Monday, June 13, 2011

The Last Forty

I often tell people that losing the first 125 pounds was way easier than the last 40.

When I was over 300 pounds, starting easy exercise made the pounds fall off. Tiny changes in my diet made even more pounds melt off.  I would lose 5 or even 10 pounds in a week.  It's the honeymoon phase of weight loss.  You see this on the Biggest Loser every season.  The heaviest people start off posting huge weekly losses, then as time goes by they drop down to a couple of pounds a week.  Somehow the same things don't work any more.

I've been within a 20-pound weight range for 18 months now. Today I'm at the high end of that range but holding steady.  It's been a weird transition.  I spent all of 2008 and 2009 losing weight until my losses gradually came to a halt. I've spent a lot of time pondering this.  Is it that the same things don't work for me any longer?  This is at least partly true.  Your body adapts, you've got to change it up, "confuse" it, in order to fight whatever adaptations come into play.

I've also coincidentally spent the last 18 months focusing on marathon training. As many runners will tell you, running makes you hungry. Very hungry. As your body is adapting to the activity and burning fewer calories for the same miles, you're still hungry. And not for salad.  You're hungry for carbs and protein. Or if you're me, peanut butter cups and beer.

But lately I've come to realize my stalled weight loss is actually more than I've admitted to myself before. Yes I think it's partly because of my body adjusting and it's partly because of running. But I think I also just got tired.  Tired of avoiding ice cream. Tired of skipping beer.  Tired of ordering the healthiest option when I go out with friends.  Tired of the work, the constant vigilence, of weight loss.  Weight loss is hard work. It's freaking exhausting.  And I got tired of it around the same time that physiological adaptations made it even harder to lose the weight. And so I started to eat.  It's a slippery slope.  A peanut butter cup here, an order of fries there, a frappacino instead of a coffee, ordering the bagel instead of the yogurt because it's so much more appealing.
A part of me became very resentful.  It's not fair, why do I have to be so vigilent? Why can other people walk by the bowl of Hershey's kisses on a co-worker's desk and not feel compelled to eat them? How do they finish a meal and not think, "mmm, ice cream sounds good now"?

There's also a part of me that thought, well I'll just exercise more to make up for it. But the sad simple fact is you can't out-exercise bad eating habits. I know, I've tried. For every pack of peanut butter cups I need to do another hour of exercise. For every DQ Blizzard I need to do 2 hours extra of exercise.  It's an endless loop that's made worse by the fact that eating crap makes you feel like crap and feeling like crap leads to a crappy workout.  It's as simple as that.  If I'm not fueling my body for exercise, the quality of the exercise suffers as well.

Another thing I tell people is when I was over 300 pounds I didn't want to lose weight.  Sure I said I wanted to, but I didn't really want to put in the work.  Didn't want to make the sacrifice, didn't want to make the changes I needed. I was under no illusion that I was eating well back then, I just didn't care.  And if I look at myself honestly now, I have to admit that lately I'm eating like I don't care way more often than not.

So the question I have to ask myself now is this: with 40 more pounds to lose and the scale not budging, do I actually WANT to lose any more weight?  Deep deep down? Do I want to make that final leap down to a healthy weight? Clearly I know HOW to lose weight, I did it for two years.  But I'm not putting in the work. Sure I work out almost every day, but exercise is only half the equation.  I'm not fueling my body for what I'm asking it to do.  Do I care? Do I want to lose the rest of this weight?  Or perhaps the better question for me to ponder is why DON'T I want to lose it?

1 comment:

  1. As someone who only had 25 to lose and am now trying to lose the last five, I totally agree. (Actually, your post inspired my post!) Do you just say, I'm happy where I am even though its not where I thought I would be. Or do you keep being vigilant? If you figure it out, let me know ;)

    And I would love to run with you sometime. I think we have more in common than we know :)