I experienced series of unfortunate events recently, and the end result has been some weight gain. The weight gain could have been avoided, and while there are mitigating circumstances, I am choosing to avoid using those circumstances to excuse what has happened, and instead really learn from them so that I can be even better prepared for next time I encounter hurdles.
A quick synopsis first: I came to DDP Yoga tipping the scales at 198 lbs. I quickly lost the weight and got down to 145 lbs and it then became time for the maintenance phase. Over the course of a year, my weight crept up by 10 lb. Then in the last month, I had a really bad cold that knocked me out of action for a couple of weeks. I was back in action for about a week before I cracked my rib, and I have been completely out of action ever since. Coupled with the holidays and my own shortcomings, the weight jumped by another 10 lbs, and that was all it took for me to do some real thinking about what has been going wrong, and I what I need to do to get back to where I should be!
Here’s What Happened:
1. Side-effects Of Medication.
In addition to many other things DDP Yoga enabled me to do, I was able to take up running. I achieved many things running (a full marathon, a wall of medals, a great sense of achievement), but I also achieved a nasty cluster of migraines which appear to have been caused by excessive exercise/electrolyte balance. I started taking amitriptyline which worked great for the migraines, but does have the nasty habit of making you gain weight. In addition to the straight-forward weight gain side-effect, the amitriptyline likely contributed to my gradual weight gain in a second way by increasing my resting and working heart rate. This increased heart rate gets interpreted by my heart rate monitor as more calories burned, thus allowing me to eat more that I probably should. Ideally, I would like to manage my electrolytes better and stop taking amitriptyline within the next year!
2. I’m Liz, And I’m A Compulsive Eater:
I am a food addict. There’s all sorts of interesting reasons as to why I ended up looking for love and fulfillment at the bottom of a candy wrapper, but the point is that I have no power over food. Other people can open a packet of gluten-free cookies, eat three with a cup of coffee, seal the packet up and put them back in the cabinet. I can’t. Stacey Morris can make any number of delicious 8 – 12 serving desserts, eat a single portion, and stick the rest in the fridge. I can’t. I am addicted to sugar and I am a compulsive over-eater, and in all likelihood I will have to actively keep that in check for the remainder of my life. In addition, the food supply is addictive by design. We are flooded with sugar and refined carbs that light up your brain in the same was cocaine does. It’s no accident that so many of us are overweight. While I adhered to the letter of the DDP Yoga nutrition program, I didn’t always adhere to the spirit. I replaced the Dairy and Gluten free junk I used to eat with all-natural, whole ingredient treats like raw, organic almond butter or Larabars, but I still ate way too much of it. I tricked myself into thinking I could have a packet of Larabars in the house, but the packet was always empty by the end of the day. A Larabar is great snack. A Larabar. One. Eight of them is not good for you and overloads your system with excess sugar, which gets turned into fat.
3. To Count Or Not To Count:
After a few month of maintaining, I decided to quit MyFitnessPal, and stick with healthy eating to maintain my weight. That has worked for a number of people such as Stacey Morris, but given my recent weight gain, both the slow crawl to 155, and the more recent rapid jump to 165, I think we can safely assume I need a more rigorous regimen. Between weight-gain from amitriptyline, my overeating and the effect of Leptin (thanks for nothing, Mother Nature), the lack of monitoring let small amounts of over-eating and self-denial creep in.
4. Not Sharing:
When I first started this journey, I shared every single fat-roll, failed forearm balance, or diet malfunction I had. That made the success all the more sweet, and it helped other people realize they could find success, even with personal shortcomings and minor failures and setbacks. However, since I became a nutritionist, a DDP Yoga instructor, and more visible within the DDP Yoga community, I found it harder and harder to share the weak moments and shortcomings. Who wants to take nutritional advice from a failure? This was of course a self-imposed hurdle. No one in the community would have judged me, and clients understand that fitness coaches and nutritionists are people too! The problem is that failure thrives in the dark. When I had the first episode of over-indulging, had I shared it, that would have been it. But I didn’t, and it became a weird mix of exciting and shameful. That triggers the next episode of over-eating, and the next, and the next. The other issue is that hiding your mistakes allows you to believe your own nonsense without reasoned input from your peers, such as “muscle weighs considerably more than fat” (it doesn’t).
Here’s What I Am Going To Do:
1. Be Honest
I’m going to post my eating on MyFitnessPal every single day, regardless of what I eat. I am not going to be hiding my weight gain, my diet, my failures or successes any more. I will be much better about sharing either here, on YouTube or via Twitter. I will also be logging everything I eat, ill-advised or otherwise, in MyFitnessPal (no more mystery missing days!).
