Sunday, December 11, 2011

NaBloPoMo Round 2, Day 11: On the Way Up, or On the Way Down?

Vickie once posted (I tried hard but could not find the post) that she wished she could tell by looking at someone if they were on their way up the scale or on their way down. When I read the post, I thought it was pretty insightful, as most people will look at someone and judge, based on their current weight, whether they are "healthy" or "unhealthy," not knowing what their lifestyle is.  As my yoga teacher says, our bodies are our history. Whatever changes we are working toward, positive or negative, will not show up immediately on our bodies. But I still think it's more complicated than that.

When I lost weight the last time, I thought I had it all figured out.  I believed in the idea of "flip the switch," that once I had mastered weight loss, that I could not un-master it.  I was ready to tell the world what I knew and I had no doubt I would be able to maintain forever. I even thought about writing a weight-loss memoir. I am so glad that I did not do that, even assuming the lottery-win chances of getting a book contract.  Because now when I think back to all of that "information" I thought I had, I have no insight I can use to get back into that flipped-switch mindset.  I exercised then, I exercise now. I avoided fast food restaurants like the plague then and I still do. I only very rarely drank soda, fancy coffee drinks, and juice then and now. I had very little alcohol then and now. I ate a lot of fruits and vegetables and I still do.

I have been trying so hard to "get back" to the way I was, to flip that switch again. But I think the reason that I didn't stay at my goal weight is that the lifestyle I used to create it was unsustainable in many ways.  I exercised more then than I do now, and did it to the point of near-obsessiveness and eventual injury. I kept a much tighter control over my food but it was a sheer act of will that is hard to duplicate, and sometimes depressing to even think about.

There are a few lessons I wish I could bring forward. I happened to pass string cheese at the grocery store, and it reminded me of how I always was careful to pack snacks when I was going to be at work for long stretches of time. I took care of myself so I wouldn't be stuck hungry when tempting food is around. I planned my meals and used new recipes more often so I could keep lower-calorie food more interesting. I keep telling myself I will do these things again but I always fall off in a few days. I have gotten out of the habit of self-care.

I am beginning to believe that there is no switch to flip. Every day, each choice takes us a tiny step closer to our goals or a tiny step further away, though we can build habits so we don't have to make each of those choices individually, especially in moments of weakness or hunger. We can take the time to prepare for success so that we're not unintentionally setting ourselves up to fail. It's that "success scaffolding" that makes the difference between the way up and the way down.  I need to rebuild it, and stronger.


  1. totally agree... "success scaffolding" is a brilliant way to phrase it.

  2. "But I think the reason that I didn't stay at my goal weight is that the lifestyle I used to create it was unsustainable in many ways."

    Amen, amen, amen. I was a maniac, rigid and uber-controlled and more than likely a completely joyless person. I should go back and read The Shrinking Knitter from beginning to end, but I cringe at the thought of it.

    The most important insight I've gained lately – and it's stuck with me – is that it's OKAY TO BE HUNGRY. Hunger is NOT going to kill me. I'm stronger than it is, and I don't have to dive into bad food just because it's handy. I can just ... be hungry.

  3. Very good post. I have several clients who can relate. Me too. I have been super lean in the past competing and I totally get the maintaining that level of lifestyle just isn't sustainable. For me, it's about finding happiness in a good body versus a stage ready body. I'm sharing this with others so thanks for being honest!


"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07