Tuesday, November 21, 2023

My Weight-Loss Journey (Otherwise Entitled: How I Haven't Lost a Single Pound)

Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! I lay awake, berating myself for eating half a Pepperidge Farm coconut cake. You know, those frozen cakes that serve 8? I hadn't even taken the time to defrost it, and it's a good bet I would've eaten the entire partially-frozen cake in one sitting had my daughter not come home when she did. 

My stomach hurt, I felt like throwing up, and I had heartburn, but greater than all the physical discomfort was the crushing disappointment in myself. Yet despite the utter disgust with myself, there was a little part of my brain that was thinking, I can't wait until I get home from work tomorrow so I can eat the rest of it.

What the hell is wrong with you? the voice in my head spit out. Seriously! You ate so well all day and then completely blew it with half a cake! You've wasted your life being fat. Your whole life! Being fat has held you back from so many things. An extraordinary number of things! You won't date. You won't buy cute clothes. You won't let anyone take a full-length picture of you. You don't want to put on a bathing suit when you go to the beach. You won't do anything that'll draw attention to you. And what do you do about it? Nothing! You do nothing.

Every morning I awake with a clean slate, thinking, Today I will control myself. I'll make good decisions about food. All day. 

And every night I go to bed, a big fat failure.

Although I'll start the day with a healthy mindset: a scrambled egg with mushrooms and spinach for breakfast, some blueberries for a snack, a kale salad with rotisserie chicken, walnuts, feta, apples and balsamic vinaigrette, I'll end the day with 14 cookies, 4 slices of pizza, cheese and crackers, a bag of Hershey's kisses, half a bag of chips, and 2 stale donuts. Then I go to bed feeling sick. Sick to my stomach. Sick of my bingeing behavior. Sick of being fat. Sick of failing.

I get to a point where I try in earnest to get it together, to make healthy choices, to drop excess pounds. And it works. For a while. Maybe a day or two, maybe a week or two, or even a month or two. And then I revert to old habits in the snap of a finger. One doughnut, cookie, muffin, pastry, just one, flips a switch in my brain that starts a frenzy that ends all my hard work. I'm certain I'd be bulimic if didn't so completely detest vomiting.

I know, as people read this, I'll have well-meaning (and probably some self-serving) folks tell me about the program, plan, exercise, diet food, magical miracle whatever that changed their lives. I believe that __insert name of magical diet miracle__ worked for them and I'm truly happy for their success. I feel like pretty much any program can work for a person if they have the right mindset, and I believe that's the key - having the right mindset. I'm quite certain my mind is broken because how else do you explain how an otherwise intelligent person with a fair amount of common sense could spend FORTY years struggling with her weight? How? It's not that I don't know what to do. Eat less, move more. It's not rocket science. Yet, here I am, after literally 40 years of hating the way I look, still fat.

And now it's not just that I'm fat, or rather - obese (I love that word as much as I love the words applicable, moist, panties, and when people who don't know what literally means, use the word literallybut thanks to the magic of menopause, my health is being affected by my weight as well. I've always had excellent cholesterol and low blood pressure, but now those numbers are starting to creep up. And although I've been overweight, I could climb stairs, walk for miles, do whatever. But now I pull have to pull myself up a flight of stairs by the handrail, and when I get to the top, I look like Fred Sanford, grabbing my chest and announcing, "It's the BIG ONE!" My joints are so painful, I can't make it from the parking lot to my office without limping. I take Tylenol like Tic Tacs to deal with the pain. I have no cartilage behind my knee caps so it sounds like corn flakes being crushed under a rolling pin when I bend my knees, as the bones rub against each other. The number one way I could combat this never-ending pain? Lose weight. Simple.

I vacillate between two mindsets: Love yourself as you are, give yourself a break, stop stressing about food or the way you look.

And: What the hell is wrong with you? Show some damn control! If you don't like the way you look, it's real simple - change!

I've lost and gained the same 10 pounds a good 300 times in my life. I'm embarrassed to admit all the things I've tried and failed. But I know I can't be alone and there are others out that who can relate to the never-ending struggle. I've tried sound and sensible programs like Weight Watchers, walking, step aerobics, Omada. I've tried more alternative solutions like hypnosis, Healthy Wage, and Sensa. And I've tried the positively absurd like drinking lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup for every meal because Kelly Kapoor did that on The Office. Or this gem from The Devil Wears Prada - I'm on this new diet. Well, I don't eat anything and when I feel like I'm about to faint I eat a cube of cheese. I have literally (and I actually mean literally) tried those. 

And I've tried everything in between - Richard Simmons Deal a Meal, Tae bo, prescription medication that curbed my appetite but made me feel like I was having a heart attack, keto, otc meds, bee pollen, Thrive, cabbage soup, Slimfast, weight loss doctor, Healthy Wage, Biggest Loser contests at work, Atkins, vegan, stationary bike, low-fat, swimming, fiber pills, Jenny Craig, My Fitness Pal, Freedom Formula, Bikram yoga, Overeaters Anonymous, Zumba, Women's Workout World, to name a few.

And here I still am. Letting my weight hold me back from living, yet not altering my habits to affect change.


Friend32 said...

I have not tried all those things, or even most of those things, I have tried a few... I have tried TOPS, I have tried the EPIC LIFE program... all should have worked. If I'm not willing to put in the effort they won't work. Ever. I'm not saying you don't want to put in the effort, but like you I'm generally good up until evening... I start the day well, I don't end the day well. I want you to succeed, and I want me to succeed... if you need a partner who understands the struggle... and if you're willing for the honest truth and won't have hurt feelings if you're told to suck it up buttercup... I'm your girl. I can take it when you dish it back. You're awesome.

Tiffany W said...

I can't believe how well you articulate how I feel!! It is almost my exact story. I don't binge or eat at night though but yet the weight never comes off. Ahhhhhh. Yet my husband can breath different and drop 40 lbs. So frustrating.

Mary said...

I could have written this, only I'm older than you so have been doing it longer. I finally found someone who addresses the mental aspect as well as the dietary changes we need to make. I have been limiting my carbs for over a year and feel so much better. Arthritis hardly hurts at all anymore. For a free resource on losing weight after menopause and the mental aspect, check out pahla b fitness on you tube.

Anonymous said...

I could have written this. At this time of year, I give up. Here comes Thanksgiving, then Christmas, and New Years. Then Bar-B-Q season is just around the corner and I'm not going to turn down a burger.

Nan said...

I am *literally* having the same battle with myself and I know it’s all mental. I know what to do, I just can’t get myself to do it. I punish myself by paying for the gym membership that I have never used. Blaming it on others (my kids) because they won’t go with me and making myself squeeze into my uncomfortably tight clothes because I refuse to buy that next size. I’m so terribly jealous of those that were born with a metabolism and don’t have to think about every little thing they eat. It’s so unfair. Why wasn’t I born skinny like them?

Anonymous said...

Seriously consider talking to your dr about Wegovy or ozempic. It does work and it helps change your mindset a little because you aren’t as hungry and get rid of some cravings or you give in but are full and don’t eat as much.

Belinda Hamilton said...

Get ya hormones under control Dawn. Lack of oestrogen is terrible for the body, brain and mental health. Stuff the diets, forget about eat less move more… if your hormones are bottoming out there is literally nothing you can do along those lines to ‘fix’ it. Check out Dr Marie Claire on Insta. She speaks sense.
I love you so much I can’t stand the thought of you think you’re not enough.
Your weight has nothing about morality.

Korinthia said...

I relate to everything you wrote. I feel all of this.

I just don't look in the mirror if I don't have to. I'm lovable at this weight, even if I can't feel it for myself sometimes.

Anonymous said...

I was coming to suggest the same thing. I had some of your issues. Tried a ton of diets. But as I got older, the weight kept creeping up. No matter what I ate. Or how little. I wasn’t an overheated…but it kept creeping up. 10 years ago, I was finally tired about getting tired walking up the stairs. I’d have to lay down to rest every time. WTF. So I had weight loss surgery. Which worked for @ 5 years. Then the weight started creeping back up. So back to the weight loss doctor…they put me on Saxenda…and it worked. Helped kill my appetite and curb my sweets cravings. And after 3 years, it stopped working as well. So they put me on the new drug, Wegovy, 2 years ago. It’s a game changer. It treally curbs my appetite and seriously curbs my sweet cravings. I’m not saying this is a cure all…but I’ve lost 100 pounds now over the last 10 years and have kept it off for the last 2. It hasn’t cured my high blood pressure or high cholesterol but I can only imagine how much worse that would all be without having lost the weight. Good luck. This is a life long fight. You just have to find the right tools for you to fight this fight. Hugs.

Anonymous said...

I feel this completely. You are just braver about saying it.

Anonymous said...

I could have written this entry. As I type this comment, I am listening to my stomach gurgle after I binged earlier today. I wish I knew what I could do to stop this, but it seems impossible.

Vanessence7 said...

I feel you, sweetheart!

I've read that exercise comprises only up to about 20% of weight loss - the other 80% is diet-related, so eat less move more doesn't really work like we've been told it does. And every time you eat, especially anything with carbs (ANY carbs), it triggers an insulin response, which is the hormone that is largely responsible for weight gain. If you can do wet fasts, especially 48 hours or more, you might be able to break your sugar/carb addiction. I believe in you! You're a stubborn woman and I've seen you accomplish a hell of a lot!

If it helps, I'll be in it with you. xoxox

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