What if I Gain it All Back?

1075733_10100397218966953_471783710_nI haven’t forgotten this blog, and I haven’t really been too busy to write an entry (though, I have been busy). I haven’t written in months because I have felt less than inspirational; actually, I’ve been downright discouraged.

My wedding is in less than 2 months, and I have gained 5 pounds. Some of you will say “5 pounds is nothing!” and others might feel that 5 pounds is significant. I feel both ways, really. On one hand, 5 pounds when you’ve lost 70 seems small. There was a time when I could lose 5 pounds in a week if I just followed Weight Watchers 100%.

On the other hand, 5 pounds takes forever for me to lose these days…even when I do follow Weight Watchers completely.

5 pounds.

That’s how this all began in the first place.

That’s how gaining weight always begins: 1 pound at a time. It creeps up on you; you can ignore it and lie to yourself for only so long before 5 pounds becomes 20…and those 20 start inviting friends.

Last night, I tossed and turned in bed, disappointed in myself for once again failing to stay on track and worrying about the one fear that, I believe, plagues pretty much everyone who has ever lost weight:

What if I gain it all back?

What will people think of me? What will I think of me?

What hope will there be fore me then?

I’ve been on Weight Watchers for 3 years, and I weigh as much today as I did in August 2012. I’ve basically maintained for an entire year now (that in and of itself is an accomplishment, but it’s not satisfying to me right now).

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3 years of commitment is a lot for me.

I lasted 1 month on a no-sugar diet…

1 week on SlimFast…

24 hours on Atkins…

That I’ve managed to at least mostly follow Weight Watchers for 3 whole years is an astounding thing to me. And yet all I can think about right now is…

What if I gain it all back?

Oh sure, I’ve said it here before:

If you’ve ever lost weight and gained it all back PLUS some, you have not failed!

And gosh that’s a whole lot easier to say to YOU than it is to say to myself right now. Especially with an upcoming big event where I must wear a dress that fit me in October 2012.

What if I gain it all back?

Will I be an ugly bride?

Will I gain even more?

Will I ever be able to lose it again?

Will I have to start all over? CAN I start all over?

Will it mean that I failed? That this blog – all the things I’ve written here – that all of the thoughts that I’ve shared with friends and family about this journey – are meaningless?

Who wants to read or hear inspirational weight loss thoughts from someone who has gained it all back??

But, if there’s one thing that I’ve learned over the past 3 years it’s that fear of gaining it all back is the worst motivation.

I didn’t start down this path out of fear, and I know that fear is not going to get me through to the end. Fear inspires quick and temporary results that do more damage than good; losing weight out of fear is not an act of motivation…it is an avoidance tactic.

Fear keeps me from looking inside to find whatever it is that is holding me back. Fear keeps my motivation external when the only thing that could possibly get me through this journey is inside of me.

What if I gain it all back?

If I gain it all back, I will still not be exactly where I was before. There is no returning to before. Something far more permanent than my weight has changed in me: I have changed.

If I gain it all back, I will start all over again …this time with the knowledge that I am fully capable of losing the weight because I have been there.

If I gain it all back, I will be human and fallible and imperfect. And anyone who thinks that that makes my thoughts and feelings unimportant is not worth keeping in my life.

If I gain it all back, I will still be loved. I will still be beautiful. I will still marry the man of my dreams surrounded by my amazing family and friends.

But, I have not gained it all back, and I hope that I never will. So, 5 pounds… it all began and begins with you. I am not afraid of you; I will not be afraid of you. You can take nothing from me; you are a part of me. For now.

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There Will ALWAYS Be An Excuse

Things in my life have been pretty hectic over the last couple of weeks. My fiancé and I closed on our first home and moved in the next day.

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This meant lots of packing, tons of fixing things in our apartment before inspection, and then having to move and handle things in the house. Things did not go as smoothly as I would have liked. We wound up without heat (in near-freezing temperatures) for a couple of days, and half of our appliances broke down within 24 hours!

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In all of this chaos, I found myself eating out quite a bit and downing donuts and pizza without a thought even after the move was over.

“I’m stressed!” I said to myself. “I deserve to be able to eat whatever is convenient and delicious right now.”

“I don’t have time to cook!” or “I can’t cook because we have no gas!” and, my personal favorite, “I don’t want to cook because our dishwasher is broken, and I don’t want to hand-wash the dishes!”

Excuse upon excuse led me to at least 2 weeks of eating whatever was handy without a thought about Weight Watchers PointsPlus or tracking my food.

