September 22, 2011

Maintenance, part four

Recovering from the past few weeks of struggling has honestly felt like crawling out of a very dark hole. It's a struggle, for sure, and you're not entirely sure how far you've fallen until you get to the top and can look back, surveying how far you had to climb just to reach the surface again.

I sat on the couch this weekend, crying. Crying, because I wanted to eat and I knew I wasn't hungry. Crying, because since I got to California, I've been soothing emotional emptiness with physical fullness. Crying, because I had such high hopes for my transition - wishing that somehow, magically, I'd turn into the kind of person who loses her appetite when faced with stressful situations, that the 189 I saw right before leaving would stick. But it was 194 by the time I got to California, and has bounced around between 194 and 199 for weeks now.

Until this weekend, when I saw it.


And it may well have been 345.

It hurt, not because I finally saw the number I had skirted around for so long, but because I felt guilty. I knew it was a direct result of my actions. I'm not on a medicine that makes me gain weight, nor do I have any condition that impairs my ability to lose weight. I'm not physically impaired in any way that prevents me from being active. I have my faculties about me, but I've made deliberate poor choices, and that's the part that hurts. I spent so long making all the right choices, and the positive results followed. Now, here I am, fully aware of the bad decisions I'm making, and I make them anyway.

Awareness is the difference between this attempt at losing weight and all my past failures. I never really did the research on what I needed to do in order to truly succeed, and I never honestly believed that I could make it even close to my goal. This time, though, I am armed with the knowledge of exactly what I need to do to properly nourish my body. I know what makes me feel good and what makes me feel uncomfortable and unhealthy, and I think that is something that can't ever go away. Even when I binge, even when I have terrible, horrible off-plan days, there's a voice in the back of my head that screams Don't do this. You know this is wrong. This is not what you really want. This will not make you feel good - not while you do it, not immediately following, not for the rest of the day.

It's awareness, but even more specifically, it's guilt.

I realized I've been deluding myself. For months, my weight has stayed the same, plus or minus five pounds, and I've brushed it off, saying I'm stressed and trying to put a positive light on it by saying I'll be great at maintenance.

But - there's a difference between intentional weight maintenance and a plateau. There's a difference between what I want my maintenance to be and what I am doing to myself right now.

My weight has been mostly unchanging, but what I have been doing to myself lately is far from balanced. A few great days here and there, and then I self-sabotage in a huge way. I don't want to spend the rest of my life taking a few steps forward and then getting set back - even if the weight evens out, I hate the feeling of guilt.

Having reviewed the plans of quite a few maintenance bloggers, it's clear that the approaches to maintaining are as diverse as the ways to lose weight. Essentially, they're all the same - we have a calorie deficit to lose, we break even to maintain. For some people, maintenance means keeping up the exact methods they used to lose - they still count Points, they still count calories and keep food journals - but they alter their intake and output slightly. For others, there's less of a focus on numbers and more on feelings. There are no weigh ins, no calories counted - they know what a healthy meal is, they eat when they are hungry, and they cut back a little when their clothes feel like they don't fit as well.

My maintenance, I hope, will be a combination. Maybe it's just because of the moment I find myself in right now, but I don't quite trust myself to rely on feelings just yet, and I can see myself continuing to track as I begin my maintaining phase. What I want is to eventually wean myself from numbers and focus on how I feel instead, but I know myself and I know getting to that point will take time. Being a recovering binge eater, I'll never be "cured" of the urges and the feelings. My maintenance goal is to get them under control, though - to feel more balanced overall.


Ann said...

Here's how I know you will be successful - you still HEAR those voices telling you what's right and wrong. Now, dear Mary, it's time to listen.

Karen said...

I'm sorry you are struggling. I am going through very similar eating patterns and emotions, but I am in theory in maintenance. What I have learned it, for me, maintaining is never easy. Did I think it would be? In the past, yes. This time, not so much.

Anyhow, ask yourself what you want. As yourself what you need to do to get there. You can do this. I'm rooting for you:)

Unknown said...

Sending strength and peace your way, Mary.
I wish I could give a clear-cut answer to magical one thing that keeps people in maintenance; I can't speak for others but for me, it will always be a process. I honestly don't know if I'll ever feel comfortable here. I just do the best I can, day to day - and realize that I am going to have days, maybe even weeks where I'm working out something on an emotional level and then the maintaining part is put on a shelf until I've worked myself out. It's an ebb and flow process, and you're right: awareness is key.

Chubby McGee said...

I've heard that maintenance is brutal. What you're going through is totally normal. Maybe you could make mini-goals for yourself now to keep you where you want to be. can make a goal of...I dunno...biking 100 miles in the month of October or giving up dairy for one week in November...and it'll keep you driven without making it SO much about keeping that number where it needs to be. It's less about the number and more about health and, in turn, that'll keep that number where it needs to be without causing you to spaz about numerics. Eh?

Hyla said...

Instead of seeing those numbers and the occasions of forgetfulness (Stupid post)..

Instead of seeing those as stupid...

Make them your inspirations, turn them into motivators

Remind yourself what you and your body can and WILL do

Tim said...

Believe in yourself, Mary.

Jill said...

I am so sorry you are struggling. It can be really hard. My days seem similar to yours. A bunch of good days mixed in with a bunch of bad days. The thing is- when I have a bunch of bad days- I start the negative self talk. This can cause things to get worse. I am working on being less critical of myself and focusing on all the positive things I have done and continue to do. I still need to track- but I too dream of the day when I can just listen to my body and not gain. I am not there... yet!

Jitterfish (WJW) said...

This resonated with me so much. I'm in the same place, almost same weight place too. I told myself I was going in to maintenance until end of semester, made excuses, watched my weight bounce around between about 5lbs.

I'm still in that mode, I keep saying just get through the next three weeks until teaching finishes. I'm not sure how much is lying to myself, is it just loss of motivation and will power. I hope not, and I hope for you too you can find your mojo again.

Good luck, we can do it!

CarolineCalcote said...

Food addiction is real and it never goes away. While I don't weigh myself, I do still go back to tracking calories when I know I need to lose a few. I am a party girl, always have been, and I'm never going to change who I am. But I don't want to be the fat party girl ever again, so it is a real balancing act. I don't think I'll ever be one of those "moderation" people. I indulge, then I force myself to get back on track until the next big party or holiday or special occasion. That has worked for me for a few years now, but I know it might not work for everyone or even for me forever. Anyways, don't be so hard on yourself! You are living your life and it's going to go on and on and on. You will stumble, but it's never ruined. You can always get back on track! Think of your long-term goals and how you want to live your life years from now. That's what always gets me back on track. I want to be an active old lady with my grandkids like my Mom is with mine! And remember how awesome you are.

Joy said...

I know you will pull out of this and find your way! You've done an amazing job so far and this is a minor set back. Just keep focused on your health and fitness, do everything you know to do and soon you will be right back on track.

You've got this!!!

Jen said...

Trial and error. I go through it repeatedly, too. We have struggles and we have setbacks. We're lucky though; we can learn from it all. We have choices and we can make changes. Just gotta keep trying. :)