Even though I eat well and work out at least 5 times a week, for the past several months I’ve seen nothing but small losses on the scale as reward for my hard work: .6 lbs here, .4 lbs there, with a full pound loss thrown in every now and then for good measure.
When my body first began transitioning from consistent 2 pound losses per week (when I had more weight to lose), to more sporadic, smaller losses, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t frustrate me. Then last year, I began a vicious cycle of gaining a pound or two only to lose them and gain them right back, so lately I’m thrilled with the consistent – albeit smaller – losses on the scale. I’m sticking to my Weight Watchers program and continuing to find new ways to challenge my body, whether it’s increasing the incline on the treadmill when I run or discovering new, more challenging bike paths in the area. And it seems to be working, even though the weight is coming off painfully slowly.
Then last week, I was struck with a severe sinus infection. I found myself struggling just to stand up without excruciating pain and pressure, let alone lace up my sneakers and go for a run. Last Monday I thought my stuffy nose and migraine were allergy related, so I pushed myself through a gym session. I took a turn for the worse on Tuesday, and did nothing but curl up on the couch with a blanket and stare at the television all night. On Wednesday I felt guilty about skipping the previous day’s workout, so I forced myself on a 30-minute bike ride that seemed to take upwards of two hours to push through.
On Thursday I finally went to the doctor, and realized it was more serious than just a cold or allergies. I spent the next four days popping ibuprofen and taking antibiotics – and doing little else. I tried to stick to my normal eating regimen, but I didn’t so much as take my dog for a walk. Every movement seemed to intensify my pounding headache and nasal pressure, so I gave myself permission to make like a vegetable and plant myself on the couch.
Despite my lack of activity, I attended my usual weigh-in last Sunday morning, even though I had never skipped that many workouts in one week since I began my journey back in 2007. As such, I was expecting a gain, but knew I could probably chalk it up to being sick and my physical inability to exercise.
Much to my surprise, I lost 1.8 pounds. I haven’t shed that much weight at once since my first week back on program after my epic “but it’s the holidays” binge of 2009.
Needless to say, I was completely shocked…and a little annoyed. Don’t get me wrong – I was thrilled with the loss. But I was furious that I could work so hard for minimal results and then do absolutely nothing and lose 2 pounds.
I suppose it could have been a fluke. It could be a few weeks of serious effort but lackluster losses catching up with me. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder whether it was instead some kind of sign to stop pushing myself so hard. I beat myself up for spending less than an hour at the gym each day, and all for a loss of .8 (if I’m lucky) at the end of the week. But then I get sick and just focus on my food intake for seven days, and drop almost 2 pounds as if it were nothing. Is that my body’s way of saying I’m exercising too much?
Part of me wants to play a little experiment with the scale and go another week without exercise. But then the other part remains adamant that losing weight and getting healthy is not about playing games with a scale. I exercise because it keeps me healthy and I genuinely enjoy it, not because it helps me fit into smaller jeans.
And that’s the truth – I no longer feel like myself when I don’t incorporate at least some form of physical activity into my day. I’ve become addicted to the way exercise makes me feel, and the way it makes my body look. Where I once stared at images of supermodels in magazines and longed to be “skinny” like them, these days I ogle the athletes’ bodies pictured in magazines like Women’s Health and wonder what I could do to build lean, muscular arms or toned thighs like theirs. I stare at their bodies and assure myself if I keep working hard that someday I, too, might be able to sport such a fit, toned physique.
Then again, it’s my dream to lose these “final forty” pounds and experience life at my goal weight…and even possibly go on to become a Weight Watchers leader. At this stage in my weight loss, part of me just wants to get it over with. As much as I enjoy being able to stroll into any store and know they have my size, I hate trying on a fabulous dress or a nice pair of pants and having to wonder if they’ll still fit when I’m done losing weight – or how much it might cost to tailor them. I’m tired of people telling me I look “amazing” just as I am and that I’ll look “sick” if I lose anymore, when I know just how far I have to go. As much as the idea of having to maintain my weight loss scares me, it still would be nice to know that, for once in my life, I actually finished something that I started.
The good news is that last week’s loss brought me back into the 90-pound zone, where I haven’t been in about a year. A 100-pound loss is once again within my reach, and now I’m just hoping that achieving that goal won’t mean having to sacrifice my favorite foods – or my love affair with the elliptical.
Loss to Date: 91 lbs