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A Guide to Moving Forward When The Scale Is Standing Still

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Those of you who read my blogs regularly know that I'm a big believer that the weight on our bodies is a direct representation of the weight between our ears. That gelatinous mass of grey matter floating around up there weighs a heck of a lot more than 3 pounds the last time I checked. 3 pounds. That's it. The total amount of actual mass that stands in the way of you losing any more weight, the source of the saboteur, and the only player you really need on your team to win the game.

I will be the first to say that none of these are proven methods of breaking through a plateau, but what I do know is that committing to these behaviours WILL make you feel better about yourself, and according to the most recent issue of Newsweek, might actually help to expand that dense grey matter in areas proven to make you smarter!

I'm as as guilty as anyone in needing to practice what I preach. But I've been frustrated for too long now and it's time for a change. So I'm making a promise to myself to forget about the scale for a little while and instead focus on these behaviours to make positive changes in myself that can only help contribute to eventual positive changes on the scale.

#1: Get Rid of the Extra Weight

Um, duh? That's what I'm trying to do - but the whole reason I'm here is because the weight isn't coming off. Right? Nope. Not THAT weight - remember, we're not talking about the scale for a little while here. I'm talking about the THINGS that are weighing you down. It's the new year. Have you filed all your 2010 paperwork away yet? What about a good, thorough closet cleaning? Had a couple of potluck parties this year and inherited a bunch of extra mismatched tupperware? Get rid of it. Clean out the pantry. Take down the Christmas tree. Systematically clean up your life. What about your desk at work? Dusty, dingy, in need of a good spring cleaning? Why wait until spring? Do it NOW and feel lighter tomorrow. Seriously. Don't hold off on doing the tasks that will make you walk a little easier through life. The longer you put off a cleaning project, the worse it seems to get. If you make a promise to take care of it a couple of different things will happen. You will feel like you crossed a big thing off your list. You will feel like you accomplished something. You will feel GREAT about your new state of cleanliness. And you might actually have fun doing it. And bonus - if it's a task that actually involves physical activity, you might gain some activity points for it and - gasp - lose some actual pounds. How about that!

I live in a very small 2 bedroom apartment with NO closets. A year ago I spent some time packing up a cabinet of pretty dishes that I got as wedding gifts years ago but that I never used and were just taking up space and collecting dust. By paring down my life to just the essentials that I used every day, I made room for some other things in that cabinet, I prolonged the life of those pretty dishes by packing them away for "someday" and I gave my future self a present that I can open and enjoy all over again when I have a bigger place and more plans for dinner parties that involve pretty dishes.

Since then, though, that spare room (which is supposed to be my office but I would pay anyone good money to actually FIND my desk) has been piled high with 10 different sizes of old clothing, paperwork dating back to 2009, half-finished vacation scrapbooks, old cell phones, etc. etc. etc. I could seriously be on an episode of Hoarders if anyone saw that room. It has now become a BIG project and it's weighing me down. So I'm going to make a promise to get rid of that weight. I'm done carrying it around and I know I'll feel better when it's done. Not to mention, I need my office back!

#2: Cry About It

No one likes a cry baby, I know, but guess what? I don't think most of us are. In fact, I'm going to assume that if any of you are like me, you DON'T cry. You're the one that is always seen as a person of great strength. Someone who can handle it all. Someone that all your friends come to for advice, to talk about their problems, as a shoulder to cry on. You're a great comfort to everyone around you because YOU are a rock. Am I getting close?

Problem with all of the above is that being a rock also gives you soft, fleshy shoulders. It's not a wonder your friends like crying on yours. It's more comfortable than crying on a skinny, boney person's shoulder. And when we take on the problems of others, it only serves to make us cushier. Because, at least where I'm concerned, when I'm upset about things, I eat. Eating feels good. Eating masks the pain.

Something that I have heard come out of the mouth of almost every contestant on The Biggest Loser is when they look back at their before pictures. They say "I was so sad," "there is so much pain behind my eyes," "eating stopped the hurt." I see it in my own before pictures too. Fat people are NOT happy. Despite the adjectives that are used to describe the Santa Claus-like figure - jolly, roly-poly, fat & happy - being overweight involves being in a lot of pain. But we seem to negate those feelings of pain in ourselves because being vulnerable and in pain doesn't always make you a popular person. The world has enough issues - no one needs to listen to me gripe. But that's where we're wrong.

