December 17, 2011


Well, that's a wrap, folks. I submitted my course grades last night, so my first semester at my new job in California is officially completed. How good it feels to exhale! It's been an intense four months, without a doubt. It certainly feels like it's been much longer. There have been some great moments, though I've also felt my share of lows ... and not just as far as weight loss has gone.

My lowest official Chicago weight was 192, though I noted 191 in my food journal a couple days later (the day before I left for California); since then, my weight has generally been 196-198. Sometimes it goes up a bit, sometimes it drops down. But it always evens itself out. Essentially, I've been maintaining, and if I had to say my biggest regret about weight loss since moving, it's been that I didn't give myself permission to do so from the beginning.

I wanted to believe that I could seamlessly transition from the Midwest to the West Coast, that despite my entire world changing and being turned upside down, I could keep up my healthy habits and stay motivated to do right by my body. But I know myself better than that, and in denying myself a few months of treading water, I set myself up for feeling like a failure. The pressure to lose weight, on top of all the other pressures I've been feeling, has had me ready to burst for months. In permitting myself to maintain, I still would have ended the semester at my current weight, but I wouldn't feel so broken.

I went for months and months without a binge, but with all the changes suddenly thrust upon me these past few months, it's been all too easy to slip back into the sick comfort of compulsive eating. I'm not proud of it, though I'm taking it as a small victory that my regain has been limited to this 5-7 pound range. There's no doubt in my mind that I could have regained at least 50 pounds since moving - again, because I know myself very well, and I remember all too vividly my past hurts and how I self-medicate with food.

My main goal for 2011 was
"ending negative self-talk ... no excuses. The changing exterior is great, but the physical weight loss won't matter if I still hate the girl inside."
And while I made some great strides, I'm not sure I can say I've accomplished this just yet. One of my worst habits while binge eating is letting the voice in the back of my head step up to its little invisible microphone and berate me while I continue to eat.
Look at you! You're stupid. You're a failure. Your mother was right, you're obsessive and you can't succeed at this long-term. What is wrong with you? Don't you want it bad enough?
And there, essentially, is the basis for my plateau. Right now, I don't want it bad enough. I don't really want it at all. I'm so overwhelmed with changes, I need even just one thing to be constant.

When I started losing weight, I was in Chicago, and everything came together perfectly. I was starting my first full-time job, but it was a job I had already done, with faculty/a staff I had already worked with. It was a new phase in my professional life, but the transition was a smooth one. I had local, offline support. I had the means to transport myself - walking to the grocery store, taking the bus to the gym, riding the train to my races. I set up new routines that were easy to stick to because I felt in control in other areas of my life. Right now, that isn't the case.

It's a weak excuse - you can't wait forever for the "perfect" moment, for an ideal situation where everything is in your favor, because that moment might never come. So my goal for 2012 (besides continuing on my quest to quiet my negative self thoughts) is to redefine *my* perfection. With one semester under my belt, I am looking forward to no longer being new here, to having my familiarity with the job and the town be a constant I can depend on. Conditions might not be flawless or ideal, but I need to do my best with what I have. I'm reminded of one of my favorite blog posts by Ellen:
... we aren't seeing the overall importance of who we are right now, because we are too focused on the small details. We sometimes lose ourselves when we forget the big picture: how far we've come; how much we've changed; what we've learned ... The past isn't as important as the present; I don't care how many times we feel like we screwed up. If it takes 5 times, 20 times or 50 times to let go of these de-motivators, at least we're here, trying.
Because when it comes down to it, I really do want it bad enough. I want to live a healthy, happy, satisfied life. And that satisfaction isn't found in a binge. I felt it when I properly nourished and hydrated my body, when I worked out because I loved to and not to punish myself for overeating, when I felt happy with my life in spite of imperfections because every decision I made was one that supported my long-term goals.


Anonymous said...

You, my dear... are AMAZING. This is such a well written and heart felt post. You dug deep for this one girlie, and you deserve the insight you gained. You deserve the happiness and health that has blossomed for you in 2011... and all of the wonderful things to come your way in 2012. You have inspired so many people, including me! No negative self talk - oh girl, you have no idea how powerful that rule is. Good for you. The sky is the limit, keep going and never give up. You're.Worth.It.

Lorrie Haley said...

Your post really describes how I feel right now. I wish I could feel that same sense of motivation and drive that I did about 1 year ago. It's true that we need some positive self talk to get us on the right track again...but that's easier said than done sometimes.

Polar's Mom said...

You know I get it when people slip up, because for me losing weight has to come when a perfect storm of planets align. It takes me putting them into alignment, but at the same time, all it takes is one to slip out of joint and my whole mission can be derailed. But that is me...losing weight during such change is undeniably difficult, but not gaining back 10 times what you did is commendable.

Tim said...

Great post, Mary. I also love that paragraph from Ellen's post!

You've had one hell of a year and I think you've done fantastic.

Merry Christmas :)