Advertisement -- Learn more about ads on this site.


    TINAJANE76   65,167
SparkPoints
60,000-79,999 SparkPoints
 
 

Unpacking My Baggage


Voted Popular Blog Post: View All Popular Posts

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Being a yo-yo dieter takes a toll on you in so many ways. Not only can it be harmful to your physical health, but it can also cause lasting damage to your self-esteem and confidence in your ability to lose weight and keep it off. I had suffered from that self-doubt for many years and not without reason--until very recently I had always regained any weight I had lost in the past.

When I got started on my most recent effort to lose weight in early 2010, this baggage weighed heavily on my mind. Several years earlier, I had lost 115 pounds and had regained almost all of it--just about 95 pounds. Although part of me was very angry with myself for having undone all of my hard work, the more troubling emotion I experienced was the lack of faith I had in myself due to all of my past failed efforts. In order to truly be successful, I needed to shed this emotional baggage and figure out how I could not only reach goal, but stay there.

I've now maintained a healthy weight within a +/-3% range for over a year--by far my longest stretch. Looking back on what has made the difference for me, I'd have to say that this was the first time that I not only tackled the habit changes that I needed to make, but also the emotional issues that lurked below the surface and held me back from being successful in the past. That is, the reasons behind the development of my bad habits and why I returned to them after reaching goal.

Although tackling my habits was the easier part of this process, there are still several things that I did differently this time compared to my past efforts. As an ex-Weight Watcher, weighing, measuring and tracking were things that were often encouraged. I had dabbled in each of these, but never took them too seriously. And while some people manage very well with strategies like intuitive eating or eliminating certain types of food, those don't work very well for me. I've found that I'm happiest and most successful when I can eat a wide range of foods in moderate amounts. And because I still don't have a good enough sense of eating until I'm satisfied, I track what I eat even now that I'm on maintenance.

In the past, I relied on weekly weigh ins to keep my head in the game, but that only led to game playing. If I had to weigh in on a Friday, I'd sneak in all sorts of treats over the weekend thinking that I'd have the rest of the week to work it off. Then I'd overcompensate by being very restrictive the rest of the week and even by resorting to the kind of methods wrestlers use to "make weight" before a match--not particularly healthy. I now weigh myself daily and find that it does a much better job of keeping me honest as far as my diet and exercise habits are concerned and attuned to my natural fluctuations.

In the past, I didn't take full advantage of the support systems that were available to me, especially once I hit goal. On Weight Watchers, you only have to weigh in once a month once you reach goal, so that's what I did. Being on maintenance on Weight Watchers was really tough because there was rarely more than one other maintainer in any given group (if there were any at all!) and it often seemed hard for losers to relate to the struggles of maintainers and vice versa. Finding a community of maintainers here on SparkPeople has literally been a lifesaver. Where else can you find so many supportive people sharing their experiences and helping each other to maintain?

In the past, I wasn't armed with solid information about what it takes to maintain. In spite of all the planning and effort I had put into weight loss, I just kind of winged it once I got to maintenance. This time has been radically different. Once I started getting close to goal, I began searching for all the information I could find connected to successful maintenance. Shockingly, there is very little. The two places I did find that were very useful were the National Weight Control Registry, which analyzes the habits of long-term maintainers, and the At Goal & Maintaining + Transition to Maintenance team here on SparkPeople, which has probably grown to have the greatest resource of information for maintainers on the internet. I still rely heavily on the support of this team to help keep me focused and on track.

So, those were the easier parts, lol!

Far more difficult has been shedding my emotional baggage because it's required me to look deep inside myself to try to understand why I've never managed to have long-term weight loss success. I'm still working on some of these issues, but I think I've come a long way. The first of these issues was a fear of failure and lack of belief in myself. I had never successfully maintained before, so why should this time have been different? Instead of dwelling on all the things I had done wrong, I focused on keeping what worked well for me in the past and what I thought I could sustain long term. No more crazy diets, constant restriction and self abuse. I wanted to live healthily and sanely and that meant I had to take things much more slowly than I had previously been accustomed to. And guess what? I still saw results and, what's more, I've been able to keep the weight off. Making that one change has been a huge boost to my self-confidence and my belief that I can really keep this up for good.

Similarly, I've also come to realize that just because I'm not "on track" 100% of the time, that doesn't mean I'm a failure and that I should use my slips as an excuse to give up. In short, I worked on developing my resiliency. I even began to plan times when I would intentionally go off track. The difference from my past experiences was that I always had a plan along with a specific time for when I'd get back on. This not only made me realize that it's okay to go off plan from time to time, but also helped prepare me for occasions where I wasn't totally in control of the food that's offered. I've learned to navigate those by planning for them, which usually means choosing to indulge and immediately getting back on track with my next meal. No more slips that turn into monthlong or yearlong backslides.