Would you turn away a friend who just lost their job? How about someone whose father just passed away? Of course not. In many cases, our pain is just as deep as these emotional wounds (and quite possibly caused by one or a series of traumatic events like this in the first place). So why try to go through that alone? We need each other here to empathize over the amount of pain we all feel about being obese. In short - it sucks. So own the SUCK. As long as you're making a point to do something about it, we all deserve the right to bitch about how much losing weight BITES THE BIG ONE sometimes. And even more we deserve to be upset about the reasons we got fat in the first place.

My goal here, besides losing approximately 200 pounds start to finish, is to overcome my need to be fat. Yes - I NEED to be fat. Right now anyway. My fat is the wall (both physical and mental) between me and my feelings. My habit is not to FEEL my pain, my habit is to eat my pain. Instead of embracing the SUCK, I keep myself fat so that I can be that strong, jolly person that everyone has come to know. The one who doesn't have any problems of her own. The one that is so great at taking on and solving issues for everyone else. The one who doesn't cry. But in reality I'm in a lot of pain. I have a great boyfriend, but I'm lonely a lot of the time. I have a good job, but I never have any money. I'm trying everything I know how to do, but the weight isn't coming off anymore. And sometimes all the pressure to be wonderful is just too much to handle.

So cry about it. Let it out. Be sad. Be upset. Own your tears. I remember a couple of months ago I had a particularly tough day, I wanted to sit on the couch and fill myself with enough junk food to sink a small ship and to bury all my feelings of angst and frustration in that one feeling that seems to make it all better - Full. But instead I searched Netflix for a yoga dvd, lit a candle, and pressed play. I was determined to do something good for myself even though I felt like a fraud for even thinking I could rectify the latest series of food binging. And then something magical happened. As I started to relax into the stretches and got out of my head a bit (I was negatively calling myself stupid for even thinking that 30 minutes of stretching could help anything) and actually started listening to the instructor, my mind cleared and I started to cry. I continued the yoga, but just let the tears come and let myself feel the pain from my day. I felt my loneliness and anger and overall sadness. I cried for about 10 minutes, then finished the dvd, brushed my teeth, and went to bed. The next morning I had lost 2 pounds.

I am not good at owning my feelings. But I'm going to start making a concerted effort to do it more often. And Spark is a great place to get it all out when you don't want to "burden" your other friends or family with your problems. But I challenge any of you that have a similar problem to flex those emotional muscles a bit and stop thinking of talking about your SUCK with your in-person friends and family as a burden to anyone. None of us is perfect and I doubt any of your friends expect you to be. So go cry on their shoulder for once. I will warn you though - it's not going to be comfortable. Cause their shoulders are a lot bonier than yours.

#3: Pick A Challenge You Can Learn From

The new year is rife with promises we make to ourselves to get healthier, exercise more, eat less - blah blah blah. I hate resolutions. But I do love challenges. Because challenges flex that grey matter more than promises do. And I tend to have more desire to stick to "challenges" than promises because challenges have a winning factor even when there isn't a prize. The prize is the mental feat you gain from getting through it.

Signing up for a 28-Day Bootcamp Challenge is easy enough for the person looking to start the new year off on the right foot. But so far (and this happens to me every time I do Bootcamp) the only thing I have learned from it is that I hate having to do it. I do it anyway, because I took on the challenge and I will be darned if I'm not going to get my cute button at the end. And I suppose learning that I hate 10 minute exercise videos is good knowledge to have. But I'm looking for that challenge that gives me a positive result in more ways than one.

So I took on a challenge in January to get through the entire month without eating out at a restaurant. No lunch jaunts to Potbelly's. No ordered-in pizza on a Friday night. And Saturday night date nights would need to be at home. My one exception to the rule is Starbucks in the morning - cause I have a die hard habit and because I'm making up the rules. emoticon Maybe next month I'll take on Starbucks as a challenge. Maybe.

I'm half way through the month and I have learned A LOT. I have learned that I use being able to pop across the street to grab a sandwich at lunch as an excuse not to prep for myself at home even though I DO have the time to do it when I want to. I have learned how romantic cooking in can really be on a weekend. I have learned how much money eating out every month sets me back. I have learned that preparing all meals at home takes A LOT of groceries and makes A LOT of dishes, but that my cupboards are well stocked enough that I CAN whip something up with a seemingly bare fridge. I have learned what needs to be on my "staples list" and that it's probably a good idea to keep an inventory of that list in my cupboard so I know when I need to restock. And I have an even deeper love affair with my crockpot.

