My Own Inner-Demon

Everything was going great. I’d been able to get consistent and dedicated with my diet and exercise routine. I have lost nearly 30 pounds. I am back in Onderland. People have been noticing. Coworkers have commented on my progress, friends and family have congratulated me on my success. I have had to buy smaller clothes and even I, my own worst critic, have noticed the physical changes in my body as I sat on the couch marveling aloud and my “skinny calves.” It has been exciting, rewarding and encouraging. It has made me feel strong, healthy and proud. So why in the hell have I started to sabotage myself?

sabotage

This isn’t new a new phenomenon. I have squared up against this enemy twice and twice been defeated by it – once in 2010 and again in 2013. Each time I came within 30 pounds of my goal weight then, without any seeming provocation or reason, I started sabotaging my success by gradually neglecting meal planning and workouts and falling back into binge eating behavior. Both times I would regain more than 40 pounds.

Over the past month I have been facing this foe once again – skipping the gym, veering from my meal plans, binge eating. The last time I weighed in on November 17, I had regained almost two pounds. I haven’t weighed in since feeling that further weight gain could have a dire effect on my mood and motivation. I recognized quickly that I was getting in my own way but that hasn’t stopped the behavior. I have been asking myself questions, reading online articles about self-sabotaging, talking about my frustrations. All the while, the behaviors have worsened. Two weeks without visiting the gym, eating more cookies than I can log to MyFitnessPal.

Why do I do this… Am I afraid of success? Do I feel like I don’t deserve it? Is the excess weight some kind of security blanket my subconscious mind refuses to release? Am I simply getting over-confident, cocky about my weight loss, playing it fast and loose and paying the price?

I haven’t wanted to write this blog until I had answers to my questions, explanations and analyses. Weeks have passed; however, and I have no answers. While my inner-turmoil will have to be quieted, the most important thing for me right now is to get the self-destructive behavior under control. I have to work through this but, at the same time, I can’t work through this at the expense of the progress I’ve made. So I have come up with some steps which will hopefully help me to move past this stage in my weight loss story – this stage where, historically, the journey has ended.

Fake it ‘til you make it. Even if my heart’s not in it, I will go to the gym and I will meal plan and meal prep each week. I will go through the motions and maintain the physical habit even if the mental one is lagging behind. A subpar workout is better than no workout. A cookie at the end of a healthy day is better than a cookie at the end of a binge.

Seek out motivation. Whether it’s Pinterest fitspo boards, Instagram success stories or Fearless Motivation speeches, I will take motivation from others when I can’t muster it for myself. I have to get encouraged, get inspired, get excited for this journey again.

Own it. I will be transparent and accountable for all of it. Owning this process is great when you feel strong and proud. It can be disheartening and embarrassing when you feel weak and confused. Not owning the uglier sides of this process only creates shame and hinders progress, perpetuating the self-sabotage.

Dig deep. I will delve into my heart and mind and find some answers to what may be driving this tendency to self-sabotage. This could mean journaling, doing research, talking to those closest to me or seeking out a support group. I will never truly move past this and reach my goals without knowing how to heal whatever hurt lies inside me.

Bear with me, dear readers, and I try to get out of my own way. I will have to step up to the mat and confront this old inner-demon head-on but I do so with hope and optimism. There must be a way to work through it and come out the other side fit, healthy and happy.

To Shop, Or Not To Shop

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To shop, or not to shop, that is the question: whether ‘tis nobler in the closet to suffer snug garments mocking you or to take the mall and replace them. Maybe that’s a no-brainer. I mean, duh, shopping can be fun! When I have a closet full of clothes; however, which are either stretching within an inch or their lives each time I put them on or are collecting dust, untouched in the “someday this will fit again” section, what do I do?

I find I am torn, my mind and emotions a swirling torrent of conflicting thoughts and feelings, leading me to a confusing midland between shame and acceptance of my body, my self.

