Why you gained back the weight after your last diet

July 13, 2010

For the past several months I’ve been giving considerable thought to the long term perspective of my weight loss efforts.

I know what to do, I just don’t always do it

We all know that successful weight control efforts “require a lifestyle change” but I suspect that those of us who’ve lost a lot and regained a lot at least once view that concept kind of warily.

I mean, I knew in the past that I could easily undo all my weight loss efforts in just a few weeks or months, but that didn’t stop me from doing exactly that. I knew that habits like regular exercise and controlled eating would have to be repeated indefinitely or else I’d end up back where I started.

It’s not the knowledge that’s lacking.
Someone Sad
Creative Commons License photo credit: Jillian Stewart

So what is lacking?

Is it the actual dieting efforts?

I doubt it. I mean, when I’m eating well like these past couple of months (and the year or so before he slip) I find it really enjoyable and quite flexible. I’m not someone who follows a rigid diet and I when I really want a taste of something I have it. I don’t feel deprived on a daily basis, and on special events I usually just enjoy myself and get back on track the next day, so deprivation isn’t a big factor for me.

In fact, I would say one of the things I’ve put the most importance on in this new “low stress” approach I’ve been working on over the past few years is to find a way of eating that is not only appropriate for my metabolism, but that is actually something I can ENJOY.

  • I’ve embraced my foodie self.
  • I cook.
  • I enjoy fine dining and tasting interesting new things.

I’ve found a way to do that and keep the calories at a reasonable level and flexible enough to adapt to my high-travel real life.

Is it the actual exercise efforts?

Maybe. I am not what I would call a natural exerciser. Many years back I read a book called “the intrinsic exerciser” and why I can say I hold that as an ideal, I’d also have to say I’m far from convinced that its a realistic expectation for me (I did, however, find a good short article on it as I looked for the book to link).  I didn’t exercise much as a kid and my adult exercise record has been pretty spotty.  While I deeply believe there are tons of benefits to health from exercise, I’m less convinced that it’s the necessary for weight loss .

I do have a very clear vision of myself into the future as a regular exerciser, but I don’t fool myself into thinking that I’m going to get there – or stay there – without real effort, awareness & planning.  In fact, I had been exercising at least 3 times a week for over 6 months without a single gap when I stopped for medical reasons this Spring.  It’s not the stopping that bothers me – that was logical with what I was doing – but the fact that the medical break became another-excuse break, became a ‘don’t-even-bother-with-an-excuse’ break reminds me that fundamentally this area will probably always require great effort from me.

Waking up to the reality of what it will take in the future

I guess what I’ve been thinking about these past several months is the reality that in order for me to not live my life obese or super-obese, I’m ALWAYS going to have to pay attention and make real efforts to conrol my habits, my actions, and my environment.
Day 166: Use, Use Your Powers
Creative Commons License photo credit: quinn.anya
I suspect it’s the idea of constant self-monitoring, not the actual choices, that makes me skittish about the future. But that same self monitoring is at play with washing the towels, unloading the dishwasher, clearing out the email inbox, and tons of other things I do each day, and although I don’t exactly adore doing them, I get them done & 99% of the time it’s just part of life, not a big deal (well, the email inbox could stand some serious improvement).

Realization : paying attention to my weight will be a major feature of my life into the future

Writing this it seems so obvious I feel silly hitting “publish” on this post, but it’s a big revelation for me.
Whether I reach a particular weight goal or not, paying attention to myself and the behaviors that shape my weight will be a major feature of my life into the future.
Hopefully it won’t be an “I hate myself” feature of my life (the way it has been at my higher weights and during regain periods). Hopefully it will be by living in a body I’m reasonably happy with, and able to maintain with relative ease in my daily choices.  When I’ve regained in the past it’s not as though I stopped thinking about my weight – far from it.  Even running away from myself & eating everything & not doing anything about it, my weight was never out of my mind – it was just a constant negative pull.   When I’m actively doing something about it – be it maintaining at a stable point, or in an active losing phase – at these points in my life it’s at worst a neutral point in my life, and more often it’s positive.  I’m demonstrating personal integrity, and self-love.

Forever.  And TODAY.

I guess one of the major reasons I’ve struggled with this is the enormity of the Future (that notion of forever and ever), and a fear that I won’t live up to this expectation I have for myself.
I mean, I’ve wanted this before and I’ve failed before, why will I now be able to look into the ever after and make it work his time?
I suppose I can answer that in part due to what I learned over the past Very Hard year.
  • Life is short.
  • Life goes on.
  • What you think the future will (or won’t) be can change in an instant.

So these days I think much less about an abstract “ever after” future and I think much more about the present, and maybe about the immediate future I am creating by what I choose right now.  So maybe thinking less about the Future makes me realize that Today IS the Future.

And Today, I’m choosing to lose some more weight.

Previous post:

Next post: