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Boring Weight Loss... Learning to Embrace the Plateau and Other Small Hang-ups

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I've been working through the idea for this blog for a few weeks now. This morning I am mad at the scale again, so I think it's time to get this out of my head and down somewhere that I can see it.

Only ten pounds into my journey and I have already hit a plateau. I knew it was going to happen, but so soon? It's frustrating to say the least, but I've been trying this new mantra on for size, and it seems to be helping with the disdain I have for those 3 ugly numbers on the scale...3-0-0.

A few weeks back in one of my regular therapy sessions, I was spouting about the new-found (at that time) SparkPeople, the amazing tools and the fact that I had already dropped a handful of pounds. I'll be honest, I was looking for a "Good for you!", "Great job!" or "Way to go!" from my therapist. I didn't get one. Instead, she looked me straight in the eye and said - "I want you to have a boring weight loss".

At first I kind of laughed it off. I understand that this is a forever journey. I understand that what I'm doing is by no means glamourous. I get that it's about the little things. But do I REALLY get that it's all those things? Like I said - this comment has stuck with me for almost a month now and over the past month it has grown to become a fully fledged thing that I am now living with and is changing the way I am looking at what I am REALLY doing here.

My weight loss is NOT an event. Events pass. Everyone makes a big deal about events, and when they're over, people pack up and go home. I've treated weight loss like that in the past. The next big thing. You graduate school, you get married, you lose 100 pounds. Here comes Miss Jenn - look at her now. And then when I'm done with the "event" - I quit. I pack up and pack it back on.

When you lose weight too fast, it's easier to look at it like an event: that project you completed last summer; the time so-and-so got skinny. If you can package it in terms like that - it's an event, and you run the risk of being able to pack it up and put it away.

Boring weight loss happens so slowly and over such a long period of time, it can't be quantified by anyone but the person doing it. There's no big reveal, no "Ta Da!" moment. Most of the people in your life don't even realize it's happening. It's just you, and your life and your new way of living healthfully. And it's NOT easy - especially for those of us who love being in the spotlight. But learning how to separate a need for attention from my weight has been a big, bad lesson that is only now just coming about.

A plateau is just your body's natural way of letting your brain catch up. You might think that your head is in the game since you're doing so much planning and counting and tracking and thinking about weight loss. But when weight loss slows down, it isn't always because our tracking and counting and planning is off. Perhaps it is because psychologically, we're not ready to be another 10 pounds lighter.

What does being 10 pounds lighter actually mean to a person? 10 pounds can mean a new clothing size. 10 pounds can mean a loss of inches. 10 pounds can mean lower blood pressure, and better lung capacity, and more energy, and less mindless eating. 10 pounds can mean the difference between being morbidly obese and just obese. 10 pounds can mean that other people might notice that you're shrinking, and maybe you're not ready to let other people in to your personal business just yet? Maybe it's just time to settle into that 10 pound weight loss and just "be" 300 for a little while. Live in 300, breathe in 300, stretch through it, roll it around on your tongue and check in with how it really makes you feel, right now. And then once you're mentally caught up to your weight loss, you'll be ready for the next 10, 20, 50, 100.

So I'm embracing my plateau. I'm having a BORING weight loss. It doesn't mean that I'm quitting. I'm just living - and tracking, and planning, and exercising, and counting - the same way I have been for almost a month now. Because wishing me a boring weight loss wasn't the only thing my therapist said to me that day. She also shared with me her real wish for me: a wish for a life that is so much bigger, and fuller, and more complete, and more grand than any one weight loss event could possibly give me. Losing 100+ pounds is definitely a big deal, but eventually the congratulations stop, people quit noticing, and life carries on, leaving you with everything you had before, just in a new body. The real gift by the time you get there if you have done it right is the life that comes with it.

I have decided that by the time I get there, it won't be about the weight lost or my small body, but about how much my brain has gained and my HUGE spirit. So bring on a boring weight loss - it's not like changing this quickly is going to happen overnight anyway, so I'm not going to waste my quality time trying - I'm too busy living my life to capacity!
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