Will buying new clothes mean I’ve given up?

Is buying new clothes rewarding weight gain?

Is condemning myself to having nothing to wear cruel punishment for weight gain?

Will buying new clothes make me feel better about myself?

Will feeling good about myself again help me to get back on track?

Do I need to get back on track or should I accept this body?

Is that complacency?

Is it reality?

Am I listening to The Cure too much?

Is the shame I feel perpetuating my depression; is depression perpetuating my shame?

Nine years ago I bought my first two non-plus sized blouses at Dress Barn and I’d felt like I’d climbed Mt. Everest. No longer relegated to the frumpy, tent-like garments passed off as extended-size clothing at that time, I swore I would do what it took to never have to shop outside the ladies department again. Yesterday I faced the reality that I needed plus-sized pants. Knowing I would walk through those doors again was crushing and humiliating, stinging of defeat.

Yet, yesterday, I walked out of Torrid with dress pants and blouses that made me feel pretty, made me feel good about myself, made me feel comfortable. Maybe even made me go home and pack my gym bag for the week. As I flounce around the office today I feel more confident, feel put-together and stylish. I feel like I have a new lease on life, a bit like this rain cloud hovering overhead is dissipating.

I don’t know how to answer all the questions I have but I do know I don’t want to punish myself. I don’t want to feel ashamed. I know there is no such thing as listening to The Cure too much. I know that, no matter what, shame and self-hatred won’t ever serve me – they won’t provoke positive change nor positive feelings. But I don’t know if this is my new reality and I need to find a way to accept it. I don’t know if this is a lull and that I will get back on track with weight loss and drop back out of the plus sizes again. I don’t know if I am complacent or frustrated. I don’t know if these new clothes are transitional or permanent. I know I still have some fight left in me, still have a desire for healthful change. I know I feel really good today and maybe feeling good is, in the end, all that matters. I guess we all just need to stay tuned.

Lost… again.

I once walked into my hair salon for an appointment, dressed in slim dress slacks and sky-high heels, and my stylist told me I looked like a super model walking in. I once walked across the floor of a casino and a friend told me later that he’d seen me from a distance and thought I was Gwyneth Paltrow. Those were good days – it felt good to hear things like that. Those were the days when I most vehemently believed I would never go back to being overweight.

This morning, I spent a full minute tugging and adjusting the top of my pants and the bottom of my shirt in the bathroom mirror at work, trying desperately to mask or camouflage my ballooning body. I never wanted to be here again. In my arrogance, I never thought it was possible. It’s really convenient to tout the idea of focusing on health and dismissing calorie-counting; it’s really enticing to shirk off the responsibility of making a concentrated effort to lose weight. All that I wrote two months ago wasn’t written from a place of acceptance or celebration or joy. It was written from a place of fatigue, a place of debilitating depression, a place of cowardly surrender.

I never wanted to be here again, but here I am. Most of my clothes are too tight (except for the larger stretch pants I practically live in), I am popping Pepcid like Smarties to combat near-constant acid reflux, I have plantar fasciitis in my left foot and my tailbone throbs from sitting with the extra weight. I never again wanted to be picking out clothes based on what best hides by body ­– clothes that made me feel dumpy. I never again wanted to wish I could be invisible most of the waking hours of my day. I never again wanted to feel subjugated by food and my addiction to it. I never again wanted to be the big girl with the pretty face. I never again wanted to try to figure out how to take pictures of myself, stretching my neck to hide my chin, adjusting angles and layering on the filters, all to look less like myself. I never again wanted to feel tired and cranky, lazy and uninspired. I never again wanted to be ashamed of myself.

I want to be proud of myself again. I want to pick out clothes that accentuate my body, show off all my hard work – clothes that made me feel confident. I want to be in control of my eating, seeing food as the fuel it is and nothing more. I want that feeling of fighting and sweating and sacrificing all week then getting that compliment – the one that comes without the insulting qualifications (for a fat girl, you’re kind of cute). I want my energy and my drive back, my focus and determination. I want to eat healthy and work out like it’s my damned job. I want to respond to invitations the phrase, “sure… right after I go to the gym.”