This has also been a really fun challenge. I think I'm driving Nikhil nuts by saying "Nope! Can't eat out until February!" every time he suggests going out to eat. He forgets that he was the one that spurned this great idea in the first place by saying over dinner at a local Mexican restaurant on December 30th that he really wanted to focus on eating out less and when we do eat out, making a point to only order ONE entree and split it instead of gorging ourselves like we usually do costing both calories and money. So I think when I do go back to allowing myself a meal out every now and again that those are good rules to live by anyway. But I have tested myself and my culinary abilities this month and I quite like what a month of no restaurants has done for my kitchen, my wallet and my waistline.

Something else that this month has triggered is next month's challenge. Moving back to a focus on Eating Mindfully, packing breakfast, lunch and dinner most days of the week has re-instilled the habit of bringing a lot of healthy food with me wherever I go. I don't always have to eat it all, but it's available if I'm hungry. And learning to know when I'm really hungry and how much I need to eat when I am is something that I've been working on since the beginning of this journey. So for February I'm planning on going back to filling out hunger charts every day, before and after every time I eat, to learn what my eating patterns are and to understand better the relationship between food and my body.

Add to these challenges my other Fast Break Goals and I'm sure to see some positive changes in my attitude towards food and, eventually, the scale. I have faith!

So there it is. Three unconventional ways to bust through that plateau by exercising your brain instead of your body. ACT, FEEL and THINK thin. That has to count for something. If doing these things doesn't contribute directly to shrinking numbers on that silly piece of metal and plastic sitting on the bathroom floor, then it certainly will contribute to expanding that floating 3 pound mass of mushy, grey substance behind your eyes. Because I for one am not about to let 3 pounds of anything stand between me and my goals.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Wow, lady, this is exactly what I needed to read right now. I am right there with you. The challenge I assigned myself is actually sticking to my fitness and food plan until six pounds comes off - however long that takes. I figure I have to learn *something* from that - even if it's that my plan was crap, lol. And you're totally right about clutter weighing us down. Just before I came to my breakthrough I massively cleaned and de-cluttered, which made me feel lighter and freed up brain space. As always, you are sooooo right!
    2247 days ago
    Such an amazing blog! AND I am glad Chris and I aren't the only ones who aren't eating out this month! We have only been eating Subway! Keep up the great work!
    2251 days ago
    Excellent blog! Well-written, thought-provoking, and TRUE!
    2251 days ago
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    And I save up my awesomes for things that are REALLY awesome! emoticon
    2251 days ago
    Oooh, I love this blog. So many truths here, and so many revelations. I can especially relate to "needing" the fat as a wall, and that is one of my major focuses this year, to mentally be where I need to be so the physically I can catch up. You are so right in all of these points you've made, and I love that you are sharing that with all of us. Thank you girl!! Love ya!
    2251 days ago
  • -POOKIE-
    Another thought provoking blog x

    And rather apt for this week as Im feeling peeved at being on track for a third week and my weight isnt budging this week... ok, so Friday is real weigh in day, but I always peek... and Im annoyed at working hard and not achieving.
    2252 days ago
    You write awesome blogs. I really like you attitude.
    Thank you for sharing these great ideas with us. I live in a small apartment too with very little storage. Our bedroom has been the storage room since we moved in here. I want my bedroom back, so I have decided to make that happen!
    2252 days ago
    Well said!!
    2252 days ago
  • MOLLI15
    Yay! I am so glad to see you blogging again--your blogs are so well written and thought provoking. And even though I assume they are written for you to sort through your own thoughts and obstacles and goals, they really help me to do the same! Thanks for your insight and great job on the not eating out! Imake a vow like twice a month to eat out less and never seem to stick to it--maybe something I should work towards in 2012 as well...


    2252 days ago
    This is so true. SOOOO TRUE... I have a room in my basement that is filled with scrapbooking supplies. I never use them. I won't have time to use them until I'm done with grad school when they will be outdated and I won't want the supplies then either. The disorganization makes me crazy, but why spend time organizing something you don't use?


    I sometimes feel like I need to sell my house, 90 percent of my stuff, and feel freer for having done so.
    2252 days ago
    Very well written Jenn! You totally have it that the biggest obstacle to our progress weighs about 3 pounds. Of course that explains the 3 pound loss, I LOST MY MIND!! lol....

    seriously, this is a very well thought out blog. Some blogs are written as a sort of dear diary and such but blogs like this are more like meals simmered in a crock pot. I can tell this has been given alot of time, meditation and focus.


    If there was a way to hit the "like" more than once I would so... here is once anyway... :)

    2252 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/17/2012 5:07:24 PM
    SO true! My brain is my worst enemy sometimes. Great advice. I'm going to make an effort to do all three. You are soooo smart.
    2252 days ago
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