Keep the light turned on: Energy efficient weight loss

An airplane gets most of its wear and tear during takeoff and landing.  Stop-and-go traffic is brutal on your gas mileage. Frequently turning a light on and off takes more energy than just leaving it on. As my husband tells me, that’s why those energy efficient light bulbs turn on low, and gradually get brighter and brighter.

Red Light Green Light. Photo by Nick Krug.

Remember that game we played as kids – Red Light Green Light? Stop. Go. Stop. Go. Don’t get caught moving.

The actions of stopping and starting are brutal to a lifelong weight management/exercise regimen. It breaks you down. It saps your energy. It’s discouraging. It costs your body a fortune.

I’ve noticed that a lot of fellow bloggers who have lost—or are in the process of losing—large amounts of weight are doing it in chunks. Pun intended. 🙂  They will lose 30 or 40 pounds, maintain that weight for a while, then continue on their downward, forward motion. Even with a maintenance “break,” they are making a continuous progress in the right direction. They never fully stop. And once in maintenance mode, they don’t stop watching their intake (food) and output (exercise).

In my 20s, I remember being constantly unhappy about my size. I was always trying to lose weight. In the meantime, I worked out fairly regularly on my NordicTrack. I played indoor soccer.

Because I was always looking at the negative, I failed to recognize the positive, wonderful truth:  I could basically eat what I wanted (within reason) and not gain weight, as long as I kept exercising.

The last several months of weight maintenance have been a great test. Everyone is different, but it seems my metabolism rewards me for regular workouts. I can enjoy occasional, delectable, decadent meals without doing serious damage to myself.

It’s such an encouraging, hopeful feeling. Because there is a little voice inside my head saying, “Why bother losing all this weight? You’ll never change, not really. You’ll just gain it back. You have before.”  Because I’m a girl who loves food. Apparently, I can have my cake and eat it, too, within reason—as long as I keep my body moving. As long as I don’t stop.

I can lose this weight. And I’ll be able to keep it off.

There is only one condition: Don’t ever stop. Keep the light on. Keep my butt moving.

Now we’ve just got to get back to the gym after a 2-week hiatus.

The tyranny of eating whatever you want.

Folly is an unruly woman;
she is simple and knows nothing.
She sits at the door of her house,
on a seat at the highest point of the city,
calling out to those who pass by,
who go straight on their way,
“Let all who are simple come to my house!”
To those who have no sense she says,
“Stolen water is sweet;
food eaten in secret is delicious!”
But little do they know that the dead are there,
that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead.
Proverbs 9:13-19 NIV

1. Lack of good sense; foolishness: “an act of sheer folly.”
2. A foolish act, idea, or practice: “the follies of youth.”

There’s a sort of giddy feeling that comes when I’ve given in to folly, not caring about what I eat, how I look, how I feel. It’s seductive, like the serpent was to Eve in the Garden of Eden. “Go ahead and eat it. It won’t hurt you.” Or, “Go ahead a stay there on the couch. You’ve had a hard day. You’re tired. You need the rest.”

It’s a false sort of freedom. It looks, tastes and feels like freedom, but then it becomes a prison. It’s the tyranny of eating whatever you want. It’s a freedom that leads to death. As the Proverb says above, “But little do they know that the dead are there.”

Gone is the nice clean feeling inside. Gone is the confidence in knowing I’m doing the right thing. Do I really stop and count the loss when I’ve given up on my goal? I am counting the cost right now. I am making a course adjustment before all of my efforts are lost.

My big sister gave me a great pep talk via email yesterday. She’s been losing weight with the help of Weight Watchers. Thought I’d share her wisdom here.

“I know it is hard to keep the focus, but giving up can’t be an option.  Just means figuring out emotionally where the walls are.  You are doing better than you think.  Remember where you used to be.

…I have really seen that I can’t do it just by eating less, or just by working out.  They really have to go together, which then makes it a life style.  I also watch Biggest Loser (Tues, 8pm) and that helps motivate me–seeing other people make excuses and what it sounds and looks like.  I am also having to break thru this next layer–my middle third–where my body wants to settle in.  But I am feeling SO MUCH better just for myself.  It is like getting out of debt, freeing.  I don’t feel so embarrassed everywhere I go.  You’ll figure it out.  Just don’t give up!  Keep picturing the things you will do when you are the goal size you want to be.  I’m trying to think, dream, of what those things are for myself.  I think getting my scooter was one of them.

Well, there’s my dissertation on that!  Just don’t give up, but don’t be hard on yourself either.  Be the boss of yourself, not a victim.  You are so much stronger than you know.  Who cares about the past, there are no choices left in it, but there are all the choices for the future.”

Time to go straight on my way, ignore the voice of folly, and listen to the voice of wisdom.

Self pep talk from the past…

This is the button that popped off of my size 16 pants. Buttons don't lie!

It’s been over a month since my last post on February 8th. Blog silence is not a good thing. It means I don’t have good news. I haven’t been keeping my commitment to lose weight. I don’t want to bore you all with my pathetic excuses. Most of all, I don’t want to discourage anyone. Losing weight and keeping it off is possible. People do it all the time. So I’m working on getting my head back in the game. I’m wishing I could have bottled up the motivation I felt last fall for how I’m feeling right now. Sigh.

I’m going to start with a note I wrote to myself almost ten years ago.

July 27, 2002

Life is great! The future is bright! There is so much to accomplish, and instead of feeling overwhelming, it’s motivating and exciting! Remember that Jennifer!

When it gets hard, and you’re down, and you’re wondering what’s the point – think of how incredible it’ll feel to accomplish this seemingly impossible goal.

Write when you want that pizza, that buttery popcorn, that hot fresh bread, that chocolate, that ice cream. Think of how uncomfortable it makes you feel to eat that – how too-full, bloated, gross gross gross you feel. You don’t even enjoy it all that much anyway. It just makes you feel huge, sick… and think of the lovely indigestion it causes.

And then there are the feelings of failure, of self-disgust, of self-recrimination. And how that can lead to more mistakes, more failures. Failure breeds failure, and success breeds success.

Oprah calls it that “Holy Moment” when you’re tempted and you want to give in. You have a choice. Do you give in, or do you take power over that temptation and say – Dammit, No! There is so much freedom in knowing what to eat – and it is liberating to do the right thing! That’s Biblical even – the freedom in obeying God.

The wrong food is a prison, it is a kind of slavery, and it keeps you stuck in a spot and limits your world. It is death. It leads to terminal illness. What kind of hope is that? None. Hope is life. Hope is what keeps us alive.

Remember how good it feels when you’re addicted to exercise?! The rush, the adrenalin, the power, the knowledge that you are being productive and good to yourself. Best of all, the feeling afterwards. That warm shower, washing away all the sweat and soothing your muscles, the nice clean clothes, the pleasant, buzzing, relaxed feeling afterwards. It feels great!