I've had a few rough days. Without fail, I find myself a few weeks into a renewed commitment to weight loss, experiencing moderate to even impressive success, and I fizzle. I could be feeling pumped up and energized and successful and powerful for three straight weeks and then BAM! Discouragement, laziness, despair? I don't know what it is, but something negative settles in and I'm so far off the track I usually can't find my way back on. I wish I could identify what the reasoning is behind this bizarre phenomenon. I have a few theories:
1) I'm impatient. Losing 17 pounds in four weeks isn't "fast enough". I always find myself hoping for more.
2) Even if the number is impressive, the mirror isn't. 17 pounds off a 300-ish pound body is barely a 5% loss and isn't even physically noticeable.
3) I miss donuts (or french fries, or candy bars, or pizza...) I miss them a LOT. They comforted me in a way that celery sticks simply do not.
4) It's a freaking ton of hard work to haul my body out there and work vigorously enough to make the scale move.
5) A girl can only eat so many salads, chicken breasts, brown rice and egg whites before she loses her will to live (let alone keep trying to lose weight).
6) The devil on my shoulder is mighty convincing when he says "Free day? Why not just take a free weekend? What's the harm in a few extra treats on Sunday, too?"
7) And of course there's this super awesome mindset: "I've never been able to get it off and keep it off before. Why should this time be any different? What's the point of even continuing?"
These are just a few of the battles I face pretty much on a daily basis as I try to stay committed to a healthier lifestyle and stay on the path to a healthier weight. When you play these awful mind games with yourself every single day you burn out. And you call it quits. Plain and simple. And even though there's nothing physically comfortable about living in a 300-ish pound body, the lifestyle that got and kept you there is what you know and it feels familiar and easy and, well, comforting in a really painful, destructive way. Stepping outside that comfort zone is HARD and you have to find a reason to do it every single stinking day. Every single stinking day for weeks, months, years... a lifetime. Losing a hundred-plus pounds isn't like dropping that pesky ten pounds of lingering baby weight. It's not like wanting to fit in a smaller dress size in time for your 20 year reunion. It's not something that can be satisfied with a quick fix or a few weeks of intense, focused effort. It's work and commitment for the long haul, and up to this point I've not chosen to make that kind of commitment.
I thought maybe an external motivator like the Win, Lose or Blog competition would at least get me through seven weeks before shutting down and falling apart. I made it three. I hit my first bigger-than-I-could-physically-handle obstacle on week four day one of the Couch to 5K training, but I told myself (and my blog) "No biggie! You can work past this! You can revise and keep pressing forward!" But that's not what happened. I went out one more time, did an extremely lackluster and unfocused C25K "workout" and then threw in the proverbial towel for the rest of the week. I ended up taking three days off exercise and had a full-blown free day plus a follow-up unfocused food day. Now I know in the grand scheme of things this is not earth-shattering. But it represented every other time I've gotten to this point and flaked out on my commitment to myself. I could feel the spiral approaching and I could feel the excuses building up in my brain, all the lies to myself, the "reasons" why this wasn't going to work. I struggled through today trying to get back on my eating plan and and trying to prepare myself for a workout this evening.
And then I was running late after some errands.
And I got pizza for the kids.
And I thought "I've had a really solid nutrition day. I can take pizza home for the kids and it won't even tempt me. Willy and I will eat something else. No problem!"
And then Willy wasn't home yet. And the kids were chowing down. And I walked by the table and grabbed someone's piece and bit off the tip of the triangle.
And I felt the tug toward the downward spiral.
But I walked away and tried to shake it off.
Then I had another bite of someone's pizza a few minutes later when I walked by the table.
And I started mentally rationalizing and arguing with myself. "One piece can't possibly have enough calories to "ruin" my day... I'll just eat one piece instead of my last two small meals of the day... I'm going to exercise tonight anyway so I'll burn it off... Ugh, I don't want to eat heavy pizza and then try running... If I run after eating pizza I'll just get sick... I've already had two bites, I may as well just eat the pizza and skip exercising today... Man it would feel good to just chow down on this pizza..."
Then Willy got home, heated up some of the pizza and sat down to eat.
And that's when I cried. Not big sobbing tears. But my eyes filled up and my heart just dropped. At first the emotion was truly because I felt so deprived! How unfair that I couldn't even have a stinkin' piece of pizza without being overcome with feelings of guilt and self-loathing. And then I realized what the emotion bubbling over the surface really was. It was desperation!! Desperation to overcome this horrible addiction to food that makes me CRY about not eating pizza. It was desperation to abandon the terribly sedentary lifestyle I live and find joy in moving my body. It was desperation to keep a commitment to myself at least!! Forget the external motivators I've tried to surround myself with! I absolutely MUST keep promises that I make to myself, for goodness sake!
Desperate. I've finally reached desperate. This is apparently what it feels like to want to change more than you want to stay the same. That's always been a nice cliche. Suddenly it's like a living, breathing reality. I don't want to feel like this any more. I don't want to be controlled by food and laziness. I don't want to be held back by physical limitations that I've brought on myself. I don't want to live with constant worry and guilt regarding the lifestyle examples I'm setting for my children. I don't want to be ashamed of quitting before I've achieved my personal goals. I don't want to lie to myself or live life making excuse after excuse any more. I've reached desperate. Surprisingly, it doesn't feel terrifying. It just feels real.
Tonight I grudgingly put my sweats and shoes on. I reluctantly turned on my Couch to 5K app and got my water bottle. I dragged my feet and headed outside at 9:30 p.m. And I re-did the very first C25K training workout. And I realized that the workout which had originally made me hope for a swift death out there during my 60 second running intervals was suddenly kind of ... well... easy? Okay, okay. Not easy. But so doable! When my timer went off I thought "Oh crud. There's a glitch in the app. It can't have already been 60 seconds!" But it had been! And those 60 second intervals were so doable that I *think* I even looked like I was running, not just walking with an ever-so-slight bounce in my step! Apparently the effort I've put in over the last few weeks has actually done something.
I felt strong!
And apparently desperation suits me just fine. If that's what it takes to push me toward action and positive change, I'll take it. Tonight I managed to beat down my theories and excuses and just pick up where I left off a few nights ago and keep going. And I'm going to keep going.
Even if it involves crying over pizza every now and then.