I can’t stay here. I can’t go back any further than I already have. Somehow, whatever it takes, I have to fight this woman I fought so hard to escape before. She’s breathing down my neck, she’s picking out my clothes and feeding me ice cream and dragging me to the couch and telling me how disgusting I am every god damned morning in the mirror. I have to find myself again.

 

Mistakes & Lessons

There are no mistakes in life, only lessons. A lesson will be repeated until it is learned.

I have two kinds of pants. Maybe you can relate. I have pants that are slightly too large and pants that fit correctly. The latter are what I wear most days; the former are for really just there for days I need to wear something a little more loose, a little more comfy, a little confidence-building when I look down and see them sagging a bit. I put a pair of these slightly too large pants on Monday morning and was distressed to see them cinching the cellulite on my upper thighs, too snug for the first time since I purchased them. I was distraught.

As I wrote in my last post, I need to move on from a place of strict calorie counting and obsessive weigh-ins for my mental health. I struggle with finding balance between my weight loss efforts and being able to enjoy life and this struggle always culminates with weight gain, depression and despair.  While my mental state lately has been vastly improved, my physical one has deteriorated in-kind. Balance simply doesn’t seem to exist, rather, I careen wildly between two extremes.

Yesterday, still reeling a bit from Monday’s big, tight pants, I was talking with a coworker and I remembered a phrase I’d learned years ago while undergoing treatment for my eating disorder. The quote originated in Robin S. Sharma’s book “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” and was expanded upon by my therapist. She said, “There are no mistakes in life, only lessons. A lesson will be repeated until it is learned.” Remembering this phrase, speaking it to my coworker, I suddenly felt awash with nervous energy – the quote was resonating with me like it never had before.

Is that why I lose and regain weight this way? Is that why I feel doomed to repeat myself, to start over time and time again? Is that why I get on a roll, get so close to my goal only to start sabotaging myself an backtracking? Is it because I haven’t learned whatever lesson lies within my obesity? I’m not writing this entry because I’ve had some epiphany, I’ve stumbled across long-elusive, profound answers to my questions. Quite the contrary – all I have found are questions. And, yet, I feel that finding these questions may be a beginning. My questions go something like this:

Did I learn the lessons at some point? Did I forget the knowledge gleaned?

Did I never learn the lesson at all?

I feel, on one hand, that I may know what the lessons to be learned from my weight gain are: lessons in empathy for others, lessons in loving oneself and caring for oneself, lessons in making yourself happy above all others. Then again, I don’t know that I have ever actually learned those lessons or if I have just faked it – like when you know the answer a teacher is looking for, regardless of whether or not you truly understand the material. Was I winging it, bull-shitting my way through life?  When I think to the moments of self-righteousness I have felt amidst my weight loss success; the judgement I’ve felt when I saw someone who was in exactly the same situation that I was once in and I thinking about slapping the Venti Caramel Frappuccino with extra Whip out of their hands “for their own good”; when I have regained 30 pounds but still find that voice in my head being preachy to others on what they should eat, how they should exercise; when I internally smugly relish in the weight gain of someone I don’t particularly like  … when I think of all these things, I think it is quite impossible that I have actually learned a damned thing other than how to be a conceited, holy-than-thou bitch.

Then again, maybe the lesson is something completely different from the one I’ve assumed it to be. Maybe it is more about finding the balance I so blatantly lack. Maybe it’s something I haven’t yet thought of. Maybe it’s all of the above. I don’t know. I feel like I don’t know anything – but I suspect that I am repeating this lesson once again, like having to take college math for the third time after dropping and failing twice in the past. A lesson will be repeated until it is learned.