Keeping it real
Monday, December 03, 2012
Yesterday, my husband said, "You seem to be doing better on this diet than some of the others."
It's true, I don't seem to be having the kind of anxiety I have felt with other diets. I have been on a lot of diets: cabbage soup diet, food combining, Weight Watchers and most recently juice fasting, even a few methods I made up myself, even the Pepsi and Baby Ruth bar diet a friend of mine made up a long time ago.
My husband has watched me try and fail and try again. He knows how much I have desperately wanted to feel better in my own body. He is always supportive of what I do. He says he loves me as I am, but wants me to be happy. Lately, though, I think he has begun to be silently skeptical, much the way I had been feeling. He would never say so, but he was probably feeling the same way I had been half the time. Another diet. Another failure.
Oh, I would always lose weight, don't get me wrong. Forty pounds the last time, but then something would derail me. The tedium of the food, a stressful week at work, something would get in the way and I would start a spiral into worse and worse eating habits. I would end up gaining what I lost and then some back again.
I had about given up on finding something that really worked, but I was desperate. My ankles were swelling constantly, my feet and knees were in pain any time I was standing upright and I felt like I couldn't even walk a block anymore. My weight had gone up too high to measure on the bathroom scale but I knew I was in uncharted and very dangerous territory.
I didn't know where to turn. I was disillusioned, but knew this time it was a matter of life and death, although I wasn't expecting any better results than I had experienced before.
I began looking for something different, so I googled "free diet plans." The first one on the list was something I had never heard of before: SparkPeople.com. I clicked on the link with a lot of skepticism. Was this some scam? Was it a crash diet or something that claimed to be free but really required me to buy special food or equipment or some kind of subscription?
I was particularly looking for something that would have meal plans and tracking, but was flexible enough that I wouldn't have to go out shopping every day. Sure enough, I had all the food I needed to get started without even going to the store, and if I didn't have exactly what the menu said, I had a workable substitute. It was perfect for me.
Then I started exploring some of the other aspects of the website. The motivational articles have been particularly important as I have continued to try to keep my weight in check. They helped me identify my own particular dieting pitfalls: being a slave to the scale, letting myself get derailed by the least little transgression, and being overly critical of myself.
I am learning to think of myself in kinder terms and to define my success by means other than pounds, but it takes time to make those kinds of mental changes. For example, when I misread the scale at my gym and realized I was actually ten pounds heavier than I had thought, I was devastated and angry with myself. It felt like such a giant step backward. I spent almost an entire day criticizing myself for being so careless and stupid. (This after teaching my daughter that stupid was a dirty and cruel world and should never be applied to anyone.) At the end of the day, I felt so bad about myself that I binged on potato chips.
The next day I woke up with the same thoughts in my head -- until I remembered a couple of lessons from the motivational articles: let it go and be kind to yourself. Since then, I have worked hard to take those lessons to heart. It is not always easy, but it seems to be working.
I regularly remind myself how much better I feel. I admire the way the little muscles in my arms are getting bigger and how the waists of my pants are getting looser. I like that I am sleeping better. I like that I don't get winded just thinking about going for a walk. And I like that I am a lot less stiff and sore thanks to regular exercise. Oh, and by the way, I have lost some weight, too.
I know that I have only been following the SparkPeople plan for a few weeks, but usually about now I would be starting to feel discouraged and anxious, maybe a little desperate. I don't feel that way this time. Instead, I feel encouraged. This diet feels right and I don't feel like I am about to come apart at the seams. I may slip up once and a while, in fact I expect I will. But that doesn't mean I am a failure. It just means I'm human. I deserve to treat myself with the same level of kindness I would use with anyone else.
It is important that I be realistic about what I am trying to accomplish and how I meet the challenges ahead.