The need to buy bigger clothes is a humbling inconvenience. On one hand, it feels pretty good to have some new duds (and you feel less like a sausage in a casing). On the other hand, it’s admitting self-defeat. Back in March of this year, I hadn’t just arrived at that point – I sped past my exit. I was beginning to really appreciate elastic waist shorts and workout pants. The pain of having to increase the size of my jeans was finally greater than the pain of change.
To catch you up on this journey, I improved my diet and increased my exercise starting in April. I lost almost 30 pounds over a four month period, and was feeling better than I had in a very long time. Then, I tweaked my shoulder – which was a great excuse to not exercise. And I had some travel for work (and fun) – which was a great excuse to eat whatever I wanted. I backslid a bit, and was pretty lax for about a month and a half. I gained eight pounds back, but even more disturbing than that, the old aches and discomfort (that comes with being obese) returned.
Shoulder injury, travel, kids, zombie outbreak… There will always be some reason for reverting to behaviors that you know aren’t good for you. “Today was a rough day. I deserve a hot fudge sundae.” is a thought I have had (and acted upon) more times than I care to think about.
But the old adage is true; when the pain of change is less than the pain of staying the course, you’ll choose change. That’s true if you’re facing serious health problems due to your weight – the pain of a heart attack or stroke should trump the pain of a lifestyle change. But it’s also true if you’ve dropped a size and you’re feeling great. You might start to believe that cooking up chicken breast and steamed broccoli and hitting the treadmill, is more of a “pain” than taking some time off to eat whatever you want.
That’s what happened to me. I had made enough positive progress that I felt invulnerable. That old pain was no longer a motivating factor. I hadn’t yet dropped to a “new” size, so there wasn’t even any pain in going back to my former clothes (which were just sitting on a shelf, waiting for me to sort and get rid of them). There would be no immediate negative impact to reverting to my former habits, especially if I told myself that “on Monday, I’ll be getting back on the horse”.
It’s not like it hasn’t happened before. I lost 70 pounds in 2006. I kept most of it off for a few years before shifting back to what got me there in the first place. And that’s the trick – you want to realize you’re on the wrong path long before it impacts you in a seriously negative way. Long before you lose your momentum completely.
Now, I’ve heard countless people say that “it doesn’t matter what diet you use, if you follow it, you’ll lose weight.” But I feel like that’s just an oversimplified anecdote. I’m not on a diet. I’m not trying to drop twenty pounds so I can fit into my last tour’s jumpsuits. I’m trying to change my habits permanently. Establishing new habits requires time, and there has to be an incentive or motivation to staying the course. To keep rolling along, there has to be a sustained positive impact from the progress too.
- Time. I have nothing but time. A year will pass whether I do this or not.
- Incentive. I want to run and play with my kids, to ride roller coasters, and to show them how to set goals and follow-through. I want to live another 40 healthy years (or more).
- Impact. This is where I was struggling. I need to address this one. What can I do to continually remind myself of the impact of my efforts after the effort? I’ll think about it.
One contributing factor in losing my momentum was definitely the time and effort given to food prep and meal planning on the “slow carb” plan, so I looked for a more convenient structure that would also make use of my previous knowledge and experience. Whatever I did, it had to be flexible enough to allow for the unexpected.
All that considered, on Monday (9/28), I joined Weight Watchers Online. I’m not one for going to meetings or weighing-in for someone (I’m plenty accountable to you, the reader), so this fit the bill. Chris joined as well – but that’s her story – and so I’ll let her talk about it as she sees fit. It’s nice to have a friend along on the journey though. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be if one of us were and the other weren’t.
Almost two weeks in, I’m happy to say that I’m feeling better than I have in a month or more. That was pretty surprising. I thought it would take a few weeks for that to happen. And I’m back on track in the weight loss department too. The scale is moving in the proper direction. The process is way easier than slow carb, and the phone app is pretty slick. Granted, I’m paying about $50 for the first three months (vs. nothing out of pocket for doing my own thing), but I will chalk it up to a fraction of the money I would have spent on bigger pants.
While the method has changed, the reason I’m doing this has not. Every day that I’m not taking action, is another day of a healthier me that my kids won’t experience. I just need to remember that throughout the entire process.