I weighed myself this morning. 45 pounds down since January. I’m happy with the results but I’m still pretty miserable because I just want pizza.
I know you’re thinking I should just get a pizza and satisfy those cravings. Well, it’s just not that easy. I’m not new to this whole weight loss game. This will be my third time losing a major amount of weight. I know what works and what doesn’t. And what doesn’t work for me is having cheat days. This is for two reasons: I am a binge eater and one pizza will lead to me cleaning out the nearest Dominos. Also, I am so paranoid about undoing all my progress that I feel I will gain back all 45 pounds from that one pizza. Yes, I know that’s completely illogical. I am aware. But that doesn’t stop me from thinking it.
So, I just don’t eat the pizza and the cravings come and go. The problem is they keep coming back.
And really, I don’t think I’d be happy with just one pizza. I’d want a pizza every week. Because food makes me happy. Or at least it numbs me enough to at least not be as depressed.
And that’s just the truth of the matter. Nothing in my life brings me joy. I have bottomed out happiness wise. Every day is painful. Every day is another reluctant choice to get up and go to work and exist when really I would rather just sleep all day and only wake up to have some ice cream or a chicken sandwich.
I look back on food with fond memories, like it’s a long lost lover. On the occasions when I got a weekend off from work, I made plans to end my Friday shift and start the weekend with a pizza or Japanese takeout and I was so excited to end the work week with some good food. I also got excited when Mom brought back fast food home when she got off work or when she wouldn’t feel like cooking and she’d say, “Hey, why don’t we order something?”
And now the weekend comes and there’s no pizza or Japanese takeout and I feel like something is missing in my life, as absurd as that sounds. The weekend isn’t as fun anymore.
I wish I could be that jazzed about juicing but the reality of the situation is I equate comfort with butter and sugar, grease and breading. Lard equals love. And there’s no way around it and there’s no changing the past. It’s ingrained in me. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to rewire my head or if I’m too far gone to properly function without fried chicken, which I also miss. I haven’t had it all year. And I live in the South. It’s been tough.
And it will never get easier. I’ll get lighter but the desire for bread dough will always weigh me down.
I came down with a sore throat about two weeks ago. It was the worst sore throat I’ve had since I can remember. It was hard to swallow, which made eating nearly impossible. Not only did I not want to eat because of the pain, I also had no appetite so not eating didn’t bother me.
But now that I’m feeling better, eating isn’t painful, and my appetite is coming back. But I don’t want it to.
I lost about 6 pounds in 2 weeks. It might not seem like a lot but I’ve been dieting and exercising since January and I usually only lose about 4 pounds every 2 weeks. But I lost those 6 pounds by not eating or exercising. I just slept in bed the whole time. Easiest 6 pounds I ever lost. And while I understand it was probably mostly water weight and muscle, when I finally went back to work and got dressed and could go down another notch on my belt, it felt satisfying.
It was nice not to worry about food for a change, not to have to count calories or wonder how long I’d have to exercise to burn off what I’d just eaten. It was all about my warm sheets, no sleep, and spitting up saliva all night. It was a pleasant trade-off.
The sickness helped me break through the 30lb mark. I’m now down 33lbs since January. While I’m happy with my progress, I wish I had a bit more of a healthier attitude about it all.
That’s not to say I’ve been unhealthy. In fact, this latest bout of weight loss has been, in my opinion, one of the healthiest ways I’ve done it. I have a set number of calories I can have each day and I stick with it. I work out 4-5 days a week, usually a low impact exercise that lasts 30-45 minutes. I still have sweets occasionally. I’ve even had a bit of fast food here and there, as long as it fits into my allotted calories. I don’t feel deprived. I don’t feel I’ve pushed my body to the extreme as far as physical exercise. I’m taking things slow and steady. I’m trying to be sensible and not restrict myself to the point of madness. And so far I think I’ve done a good job.
But this sickness has reminded me that I still desire quick fixes, that I’m not entirely resistant to a weight loss shortcut, no matter how unsustainable. I wanted to keep my restricted diet. I wanted to see how far I could go on a can of chicken noodle soup and a bowl of mashed potatoes, which had basically been my diet over the past 2 weeks. But it was just a thought. I didn’t go through with it, partly because I am tired of chicken noodle soup and partly because I know it’s not healthy. I knew I needed the strength to help me fight this sickness and 500 calories a day wouldn’t help with that. But the thoughts were still there.
On the other end of the spectrum, being sick also reminded me I’m not above overindulging at times. Because I hadn’t eaten very much for several days, when my throat starting feeling better, I overindulged in a few foods. I reasoned that I had a few extra calories I could consume due to my lack of eating in the days prior. And really, it makes sense. I’ve been trying to create balance in my diet. If I eat too much one day, I try to scale it back the next. I even try to do that from meal to meal. Big breakfast? Small dinner. And vice versa. But as much as I enjoyed those extra helpings, I felt guilty.
Despite over 2 months of developing solid eating habits and consistently exercising, it only took 2 weeks to get out of that routine and I’m already dreading getting back into it. I’m still not feeling that great so working out is not on my to-do list right now. But I’m trying to stick to my calories, so at least I have that going for me.
I just feel bad that I have to put so much thought into these types of things. Sneaking in an extra slice of pizza or feeling I can allow myself another cup of ice cream always leads to disaster. Anytime I loosen the reigns, I end up losing control. It takes such an incredible amount of concentration to stay on track and a lot of the time it’s exhausting. And so when I stop exercising or don’t think about calorie counting, it feels good, freeing. But each and every time that happens, I gain all the weight back. So while it sucks, it’s necessary to keep up with what I’m eating and how many times I exercise. The sickness was a break of sorts, but now I’m ready to get back into my old routine. The hard part is gonna be actually doing it.
When I was in my early 20’s, I had just become accustomed to my new body and my new, healthy lifestyle. I was around 50 pounds thinner, active, with a positive outlook on my future.
I remember walking past the candy aisle in the grocery store and telling myself, with confidence, “I have no desire to eat any of this. And I can’t imagine I ever will.”
I often think back to that moment. What happened to change my mind and my resolve?
Well, a lot of things.
A few years later, I gained all the weight back. And then I lost it all again. And then I gained it all back again.
When I think back to that moment in the grocery store, there is a numbness, an inability to face the fact that I damaged my body and my spirit over and over again. Nearly 10 years later and I’m still struggling with the same issues. And the same side effects that are so embarrassingly visible.
For a few fleeting moments, I wonder what it would have been like to have simply kept the weight off. Instead of being miserable and uncomfortable in clothes and out of them, I could be fine with my body today. I could have finally stopped fixating on what was going to fit and how many calories were going to be in my next meal. Without the distractions, I could have focused on my art and put my mind to better use. But the sugar has deteriorated my mind. The depression and the endless stacks of pizzas have deteriorated my metabolism and my ability to care about my decline.
After that day in the candy aisle, I wasted the rest of my twenties by falling into an endless cycle of weight loss and weight gain, of depression and determination. Of failure slapping me in the face over and over again. Of feeling helpless and confident and hopeless and salvageable. Of dying. Of living. Of being in between.
I am not a happy person. I never have been. My everyday existence is filled with anxiety and fear. But I do not deal. I ignore what scares and angers me until it is no longer at the forefront of my frustrations. They never go away fully but they are gently prodded to the recesses of my mind while other trivial trials take over. And I ignore by eating. Instead of tackling my fears, I feed them.
My kitchen is in ruins.
My mother decided she wanted to redo our entire kitchen so last week, she had a business come and take out the cabinets, counters, sink, and dishwasher. We still have our fridge and stove but that’s it. Never one to be without coffee, Mom set up the coffee maker and microwave in the dining room. Every time I go for a cup, I feel like I’m in a hotel room. And I feel like I’m camping when plating my food on foam plates and eating with plastic utensils.
Mom estimated it will be like this for another week or so since the company is still building the replacement cabinets and need to put down new floor covering. Mom’s also started painting the kitchen so it smells like plastic and fumes.
All the cutlery and other dishes are stacked in the living room, which makes it hard to move around in there. Things are piled on the dining room table and in the corners. It makes the room a little bit smaller. It feels like my world is closing in.
We’ve been eating out a lot. It’s just easier. The problem is I was going to start dieting around this time. I told myself I would get back on track once I went back to the retail job and stayed there for about a month to get back into the swing of things.
I gained a lot of weight, all the weight I lost in 2012 specifically, while I was at the finance job. I was stressed and food soothes me. But I knew once I went up two pant sizes I needed to get myself under control.
But I don’t even want to.
I enjoy greasy fast food. I know it’s horrible for me and the calorie count is absurd but I don’t care. I’m still stressed because the retail job is slowly tanking. Our hours continue to get cut more each week and we are in the midst of a serious shoplifting problem. With the hours being scaled back, we are understaffed. There are entire departments that are not covered, which allows shoplifters to literally go in, take what they want, and leave completely undetected.
I honestly felt okay about the job when I went back. It was never my intention to stay there forever but I was okay with not trying to find a new job right away. I thought I’d work there while I focused on publishing my book and then once that was done, I could focus on a job search. But at this point, I should probably be looking now. I just hate looking. It’s so discouraging to go through all the classifieds and online job postings and not find anything interesting or attainable.
I feel like a smoker who knows the habit is bad but enjoys smoking and doesn’t want to quit. Every time I bite into a double cheeseburger, I know it’s going to make it harder to button up my pants but I’m all about that instant gratification and future consequences be damned.
I’m stressed about work and I’m stressed about my book and I’m stressed about not fitting into my clothes anymore and I don’t have the money to buy new ones and I’ve also been struggling with other stuff like being lonely and disconnected from society. It’s a lot to try to deal with so I eat to help me not deal with it.
I hope to one day get myself together again. I just don’t know what that will take. I’ve been on this journey so many times before and it’s both exhausting and exuberant. But each time, there’s a little less joy and a little bit more concern, wondering when I’ll slip again. Because I always do. Even when I bounce back, I always do.
I always feel I do better when I’m making goals and working toward them. When I wake up with no direction, I usually get nothing accomplished and feel terrible at the end of the day. It’s difficult to make goals sometimes because I am an all-or-nothing type of person. Moderation is a hard concept for me to grasp because if I’m going to do something, especially something I don’t want to do, I want to see fast results. Otherwise, it’s easy to give up.
There are some days when I feel I have to starve myself, work out until I’m dizzy, write ten chapters and read an entire book in a day for me to feel like I actually did something productive. And that’s not healthy because trying to meet such high standards on a daily basis only sets myself up to crash and burn. And I always do. And that makes it harder to get back on track.
But there are other days when it’s like a switch has been flipped and I can understand and utilize the idea of doing and eating and experiencing things in small portions. I can have a slice of cake and not feel guilty. I can do moderate exercise for half an hour and feel like I burned some fat. I can write a chapter in the book I’m writing or read a chapter in a book I’m reading and I feel like I accomplished something. It’s during those times that I do my best and feel my best.
For a time last year, I woke up and made daily goals, usually involving exercising, reading and writing. I’d write during my lunch break at work, exercise when I got off work, then read before bed. Sometimes I wrote a lot and read a little or exercised a little and read a whole lot and didn’t write very much and there were days when I didn’t get around to doing one thing on my list because I got too busy or felt lethargic. That was okay because the majority of the time I accomplished most, if not all, the things I planned to do. When I had a goal to strive for, I had direction. When I had direction, I actually got stuff done. And that felt good.
This is the time to get back into that mode, to make goals and strive toward completing them, to get stuff done. If I fall short on a few things, that’s okay because I can always make it up the next day. It’s a tired expression but every day really is an opportunity to do better. I just have to remember that and not beat myself up if I can’t get it all done in one day.
It’s a one-step program, taking things one day at a time, one goal at a time, one accomplishment at a time. It’s all about patience and persistence. It’s about always reminding yourself of the good your doing, how the small things add up to big changes. And that takes a lot of energy and when you don’t have much to begin with, it can feel overwhelming. But it’s worth it. I just have to keep that in mind.
I’ve done all this before. Not once but twice. And I can do it again.