I have a lot of unpleasant work to do with my dissertation, mostly transcribing interviews. It's not really that bad, but the thought of all the time it takes is intimidating. So I have been setting a timer for 12 minutes, working until it goes off, and then making myself take a 2-minute break. It's sort of the same philosophy that FlyLady talks about for cleaning your house, but I'm sure she didn't invent it. Small steps.
The weight loss thing works best in small steps too. For some reason I've been thinking a lot lately about the "lost years" -- most of the time between 22 and 29 is a blur to me, but what I remember is sad and painful. Those were the days of eating half, or even all, of a bag of chips in a sitting. If I close my eyes I can picture the kitchen, a dim little galley. I remember calling some weight-loss center when I was at my highest weight. I tried to ask about their program, but I got choked up when they asked how much I wanted to lose. I squeaked out, "50 pounds," but started crying too hard to talk when they said, "That's not so bad." I hung up. At the time I had no idea how much I really needed to lose, but 50 pounds seemed like the largest number I could think about, and even that made me cry. I always guesstimate my highest weight around 215, but I was too scared to see the number on the scale so I never will know for sure. Like I said, a lot of that time was a blur to me.
I posted a list of various goals on the right-hand side of this page, small ones and big ones and ones that are probably unreachable. I ended up losing most of what I lost by doing what our Weight Watchers leader suggested last week: "Focus on change, not on results." But it was a hard slog with lots of ups and downs and plateaus along the way. Then, of course, I managed to regain 20 pounds since making my goal in 2002, and I'm still chipping away at the last half of it.
Sometimes I get angry with myself over these mistakes -- wasting my twenties feeling miserable, getting to goal and then blowing it again. But those times weren't really a waste. I learned lessons I needed to learn, as hard as it is to be philosophical about missing out on the time in my life when I was supposed to be thin and carefree and happy. I think that's why when people lose weight they start to act a little immature -- they feel a chance to recapture some of those lost opportunities. But it doesn't play as well at 35 as it does at 25, and let's face it, even at 25 it's kind of annoying.
The important thing is learning to focus on now and what I need to be doing now, instead of regretting the past or worrying over the future. So I am working on it, in 12-minute increments.
Weigh-in is tomorrow afternoon. I went 20 points over my Weekly Allowance last week, which sounds terrible, but is an improvement over the week before. Wish me luck and I'll let you know how it goes.