In the past several months I have received an outpouring of response to the first blog entry I penned regarding my weight loss journey. The e-mails and phone calls have been overwhelmingly positive; and I really can’t thank each of you enough for all of the support and encouragement. It really has made the difference in my success!
Throughout the summer I have fielded multiple requests for a follow-up post that details how I’m doing now. The first question that I usually hear after someone reads my initial post is, “How much have you lost since the first article was written?” As of today, Tuesday, November 10, 2015, I weigh 147 pounds. My start weight in April of 2014 was 369 pounds. That’s a 222 pound weight loss to date, in a little under nineteen months. This response is usually followed by, “When are you planning to stop?” My goal weight is 142 pounds; and, if recent history is any indicator, I am certain that the last five pounds will be every bit as challenging to lose as the first 100!
I have contemplated this post for a few months, and over the past few weeks I have written and re-written this article several times. I’m finding that this installment is significantly more difficult to compose than the first. It wasn’t until a few days ago that I began to discover why it was so arduous, and I believe the answer is two-fold: 1. losing weight is not the panacea that I predicted it to be, and 2. long-term weight loss maintenance is a total mystery.
Losing Weight Is Not The Panacea That I Predicted It To Be:
I don’t mean to downplay the significance that losing over 220 pounds has on one’s life. It has changed my life! Actually, I should say that it has SAVED my life! It has not, however, been the magic bullet cure for all of my physical and emotional ailments. When first starting this journey, I had the idea that reaching a healthy weight would in some way perfect my life. My weight had consistently been the one thing that had held me back for so many years; so, without that hurdle, things should just fall into place. Many things have, but a great number of things have not.
Initially, this discovery was overwhelmingly discouraging. More recently, though, I have found that the weight loss has become an impetus for introspection. With the weight out of the way, I am able to more directly identify and address some of the physical and emotional barriers that I have faced for years. I cannot begin to express how meaningful this realization has been.
As a self-proclaimed perfectionist, I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve. Regardless of the task, a flawless result is the goal. When successful, I am often still critical of my performance. I don’t think I am alone in having these thought patterns. As a matter of fact, I have had this same discussion with multiple peers. It never ceases to amaze me how caring we are to others and how cutting our inner dialog can be. My weight loss has forced me to become kinder and gentler with myself. Bart is one of the most remarkable mentors, and, as such, he often tells me, “Celebrating successes is a necessary part of growth!” I now understand and believe him. This concept never rang more true!
A few months ago I went to a popular restaurant with a friend around the dinner rush hour. We were told the wait for a table was going to be over ninety minutes; however, if we would like to sit in a booth at the bar, we could be seated right away. I, of course, politely declined the booth option. When my friend questioned me as to why, I replied, “I’m sorry, but I can’t comfortably fit into a booth”. It wasn’t until she challenged my assumption and pressured me to try this seating option that I was able to realize that I CAN comfortably sit in a booth! It has been years since I have been able to sit in a booth or at a picnic table. This IS a SUCCESS, and I am now excited to celebrate it!
Who knew that smaller clothes were less expensive? I now do, and this IS a SUCCESS! Who knows how it feels to be on two different blood pressure medications for over ten years, and now take none? I now do, and this IS a SUCCESS! Who, after years of not attending because she couldn’t endure all of the walking, attended a popular festival this summer? I did, and this IS a SUCCESS! Recognizing these successes now empowers me to continue to achieve! This lesson has been one that is difficult to learn (and, I am far from mastering), but it is perhaps the most impactful.
Long-Term Weight Loss Maintenance Is A Total Mystery:
I have spent the vast majority of my life, adolescence and adulthood, pursuing weight loss. How much weight I have to lose, how to lose said weight, what size clothing I would like to wear, etc. have been pervasive, consistent thoughts. These thoughts are the ones with which I am comfortable, as they have filled my brain for years. As my journey begins to branch into a new path, I am completely underprepared for how to think and feel about long-term weight loss maintenance. It is an utter mystery! An exciting, bright mystery; but a mystery nonetheless.
This concept of the unknown is terrifying and simultaneously exhilarating. What I have come to discover is that, although I’m not quite sure how I will manage to handle weight loss maintenance, I now have the tools to successfully do so. Everything about the way that I eat and the way that I feel and think about food has changed over the past nineteen months. Meal planning and preparation are not only necessary activities for continued good health, but I find them enjoyable ones as well! Feeding my body frequently with healthy, filling foods has provided me with an abundance of nutrition and energy, and it also prevents me from being tempted by those foods that were once so alluring. I have become structured in my approach to food preparation and consumption, where I used to fall victim to my cravings because of a lack of planning.
I am an emotional, stress-driven eater. That has not, and likely will not, change anytime soon. Pizza and chocolate were my “go-to” foods when feeling anxious in the past. I have now learned to rely on my trusted friends steamed broccoli, fresh-cut cantaloupe, and roasted butternut squash in these vulnerable times. Cooking has become cathartic for me in a way that I could have never imaged it would. Preparing healthy meals is rewarding, and there has become no better form of stress-relief upon which I rely.
Most importantly, I feel grounded by the fact that I have a vast network of people rooting for me and upon whom I can rely. From my family to my HMR Health Educator, Chuck, and from my HMR classmates to my RFX teammates, I am encouraged daily by my interaction with each of them. Nothing is more valuable in this journey than their support!
Moving forward, I am going to approach these last five pounds of my journey and the challenge of long-term weight loss maintenance with fervor. I am going to trust in the processes I have established over the past nineteen months. I am going to know that I am prepared (no matter how unprepared I feel in the moment), and, most importantly, I am going to celebrate my successes!
I am certain that I will msstep, but I now know that I can rely on myself and those around me when life is challenging! I now know that my achievements are important and recognizing them is paramount in continuing to avoid life’s pitfalls along the way! For these realizations and this blog as the platform on which I can share them, I am thankful!