I have been feeling exceedingly guilty about this eating issue after posting just a couple of weeks ago about how I indulged over the holidays and then “got right back on plan.”

Yeah. I did.

For 3 days.

So, here I am again to apologize to all of you for not confessing sooner. The truth is, after only a few days back on track, I found excuse upon excuse to indulge and remain off track for weeks. And, honestly, none of my excuses are good ones because there is no good excuse for hurting myself this way or for putting my health on the back burner.

After 2 and a half years on Weight Watchers, I know very well that there will always be “excuses” for overeating available to me should I look for them. Whether it’s a holiday, my birthday, a stressful time in my life, or just being grumpy, I can always find a reason to explain away my behavior. But, sticking my head in the sand isn’t going to get me anywhere.

I’m not going to make an excuse for these last few weeks on track. However, I’m also not going to beat myself up over it… because, honestly, I could use “punishing” myself as an excuse to over- or under-eat too! Not going to happen; not this time.

No more excuses. It’s time to get back on track. And, honestly, there’s no trick to it. No words of wisdom I can give here to explain how one stops and gets back on the Weight Watchers or healthy eating bandwagon. I just have to do it.

Making Peace with Hunger

Over the holidays, I indulged. I’m going to put that out there right now.

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I had cake, cookies, truffles, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, candy… I had it all. A little of everything. I didn’t track these things. For about 5 days, I did not track at all. And then, on December 26th, I picked up where I left off and began tracking again.

 

I admit, I am proud of this; I am proud that I was able to let loose and then pick right back up where I left off. But, I am also telling you all of this because I am mentally struggling with myself about getting back on track.

Why?

Because I’m hungry.

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(This is me when I’m hungry. Truth.)

Right now, while I write this, I am hungry. My stomach is twinge-ing and twisting; I feel a rumble coming on. I’m thinking of lunch, which is still over an hour away. I’m thinking of dinner…of dessert…of food. I’m hungry, and hungry isn’t something I do very well.

The first days back on track are always the hardest and hungriest for me. When I first begin any “new diet venture,” I am able to endure this hunger out of the excitement and possibility of losing weight. The motivation for drastic change overrules the hunger. But now, over 2 years into Weight Watchers, that motivation and honeymoon-type excitement is essentially gone. So, I find myself having to look at hunger differently. I’m realizing that not only is my weight loss journey about my relationship with food and myself…it’s also about my relationship with hunger.

When I was a teenager, someone once told me that my stomach growling was the sound of fat being burned. That mindset led me to embrace hunger; it was comforting to me.

I don’t consider that to be a healthy way of looking at hunger.

When I was in college, I ate so much and so frequently that I went about 4 years without ever feeling hunger pains. Then, when I did finally feel hunger again, it was unbearably painful.

I don’t consider that to be a healthy relationship with hunger either.

Now, I see hunger pains as a line of communication between my mind and body.

Hunger pain is a sign that my body is still working. It’s a sign that I haven’t overeaten; it’s also a sign that I need to eat something. Hunger is my body saying “I’m ready for some fuel!”

Hunger can also be an emotion. I can get angry or resentful hunger when I think that I deserve an indulgence that I am not allowing myself right now. I can get sad hunger when I think that I deserve an indulgence to help me feel better about a loss in my life. Because, let’s face it, cake always makes things a little better.

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Hunger can be a mental awareness that “yesterday, I would be eating something at this time.” It can be an awareness of change in quantity, quality, or type of food.

“This orange is not chocolate. I’m hungry for chocolate!”

“This salad may be huge, but I’m still hungry for a burger.”

“This soup may fill me up, but I’m still not too full for candy.”

Hunger can be overwhelming. Sometimes I let it control me; I’ll reach for the easiest food to access the moment I get home from work.

Hunger is uncomfortable. Hunger is a sign of life. Hunger is a call for action. Hunger is a shared experience.

Hunger is so many things to me. In times like this, when I’m getting myself back on plan, I debate with myself about my hunger. All of those thoughts I discussed above…they all bounce around in my head. I think, in the end, it is important to feel hunger and it is important to deal with hunger appropriately. This means not letting myself get overwhelmed by hunger to the point where the hunger is making the decisions.

Whenever I feel hunger now, I ask myself where it is coming from. On days like today, the hunger is genuine. I’m hungry because my stomach is adjusting to less food. This type of hunger is hard to deal with, but basically what I’ve chosen to do is keep my body on a healthy schedule. As long as I am giving my body what it needs each day, it’s ok for me to be hungry sometimes.

