I've been really conflicted about whether to write this post or not. I really don't want to write a post that sounds negative and whiny; but, readers always tell me how much they appreciate my honesty with the struggles in regards to weight loss/maintenance, instead of only writing about the successes. I've never tried to paint a picture that implies I have maintenance all figured out--I think it's something I'll struggle with forever--but writing about the struggles is hard. It's embarrassing. It's shameful.
I'm struggling right now--a lot. I've never been one to make excuses for my weight struggles, and I won't do that now. I know exactly where I'm going wrong, and I own that. I just hope that by writing it out, I can come to some sort of solution.
Ever since I went to the Pacific Northwest for my 10K in April, I have had the hardest time getting back into a good routine. I was doing SO well before that trip! The weight maintenance almost seemed too easy, and I was just waiting for the catch. I dropped more weight, reaching an all-time low of 123, which I wasn't even trying to do. I was at a really good mental place with food, too--I wasn't thinking about food 24/7, I wasn't overeating, I was eating the foods I enjoyed. Physically, I felt like I was in the best shape of my life (and I probably was).
I crushed my goal for the 10K, and felt like I could do ANYTHING. It was awesome! Then, when I got home from my trip, I just couldn't seem to get back into that mental place I was in before my race. I'd lost my drive, my focus. It seems almost too "textbook": I was chasing down a big goal, and I absolutely killed it. Afterward, I felt an enormous sense of relief that it was over, but I had no real plan for what to do next. All of the headspace that was taken up by my race goal was suddenly empty again, and I wasn't sure how to fill it. It makes perfect sense why I'm struggling.
I wasn't expecting maintenance to be super easy, but I wish I had prepared better for what to do when it got hard. Returning home from my trip a few pounds heavier than I'd left was no big deal to me--I never intended to get my weight down that low in the first place, so I was okay with that. Seeing the number on the scale inching its way upward week after week since then, however, is a scary thing. I barely held on at my goal weight of 133 this week, and I'm happy it's not more; but, if I don't change something, I won't be surprised to see 140, 145, 150 again.
Today's "moving average weight" was up again:
My depression has made it hard to stay focused, too. I have to force myself to do things that the depression just makes me not want to do (running, cooking, taking care of the house, activities with the kids, etc.). I know if I don't fight against it, it will only get worse. I'm not going to sit back and watch all of my hard work go down the drain--I'm going to fight against this as hard as I can! My depression is always much more manageable when my eating is on target, even after just a couple of days.
Again, I'm not complaining for the sake of complaining, or trying to sound whiny--I'm just trying to write out my thoughts about all this as honestly as I can. This is the truth about my struggles right now, and I hope that they will be short-lived.
This week, I'm really going to focus on doing the healthiest things I can for ME. I felt much better about myself when I did my hair and make-up every day, but I'd stopped doing that--so I'm going to make it a point to do that again. I've written up a running schedule (not too specific, but enough to get me running 4-5 times a week) and I am going to follow that plan. I'm going to make healthy eating choices to make my body feel good. And I'm going to try to get some good quality sleep. I haven't been sleeping well at all lately, so I'll make it a point to go to bed earlier. When I eat well, I sleep better, so hopefully that will be the case.
There was something that really stood out to me when I read "How to Have Your Cake and Your Skinny Jeans Too" by Josie Spinardi, and I think it makes a lot of sense in this situation. Here is a quote from the book:
"Years ago, I stumbled across a study that completely changed the way I related to food (and challenges!). Sonja Stroop and her team found that people who did not emotionally eat did one thing differently than people who used food to cope with emotional distress. A single coping behavior made the difference between not using food--and using it. As if that weren't amazing enough, the people who did this one magical behavior enjoyed higher life satisfaction, attained more personal success, had more satisfying relationships and suffered from far fewer mental and physical illnesses. Whereas the people who lacked this specific skill frequently suffered from depression, anxiety, struggled with drugs, alcohol, gambling, anorexia, and bulimia. What's that million-dollar difference?
When faced with a stressor, the "Shiny Happy People" (the non-food-users) engaged in task-oriented coping. They took direct action to resolve, mitigate, or eliminate stressors. They focused on solving. Conversely, the people who did use food engaged in emotion-oriented avoidant coping behaviors. These people were much more likely to think that they were unable to mitigate a stressor, and as a result, focused on soothing themselves--with food. Since they (often falsely) believed that they could not change the situation, they focused their efforts on minimizing the distress they experienced in response to the stressor--they tried to change their feelings."In task-oriented coping, one alters the situation; whereas, in emotion-oriented coping, one alters the emotion (usually in an unhealthy way, such as compulsive overeating). Interesting, right? I've always been a pretty emotional person, so this makes a lot of sense to me. Based on that, I really ought to take some time to figure out what my stressors are and come up with a solution to resolve or eliminate them.
My therapist mentioned that I use something similar for coping when I make big goals to focus on, such as the 10K. She suggested that I may have been using goals like that as a way of avoiding thinking about stressors. By focusing on that goal, I wasn't resolving my stressors; I was just avoiding them. That's why she suggested that I don't make any big goals right now--I should just focus on the present. It's harder than I thought it would be! I constantly find myself wanting to set big goals to work on.
Writing all this out actually makes me feel a little better! As soon as I finish this post, I'm going to work on figuring out what my stressors are so I can resolve them. If nothing else, it will help me to be more aware when I'm eating emotionally. Right now, I just want to focus on one day at a time, making the healthiest choices I can. It's kind of amazing how a few days of eating well and exercise can completely alter my mood for the better. Yesterday, I had a great day--a really good run in the afternoon, my calories were in check all day, and then a walk at the State Park in the evening. I even slept pretty good last night!