May 20, 2020

Weight Loss Anxiety: The Monkey On My Back

Oh man, last night's post... haha! I woke up and immediately went to read it because I wondered if it even made any sense. I was deliriously tired and could barely keep my eyes open. I think the lack of sleep finally caught up with me yesterday. I started to write my post and then fell asleep while writing. When I woke up, I was in a total fog.

I really wish that I was able to sleep like a "normal" person. I wake up at roughly the same time every day (6:30-7:30-ish?) no matter what time I go to bed. So the logical reasoning would be to go to bed earlier. But my mind and body are just NOT tired. Reading a book usually helps, but I just can't find one that is pulling me in right now. I need to start a fast-paced thriller.

Anyway, I started to write this post yesterday, but after falling asleep, I knew I couldn't finish it, and I saved it for today...

Yesterday, I woke up with a sore throat. It wasn't so much "sore" as it just felt like I had a big lump in throat and it was hard to swallow. This happens a lot when I have bad anxiety.

Lately, I've been feeling anxious quite a bit. It's the kind of anxiety that has no rhyme or reason... it just is. It's there all the time, and it's frustrating to try to figure out what is going on. I even shared this video on Facebook to demonstrate what it's like to live with constant anxiety, and while it's hilarious, I think it's pretty accurate! (If you watch with sound on, it's even better)

Watching this video is as close I can get to describing what anxiety feels like!

Anyway, the "monkey on my back" is what's really making my anxiety flare up--and that "monkey", as stupid as it sounds, is my weight.

The higher my weight climbs, the worse my anxiety gets. I may not think of my anxiety being related to my weight, but when all is said and done, I know that it really is. Having a blog that has been known as a "weight loss blog" for nearly a decade feels like I'm a fraud. I can't give advice to the many people that ask me for advice, because I just haven't found the answers yet. And I probably never will!

Here it is, 10 years after losing 120+ pounds, and I still haven't found the answers.

Every day, I wake up thinking that this is the day that I'm going to turn things around (something I remember very well from when I was 250+ pounds) and then sometime during the day, I make the decision to "just start tomorrow". This alone causes me anxiety, because it's something I always used to tell myself!

"Just starting tomorrow" is a fad diet way of thinking. And I don't do fad diets. The only time I was successful at losing the weight was when I made the decision not to do anything I wasn't willing to do for the rest of my life. (Those things may change, but the fact remains that I shouldn't do anything temporarily just to lose weight.)

I have given it a try countless times in the past couple of years to get back on the wagon and eat well and exercise. I may manage for one day, maybe two... a whole WEEK if I'm lucky and well prepared. But that stupid monkey on my back is always there.

I never stop thinking about my weight, and it's SO STUPID--I know that. Logically, the thought of having my weight on my mind all the time is ridiculous! But I just can't help it. After all these years of people noticing and talking about my weight loss, I know that it's obvious I've gained weight. Nobody says anything about it, but they have to be thinking it when they see me.

The photo below is from a recent game night with friends via Skype. I was super self-conscious when seeing them for the first time in forever. Luckily, they are the kind of friends that don't care the slightest bit what my weight is.

I know I sound like a broken record by saying that I want to get back at it; I want to lose the excess weight; I want to feel my BEST again. However, I just can't seem to get my mindset to where it needs to be in order to follow through.

Jerry and I have this inside joke where we say, "Just throw strikes!" when people say things like "Just think positive!" or "Don't worry about it!" Because in watching our kids play baseball through the years, I can't tell you how many times I have heard coaches tell the pitchers to "throw strikes".

Well, DUH--what do you think the pitcher is TRYING to do?! So, when people tell you not to worry about something, it's like telling a pitcher to throw strikes. I'm TRYING not worry about my weight, but it's just that monkey on my back that won't let go.

I've written goals up to my eyeballs, I've planned out my diet and exercise for days, weeks... and I just can't seem to stick with it. I have a case of the "fuck its"--"Oh, fuck it, I'll just start over tomorrow". And even though I can clearly see this, when it comes to following through I fail miserably.

