Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Last "Official" Weigh In

Today I weigh for the "official" last time as a student in the first course of the weight management course I've been taking since January.  I still have another eight days remaining, but it has become very clear that I am likely to finish a little short of the goal I had originally set for myself..which was half of the amount that I have to lose.

Half of me wants to go the route that I normally do as a first child/defeated perfectionist/overachieving mass of humanity and the other half of me is going "big whoop...you'll get there a week late...get over yourself."

I think I like the half that is kinder to myself.  That's something that I've been working on through this process...so, I'm going with that.

Contrary to popular belief, people who struggle with weight issues aren't lazy, sorry, or weak.  No more so than the average bear, anyway.  I mean, there are people who are very ill who are enabled by people who feed their addictions without remorse in the name of "loving them" - but I'm really referring more to people requiring a crane to change the sheets.  We can see that on television pretty much any time we are bored enough to flip through the stations.  Most people just associate very strong feelings with food.  Who doesn't love a good potluck or "dinner on the grounds" at church?  What is the prime point of tailgating (other than the pre-game cocktail)?  How do we get to know our co-workers, neighbors, customers or friends (the grill should be the international symbol of peace)?

Food.  Exactly.

What folks tend to not realize, is that weight management for a lot of us is a chronic condition...and requires diligence...much like diabetics must check their sugar levels and people allergic to shellfish or peanuts need to be keenly aware of what is in that harmless looking hors d'oeuvres.  We can have the occasional bite of this or sliver of that...but for some of us...that's not going to be enough...so we have to go with total abstinence as a survival technique sometimes.  Have to say "no, thank you" when we really mean, "yes, please!"  And we have to mean it.

It isn't crossing a finish line to get to goal weight...even though that should be celebrated.  It is the little decisions every day that require us to constantly give up eating exactly what we think we want...because we love ourselves enough to say "no."  We didn't like it when our parents told us "no" and we dang sure don't like it when we tell ourselves that.

So, sometimes we don't.  And we pay for it.  Then in the paying, we just get tired of budgeting it...tired of sitting at the same weight that isn't low enough to suit us...and so we start spending on our credit cards instead.  A weekend of saying "yes, please!" turns into a weight gain that looks insurmountable.  But we've already blown it, so we'll just give up.  Again.  Why bother with this when it is a source of such annoyance and despair?

We'll talk ourselves right out of every good habit that we've developed for something that is completely avoidable if we'll just stop right there, look ahead and quit dragging ourselves down.  Any of this sound familiar?  Because it pretty much sums up the past twenty five years of my life.

Since I got off of my own back, I have felt a lot of support out there in the community, at @Hogan's Gym, and at the places where I've been where people have been incredibly kind to tell me to keep doing whatever it is I'm doing because it's working.  Some days I see it because my clothes fit weird, and other days I can see that I really have a long way left to go.  But that's okay.

I certainly can't stop now.  How disrespectful to myself and to the others who have encouraged me would that be?

It doesn't make the decisions any easier when we are faced with them every day and others are able to indulge in ways that we cannot without paying a tremendous price.  But the truth is...like most anything else that we succumb to...the pleasure is fleeting and temporary.  It is generally over in fifteen minutes...twenty at most.  Then the flogging of my spirit lasts for a good eight hours or so after that.  I hate that so much that I look for any way that I can to not get to the corner of "Just This Once" and "I'll Work That Off Tonight" and settle for something far less satisfying in the moment than I think whatever is out there is.  An hour later...I don't even know the difference.  Except that there is no flogging.

I like no flogging.  A lot.

I also look for the little things that do last.  Like feeling my legs getting firmer and my arms getting stronger and my endurance picking up to places I haven't been in at least ten years.  That lasts a whole lot longer than the fifteen minutes of giving in.  As weird as this sounds, when I'm tempted, I now take my hand and run it across my arm or leg where there are muscles underneath the layers that are waiting on the fat to melt away and reveal the hard work I've been doing.  It is something good and tangible and a reward for doing that third set of reps when I would honestly rather not.  But I do anyway because that little bit of "punishment" is paying off.

Sometimes it is the little things that keep us motivated.  We must find them and cling to them and not let anyone steal our joy in the whole painful, awful, beautiful process of becoming a better version of ourselves.

I've had people tell me for the past few weeks that they are so angry with themselves for getting out of the habit of eating right and exercising but that they can't just jump back on the horse and ride.  It's too hard.  They are too busy.  There is no motivation.  On this point...I can totally relate.  I can also relate to spending time in the gym but not losing a lot because I wasn't working hard in the right way and hadn't lassoed my diet into submission.  Insanely believing that I could out-exercise my food.  Not being willing to let go of some condiment (like ketchup) or some small pleasure (cream and sugar in the coffee) or something else (Diet Coke) that got me through the day.  Beginning to believe that it is hopeless so I may as well just eat whatever I want.  Wanting to change...but being "stuck" between disgusted and fiercely protective of the bad habits I'd developed.  Waiting on the motivation to change to come from outside because most folks rely on being totally disgusted with themselves before they'll make a change and they haven't quite hit that level yet.  That's my story.

I'd like to suggest another way.

Just for today, drink eight glasses of water, put down the sugar and processed foods, the diet drinks and "healthy" bars, and pray diligently for help.  Reach out to people who are already on the path.  Show up at the gym if you've been slacking, or put on your tennis shoes and walk for 15 minutes.  Start today rather than waiting until next Monday.  Write out what it is that you really want and put it somewhere that you can read it often (the refrigerator door is probably the best place.)  Get on your scale and take out the tape measure and be honest with yourself.  If you cry or hurt your own feelings...it's okay.  The reality is what it is.  You can fix it.  You really can.

And then do it all again tomorrow.  Just refine it a little more and walk a little longer.  Eat more vegetables and protein.  Keep going.  Don't stop.  Don't look back.  Before you know it, a week will pass...then a month...and then four months.  That's how it has been for me.

In a few weeks, I'll be at the goal I set for myself in January when I was 64 pounds heavier than I am right now.  When I couldn't walk on a treadmill for ten minutes but could ride a bike for 30 minutes...so I did that instead.  Who was embarrassed to go to some of the classes at the gym because I was so out of shape...but I went anyway.  Who took to heart every kind word...every expression of encouragement...and who was lucky enough to have such wonderful instructors and fellow gym rats to get me over myself.  I left my pride at the door.  I found that it weighed a whole lot more than I thought it did...so I'm glad it is still by the door and not on my rear end.

If I could say one thing to someone who is flailing around this morning with their weight...it is this...do something.  Anything.  But be faithful to whatever it is that you choose to do.   It truly has to be a "lifestyle change" or it won't work.  Not long term anyway.

Hopefully, in a few days, I'll post a photo of the goal reached.  That "hopefully" was not that I'd make the goal...because I eventually will...but that it will be sooner than later.  I'm ready to start focusing on the next goal...and the one after that.  I really am.

Maybe your struggle isn't with weight...it is your finances, your spending, or kicking the wine or the cigarettes.  Same process...just get yourself started and inch your way along from there.

You've got this.  Trust me.  


  1. This post is one of your most transparent writings. I'm so proud of the complete transformation that you are diligently working towards. Your victories through the first phase are apparent. The greatest improvement is that you truly believe that you are committed to your goal and following the steps faithfully to reach each and every goal you set along the way. I'm proud of your hard work!

  2. You are doing a great job, Karen. Thanks for being so honest in the journey. I can relate to so many of your feelings. You have inspired me to quit making excuses and just do some things to get my health back in order. Thank you.