Moving the Needle

You’ve heard me say it before – the rules regarding diet and exercise are different if you’re fat. How many times did I exercise until I injured myself and diet until I felt faint, only to watch the scale fail to move, or worse, go up? Even my husband, who truly believed the “just make calories in less than calories out” lie, couldn’t believe it when I showed him that at the end of a week, the scale had crept up another two pounds.

Cut to now. For the last few weeks, my weight has settled into a range between 142.5 and 144.5. I weigh myself every day, and on those days I’m toward the top end, I limit my carb intake and when I’m at the lower end, I don’t worry about it. I always keep in mind the advice I received before surgery: Stop eating when you lose interest, not when you’re full.

Then came a day when I realized that I had eaten my normal yogurt breakfast, then a dozen graham crackers between breakfast and my lunch salad, then jellybeans until I had a whacking sugar headache. What the hell was I doing?

I needed to figure out a better way to deal with that cycle, otherwise I’d be right back where I started.

First, I stepped back. What’s going on with me? We’ve had some stressful uncertainty lately, and I realized that the stress was making me eat too much of all the wrong foods.

Second, I talked to someone about my anxiety. I admitted that I was terrified of having to move again, knowing that we would likely move to a place that was smaller and less well-situated. I was losing patience and hope about the rebuild – everything is taking months longer than it should. And also, I need to buy a formal for some upcoming events, and I’m terrified that, given my history, I’ll buy a dress and by the time I need it, it won’t fit.

Third, I took the time to address the sources of the anxiety. I increased my depression medication. I wrote to my county supervisor about the permit situation. I signed a lease for another year on this house, with the understanding that we may leave sooner than a year (but no sooner than 7 months). I know that I am exercising every day, with Sundays off. I acknowledged that I have the support of my family in eating a healthy, balanced diet, so there was no reason for my weight to go up.

Fourth, I took a day off. I have the privilege of not having to work, so I slept in. I took my time over my morning tea. I sat on the couch watching crappy television and doing crochet. I let the mental break sink in and remind me that nothing is on fire, nobody’s bleeding, and we’re not going to be thrown into the street tomorrow. I am fine.

After my day off, I had my normal routine: wake up, weigh myself, hit the stationary bike. When I stepped on the scale, my weight was down half a pound from the day before – down to 143.2 – still in the good range.

Back when I was nearing 250 pounds, this would be about the time that the scale would have started creeping up, not just because I would have been stress eating, but because my metabolism was trying to protect me from the danger by hanging on to every calorie. I would panic, exercise like crazy and stop eating in an effort to lose weight and when it backfired, I’d say “Fuck it, it’s futile, I may as well have some pizza.”

Now, even modest changes will move the scale in the direction I want it to go, and when that happens, I feel encouraged and continue to drink a lot of water, snack on fruit, and get on the bike every morning. I feel that I cannot say it often enough: weight loss works differently for fat people vs. thin people. As of this morning, I’m at 141 even.

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