I have this nagging thought in the back of my mind that pops up quite frequently. I know that my weight shouldn't control my life; I know that my weight gain doesn't make me less of a person; I KNOW that I shouldn't care what other people think. But it's a lot easier said than done.

Because my weight loss has been so public, I feel like my weight GAIN is going to be just as public. Most polite people won't say anything about it, but I think it's pretty obvious and hard not to notice. Sometimes I want to mention it just so that they don't think I'm in denial.

I'm really starting to get worried that I'll never find my determination again. I want to be as disciplined as I used to be. I miss that sense of control. Right now, I feel like everything in my life is out of control and it's stressing me out.

I think a big part of it is that everything feels so difficult in the beginning. I've gotten used to eating junk food and skipping the healthier foods I used to eat--my palate has literally changed so that I don't enjoy those healthier foods anymore.

I also used to love to cook and grocery shop. Over the past couple of years, I've gotten to the point where I hate doing both of those things.

Running feels so hard. What used to be a piece of cake (running a 9:00 minute mile) now seems impossible. Running a 12:00 minute mile feels difficult! I honestly don't care about my pace right now--I'm completely over the mentality of "I used to be fast!"--my biggest desire is to run regularly and have the easy runs feel easy again. I want to feel like I'm making progress.

With running feeling so hard right now, it seems overwhelming to get back into a routine.

I'm tired of talking about losing weight and my goals and not really putting into action the plans that I make. So, I've come up with some solutions that may make things easier. I'm not saying I'm committing to these right now, but I'm trying to problem solve a little.

1) I don't HAVE to run. I can always do a walking program to get back in the habit of going out and exercising. It'll feel easier and maybe I'll eventually choose to add some running. That's exactly what happened when I was losing weight in 2009-2010.

In 2010, I think I weighed about 160 in the picture below. Jeanie and I walked the Indy Mini (a half-marathon) together. I trained for it by walking for 12 weeks. Walking is good exercise, and shouldn't be discounted. At the beginning of training, walking five miles felt tough! My feet were killing me. But walking the half-marathon wasn't bad at all--nothing like the previous two years. You can read about them here: 2008, 2009, and 2010.

2) I can make a menu for the week that is very simple to cook. Things that I don't have to spend 20 minutes prepping and use a bunch of dishes and make a mess in the kitchen. Grilled cheese and tomato soup is easy!

3) I can designate Jerry and the kids to each cook one day a week. That way, I'm only cooking for four days instead of seven.

4) I can slowly adjust my palate back to healthier foods. When losing weight in 2009-2010, I was still eating junk food--just smaller portions. I also made a couple of healthier changes (like having grapes instead of chips with my sandwich).

5) Eat at regular intervals--I do best with eating four times a day, four hours apart.

6) I really don't like making lunch, and a lot of times I'll just skip it and then eat way too much at night. So I can start buying frozen meals that I actually enjoy (yes, there are some good ones!) and eat those for lunch. They are simple and I don't have to cook--I can just throw them in the microwave.

7) I can make ahead meals for the slow cooker (and freeze them) so that I can just take it out of the freezer and throw it in the slow cooker and not worry about cooking that day. When our kitchen was torn apart for remodeling, I spent one Sunday prepping TWENTY meals for the slow cooker. We discovered some recipes that we really liked!

8) Drink more water. I know that I am chronically dehydrated and I really dislike the way it makes me feel. The solution is obvious--drink more water! I used to drink three quarts a day out of sheer habit. This should be an easy change to make. Even if I don't change anything else, I think this will be helpful and I'll feel better.

So, those are just some solutions that I think will make me feel better about myself. I think if I do some of theses, I'll get rid of a lot of this anxiety, too. Making positive changes always makes me feel good.

I don't want this post to sound negative--I really don't. I just wanted to write about my anxiety getting worse as my weight goes up. An introspection.

