My plan : Low Stress Weight Loss

January 15, 2008

I like to call what I’m doing “Low Stress Weight Loss”. It’s my own thing, that’s for sure, built on years of my dieting experiences. Over time I learned what worked for me, and I’ve spent the past few years learning that what worked for me once doesn’t work for me now.

I would say 2007 was the year of waking up – realizing I can’t keep doing the same thing and frustrating myself, that in order to manage my weight in my new life, I needed a new approach. This realization came gradually, probably becoming most clear to me when I pushed myself way too hard at the gym and aggravated whatever underlying back problem I already had.

My wedding was coming up and I was determined to drop some weight. I pushed myself HARD at the gym, going for 60-90 minutes 6 days a week, trying all the machines, and somewhere in there I ruptured a disk and within 3 weeks mild sciatica became horrible, incapacitating pain, rendering me unable to walk 10 feet. I was unable to work, unable to think, unable to move. I took a lot of painkillers. I canceled my honeymoon, sucked down the morphine, tried all kinds of steroid injections, made it through the wedding (a bit loopy!) and had surgery when I should have been on my honeymoon.

I’m much better now, the surgery cleared up the problem of the back and pain right away, but the issue of how to manage my weight with my new full, wonderful Parisian life was still gnawing away at me. Out of terror of not fitting into my wedding dress I kept my weight stable through all the trauma, but after the second wedding party (in the US) all discipline dissolved and another 20 pounds arose. I’m still 2 pounds up from what I had considered to be the high-end of my “buffer zone” for the past 5 years.

Over the past 5 years my weight was usually around 185, went up to 195, down to 175 in cycles. I have not been happy at that weight here – probably because in France people are skinnier than in the US. At the same weight I feel like I fit in in America, and as a person who has always been fat, that is a great feeling. But here at the same weight I’m REALLY fat, and all the social stigma that goes with it is present. So for as long as I’ve been here, I’ve wanted to get my weight down by a good amount.

But it’s just recently that I’ve come to the clear conclusion that I can’t lose weight successfully the same way I did in the past. Counting calories and other strict diet programs makes me obsess about food and become draconian with my daily choices. I see the world full of things I can’t have, daily, constantly. I think about food all the time – what I can have, what I’ll have next, do I have calories left over, what will I have to eat at the next meal if I eat that, etc… It’s EXHAUSTING.

And going to the gym in a non-gym culture is hard too. My life isn’t organized to get to the gym. I have no more excuses than anyone else to avoid exercise, but the truth is right now I’m not ready to carve out the time for it. I might someday go back to the gym, but not right now. And I acknowledge and accept that I will have slower weight loss because of it. For now, it’s the right choice for me. Long term, I want to be fitter, not just thinner, so I’ll need to work out a way to get more exercise, but at least for right now, I know that what I always considered a “real workout” will just add stress to my life. Stinky hot dirty and run down expensive Parisian gyms will have one less client for a while longer. Long walks a few times a week is what I can commit to.

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