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Realizations and Observations from a Sparker (it’s a VERY long, honest one)

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

After just over two years on Sparkpeople, I have read a lot of blogs, lost and gained a bunch of weight, started and restarted a million times and exercised like a crazy woman. Lately I’ve started making some pretty big observations too. I’m going to share them with you all because they are important – please keep in mind they aren’t directed at anyone but are more just observations I have made in attempt to break this terrible, awful hate-hate relationship I have had with my body since about age 12.

In my quest to change things for myself and make this the last time I have to start again I am going to share these observations. Lasting weight loss is such an elusive creature – and for the first time in my life I am 100% committed to never going back. Because of this I have been reading like a fiend and trying to determine what the keys are to lasting success. And I have been reading my past blogs and other blogs to see what those triggers and slip ups were that really got me off track. So without further ado, here are some of the things I noticed. I include myself in these observations because I’m guilty of all of them too!

1. We have serious issues.
Yeah. You, me and probably most overweight and obese people in the world. Sure genetics plays a role as does body type. But at the heart of obesity is always something else. Obesity has become the outward presentation of all of the hurt and anger and frustration we have in our lives. Our self-loathing manifests itself in our blubbery, overweight bodies. And it’s easy to keep hating ourselves when our outside matches our inside!
Observation number one: It DOES NOT WORK just to diet and exercise to lose weight (yeah I just said that!) when we continue to hate ourselves on the inside.
I can’t tell you how many blogs that I have read where people have done just that and lost weight only to gain it back eventually and then some. Why? Because we never fixed what was truly broken in the first place.

We can lose and lose and lose but if we hate ourselves, I am a true believer that it is just going to keep coming back! Every time. The one thing that I have learned in the past year and a half of yoga is that your body cannot function without your mind and vice versa. You cannot expect to change your body without healing and nurturing your mind too. So we have to learn to let go, forgive and heal ourselves from the inside out.

2. We want a quick fix.
Oh man, I can’t even begin to count how many I’ve wished to lose 90 pounds overnight. Or set unrealistic, unsustainable and unhealthy goals to try and speed things up! Or take crazy things like HCG or do horrible things to our bodies like the Master Cleanse. Sure we lost weight – water weight. And then we gained it all back when we had a glass of water! Quick fixes never work for long term success. So here’s the part where you ask, ‘you are on phentermine so what do you know?’. I know this – I am working with a doctor and a nutritionist and counselor to change my habits and patterns. I don’t see this as a quick fix at all because I am working hard to learn new behaviors and habits. I am just fortunate that I had access to a tool that is really working for me and a support system that is helping master things I have never been able to master before.

I’m like you though – I’ve tried everything. I’ve spent money like crazy trying to fix it. But I never learned that this is a lifestyle change. I never learned that every day for the rest of my life I am going to have to be accountable and responsible for what goes in my mouth and how much exercise I am doing. And I never really worked on fixing myself from the inside out – all I could see was the instant gratification of the number on the scale going down. I couldn’t see the damage that wasn’t being fixed. And that is why if it is easy, it never works.

3. We still think we can go back to eating whatever we want when we reach our goal.
Guilty as charged. In my head I still think about hitting goal and not having to plan or track everything I eat anymore. I think about going to a restaurant and not scrutinizing the menu and I think about not having to worry about the calories in those five mini Snickers I just ate. The reality is FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE I WILL HAVE TO BE VIGILANT AND ACCOUNTABLE FOR EVERYTHING THAT GOES INTO MY MOUTH. Of course I can have that piece of pizza and of course I can splurge a little every now and again. But it is going to have to go in the tracker. Every day, for the rest of my life. I cannot afford to gain any of this weight back (and because I’m taking phentermine I’m extremely scared that this will happen). I am scared that I will lapse back into that lazy life of constant excuses that I lived in for the majority of my adulthood. I am scared that I will gain it all back. But (and this goes back to my number 1 on this list), I have been working hard to conquer those deep dark demons in my closet and I have gained the necessary tools to fight the battle. It doesn’t mean that when I hit my goal that I can all of a sudden go back to doing whatever I want.

4. We buy into so many fallacies about weight loss.
If you just eat grapefruit or don’t eat after 7pm or my all time favorite, muscle weighs more than fat. One pound of muscle weighs EXACTLY THE SAME as one pound of fat! Always has, always will. It is just more dense.

We let ourselves down by taking these diet fallacies verbatim without doing the research ourselves. I can’t tell you the number of times I have read things that aren’t true or are just myths that have been proved wrong. We owe it to ourselves to be the best experts of our bodies that we can. We need to read and research and ask questions of medical professionals. I look back at the time I worked out with my trainer. I liked him. He didn’t know a thing about working someone out nor did he know anything about healthy, sustainable weight loss. I didn’t ask questions – I just assumed.

Never again.

I read, I research and I ask questions because I refuse to make the same mistakes again – buying into something just because I want a quick fix.

5. We lose motivation and momentum.
This is a killer. I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times that I did not want to log in to Spark. I avoided it because it made me face facts – I had gained weight and I was miserable again. We hit plateaus. We get busy. We stop feeling good about ourselves. We avoid. We hide under our rocks.

Motivation is important.

Building a healthy sustainable routine and lifestyle is even more important.

It’s baby steps not giant leaps. I refuse to hide ever again. I am committing right now to staying accountable, whether I like it or not, every stinkin day. Sure there are dips in our activity and our ability to stay on play – that is to be expected and very much a part of the process I believe. We are not robots after all. What I think matters the most is that during those times we continue to be accountable, we continue to take walks, we continue to honor ourselves and this journey. We don’t have to be perfect! Heck I’ve already missed a P90x work out! Should I quit? Old me would have. New me is going to pick up today with the work out that I missed. Not a big deal. Life happens. Crazy things get in the way. The important thing is that you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep going.

6. We count calories without looking at nutrition.

What we put into our bodies matters beyond belief.

You wouldn’t fill up your car with cheese sauce and expect it to get good gas mileage would you? No wonder why we are hungry and miserable half of the time! Heck even on phentermine I can tell when I’m hungry and miserable because I haven’t eaten the right food to fuel me up! And it only takes a few weeks of eating well (or eating clean) to notice that when you eat crap you feel like crap. I eat junk food now and I swear I have a hangover the next day! Yesterday I ate squishy cheese and beef ravioli for dinner because it was about all my teeth could tolerate. Holy heck I felt AWFUL after! All that white flour and cheese did me in! It tasted good going down the hatch but let me tell you my body sure paid the price for not taking better care of it! Of course sometimes we can’t avoid it – let’s be honest here, when you can’t chew anything, your options become very limited!

The point is, and this goes back to number one and honoring yourself, you have to treat your body with kindness. It sounds so hokey, believe me I know! But it is so very true. SO often in my life I have taken out all of my anger and frustration and fear and happiness on my body by abusing food. And my body has tolerated it the best way that it can.

No more.

Am I ever going to eat junk food again? Probably. Am I going to be mindful about my choices and eat things that are bit better for me than a Big Mac? You bet your sweet patooty!


7. We do things that we can’t possibly sustain.
Yeah – this girl right here is so guilty of this one. The trainer and the gym were nice while they lasted but the money ran out and so did my weight loss. I set myself up for failure because I couldn’t possibly sustain (financially) the training sessions. I have also been guilty of over exercising (hello, seriously who can do 3 hours a day regularly?). And running. Don’t get me started on running. I don’t like running. I have to MAKE myself do it. After my 5K goal was accomplished, I dropped it like it was hot! And then didn’t fill the void with anything else.

I have finally gotten it through my thick skull that to be healthy for the long haul you have to do something you a)love and b)can afford. For me, that’s yoga. Sure I’m doing P90X right now and I think I’ll always try new things like that from time to time. But my go to is yoga and walking the dog with an occasional spin thrown in for good measure. And guess what? It’s enough. I have had to come to the realization that I am probably never going to be a crossfit girl. Oh I would probably like it very much – but it’s like an addiction to me – and I wouldn’t be able to sustain it. So I’m staying in my happy place with little extras thrown in here and there to spice it up because this is what I can sustain in a healthy way for the long haul. I fell apart the last time I lost weight when I could no longer sustain my unhealthy gym habit – and I vowed to never let it happen again.

8. We aren’t always honest with ourselves.
Let’s face it, no tricky camera angle or fancy filter can truly hide the fact that we are fat. I can’t even begin to tell you how many photos are in my archives that are like that. It only ended up hurting me more in the long run by letting me continue denying that I need to make some changes in my life. I put myself out there in the big wide world of dating only to be absolutely crushed when men were pretty much repulsed by the sight of me in person. (Wow that was hard to admit!). I set myself up for this failure by refusing to admit that the girl from those weird angled photos was not what I really looked like. While I don’t think that you have to be stick thin to find love and happiness, I do believe that you have to love and accept yourself (see number one on the list).

Sometimes we have to just open those locked doors we have and let a little sunlight in. Yeah, I have skeletons and things that haunt me. But I have finally realized that if I want to get anywhere good I am going to have to ditch all of this excess baggage.

9. We don’t honor our own needs.
I need to weigh myself daily. No it’s not an obsession – it’s my guide post. I am less likely to make stupid food choices if I have a good idea what I weigh each morning. Turning down that piece of cake at work is MUCH MUCH easier if I know where I am at with my weight. On the other hand, I know that daily weigh-ins drive some people nuts! Again I’m going to turn to my experiences in yoga – this is our practice. Just because an instructor or coach or friend or article is telling us to do x, y and z, doesn’t mean that we should. We need to respect and honor what works for us. Honoring ourselves goes along with number one too. It’s all about clearing the chatter in our heads and listening to what our bodies and minds want and need.

