When I was losing weight and for a SIGNIFICANT part of my 8-year maintenance, I feared re-gaining my weight. In the past, I would lose some weight only to see myself backslide and put it all back on leaving me mad and hopeless.
A lot of my clients have these fears and I totally get it. One of them recently posted in her journal after a day where she ate more than what she had planned of her own birthday cake. I went in telling her that your birthday IS the DAY you want to celebrate and if you eat a little extra cake then OK…move on. Here’s her response. It reminded me of myself and what a lot of you in the middle of losing weight/nearing the end feel like.
About the cake – I have a real FEAR that if I stop journaling, stop exercising, stop obsessing (really?), I will put my weight back on and have to start all over. If I put my weight back on, I don’t know if I’ll find the will to start all over. It took 10 years to just try again. It takes a lot of work and effort and I’m so scared that if I lose momentum, I’ll backslide and fail.
That’s why I’m scared of cake. I’m scared of cheeseburgers and fries, too. I’m scared of all those foods that are terrible for me. I wonder sometimes if I have one of the those food addiction personalities, and if I eat the right quantity of the wrong food, I’ll be done. If I justify in my mind that cheeseburgers are okay, how do I stop from eating them three times a week?
I read this and think I must sound obsessive, or something worse. But I have seen myself do this stuff. I have seen myself derail my own weight loss efforts so many times over my XX years, that I worry about it. I haven’t developed enough trust in myself and in my new routine/habits to let go of this fear yet. I suspect that each time I go back to eating healthy after I eat cake, I’ll gain a little of that trust. The holidays are going to be so hard, though. People who love me are throwing food at me. I’ll have to pray everyday and talk to myself everyday to keep things in moderation, to journal my food, to exercise, to eat my vegetables, to drink my water.
MANY of us feel this way. Heck, I had these fears until last year and I’ve been holding my weight loss for 8 damn years! A valuable lesson I learned in therapy is how to keep this weight off without fearing I am a crazy person obsessed with my food.
It’s OK to have personal boundaries in your life; my therapist often drove this home. I would go in crying because I was a journaler or crying because I got nervous taking a day off that wasn’t scheduled. She once said, “To lose your weight you set up your own set of rules and boundaries. They provided structure, comfort, and guideance. Some people need a tight box to feel safe and to be successful. That’s OK and what makes you-YOU.”
My personal box that gives me COMFORT is knowing WHAT I eat (good or in excess), having a workout plan, scheduling races to look forward to, etc. These are all things in my weight loss SUCCESS tool box and not reasons to feel shame or worry I have a problem. I learned that as I got stronger and my foundation was sturdier that some of the tools weren’t needed and some were.
And as you go through your weight loss and maintenance those boundaries CHANGE. For me, journaling and food prep have changed the most. I used to prep every meal, weighing and measuring, and knew what I was eating. I didn’t have to journal because all meals were planned out on Sunday, cooked, and ready to eat. Now I journal what I eat because I don’t do that food prep. My food prep now is the basics of meals I can throw together. Sometimes I want a salad for dinner and other days I want protein, veggies, and dessert. I just cook up the stuff that I can mix up and then journal! I also have periods I don’t journal at all and just eat. Doing that now getting through the holidays and my big race. What I am saying is that I ebb and flow the different tools that work depending on what’s going on in life at the time.
The thing I do is evaluate my results. Am I where I want to be? Am I seeing the kind of results that match my effort? If not then I look in my tool box and figure out what I need to use. If I’ve gained a few pounds from vacationing and such then you know the first tool I grab is the journal!
Back to my poster.
– You WILL get more comfortable with indulgences as you practice having them when it’s SPECIAL. Each time builds confidence.
– You WILL gain weight if you stop exercising! Let’s leave that one as an “I exercise because it’s good for me. If it shrinks my butt in the process even better.” You can’t quit moving for your health. That’s not obsession at all. That’s what HEALTHY people do in life.
– You WILL know the day when you can relax on food journaling. I’ve done it myself and I go from periods when I do and periods when I don’t. Now until my big race in 20 some odd days I am NOT journaling and practicing mindful eating and good nutrition. And, you WILL know if it works for you or not. I can coach you in the forums how to wean off a food journal when the RIGHT time comes. A food journal is not an obsession unless you make it one. It’s a simple record of your actions. If you tracked your blood sugar or blood pressure daily would that be an obsession? No. So think of your food as tracking the most potent medicine you’ll ever put in your body.
I want you and everyone to understand that we aren’t fat because we eat our birthday cake, enjoy a vacation, and have Mom’s famous Chess Pie on Thanksgiving. Those are such small parts of your year. We get fat when we skip prepping food for the week, blowing off meal planning, grabbing fast food, sleeping through workouts, and every time we eat out using it as a reason to just “blow it” for the day. Oh and my favorite, screwing up mid-week and thinking you can’t restart until Monday.
Cheeseburgers, cake, pizza and all the voodoo food is fine to eat in moderation even while losing. Some of you may need a boundary of so many a week, none this month, or only from this place. That’s FINE and not obsessive. When you’re still finding your sense of balance you have to work at it. Balance is funny. It works both ways. You can be having too many fun foods a week stalling progress or derailing you OR you can be so restrictive you drive yourself insane. Somewhere in the middle is where you want to be, but keep in mind, the first time you learn to stand on one foot you wobble. You are going to WOBBLE but don’t quit. Wobbling isn’t failure. Sitting down and not trying because you do is failing.
Man, this is why I love my forums. We have a safe place to explore and get out the stuff we think we must be “crazy” for thinking!