept a lot. Setting this kind of limit seems good common sense. But, speaking as someone who's gained back a lot of lost weight over the years, I can also say there's a problem with it: you have to regularly and ruthlessly climb onto the scale to see your Scream Weight in the first place.

This has always been a problem for me. The moment I start to backslide after a successful spell of dieting (excuse me, "lifestyle modification"!), I also start avoiding the bathroom scale - denial is part of backsliding. I'm aware that I'm eating food I shouldn't, I can see and feel that I'm putting weight back on, so it's very easy to talk myself out of finding out exactly how bad things are getting. And if I don't get on the scale and see a number greater than my Scream Weight, then that dietary and fitness "red alert" (cue Star Trek claxon sound here) doesn't kick in.

Usually, of course, once I've eaten my way back into my fatter clothes and my wardrobe options narrow, I do finally force myself to climb onto the scale and assess the damage. By then, though, I've exceeded my Scream Weight by thirty or forty pounds, and it will be months before I get back there, much less below it.

Scream Weight is a great concept for catching a bad trend before it gains traction. But it only works when you have the self-discipline to keep checking your weight, so there's a paradox in play. If you have the self-discipline to do that, you're probably also able to maintain at least most of your good eating and exercise habits, so there's less chance you'll have a Scream Weight crisis in the first place. The people who really need those regular reality checks, though, are also the ones, like me, who are most likely to persuade themselves to let the scale gather dust "just until they get back into the groove" or whatever. And then the damage mounts.

Self-monitoring: it's obviously necessary for long-term success, but it's hard, especially on the days you know you won't like what you see on the scale.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Trench Warfare

Dieting is like trench warfare in World War I.

Obviously, dieting can't compare to actual trench warfare for sheer horror and misery - but there are similarities. Trench warfare was an agonizingly slow process, where one side could spend months struggling to advance only a few hundred yards across a battlefield strewn with barbed wire; then, of course, the other side would often recapture those few hundred yards, equally gradually, and after months of struggle, everyone would be in the same trenches where they'd begun. Even worse, sometimes those soldiers who first advanced, then retreated, lost even more ground.

You see where I'm going with this, don't you? Dieting feels like that to me: months of striving to take off however many pounds, followed by gaining most or all of it back and then desperately trying not to surrender any additional territory beyond that. It feels as though I were back to Square One, but scarier than that is the anxiety that I could end up back to Square Minus-One!

On the other hand, fighting in the trenches is better than surrendering, right?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Call Me Sisyphus


Okay, I'm convinced: posting self-confident blog predictions is a sure way to have those predictions not come true. Tempting fate is always a bad idea.

And so, here I am, right where I was weight-wise two years ago this month. Last fall the wheels started coming off: I completely lost my motivation, first to drop more weight and then even to maintain the loss I'd already achieved. Starting around my birthday in October, I craved all kinds of high-carb foods, and I ate them - always telling myself that I would behave myself "starting tomorrow" or "after Thanksgiving" or "after the holidays" or whatever. But tomorrow did not come, and the weight gain was fast and steady. Worse, I stopped checking the scale, deliberately avoiding the hard numbers which would might have rattled me enough to change my McDonalds fries- and Panera pastries-fueled momentum.

There's not much good news to take from this, except these small consolations:
1. I did manage to get back on the scale last week, knowing that what I'd see would motivate me.
2. I stopped before I exceeded my previous peak weight; it's one thing to gain lost weight back, but it's even more demoralizing to gain back even more.
3. I did do an Atkins-centered grocery run, filling my refrigerator and pantry with the kinds of foods I need to start eating again and throwing out the bad stuff.
4. I started eating those foods again.
5. I do know how to lose the weight now.

On the other hand, it's also discouraging to feel as though not only will I never achieve my 100-pound weight loss goal, but I can also never trust myself not to backslide. Ever.

Just call me Sisyphus.
 

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