And after writing this, I wonder if it's not just my weight, but my actual lifestyle that causes the increase in anxiety. If I was eating better and exercising, I'm sure my anxiety would decrease dramatically even if my weight doesn't change.

I'm going to think about a couple of changes I can make that will help me to feel better about it. To feel like I'm at least doing SOMETHING. The weight isn't going to lose itself. And how can running get any easier if I'm not putting in the effort to do it? If I don't make any changes, nothing is going to change!

For the next three days, I'm going to have two goals:
1) Drink 2 quarts of water
2) Go for a walk or run on each of the three days (even if it's just a mile)

That's it! If I can't do that, then I have bigger problems than I thought ;)


  1. You could have been listening in on several conversations I have had this week with what you wrote! One thing I love about your blog is that you are real and truthful. While speaking with my dietiatin this week she discussed letting go of the diet and weight loss goals for now. We discussed mindfulness and not just with food, but also other areas, self-care, getting enough and well rested sleep, getting in movement - whatever feels good, getting in water, eating to feel good mentally and physically. That might be a positive step to take right now. COVID-19 has most of the world trying to figure out a new normal, that normal is different for everyone. Do what is best for you, as a whole person, at this moment in time. You are way more than your weight, remember that. Love your blog! Take Care.

  2. I relate to, like, ALLLLL of this SO HARD, I cannot even tell you. Thanks for sharing your thoughts <3

  3. Katie,
    You are doing GREAT, no matter how you feel.
    Have you ever watched any of the Bright Line Eating videos?
    Susan Peirce Thompson has suggestions that might resonate with you.
    Love you!

  4. Thank you for sharing your journey. First, I think you should know that most of us follow you, not just because you lost weight, but because you share your ups and downs and struggles with us. You are real. If we wanted perfection, we would just look at Instagram. Second, healthy body image and mindset come with age, I swear to you. I think I am about 10 years older than you, and I felt a major shift when I turned 40 - focusing less on what I look like in pictures and more on what my body can do. Your body is doing some amazing things - scraping drywall and all your resourceful DIY work. That is very cool. Finally, anxiety is in full force for most of us right now - you are not alone. I know the point was how it was related to your weight, but so many of us are struggling, and we see you.
    I realize you weren't looking for advice, I just wanted you to remember we support and care, and your weight has nothing to do with it. You're just a cool chick we want to be friends to.

  5. I feel ya. Just a suggestion: Do a Whole30 round. Get back in the driver's seat. Dropping the sugar and eating whole foods for 30 days will get you cleaned out and ready to make choices that YOU feel good about. Good luck!

  6. Oh Katie, you are not alone in your struggle. In fact, I think most of us who have lost weight and now find ourselves gaining a bit back are right there with you. I too have started over every Monday for the last two months. I have tried to really figure out why it was so easy and now is so hard. One of the things I think I have realized is that losing weight requires a lot of work - work to plan meals, work to plan exercise, mental work, etc. I know over the last couple of months I have enjoyed not "working" on anything and just living. Well, without the work I have been gaining and have reached my "top" weight that I have set for myself. So, now I have to go back to work. Yesterday I realized that I have to have some sort of plan (not diet) in place to help me achieve my weight loss goals. So, I am looking into a lower-carb approach to my meals which gives me something to concentrate on and plan for. I'm not going to go Keto, or totally low carb, just adjust my meals to be healthier by trying to eat better foods. I know that I have to make a plan, or I will just flounder. Like you, I feel I have lost my mo-jo and need to get it back. I'm hoping with a new "plan" I will find it again. I wish you the best in your journey!

  7. Have you ever read "Tiny Habits" by B.J Fogg? I think it would help you a lot. I have to drink at least 64 ounces of water a day or else I get migraines; when I find myself slacking on the habit, usually it's because I'm sick of the water bottle I'm using, and getting a new one (it's good to swap out regularly if it's plastic, anyway). So I get a new Nalgene bottle, and always keep it nearby.