And perhaps the darkest side of this process has been trying to identify what lies beneath my tendency to be self-destructive with food. I still don't completely understand this, but I do know that I have used food as a source of comfort and often as an outlet for stress and anxiety. Dealing with these tendencies has meant finding healthier coping mechanisms so I'm not always turning to food whenever I have an uncomfortable emotion or when life gets a bit hectic. Doing yoga, blogging and staying connected to the community here have all been very helpful and have also helped me to lose a bit of the chip I had on my shoulder about my struggles.

I was previously a wallower who didn't believe that anyone could possibly understand what I was going through in not being able to lose and keep the weight off. Listening to someone who was actually successful was not something that interested me and I'd systematically dismiss the suggestions of many well-intentioned and experienced people--that's a pretty huge ego trip for an unsuccessful person and was totally counterproductive. What's more, when times got tough, I typically pulled away from my support networks completely. Only now do I realize what a huge mistake that is. What I've learned through my continued involvement here on SparkPeople is that there are A LOT of people who understand my struggles and have experienced similar ones. And there are a lot of successful people whose experiences I can learn from, even if we don't use exactly the same strategies. Dropping my ego and becoming more receptive to the wisdom and experience of others has allowed me be much more open with the process of maintaining and made me feel more comfortable experimenting with what works best for me, partially based on the recommendations of others.

I'm still far from perfect in this weight management game--I still worry about regain and don't feel like I'm completely out of the woods just yet. But I know there's been a big change in me compared to my past efforts and that I'm much more focused on the bigger picture than I've ever been in the past. I also know that I've lost a considerable amount of baggage and that I'm in no hurry to reclaim it.
SHARE
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CATNCAG 2/27/2014 3:45PM

    emoticon emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
MONTREAL12 8/31/2013 10:50AM

  I've been there; as a matter of fact; I am there - still flip-flopping. Your story illustrates that I'm not alone - there is hope - there is light at the end of the tunnel. emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
SUPERSYLPH 8/5/2013 12:22PM

    Thank you for sharing your personal struggles.

emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
WHITEANGEL4 6/22/2013 10:55PM

    Thanks for the great blog......it is really a lifestyle change and you do not have to gie up the things you like only enjoy in moderation

Report Inappropriate Comment
TDEMAIO2 6/14/2013 6:17AM

    emoticon for sharing :)

Report Inappropriate Comment
BLONDIE218145 6/8/2013 7:27AM

    I never had to diet before so I have yo yo'ed so many times already. Keeping it off seems to be my problem and a very skinny hubs is not helping. I love SP and my friends who are helping me lose my baggage now. Very good blog I must say. Good luck on your journey.

Report Inappropriate Comment
MAW_OH 6/2/2013 12:22PM

    emoticon emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
EFFRAYECHILDE 5/14/2013 9:14AM

    Thanks for sharing.

Report Inappropriate Comment
MERRYMERRY6 5/8/2013 2:58PM

    Thanks so much for sharing, very helpful and encouraging! emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
SCOUTMOM715 5/5/2013 11:36AM

    This is a fantastic blog!! emoticon emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
FRABBIT 5/2/2013 4:43PM

  What a well-written blog!

Report Inappropriate Comment
MERRY_XMAS 4/30/2013 5:09PM

    Thank you for sharing! Always a pleasure to read your blogs!

Report Inappropriate Comment
RUTHXG 4/30/2013 2:31PM

    Thanks so much for taking the time to think & write this all out. There are several things I can apply to my own struggles.

emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
MTULLY 4/30/2013 11:25AM

    Very helpful. Thanks for sharing.

Report Inappropriate Comment
MISSLISA1973 4/30/2013 10:09AM

    Brilliant. Thanks so much for sharing!

Report Inappropriate Comment
AMBER461 4/30/2013 12:00AM

  Thanks for sharing. Well said.

Report Inappropriate Comment
JEANNINEMM68 4/29/2013 9:18PM

    emoticon I admire you for digging deep and unloading the baggage.

Report Inappropriate Comment
SANDICANE 4/28/2013 10:38PM

    It's this kind of sharing that makes so many paths easier to trod!

Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us all.

Cheers,
Sandi

Report Inappropriate Comment
THOMS1 4/28/2013 5:31PM

    Good job. Keep it up. emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
MISSG180 4/28/2013 10:20AM

    You are inspiring me!

Report Inappropriate Comment
CHARLOTTE2539 4/28/2013 12:02AM

  Excellent!

Report Inappropriate Comment
MISSBOOBOOKITTY 4/26/2013 11:20PM

    emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
MSFROGGIE 4/26/2013 11:01PM

    Thank you for sharing. Emotional eating is a horrible place, finding a great support group is one of the keys to stopping the cycle.

emoticon emoticon emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
SCRAPBECCA 4/26/2013 10:10PM

    Inspirational and well said!

