Diet and Weight Loss Ups and Downs: Riding Them Out and Thinking Them Through
We have all been there. We have all been on diets, watched what we’ve put into our mouths, felt the ecstasy of waistbands loosening or shirts blousing, and discovered a bounce in our step as we felt particularly waifish. But then something happens, those size X’s become size Y’s. If you’re like me, you may have thrown out your size Y’s, and lo and behold, you get to walk around looking like “a two-pound sausage in a one-pound bag,” as my Italian mama says. I recently reread my article on weight loss plateaus from February where I was logging in at a righteous 137 pounds. I come to you today as a 145-pounder, and though this is fine, I discovered that I have a tendency to sabotage my weight loss progress, and I know that I’m not the only one. I think we can look at pop culture icons and find that it is a very common occurrence.
So, why does this happen? Before I provide you with what the pros have to say, I’ll give you my own reasoning. After some reactionary emotional flogging, I have had time to just quietly consider why this happens to me. Honestly, I get cocky. I think to myself, “Oh, I’m skinny now, I can eat whatever I want,” and believe me, I do. My indulgence is usually half of a jar of peanut butter and other types of concoctions that I will not reveal publicly in the event I run for office. There’s no secret why I gain the weight when I’m stuffing my face with a 100-calorie-per-tablespoon food spread. It’s not that I don’t enjoy being thin; I just get overconfident. I start to feel that I am naturally thin when I’m not. There are very few people I know that are. Maintaining a healthy weight, or a goal weight, takes discipline and awareness, and often that awareness can become exhausting. This leads me to another reason for my personal reason for sabotage: plain exhaustion. I get tired of counting points and monitoring what I put into my mouth; I just want to eat and so I get sloppy. A naturally thin person does not overeat seriously. Observe someone who is naturally thin – they eat until satisfied, and that’s it.
Now for the professionals’ opinion on weight loss sabotage. I found Dr. Blair-West’s website on weight loss psychology to be of particular interest and intrigue. He believes that the “80% five-year failure rate in treating obesity and maintaining weight loss is because obesity has been traditionally conceptualized as a physical condition resulting from a willpower deficiency.” Dr. Blair-West coins the notion “Restrain Theory” and it makes a lot of sense. The constant mindfulness or lack of willpower that comes with our own concept of losing weight (or gaining weight) is exhausting and becomes a burden. Blair-West does not offer this theory to give us an excuse to stuff our faces, but presents a different paradigm to shift our focus and provide a new lens for perceiving and approaching how we lose weight.
In the end, know that you are not alone. I often recall a bumper sticker that I read years ago that said, “I may be fat but you’re ugly and I can lose weight.” OK, so that’s not very nice but it serves as a reminder that fat can come off. Just look at Oprah; she is the Queen of yo-yo dieting if there ever was one, and bless that woman, she has to show her gains and losses in front of millions every day. As a fitness instructor I am self-conscious about getting in front of my classes; I cannot even begin to imagine exposing myself to the masses like that woman. So take a breath – know that fat and pounds are temporary. We can re-frame the way we interpret our thoughts and we can re-pattern how we think. Perhaps it’s time to lighten the load of our heavy thoughts.
In Good Health and With a Spring in Her Step,
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