I think the weight loss, weight gain, yo-yo dieting cycle is kind of like that movie, Groundhog Day (1993), except that instead of 1 day repeating, years repeat. And you don’t really know it’s happening. Or if you do know, you don’t understand why.
Plot summary, from IMDB:
“A weather man is reluctantly sent to cover a story about a weather forecasting “rat” (as he calls it). This is his fourth year on the story, and he makes no effort to hide his frustration. On awaking the ‘following’ day he discovers that it’s Groundhog Day again, and again, and again. First he uses this to his advantage, then comes the realization that he is doomed to spend the rest of eternity in the same place, seeing the same people do the same thing EVERY day.”
Around 2001-2003, I lost over 100 pounds by eating as little as possible and walking all over the city of Philadelphia. The smallest I ever got was around size 8. (Same as this time around, in 2011)
Then things get a little fuzzy, but I have the distinct memory of having gained some weight back and not fitting into my size 8 jeans anymore. A friend, who fit the jeans perfectly begged me to give them to her because she adored them. I remember arguing with her that I would fit into them again soon, really I would! In the end I remember giving them to her and she wore them for years until they were a completely different faded shade of blue than the original deep indigo. I didn’t put on a size 8 again for almost 10 years.
I also have a distinct memory around this same time, maybe a little later, of feeling really good about my body after having regained some weight. I was waitressing at a mexican restaurant and I remember that one of the other bartenders who was also a little pudgy around the middle saying something like “But don’t you feel uncomfortable?” and grabbing her stomach fat despondently. My reply was something along the lines of “Hell no, I don’t give a fuck!” I was feeling good and totally over the whole dieting thing.
My weight stayed in about the same region for a long time after that. Size 16ish. Same size I was when I graduated high school. I walked a lot, didn’t own a car. I had active jobs, including a waitressing job where the dining room was on the second floor and the kitchen and bar were on the first floor.
But when I moved to Massachusetts in 2007, I bought a car, started a desk job, and all the sudden was not broke anymore. Therefore I could afford to buy a lot more take out and convenience foods. Mixed together, I gained weight at a record pace, until, in 2009 I started losing weight again by calorie counting and exercise and ended up losing 125 pounds and the rest is history…
And so it goes, the Groundhog Day phenomenon continues. It’s 2013, I’m “obese” again according to the BMI chart, wearing size 14/16 jeans, and I honestly feel like I don’t give a fuck about weight anymore.
However, much like the movie, I can learn new things with each repetition of this cycle. Last time, I simply put it all out of my mind. This time… well, I’m this online weight loss/healthy living personality so I’m still engaged. If it wasn’t for this blog and facebook page, I think I probably wouldn’t have any interest in talking about weight or weight loss ever again. But I’m glad I’m here because I have learned things this time that are maybe going to get me out of this endless cycle. I have other things to share. I hope someday I can never talk about my weight again, but with so many people following me and asking questions about weight loss and weight maintenance, they need to know what I really feel about it right now so they can decide if they want to keep reading what I have to say.
I’m sure to some people, gaining weight and being okay with it disqualifies me from talking about health. I am totally okay with that. I’ve always said, I can only be me.
When I stopped weighing myself last October, I accepted the possibility I may gain weight. I felt it was quite likely, to be honest. Reading Health at Every Size opened my eyes about a lot of things. The binge and diet cycle I had been on for the past 15 years was never going to be maintainable. I realized I only had two choices: engage in diet behaviors for the rest of my life, keeping a keen watch over my weight or give up and focus on living my life the way I want to live it and letting the scale say what it may.
I chose option 2. I don’t know if I was mentally capable of choosing option 1, frankly. So maybe the movie is over now. Maybe I can move forward and put Groundhog Day behind me. The endless cycle of losing and gaining weight. I have a better idea.
How about if I accept my perfectly healthy size 16 body as it is and was always meant to be. I’m not talking about anyone but myself here. I have my own unique life history, as we all do. My body is as is should be. It is doing what it was naturally made to do. How about if I continue to focus my energy on making sure I maintain good cardiovascular health, strength and flexibility. I adore the way I eat. I wouldn’t switch back for the world. Cooking my own vegetarian meals from the freshest produce I can get is an ingrained part of my life now.
There are other aspects to having good health I focus on. Getting a good night’s sleep is a priority to me and I make sure it always happens. I know that reducing stress is very important, and for that reason I choose activities that relax, rejuvenate, and relieve me. Hiking and yoga are my primary forms of exercise. I’ve also made a pointed effort to spend time every day sketching. That has been a really amazing new habit for me this year. And I’ve read several books of fiction as well. Life can’t be all about work, exercise, and eating. That’s how I was starting to feel before this change happened.
I know there’s nothing I can do to convince everyone that my lifestyle is “healthy enough” and my body is still not as small as “they” say it should be. But I don’t need to convince anyone. I know and trust myself.
I believe in Health at Every Size. But with a really strong focus on health. I don’t mind what other people want to do, but for me, I’ve proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that being mindful of practicing healthy habits improves my life immeasurably.
I feel better now than I did when I was my thinnest. I don’t get dizzy anymore. My back pain is almost completely gone. I’m not cold all the time. My hair is growing in thicker. I feel like I have a lot more energy to give to things other than food and exercise. I feel more attractive.
It takes courage to give up dieting, but I don’t want to live the rest of my life reliving Groundhog Day over and over again.
It’s time to move on.