2. Be Mindful
I am going spend the next few months learning how to be more mindful about eating. These include but are not limited to: a brief meditation before eating any food (and more meditation in general), a large glass of water before food, all food on a plate, all plates at at table, no iPhones/computers while eating, fork down between bites. I will be implementing these bit-by-bit, and I am sure I will forget from time-to-time. That’s okay. This is a journey. I’ll be re-reading Mark Van Buren’s incredibly insightful book, Be Your Sh*tty Self to remind myself of the importance of mindfulness.
3. Stay Home
I have been eating take-out way too much recently. Even though I go to better restaurants than I did before, and keep within my vegan and GF food restrictions, eating at home will always be better where portion control, ingredient quality and calorie counting is concerned.
4. Be Consistent
I had been adjusting my food intake to match my calorie output. That worked for weight loss, but it didn’t work for healthy habit formation. My maintenance goal was about 1800 calories per day. If I ran for 30 minutes and burned 400 calories, that would allow me to eat 2200 calories (or an extra two Choco Boom Boom bars). Overtime, that turned into making exercise decisions based on knowing I had some Larabars at home that I may want to attack later, which in turn became a bad habit of overeating first and then exercising the excess of later. This ended up with me being used to having a huge calorie intake on a daily basis, and thus a rather quick weight gain as soon as I became sick or injured. I was talking with a friend who is also an overeater, but who has lost a lost a larger amount of weight than I did and has successfully kept the weight off. She eats roughly the same number of calories day in, day out regardless of what she has done for exercise. Obviously, when I am running full marathons, I may carb up in advance, but short of that, I will be following a more consistent approach with my diet.
5. Work With What’s Available
I routinely tell people who are experiencing injury to use the time to focus on nutrition. That’s great advice, so it boggles the mind as to why I typically use injury (or other impediment to exercise) as an excuse to fall off the nutritional wagon too! I am going to be side-lined for at least a couple of weeks with my stupid rib injury, so I will be using that time to really nail down good, healthy eating habits.
Here’s What I Am NOT Going To Do:
1. No reboots, Liz 2.0’s Or Do-overs
There’s only one me, there will only ever be one me. I don’t get to scrap the old one every time I make a mistake. I am stuck with myself for the rest of my life, and with all the scars, extra weight, and other reminders of where I have been and what I have done. And that’s a good thing. If I scrapped all the memories and lessons of my first time through the weight loss process, and pretended this was my day 1 again, I’d lose a massive opportunity to learn both what did work last time thought, and what didn’t worked. This is not a second weight loss journey. This is all part of my one and only weight loss journey.
2. No Taboos
I consider myself a gluten-free vegan, and avoiding foods that contain those things has become second nature to me. I am no longer tempted by Dairy Milk or Hershey’s, so that is not an issue. I am, however, struggling to be a sugar-free, gluten-free vegan, and I am extremely tempted to Choco Boom Boom bars, Larabars or Amy’s gluten free chocolate chip cookies! Instead of saying, “I will never eat gluten-free cookies again,” which invariably leads to me thinking of nothing but cookies, I instead will say, “I am avoiding them for now.” And when I reach my weight goal, I will buy a single Larabar rather than a bulk-purchase. For most people, the multipack is better value, because it costs less per bar, but that saving only works if you don’t eat the entire packet that day! In the meantime, I will be focusing on developing the habit of turning to cucumber, apples, celery or other whole foods for snack-time!
3. No Labels, No Bullying
I am a little heavier than I would like to be. I feel healthier when I am leaner, and I struggle with feelings of regret for having given into food addiction and squandering the weight goals I achieved. However, this is temporary. I will regain my weight goals. In the meantime, I will not be defined by the extra weight I am carrying in my midsection. I don’t like how I look right now as much as I liked how I looked at 140 lbs, so instead of spending hours staring at the mirror and beating myself up for what I don’t like, I will choose not to look in the mirror. And when I do, I will actively force myself to be positive and focus on things I do like. Similarly, I will not call myself some of the horrific names I used to call myself, or bully myself for having weak moments or setbacks. I frequently explain to people that they should treat themselves as they would others. If your friend came to you, and said, “I feel awful, I broke my diet and demolished an entire pack of Oreos,” you wouldn’t tell her she’s a fat, worthless, pig, nor would you berate her at length for tripping up. No, aside from the fact that you would have to be a horrible, evil person to treat someone that way, you are also aware that it wouldn’t help anything. After being treated that way, your friend would end up in a shame-spiral and would probably end up overeating again to bury those feelings. The exact same thing happens when you treat yourself that way.
So that is my now, very public, setback and roadmap to getting back to where I was. I will update this post with my weight every week until I get to my target (below 147):
12/01: 167 lbs
- 12/08: 160 lbs