My Weight Watchers leader also gave me a great way of analyzing my hunger. She suggested that, when I feel hunger, I ask myself “would I like an apple right now?” If the answer to that question is “yes,” then I am probably feeling genuine hunger. If an apple (or whatever fruit/vegetable you choose) is not appealing, then that hunger is probably emotional.

So, I’m going to give that trick a try as I get myself back on plan.

Yep.

An apple sounds pretty darn appealing right now ;)

Guess it’s time for lunch!

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When Feelings Aren’t Enough

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Sometimes I find myself very frustrated in my weight loss journey because I feel like I’ve invested so much into this journey, but I’m not getting the results I want. For example, I’ve been a paying member of Weight Watchers for over 2 years. I have paid over $1,000 to Weight Watchers, which is, by far, the most money I’ve ever paid to any weight loss program EVER.

 

Uhm, excuse me, Weight Watchers… but isn’t it about time that I met my goal weight? You claim to work. I mean, your tagline is “because it works.” So, why aren’t you working?! I’m certainly paying you enough to work!

 

Before you answer that question, let me tell you another story.


When I was around 8 years old, my Sunday school studied the verse in Matthew 17 of the bible that says “if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Don’t run away, I’m not about to get all preachy on you.)

 

That night around bedtime, I sneaked into my bathroom with a pen, closed and locked the door, and sat down full of determination. I placed the pen on the bathroom counter, closed my eyes, and concentrated very hard. “God,” I said, “I believe in you, and I have faith. I have so much faith!” (trust me, I could feel the faith. It was enormous. At LEAST walnut-sized). I opened my eyes and said with such authority “Pen… MOVE!”

 

The pen did not move.

 

Shocker, right?

 

I tried again. I concentrated harder, and I told God how much faith I had, and I felt this watermelon-sized faith in God, and I commanded the pen to move again! And, of course, it didn’t move.

 

This was a frustrating night for me, and I ended the night believing that I didn’t have enough faith to move the pen. Not even a mustard seed portion of faith. Eventually, I gave up, picked up the pen, and went to bed.

 

Sometimes I think that I view my weight loss journey the same way that I viewed moving that pen back when I was 8 years old: thinking faith alone will move the scale just because I feel so motivated. Here I am, investing money, time, and faith in a program, and then not understanding when that investment doesn’t lead to the scale moving DOWNward.

 

This is a pattern I’ve followed time and time again: I get super emotionally pumped and motivated, I commit excitedly to a new weight loss program, and then I run out of faith in the program, get frustrated, and quit. Sound familiar?

 

The truth of the matter is that faith is not all that is required to move mountains, including the mountain of weight I’m trying to lose. No amount of money, motivation, or emotion is going to move the scale down. Only action, following the plan’s rules, and applying it to my life 100% will make this weight move.

 

Likewise, lack of motivation does not mean that I have to stop losing weight. I can feel super awesome about my weight loss journey or I can feel completely crummy, irritated, and like giving up… it’s whether or not I choose to follow the rules of the plan that determine whether or not the journey continues downward.

 

So, I guess it’s time to remind myself that I’m a grownup now and can’t expect things to move when I tell them to move. Here’s to committing to follow the plan even when I don’t want to… even when I have no motivation. If I can do that, I know that I will eventually reach my goal.

The Tradition of Food

It’s that time of year: time for candy and pies…time for cookies, cakes, turkey, and stuffing. It’s time for love, warmth, family, and memories. It’s time for sweet smells, crisp air, warm drinks, and pumpkin everything. It’s time for tradition. And, for me, that tradition includes a lot of food.

(Who DOESN’T put a whole stick of butter in their corn??)

This time of year is always bitter-sweet for me now that I’ve left childhood behind. Many of the traditions from my childhood have passed for good, and new traditions just don’t have those beautiful memories attached to them yet. But one thing never really changes about this time of year, and that is the food.

(My Christmas cookies from 2011)

No matter how old I get, there will still be turkey on Thanksgiving and cookies on Christmas (God-willing… because I know that, for many, food is a luxury). It’s very easy for me to start trying to fill up the bit of emptiness I feel because of ended traditions with food that will always be around.

This year, I want to start a new tradition. I want to start a tradition where I focus on people and non-food experiences for the holidays. I want to fill up the bitter-sweet spaces with love, and not with food. I want food to just be food and not something that I cling to because it will never change or leave me.

