The Shadow of the Obsession

I’m still alive. I’m extremely discouraged right now. I started off the New Year being ill, then when I felt better I embarked on an effort to lose a few pounds and the first week I gained half a pound after doing everything right.

There’s a point, I’m finding, where you’ve stayed at the same weight so long that it starts to feel like defeat. Isn’t that weird? The whole goal of all of the intense, amazing effort of weight loss is to stay at the same weight and yet…you work so hard to lose – losing becomes almost an obsession while you’re doing it – that when you don’t have to anymore it’s hard to discard the shadow of the obsession. And then… when you don’t lose you feel like a failure. At least I do. I have been feeling that way, the last few weeks. Even though I’m still better than I was, at my highest. I’m healthier, I’m more mobile, I’m able to leap tall buildings in a singl…well, ok, I’m able to easily run 3-4 miles at the drop of a hat, anyway. Yet for all of that, my inability to drop something, even half a pound, over the first few weeks of January has felt like failure.

I worry, because I’m a worrier. I worry that I’ve lost the ability. That, even if I wanted to I couldn’t drop 20 pounds and that I may never be able to lose weight again. I worry that the 3 pounds I gained over the holidays are the inevitable start, the sign that all the garbage pop science I see out there on the internet might be true – that losing a lot of weight “ruins” your metabolism and that now – more than 8 years in – now I’m starting on the inexorable climb back up again. Intellectually that doesn’t make sense, why would it be possible at all, according to the junk science, for me to keep it off this long? I should have started gaining it back immediately if all the pop science lies were true.

So I take an inventory of what’s different – well, let’s see. Reviewing my numbers, I’m just not putting in the same level of effort to manage my weight as I used to. I used to get up and run at least 3 days a week. When was the last time I did that? Years ago. I used to avoid all treats, eat alone every night and head out to planned activities almost every night. I don’t do that anymore – a lot of it is due to having a partner that I want to spend time with now (the “golden era” when I easily maintained a weight 20 pounds lower than now was when I was with my first husband, and getting fed and out the door before he came home from work was a big part of my routine, or when I was single and could focus solely on my food and exercise routines). I enjoy evenings at home with my love now, going out isn’t much of a draw because I have everything I want right here. So we stay in, he likes to cook…. you see where this is going.

I find that my lifestyle is very different now than from when I maintained a lower weight. I wish it were possible to maintain that weight with the lifestyle I now enjoy, but I also find that I’m unable to bring it back down there without cutting out some of the things I now cherish. I make a compromise on my current weight, but I can’t shake the voice in my head that tells me I weighed less once, I maintained it for a while too – and didn’t I look good then? Didn’t clothes hang nicer on my body then? What’s wrong with me that I can’t get back there again?  What’s wrong with me?

It’s the shadow of the obsession. It stalks me and tells me I’m a failure – over 3 pounds. It distorts the image I see in the mirror. It needs to be beaten back, and some weeks I don’t have much energy to do it. Some weeks, like this one, I have my hands full with work and living and back pain and rainy weather.


10 Responses to “The Shadow of the Obsession”

  1. Shana Says:

    I hope you are able to beat back your shadow of obsession. You look really fantastic right now. You deserve to have the things you cherish. Not that you should go crazy or anything, but I think it’s okay to work on your three pounds slowly.

  2. Cathyn Says:

    One must remember several things:
    Three pounds (if it’s only three pounds) is not the end of the world.
    Your husband loves you, always.
    Your husband likes you at this weight.
    The effort expended to get to he much lower weight you used to maintain is high, with reduced returns, see point three.

    At this point, there is zero risk that you will return to your highest weight. There is zero risk that you will get halfway back to it. A new term needs to be invented, something like “set point”, but not that, as the set-point theory is huge buckets of BS. The term needs to fit the definition “the weight range I’m happy at that goes with a healthy life-style of eating supportive foods and exercising within reason”. Maybe we’ll call it the Comfort Point. Pick that lifestyle, figure out the weight, pick a range (+/- X pounds), and then don’t worry when your weight fluctuates within that range for whatever reason, but DO NOT change the lifestyle. Hit the top of the range? Don’t decide you’ve failed, and order six cases of GirlScout cookies. Keep eating the veggies, keep exercising, live well, enjoy your time, and watch the weight range down again as the weather gets warmer and your activity level rises.

    The Comfort Point. I like it.

  3. Yoko Olsgaard Says:

    Sending you a big hug. I know just how awful it feels.

  4. beanolc Says:

    There’s another thing to remember… age. You and I are the same age, and I’ve noticed that it’s damn straight tougher to lose weight than it was even 5 years ago.

  5. Princess Dieter Says:

    Unlike a previous commenter, I do not believe there is ZERO risk of regaining weight. I think when we fatfighting former obese folks think that way, it’s dangerous. It leads to a complacency that makes regain more than possible.

    However, your success record says you are on top of it and you will fight it.

    I do understand. I’ve regained 5 pounds (though I never made goal the way you did). Yes, I have medical issues. Yes, I got complacent. So, back to focus. When we lose focus, pounds find us, period. When we slack off (I exercise less lately than I did in my “faster loss phase”), we regain. When we think everything is fine and we can eat a bit here, sloth it up a bit there, pounds will find us. Be it the science (I don’t think it’s junk science, but whatever) or the anecdotes of the vast majority regaining, it’s enough to tell us that vigilance is ever important, and 3 pounds–while not a big deal–can become a big deal if we let it become 10 and 20 and 50 pounds or more.

    I don’t think you should be depressed…as we age, things happen. You aren’t the same you of 10 years ago or 5 years ago. Grim reality. Aging doesn’t predispose us to lean down, but to fatten up. Taht’s crosscultural–even the slim Japanese are less slim as they age, middle age spread being common even tehre (though not to the uberobese state like in the US).

    Your noticing an issue means you will address it, because your resolve is steel. I know as the year wears on you will find your solutions for what can be changed, acceptance for what will or cannot,a nd you will prevail.

  6. Andie Says:

    I know the struggle between what intellectually makes sense and how you feel. I hope you swing back into a better state of mind soon – hang in there. You really have the right tools for the long haul, and we’re all rooting for you.

  7. Rachel Says:

    I’m sorry you are going through a rough time, but I want to thank you for being completely honest about the realities of maintenance, including the difficult mental days that come with it.

    I think your analysis of how your lifestyle is a bit different now that you are in a happy relationship is going to be helpful for figuring out what to do next. I am genuinely curious as to what you think the bigger factor is here: aging, or the shift in lifestyle/commitment level (since this post has prompted discussions of both factors).

    I like the Comfort Point concept, too.

  8. Karen Williams Says:

    I know the insidious mind, and it’s hard to fight. However, you have all the tools to do it. Along with managing your weight, manage your mind. What you tell yourself often you start to believe, so start telling yourself that you’re a success, you’re keeping off all that weight, you’re following plans, and tomorrow will be even better.

    But you know all this, because you’re awesome.

  9. Donna Says:

    Laina is beautiful and wonderful and marvelous. Three pounds, ha. Super Laina laughs at three pounds. Zap, they be gone because Super Laina is strong and powerful and has bitch’ tools to keep her super.

  10. Marguerite Says:

    It’s not just you – there’s something about this month that’s been discouraging for a lot of people on the weight loss path. For me personally it’s been the loss of my ortho insoles for three weeks that have made it all but impossible to walk without a limp, let alone exercise. I’m calling January the Non-Starter month, and just doing my best to work out when and where I can, and keep a close eye on eating since that’s half the equation. It’ll pass!

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