10. We have an endless list of excuses.
I can’t tell you how many blogs I’ve read where people complain about not having time or money to take better care of themselves. The kids, the husband or work get in the way. The stress. The high cost of healthy food. The lists are endless. I used to have a list. I’m too tired was number one. I’m too fat is also high up on the list. I started doing yoga when I was about 220. I was soooooooooooo self-conscious going to the studio with all the skinny trophy wives that live in the neighborhood. But then I got over myself. Skinny girls are just as messed up as us fatties. And really, if you care what random strangers think about you, then you just need to get over yourself. Sure, it’s hard for me sometimes and I am still shy and self-conscious. But those excuses have prevented me from living my life for long enough. NO MORE!

Work used to own me. In fact my biggest weight gain came from poor stress management at work. I have never been so miserable. Work will never own me again. I read an interesting quote the other day that went something like this: When you are old and you look back on your life you are never going to be proud of the fact that you stayed late for a meeting at the expense of your health.

Repeat after me. Work doesn’t own me.

Any kids? Well I don’t have any but I was a nanny so I do have a little bit of a clue. So you take the kids with you when you work out – make a fun family workout or Wii tournament! And get them to help you prepare a healthy dinner. As a teacher I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful this family time is for kids. And let’s face it, our kids aren’t living very healthy lives. They need to move too. They need to learn healthy habits for the long run. And if you can give them the tools so that they can NEVER be obese, what an amazing gift!

What’s that Nike slogan? “Someone out there who is busier than you is running right now” – or something like that. Someone with a prosthetic leg, someone who is 20 years older, someone who has two more kids, someone who is working three jobs.

The point is, the excuses have to stop. If you want to make change in your life, you have to stop making excuses.

Phew – that was a long blog.

Did I miss anything on this list?

Losing weight is not easy. This is the hardest thing ever. And after reading a lot of articles about maintaining weight loss, the hardest part is ahead of us. Keeping weight off is the biggest challenge we will all face.

So I’m going to own up to the things I have been doing wrong. I am going to change my attitude. And I am going to tackle this beast that has been clinging to my back for 20 years like a woman on fire.

And I will succeed.

Happy Sunday Sparkers!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Wonderful blog with great insights!!! Thanks for sharing!

    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2070 days ago
    Great blog! I think there are many who always think that, once you lose that magic number of pounds, you'll go back to eating the way you want (not true). I have one family member who has been on diet after diet, and I know from her experiences and my own, unless it's a forever change, it's NOT a forever weight loss.
    2070 days ago
    Great blog...a tough one to write, but you nailed it!

    Great job and keep at it!
    2070 days ago
    I can't tell you how much I could relate to this blog. Work stress, quick fixes and the MasterCleanse in one blog??? These realizations are going to be the key to your continued success. Thank you for the reminders!

    2070 days ago
    emoticon blog.

    This is stuff I think about a lot. I used to worry about the fact that I'd have to track food and minutes after I hit my goal weight, but I've gotten over it now.

    And your first point is absolutely right--I had signed up for SP last year, but I wasn't emotionally ready for the journey. I needed to figure myself out first before I could start on my body.

    Great blog.
    2070 days ago
    Great blog...thanks!
    2070 days ago
    Sounds like you thought it all out and have a stated it very well and anyone reading this blog would agree with about everything there.
    2070 days ago
  • SJOHNS30
    I love this. It is so clear and concise. I've definitely noticed a difference in my attitude towards myself this time around on SP than the first and second time. I also weigh myself everyday, but I used to get upset about it. Now I don't. I know that it is going to change up and down during the week. I just like having a gauge of where I'm at for the day. It doesn't consume me, but to me knowledge is power. Thanks for this blog. It is excellent.
    2070 days ago
  • PCOH051610
    I've clicked "like" and I hope a lot of others do too as this blog is great! I really needed to read this at this particular detour along my Spark journey. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
    2070 days ago
  • DANE02
    Outstanding Blog and you points hit home! Thanks for sharing...wish you all the best and much success on your LIFE journey...have fun and enjoy the ride!
    2071 days ago
    Have you been reading my empowerment posts?!
    And to this I agree whole heartedly! Absolutely. I have been so many times I've lost track! You know the mantra When you do what you've always done you'll get what you've always gotten. Time for change!
    2071 days ago
    Awesome list...and pretty dang accurate...for all of us :)

    And Work Will Not Own Me. That will be the most difficult part for me... :)
    2071 days ago
    What an amazing blog! It should be a featured blog. Hey, SP, you listening?
    2071 days ago
    Great blog! We are worth it :)
    2071 days ago
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on your blog. What you say is true for most people and I applaud your honesty. You are worth the time and effort. We need to accept ourselves and move on. emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2071 days ago
  • TEMPEST272002
    I think you're right on with the lessons you've learned. Great blog!
    2071 days ago
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