This year, I’ll focus on random acts of kindness, sharing memories, and visiting family. I’ll sing carols (which also never change), give gifts, and make sure to tell people that I love them. I’ll dance in the first snow, play like a kid again, and try to find magic that still exists even as an adult.

I want these things to be my new traditions. I want to remember that genuine love also never leaves; in fact, it lasts a lot longer than any food.

Weight Has Nothing To Do With It

Weight has nothing to do with most things in life; so, it’s kind of strange that my weight was once always at the forefront of my mind.

Gotta move through a crowd? Oh no…I’m too fat to fit.

Awesometastic picture of me in the middle of a crowd running my first 5k:

The Color Run!

Gotta fit into one of those desk-attached-to-chair setups in college? Crap…what if I don’t fit?

Want to ride on a ride at that theme park? Oh man…the attendant has to buckle me in? He’s going to see I’m fat! What if he can’t close it?

Why yes I AM on the kiddie swings with my fiance! I’ll never grow up!

Want to order dessert at a restaurant? Everyone is probably thinking how I’d be thinner if I didn’t eat this stuff!

I didn’t realize until only a few months ago that my weight had nothing to do with it.

With what? you might ask…

With everything…

With my value as a person

With my fears

With my being good enough

With whether or not it was acceptable for me to do things

With whether or not I can succeed

(Crossing the finish line at my first 5k: the Color Run!)

But, strangest of all…

Weight has almost nothing to do with my weight loss journey.

In fact, the only part that my weight has played in my weight loss journey has been the part of something measurable that has changed as more important and permanent changes were being made. It’s almost like the height of a child; it changes as the child (hopefully) matures and grows. My weight changes as my mentality, relationship with food, and lifestyle change.

Now, it hasn’t always been this way. In fact, for most of my life, my weight has been the focus. Certainly, it has been the focus of every weight loss attempt I’ve tried before. I don’t know when I realized that this journey was different, but I do distinctly remember the first time that I tried to really remember exactly how I felt and saw things before joining Weight Watchers, and I couldn’t do it. My mentality has actually changed so dramatically that I can’t remember how I used to feel or think.

That was when I knew that I would never go back to how I was before. And I truly believe that if my mind really can’t go that far backwards, my weight won’t go back that far either. Because the change has gone deeper than my weight, and those aspects of myself that have changed are the things that caused me to gain weight in the first place.

 

God’s Sense of Humor

In case you hadn’t heard…

I’m engaged! :)

Actually, I’ve been engaged since August 12th, but I’ve had a hard time deciding how I was going to blog about it. Obviously, there’s the proposal story (which I will share); but, there’s so much more that I want to say, and I don’t know where to start. I’m also NERVOUS about saying some of this stuff because, well, this is the internet…and both my family and my future family could be reading this. But, I’ve decided that that’s ok. They’re welcome to read.

I guess I’ll begin by saying…marriage has always been a terrifying thing for me to consider. On one hand, I spent a large part of my life believing that I would never be good enough for someone to want to marry me. On the other hand, I worried that I would never find someone who I wanted to spend the rest of my life with…someone I could actually trust that way.

Having witnessed what happens when you “choose wrong” in marriage, I have always been terrified of making that mistake. Relationships are always a risk, and I’m not one to risk making a mistake. Ever. But, relationships don’t come with guarantees. You can’t run your significant other through a “compatibility check” system to find out if he or she is, indeed, the “right one” for you…and if your relationship will last through the ups and downs of life.

That has always scared me, because as I said earlier — I don’t like making mistakes. I especially don’t like making the same mistakes that others have made before me. So, relationships have always been difficult for me.

Being a Christian, I was taught and to this day believe that God has a plan for my life – including the man I’d eventually spend it with. Many of “the adults” in my life have told me (repeatedly) that when I met that man, I’d “just KNOW.”

Uhm, hello… what the heck does that even MEAN?! Just know what? And how? Will there be some sort of neon sign pointing to the man telling me “THIS ONE! Pick THIS ONE!” Will I “just know” that it’s time for marriage? Will all of my fears, self-doubt, and second guessing “just” go away? Will an a-la-Dickens ghost of marriage future visit me in my dreams to tell me “you will meet the man you’re meant to marry at the stroke of midnight?”

And even better is being told that “it’ll happen when you least expect it” or “it’ll happen when you stop looking.”

“Well then,” I thought, “I guess it’ll never happen, because I never stop looking!”

And when I met Kevin, by the way, I WAS looking. I met him on eHarmony. I mean, I was there for the sole purpose of looking.

