Lately I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on my weight loss journey thus far…and how it hasn’t exactly gone as planned.
In my first year on Weight Watchers in 2008, I shed a whopping 80 pounds. I was sticking to the program, exercising like a fiend, and the pounds were melting off. I jumped out of bed at 7:30am on Sunday mornings because I couldn’t wait to head to my Weight Watchers meeting and rejoice in another well-deserved weight loss.
As I made my way into 2009, things started to change. I was still working the program and hitting the gym daily, but suddenly I was seeing nothing but .2 or .4 losses on the scale, if I lost anything at all. I’d lose a pound one week, then gain it back the next. I managed to eke out another 10 pound loss by June of 2009 – for a grand total of 90 pounds lost – but since then I have honestly done nothing but maintain my present weight.
I’ve had my share of gains and losses throughout the last year or so, but at the end of the day I’m still hovering within the same 2-3 pound weight range, and hanging on to that same 90 pound loss. Though I can see how my body has changed physically – even if my dress size hasn’t – 2010 has been a testament to the fact that I’m genuinely learning how to avoid returning to the mall each season for bigger clothes.
Yesterday at the YMCA, where I work part-time, a couple of members were hanging around in the lobby and discussing friends of theirs who had managed to lose a significant amount of weight…only to gain it all back. One member said he knew a man who lost 150 pounds, gained it back, then lost it again, only to – you guessed it – put the weight back on. These particular members also happen to know about my personal weight loss journey, so I felt compelled to jump in and remind them just how hard it can be to keep the pounds from creeping back on.
“I struggle every day,” I told them.
And that couldn’t be a more accurate statement. Weight loss isn’t fun or exciting for me anymore. It’s nothing but hard work. People aren’t constantly oohing and aahing over my body anymore because they’ve accepted me at the size I am now, and there are days when I have to force myself to go to the gym and complete the same tedious weight training circuit. I’m envious of friends who sit down across from me at a restaurant and order whatever cocktails and appetizers and desserts they want, while I have to pore over the menu item by item, debate with myself over what’s the “healthiest” choice, and then pester the waiter with what I’m sure sound like presumptuous dietary requests.
When I do allow myself to indulge, I’m riddled with intense guilt. When I see even the slightest upward tick on the scale – even if I know it can be chalked up to that-time-of-the-month bloat or an extra cocktail or two on Friday night – I still can’t help but beat myself up.
It’s all so very exhausting.
But then yesterday I overhear people laying judgement on those who lose weight and gain it all back, and I jump in to defend them.
I’m so critical of myself and everything I do. I’m not at my goal weight yet, I haven’t earned my 100-lb star yet, and my dreams of single-digit sizes continue to haunt me as I teeter between an 8 and 10. On most days, these are the thoughts that seem to repeat on loop. No matter how well I stick to the program, when I falter the following week – even if that means working out for a mere 30 minutes instead of a full hour – I feel like a failure.
The question is: why? I have come SO far. I’m so quick to point out to others how difficult it is to maintain weight loss, and yet that’s exactly what I’m doing…and have been doing for nearly two years now. Yes, I may be failing to lose additional weight, but at the same time, I’m succeeding at maintaining what I’ve lost so far.
In the past, I have been that person who loses weight only to sit back and let it pile right back on, but this time, it seems I’m actually doing something right. I have done something that so many people are too afraid to even try. I have changed my life.
Therefore, my current goal (at least for today) has nothing to do with a number on a scale or printed on a tag in my jeans. It’s to take pride in my accomplishments thus far, and celebrate the fact that I have lost weight – and kept it off.
Don’t get me wrong: I still have my sights set on that 100-lb star. And, yes, I would love nothing more than to lose “the final forty.”
But for right now, I’m just going to work on seeing the glass as half full.