Report Inappropriate Comment
CHIRPGIRL 4/26/2013 9:52PM

    Thanks for the enlightening blog. I look forward to the day when I can join you on the Maintenance Team. emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
HAPPYGIRL511 4/26/2013 8:19PM

    emoticon for sharing, I can so relate and this gives me HOPE when I need it the most. My journey may be long, but I know the benefits outweigh the sacrifice and hard work. I'm ready to begin again and this time I am not quitting til I get where I deserve and desire to be. emoticon I will keep striving and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, I am worth it, I can and Will Do This.

emoticon and Continued Success on your path of Maintenance.
Debbie (*leader of Journey to a new You and Ohio the Beautiful teams)

Report Inappropriate Comment
SUSIEMT 4/26/2013 5:53PM

    What a wonderful blog! I remember I had myself so beaten down with past failures that I didn't do any sort of "dieting for a good 5 years. Then SparkPeople.com came into my life and changed all that! Of course having a diet and exercise buddy helped!
Keep up the good job Tina!

Report Inappropriate Comment
ADVENTURESEEKER 4/26/2013 5:26PM

    Great blog!

Report Inappropriate Comment
CORNERKICK 4/26/2013 5:20PM

  emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
AJB121299 4/26/2013 5:17PM

    Nice

Report Inappropriate Comment
HANSBRINK 4/26/2013 3:51PM

  What a sharing heart. Thank you!

Report Inappropriate Comment
SUSANFL1 4/26/2013 3:24PM

    Your blog post was amazing-because you write so well and say exactly what it feels like to be a maintainer. I think you have done an awesome job with writing this piece and explaining what most people feel. I relate so much to your struggles and "emotional baggage." I too am an ex-weight watcher and found good success on it but it is not a great place to be once the weight is off. Thank god for this site and for people like you. I am very happy that you have been able to maintain your weight and I have faith that you will as much as you need to. emoticon emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
CYND59 4/26/2013 3:20PM

    This was a wonderful blog. Thanks! It is awesome to read success stories. There is hope for me yet!

Report Inappropriate Comment
TRUNKJUNK 4/26/2013 3:09PM

    Awesome blog thanks for sharing

Report Inappropriate Comment
PACKERMANN 4/26/2013 2:57PM

    very insightful!
i follow you on the Maintenance Team threads. thanks for leading more Sparkers to it. i find that it is one of the most helpful ones to me and my journey.

Report Inappropriate Comment
DIANITAH 4/26/2013 1:22PM

    You are right. Even when I hit goal, there is still a lot of work to be done!

Report Inappropriate Comment
SUNFLOWERVAL 4/26/2013 1:05PM

    thank you for sharing- very well put!

Report Inappropriate Comment
MANILUS 4/26/2013 12:09PM

    Great work, throwing away the emotional baggage and not getting it back is the hardest part in my own experience. I lost 187 from 2005-2007 and regained 153 by 2009. From 2009-now I have lost 114.6 lbs and gotten rid of a lot of baggage. I understand your struggle, you are doing great!!

Report Inappropriate Comment
MBEHNKEN 4/26/2013 11:36AM

    emoticon emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
KALEWINE 4/26/2013 11:29AM

    Thanks for sharing!

Report Inappropriate Comment
FIRECOM 4/26/2013 10:45AM

    Thanks to SP, I have thrown my yo-yo away forever.

Report Inappropriate Comment
MINEA999 4/26/2013 10:34AM

    Great blog! Tuning into the emotional side is key I think - I am finally ready to tackle this side in addition to the food and exercise. The food and exercise I can do - it's dealing with all the baggage that I know I need to concentrate on this time around. Thanks for the thought provoking read!!!



Report Inappropriate Comment
SORLANDO21 4/26/2013 10:25AM

    emoticon emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
WORDWOMAN7 4/26/2013 10:04AM

    What a great post! Thanks for sharing the insights from your journey, and best of luck with your continued success.

emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
LEANMEAN2 4/26/2013 9:21AM

    Thanks for sharing.

Report Inappropriate Comment
KAB7801 4/26/2013 8:17AM

    emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
SPUD3193 4/26/2013 8:08AM

    emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
BREWMASTERBILL 4/26/2013 8:01AM

    Keep staying engaged and the rest will fall into place.

Report Inappropriate Comment
BRASKIN 4/26/2013 7:43AM

  well said.

Report Inappropriate Comment
KATHIC2 4/26/2013 7:40AM

  Wow! Really helpful. I will re-read this as I go. You write beautifully.

Report Inappropriate Comment

Add Your Comment to the Blog Post


Log in to post a comment.
Member Comments Page (211 total):  1 2 3 Next > Last >>