Why the weight?

Someone recently asked me “If you worked so hard to lose weight before, why did you gain it back?”

Because clearly that was what I had in mind.  And the answer was: “I just didn’t know any better.”

That’s pretty much how I’ve felt over the past decade and change.  I was almost good enough because I succeeded, and then, failed.

When I lost the weight before (back in the late 90’s), it was like a switch went off in my brain.  I saw this picture of me from when I had been on vacation.  I weighed about 220lbs give or take. (This is circa 1998.)

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I was disgusted with myself and embarrassed that such a photo even existed!  (I have never been a fan of having pictures taken, I always feel like I look like a cow.) I had just started a new job and decided to join a gym.

From that day on, until about 2000-1 I worked out nearly every day doing a combination of treadmill/elliptical, Tae Bo class, resistance training class, aerobics, or circuit training.  This took between 1-2 hours per day on top of my already long day (I commuted about an hour and 15 minutes one way to work at the time).  After I lost some weight I began running. For fun.

I also changed my eating.  I stopped eating ridiculously portioned restaurant meals out every weekend.  I stopped excess snacking.  I stopped eating anything that was “junk.”  Instead for breakfast I had an egg white omelette with whole wheat toast and coffee.  For lunch a huge salad with tons of veggies and sometimes hard boiled eggs.  (I was a vegetarian at the time, and a picky one at that!) If I was hungry in the afternoon I had fruit, or a handful of nuts.  Dinner was whole wheat pasta with faux mince and sauce.  I never counted calories; I just ate the same thing every day.  I never cheated.  I never enjoyed the process.  And I was miserable and hungry every moment of every day.

I lost a lot of weight quickly and then I plateaued.  I started working with a trainer who took measurements and helped me find ways to get more protein, even if it meant having an extra coffee with skim milk.  (I said I was picky.)  I was also scared of eating more and thereby not seeing progress.

About a year and change after I began, I lost 85 pounds and weighed around 140.  By then, my entire life had changed.  I had received a promotion and a raise.  I had a new boyfriend. People talked to me and treated me like a human being.  I thought I was invincible.  But I looked hot, and that was what mattered, right?  That was my goal, to look good.  (Sorry about the pic quality, this was pre digital!)

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 And since I looked great, I figured I could go back to eating “normally.”  And I’m sure you can guess how that worked.  I pretty much gained 20 pounds instantly.  But I was ok with it since my size 6 clothes still fit and I looked ok.  I still worked out and even ran a few 5K’s.

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Then, things began to change in my life.  I was in a very bad and stressful relationship, that I finally had to end.  I had gotten my second Masters, but had moved back home in the process.  By then, I had gained about 40+ pounds back.

Between 2004 and last spring, I tried various diets including Weight Watchers (where I gained and lost the same 3 pounds each week) and VLCD (very low calorie diets) including Optifast and Dukan.  I managed to get down to about 185 before I moved to Scotland in 2010, with 5 pounds being courtesy of my breast reduction.

My first few months here I gained about 40 pounds- dealing with the stresses of being away from home, the pressures of university, and then, my mother’s death.  I hated myself and hated how I looked and what I had become.  All because I hadn’t known better a decade prior.

I didn’t know the following:

  • You can’t outrun/out-train a bad diet.
  • Once you lose weight, you have to work even harder to maintain it.
  • Protein is important.  (I had never, ever eaten enough of it.)
  • Weight lifting is just as important (if not more) than cardio.
  • Pick a lifestyle you can live with and LIVE IT.  Don’t call it a diet.  A diet is temporary.  A lifestyle is forever.
  • Constant yo-yo dieting can really mess up your metabolism.
  • What works for a friend/celebrity/someone else, may not work for you.

I also didn’t have the weight loss blogger community and the plethora of resources out there that can help you live healthily without restricting yourself crazy.  I’ve also learned that I don’t want to live a lifestyle where I don’t get to enjoy birthday cake on my birthday and an ice cream on a hot day.

I also know that it is going to take time for this to happen for me.  It isn’t going to take a year.  I am way older, and I have a chronic pain issue that can make my life unpleasant.  I just have to enjoy the process and believe I can do it.

What I’m doing now.

Have you ever lost weight, only to gain some or all of it back?  

What advice would you give someone who has just started or has just begun their journey to healthy?

7 Comments

  1. 18/05/2013 / 23:38

    Weight loss is such a tough journey, isn’t it? It’s not a one-time-fix-it-all-solution, and it doesn’t end. Once the weight comes off, you have to keep it off, and that’s harder, if not equally hard, as losing it in the first place.

    I am still carrying some extra pounds from my 2nd pregnancy (and that child just turned 1), but I have had little desire to worry about it. I love eating (and baking) treats too much to give them up completely, so I really just have to get to exercising. Something I’ve found difficult to start and fit into my current lifestyle. I think the change needs to start in my head first. I need to want to do this.

    Good luck to you!

  2. 20/05/2013 / 11:42

    Good luck to you as well! I am sure it has to be harder with kids and finding time for yourself. My sister has the same issue- she works full time and has 2 kids. She’d have to get up at 4 am to workout and shower and then gets the kids ready. She tried it, but it’s rough getting up that early and then working all day. I could never do it. I like sleep too much!

  3. 20/05/2013 / 12:50

    Really good points Cindy, especially the bit about maintenance being the hardest. Hit the nail on the spot too that it is to do with a lifestyle change not constant diets which leave you deprived and primed to put everything back on plus more. I was a yo-yo dieter in the past (and my weight followed suit) but once I incorporated exercise into my regime (as I never used to!) I lost quite a few excess lbs so even when I gain now it’s never as bad as when I was up and down constantly during my students days… Good luck with your journey!

    • 20/05/2013 / 18:38

      Thanks! It’s really hard to maintain, and while I may be good at maintaining my current weight, I know it will be a lot harder once I (hopefully) approach my goal.

  4. 25/05/2013 / 16:40

    I accidentally lost some weight once because of a medication I was on. It felt great to lose weight but the medication was horrible for me emotionally. I actually stayed on it much longer than I should have because I was happy about the weight loss.

    I am now heavier than I have ever been. I’m not happy with it. But I’m not fighting it much either. I have chronic fatigue and a thyroid issue which makes being physical so difficult. Right now I’m concentrating on healthier eating and getting more sleep. I’ve stunk at those for years. Thanks for reminding me about the protein. I really have a tough time with that.

    Best wishes as you move forward. Thanks for sharing your story — it helped me today.

    Happy Sharefest. I hope you have a lovely weekend.

  5. Oh I can relate to a lot of this – I was the same weight at my biggest. I definitely got too skinny, but the process of gaining weight has led to me gaining more than I would have liked ideally. Now I’m facing up to the fact that my body is just naturally a bit bigger. Maintainance is something I still need to work on!

    • 28/05/2013 / 19:22

      It’s such a hard thing to get, especially if the people around you don’t care about what they are eating or are blessed with super fast metabolisms. I really hope I get it right this time!

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