    Having struggled with anxiety myself, I have come to understand that at least for me, the root of it is wanting to control everything. It sounds like you're trying to focus on what you can control, and that is good! Small, sustainable changes are, in the long run, more effective than big, sweeping ones.

    1. Oh, and I forgot to add this thought. Starting in Lent my husband and I gave up desserts entirely, and we kept up with that, because we realized once we stopped eating them, we stopped craving them. Now, we were kind of expecting to get a nice big weight loss benefit, and we've lost a few pounds, but not as much as we would like. However, I've decided to focus on the "non scale victories": our skin is clearer, we look younger, I'm sleeping better, and we just feel better over all. Clearly our health is the first priority, so we're keeping with it, even if not eating desserts (or sweets at all) isn't getting us the same "payback" we would like.

  8. I'm sorry you feel embarrassed about your weight. I can empathize, because I feel it too. I have been basically doing the same thing as you, starting something and not following through. The important thing is that you are not alone, there are so many of us who feel the same way. This pandemic has been a blessing in disguise for me, because I don't have to leave the house, my friends and family can't see how far out of control my weight has become. But two weeks ago I decided to go back to keto because it's easy to do and manageable for me. I can't bring myself to track yet, I'm making small changes and doing some intermittent fasting, and it working, so I'm beginning to feel more motivated. I only hope I can keep it up for a sustained period of time, but I just don't feel the same motivation I used to and it's hard!

  9. My sister lives in Indy and I would love to walk the Indy Mini one day. I remember when I first read about you doing it I told my sister we should train for it. I walk everyday but only about 2-3 miles. I need to step up my game if I ever want to do the Indy walk. Thanks for your post. You have some good ideas I am going to try like #2 and #4. I have let working from home due to COVID mess with my eating. I have started eating the junk food in the house that my husband eats! I need to get away from doing that and back to healthy options! I am also not a big fan of cooking!

  10. I'm exactly in your same boat Katie! I keep restarting the cycle of wanting to do better, get a day or two in and the F* Its's come back. I've gained back 50 lbs after losing it 8 years ago. I don't have anything encouraging or super positive to say, only that you're not alone. When you find the magic pill to restore motivation and determination, please let me know! :)

  11. I am currently in the same boat as you...up 40+/- lbs. I am going to embrace your goals for the next three days. We've got this!!!!

  12. I can really relate to what you're dealing with, Katie! I have constant talks with myself in my head and do I listen to me? No. I'll say things like "I wish I could just drop these extra 20 pounds I can't seem to shake" then say "evidently you don't wish it enough to stop eating the way you're eating!" I think some of what's so hard right now is that our regular routines are so out of whack. It's tough to make changes when we can't do some of the things that used to help us cope or make good eating choices. Fortunately for me, I have the exercise routine down, but I am currently dealing with plantar fasciitis, so I can't run the way I like to, which means lower daily calorie burn. I make pretty good food choices, but my portion control is out.the.window. I know exactly what I did to drop the weight 7 years ago, but it just seems impossible to make it work for me now. So frustrating! For today, I am going to try to be kind to myself, make the best decisions I can make and just keep moving one foot in front of the other. Good luck with your 3-day goals!

  13. Oh man, that Mario video is 1000% accurate. It gives me anxiety just watching it AND it perfectly encapsulates what living with anxiety is like! I can't imagine my brain being any other way...

  14. I'm sure other readers share the sentiment that "I could have wrote that!" It was so easy last time, why is it so hard now? My latest epiphany is the damage that food labeling has done. When I grocery shop I do that, "I'm not going to buy that because it's "bad". Well I end up with not one effing thing that I want to eat. And then I really blow the week by "grabbing something". I've been doing this since January. Not buying the food I like to eat because it's not "healthy". I was tired of not having any food so I finally conceded to buy what sounded good, even if it may not be the healthiest choice. I've been dad passed away January 6, and juggling work (I'm essential) and childcare, and homeschooling (my son is 6) I'm at my wits end. And if that means having processed food, so be it.

  15. I'm currently listening to an audiobook, which I am loving, called The Fuck It Diet (eating should be easy). I have found a ton of benefit from it to end the mental struggle with thinking of weight and food all the time. Thought I would throw this resource out there.

  16. You are not alone with any of those struggles or feelings, I hope that helps a little. Whenever I fall of the running wagon I get back into with intervals. I did my last couple 5ks with beginner runners and I did intervals with them. It was "easy" and I had a blast because it was enjoyable. Also I typically eat leftovers from dinner the night before for my lunch. I always make a little extra protein and veggie and then I'm all set. Lastly I tell myself all of the time that everything will be ok as long as never give up on myself. No matter how much I struggle or how many times I go in the "wrong" direction I don't give up!

  17. The mario video is the perfect description. That’s how I feel almost all the time. You sharing your struggles helps us all - we are all in the same boat and the connection and relatability is what draws us to you. And the belief in you that you will tackle this just as you did before and that we can too. I’m so glad you keep sharing.

  18. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. Those are great positive steps. I have fallen off the wagon & let my all or nothing mentally come back. What I am doing now it taking it one meal at a time.

  19. You know I understand about weight gain, and all the anxiety and embarrassment that goes with it. I even declined an invite to meet up with you a couple years ago when I was 80-90 lbs over my goal. I was so ashamed of myself, even though I would so love to finally meet you in person Katie!! Since then I joined WW and even made Lifetime for the very first time last Nov. I thought I had it figured out AT LAST! I maintained with a lot of effort through Christmas, before taking a trip to DC in late Feb. for a Prostate Cancer summit. Went off track there and then the Pandemic hit and I used that as an excuse to keep binging. End result is I gained 25 lbs. right now WW meetings are on Zoom so I fudge about my weigh-ins on the WW App so I don’t have to pay. At least I feel like I have gotten back on track this last week and have lost 6 lbs. so far. I’m hoping to get back to goal weight before we go back to regular meetings and I have to weigh in again on their scale. It never ends. This struggle is for life. I would suggest that you try something new to get back on track. I have to keep switching it up in order to lose my numerous regains since initially losing 178 lbs almost 10 years ago. We’ve both been at this a long long time, but I’m not ready to give up. But a new weight loss program/plan always helps me get my focus/mindset back. I worry though that at some point I’ll run out of weight loss programs to switch to. Good luck!

  20. Katie, we are ALL pretty much in the same boat with regaining and/or struggling not to. The reason we love you is because you speak for so many of us, so there is NO reason to feel bad about that!!

    We've all had some period where we somehow got momentum and for a little while eating on plan didn't seem quite so hard. Then, for the rest of our lives, we're waiting to find that groove again. After my 50 years of struggle, I mostly face the fact that that groove isn't something you find, it's something you dig--moment by moment, choice by choice. It will never be easy for more than a hot second, and you don't have to do it if you don't want to!!! There is more to life than what you weigh.

    One other big picture idea I wanted to put out there for you to consider. I assume you've heard how important your gut biome is, but you might want to read about it more deeply. Basically the idea is that if you eat a lot of high fat, high carb, low fiber foods, the guys who like that diet proliferate in your gut and are constantly signalling your brain--"more sugar, more starch, more fat." Whereas if you stop or cut back those foods for a while--even if it's really hard--they die back and the guys who like fiber and protein proliferate and they are signalling your brain--"more broccoli, more chicken, more grapes." I know you said the healthier foods don't taste as good now, so this might be an explanation to consider while you contemplate the way forward.

    We think you're amazing regardless! Never think different.

  21. I am reading Chasing Cupcakes by Elizabeth Benton to really try to change my mentality about using my past as excuses, like why would this time be different when I’ve done it and then back to square one all over again. It’s a great book and very motivating!


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