Bargaining with myself.


Until several days ago, I was holding steady at 190 pounds for four weeks. I know it wasn’t a plateau because of what I’ve been eating. I’ve been wearing a comfortable size 16 pants and size 14/16 or L sweaters and blouses (not XL or 1X). And working out makes me feel energetic, fit and firm.

I’ve been hearing these comments from people, which are actually greatly appreciated, but also give me a false sense of reality:

  • “There she is, the incredibly shrinking woman!”
  • “We have a new nickname for you! Skinny Bitch!” (This is a very, very friendly nickname from the girls at work, but “skinny” is definitely not apropos)
  • “You’re so tiny!” (Thanks, but sorry, “tiny” is not the proper adjective for a 5’1”, 190-pound woman)
  •  “Where did you disappear to?”
  • “You’re being so good.”
  • “You look great!”
  • “There’s no way you still have 58 pounds to lose. You’ll look gaunt!”

It’s such a mental battle. If I look and feel this good, and comments from others validates this, why do I need to keep going?

This is a crazy thought! I am nowhere near where I need to be.

And I’ve bargained with myself, thinking, as long as I’m maintaining, I’m doing okay. And this is true. I’ve been able to eat a variety of stuff completely off program without gaining. As long as I was “good” most of the time and working out at least a few times a week, I was able to maintain.

On the one hand, it’s good to learn how my body responds to certain amounts of food and exercise.

On the other hand, it’s like I’m acting like a little kid. Seeing how much I can get away with, without getting caught.  When I’ve weighed in this past month and discovered no change in my weight, I gave a huge sigh of relief. I deserved to gain.

At my last weigh in, I finally dropped 2 pounds. I’m now at 188 pounds.

The weird sick thought in my head? Cool. I earned 2 pounds. I have 2 pounds to play with. How easily I forget that my body is still in serious debt. There is no savings account here. I’m still 48-58 pounds away from my goal. (I’m waffling lately, trying to decide between a goal weight of 130 and 140 pounds.)

By way of example… On Thursday, I ate on program through lunch. Then that afternoon? I had a Starbucks tall, nonfat, extra hot, with whip Mocha with 3 Petite Vanilla Bean Scones. Later, I had 2 Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Joe Joe’s at work. Deadly freakin’ good. When I got home, I had a bunch of New York Style garlic bagel crisps and lots of jack cheese (I didn’t measure or keep track) with a glass of white zinfandel. Then a salad with Romaine lettuce, carrots, cucumber, avocado, grated cheese, and olive oil and vinegar.

What is going on in my head? I just wanted to stuff my face. That was a relatively full on binge, spread out over about eight hours. It hadn’t been a bad day. There was nothing wrong. No emotional angst.  Just this driving urge to fill, fill, fill. This was definitely not a day of healthy, intentional, off-program moderation.

My sister called that evening while I was preparing dinner. She asked how the diet was going. I said I was holding steady and maintaining. Not perfect. Kinda off track today. I think she could hear something in my voice, because she said quietly,

“Jen, don’t stop. Please keep going. You’re really inspiring me, and you can’t quit now. That food you’re tempted to eat won’t go away; you don’t have to eat it right now. It’ll still be there later.”

Her timing for saying this to me couldn’t have been more perfect.

My husband and I made it to the gym that night, although the food I’d eaten made working out very uncomfortable. My digestive system wasn’t happy with me.  It was still a satisfying workout and I slept great. I was pleasantly sore the next day, and I did not repeat my choices from the day before.

Here’s me bargaining with myself…

I’m not in a hurry.  If I lose weight slowly, I’m more likely to maintain the loss. It’s a lifetime change, not a flash-in-the-pan diet.

I’m going to continue to work on maintenance or minor weight loss for the rest of the month.  I have three holiday-related lunches at work this coming week. I’ll be conscientious the rest of the time and keep getting my butt to the gym.

My body is getting used to eating more food without gaining. Lindora calls it the Metabolic Adjustment Phase to reset my set point weight. All part of the plan.

Then after Christmas, once I rev up my efforts, I’ll bust past this set point until I get to my goal weight. Then I’ll need to train my body to achieve a new and final set point weight. Maintenance will be the life-long, ongoing goal.

Am I giving myself excuses to mess up over the next few weeks? Perhaps. Am I lying to myself? Maybe. But I want to be as positive about this as possible. Beating myself up, shaming myself, etc. will just make me want to quit.

Bottom line is, I will not give up. A year from now, I’ll be at my goal and in maintenance for several months.

Baggy Pants are Big Fat Liars

I love this ad from Kaiser Permanente – Find Your Motivation. It’s hitting me right where I’m at right now.

I’m not sure where my steely resolve has gone. Last week, I ate perfectly on plan only one complete day. One day!

I kept sabotaging myself all week, eating off plan here and there, culminating into a classic blunder on Friday afternoon. There were two birthdays at work. Two different cakes. I had a small slice of both, but felt sick afterwards. It. Was. Not. Worth. It. BTW, I’m a major whiney-butt when I go off track. I bitch and moan and drive everyone crazy. Not a pretty sight.

I did make it to the gym 4 out of those 7 days, despite losing my workout partner temporarily—my husband—due to a bad cold. The workouts felt fantastic. And on Saturday, I played basketball with my nineteen-year-old nephew on leave from the Army. It was a total blast—something I could not have done a couple of months ago!

Friday morning I weighed in at Lindora. I was at the exact same weight I was eight days prior: 197 lbs. My PMA (positive mental attitude) was shouting—you didn’t gain! That’s good!  But the realistic, pessimist part of me whispered: you failed. Several times over, you failed. Why do you bother trying. You can’t do this.

So I’m trying to figure out what’s going on inside my head.

Maybe it’s my pants. My baggy, size 20 pants feel great, but they lie to me. They tell me I’ve arrived. That I’m smaller now. That I can relax. Sure, it’s great to remember that I used to fill those babies to capacity, but keeping them is giving me a false sense of victory and completion. It’s a great accomplishment to have dropped 28 lbs, but that’s only about 30% of the way toward my goal. It’s time to get rid of the baggy pants.

Losing weight is like being on a long journey. You get tired and take a break at a resting spot. It’s such a nice spot. You’ve come such a long way. But there’s so much further to go. You get tempted to stay there. Why keep going? This place isn’t so bad. It’s better than where I was. What if I can’t arrive at my final destination? I should just stay put.

It’s like the sirens in Homer’s Odyssey, luring sailors to the shoreline with beauty and song, only to try to shipwreck them on the rocks.

Losing weight is a serious mental game. It’s like being at war with yourself. And it is a war because when you really drill it down, it truly is a matter of life or death.

Do I choose health and life and physical activity? Or do I choose sickness and pain and the couch?

Duh. No brainer. Just lost my motivation for a tiny bit under the sofa.

(Note: I wrote this last weekend, but was a scaredy cat about posting it. I was dealing with feelings of failure, but didn’t want to expose it to ya’all. But isn’t that the whole point of having this blog? Sharing the achievements as well as the failures along this journey? So I’m sharing…)