But, admittedly, I wasn’t expecting it.

There I was, looking through my matches when I find a listing for a guy from my teeny tiny hometown in rural Maryland. I was beyond excited for some reason…even though I no longer live in said hometown and any relationship I might find out there would mean quite a bit of distance. I mean, I had some really good matches just minutes away…and I expected that I’d probably date one of those guys for a bit.

But, anyway, I messaged Kevin. And it turned out that not only did he live in my hometown, but he’d gone to my same middle school, high school, AND college as well as been involved in ALL of the same programs as me (choir, theatre, etc.)…and we even knew some of the same people. But his being 4 years older than me, we’d never met until now. (And just in case I didn’t notice the similarities the first time…we now work for the same company!)

We talked for hours; and, as crazy as this might sound to some of you…I JUST KNEW.

I remember hanging up the phone one night, looking up towards heaven, and being like “Seriously, God? Did you need to make it THIS obvious?”

I’m pretty sure that he did. Because God knows me pretty well…and He knows that when it comes to relationships…I needed an obvious, in-my-face answer to all of my fears.

I truly believe that not only did God play a big part in sculpting both Kevin’s and my lives so that we wound up fitting so well together in the end…but, He ensured that we did not meet one another until vital and difficult lessons in BOTH of our lives had been learned. I believe that with ALL of my heart.

Our relationship has certainly not been flawless. But, with each and every real-life challenge we’ve faced, I’ve “known” more and more. Kevin makes me want to be a better person because he is such an amazing person. He’s one of the few who truly puts others before himself; he’s one of the even fewer who I can truly and fully trust with everything. I’ve never for even a moment questioned whether or not I could trust him.

So, now I’ll tell you the fun, mushy story of how he proposed :)

I knew it was coming (we’d picked out a ring together), and I knew (and he knew) that I was DYING for it to happen during my recent vacation with my extended family to the beach.

On this particular day, I was kind of grumpy… I admit it; I can be really grumpy sometimes lol. Kevin had brought his guitar to the beach, and he’d been playing it on and off all morning. I was honestly starting to get irritated at all the guitar playing. (bad me!)

We’d just come up from swimming in the ocean, and Kevin asked if I wanted to go have a picnic lunch on the beach. I told him that I wasn’t hungry. He asked if I’d go sit with him on the beach while he ate; but, I told him I didn’t want to get all sandy again. We’d just rinsed off. For some reason, I didn’t even think twice about this. Despite the fact that I knew a proposal was coming, it didn’t occur to me at all that he might want to propose at a picnic on the beach.

So, Kevin ate his lunch out on the deck overlooking the beach with me. And then he goes back inside and he and my cousin come back out; Kevin is carrying his guitar. And then…then comes the part where I embarrass myself eternally.

The scene played out like this:

Me: You’re playing your guitar again? Seriously? I’m going inside.

Kevin: No…you need to stay here and listen to this new song that I learned.

(I sit down, and Kevin begins to play a tune that I IMMEDIATELY recognize as Train’s “Marry Me.” I suddenly realize what is going on. And I suddenly completely freak out because my family isn’t there, nobody is there to videotape (my one request!), and and…and…OMG is he seriously proposing?)

Me: No! This isn’t happening! (I get up and run over to my cousin.)

My cousin: What’cha doooin? (I suddenly realize that she knows what’s happening…and that she’s there to videotape)

I probably said some more stuff in there…babbled a bit? Who knows. I was shaking like crazy. All I know is that my cousin told me that my family was inside watching…and then, finally, I relaxed (some). Because it was SO important to me that my family be there, and now I knew that they were.

I went back, sat down, and Kevin both played and sang Train’s “Marry Me” before getting down on one knee and asking me to marry him in front of my whole family (he’s so brave lol). I cried. A lot.

Of course I said yes, and now he has this hilarious, MORTIFYING story to hold over my head for the rest of our lives :P

So, that’s the big change in my life recently; it’s brought with it a lot of thinking and reflection. I can hardly believe that this time in my life is here. After years of worrying that it would never come, I now realize that I never needed to doubt myself like that. This growing up business has been a very up-and-down journey so far. I have to wonder if it might have been easier had I just learned earlier to trust in God and those around me to help me through it one step at a time. But had it been easier…I may never have learned the lessons that made me really, truly ready for this step in life.

And now I get to continue learning with someone very special by my side :)

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This is the song “Marry Me,” by Train that Kevin proposed with: