The Missing Ingredient

So, as evidenced by the increasing infrequency of my posting, I guess you can probably imagine that work has gotten muy loco once again, and this poor, neglected blog is suffering the consequences. Well, there is good news and bad news that comes out of this fact, the bad news being that, of course, my posting has gone out the window… as have my *ahem* weigh-ins. (Oops.)

BUT. The good news is that the thing that I’m working on is a flippin’ huge, rocktastic, amaaaaahzing party that Y-O-U are invited to attend!

Yelp Gets Lucky

Yelp Gets Lucky is taking place on Friday, June 13th from 8 – 10 PM (or 7 PM if you’re part of the Yelp Elite Squad) and it’s going to be a seriously good time. We’re talking tons of noms, draaaaanks, and entertainment, all courtesy of amazing local businesses!

Best of all? It’s 100% TOTALLY COMPLETELY FREE to attend! All you gotta do is RSVP on Yelp. That’s it. For serious. So local readers, you have no excuse not to come out and play, okay?!

Aaaaanyway, now that that shameless plug is out of the way, let’s get back to me making pitiful excuses for why I haven’t been blogging. I mean, wait. What?

Okay, so here’s the real deal. (Buckle in, this is gonna be a long ride, folks.) I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this blog and where I’m going with it. You know, thinking about where I was in my life when I wrote that first post three and half years ago, and where I am now. Thinking about the goals I’ve achieved, the ones that I’ve failed at, the ones that I first achieved and THEN failed at maintaining afterwards… and how with the onset of this dream job and so many things in my life falling into place, maintaining this blog has lately felt more like a burden than a joy.

I know, I know, that sounds bad, and maybe it actually reads harsher than I really mean it to, but, hmm. How do I say it… I guess I’ve been kind of tiptoeing around the fact that I’m just not as passionate about blogging as I used to be. And I’ve been blaming it on being busy or being distracted or whatever, but I think we all know that it’s not really about not having the time to do it.

I mean, here’s the story of this blog in a nutshell: I was fat and unhappy, so I lost a buncha weight. And it was awesome! Aaaand then I gained a whole bunch of weight back. And that was not so awesome (especially to admit… publicly… on the interwebs) but, unlike before, I was fat and happy. Not happy about being fat, but you know what I mean. But, hey, I write a weight loss blog. So I knew that eventually I needed to own up to regaining the weight, and that I also needed to re-lose it. I had it in my mind that if I did it once, I could do it again just as long as I did all the same things I did the first time around. So that’s what I set out to do.

And sure, it worked for a while, because just paying attention to myself and what I was eating again was enough to help me shed those first 10, 15 pounds again. But then… I dunno. My drive just kinda — poof! — disappeared. And I couldn’t really figure out why. After all, I was doing all the same things I did the first time. Counting my calories, exercising (well, kinda…), cleaning my diet back up. And it was working! I was losing weight again. And yet… something was still missing.

I just haven’t been able to muster up the same enthusiasm towards my weight loss that I had the first time around. Maybe it’s because I’ve taken so many steps backwards that the fact that I’m finally moving forward again isn’t really a big deal. Because I’m still so far from where I once was. So, you know, celebrating a loss that I had already lost but subsequently regained doesn’t really seem like an appropriate thing to celebrate anymore. There’s too much guilt and shame involved now.

Beyond that, though, I think part of the reason why doing all the same things and following the same path doesn’t feel quite right anymore is because while all those things might be the same, I’m not. I’m pretty damn different now than I was three and a half years ago (um, thank GOODNESS, right?). Pretty much everything in my life has changed since then — my job (VIVA LA YELP!), my relationship (I think I’ll keep him), even my family (hello, Auntie Gretchen!). In fact, the only thing that hasn’t really changed is this pervasive obsession I continue to have with losing weight and, while we’re being honest I’ll just say it, being thin.

Let’s just face facts: While I talked a LOT about how, really, this blog is about getting healthy, and, really, it’s about working through my food issues, and, really, it’s about loving myself, you wanna know what it’s REALLY been about? Losing weight. I mean, it’s right there in the title. And I feel like in having that focus right from the start, I was always in the mindset that there was something about me that needed to change. That needed to be fixed. And that one basic thought right there, despite all my best efforts and a lot of denial, led the way for a lifetime of doubt and self-loathing to settle in under every victorious blog post, every one of my successes.

I mean, heck, even when I did lose 60 pounds and felt happy and whole and looked rockin’ in tapered denim, I still wasn’t satisfied. I wanted to continue to “fix” myself, to lose more, to be skinnier… and I’m pretty sure that lack of contentment is probably a key factor in why I started to regain weight in the first place.

IMG_8199.jpg IMG_9111.jpg

So yes, I obviously would love to get back to that place, that weight, how I felt at that time. But I don’t want to get there by spouting positivity on this blog but secretly wishing I could chop off the rolls on my stomach in private. The truth of the matter is that I’ve spent far too much of my life punishing myself for my body, being mad at myself for lacking the self-control to be thin, hatefully comparing myself to other women.

Now, let’s just hit the “pause” button for a hot sec, because I want to clarify that this post is in no way a declaration that I’m going to stop blogging. I’m obviously waaaaay too egomaniacal to ever do that. Please. But I am starting to reevaluate what it is that I’m looking to get out of this and put into this blog. Because I don’t think my real goal is just to lose weight any more. Or, at least, I don’t think I want it to be.

Maybe I’m finally getting to a place where I truly do want to work towards being able to fully accept and love my body as-is. No improvements needed. And I promise, I’m not trying to use this as an excuse to be lazy and eat whatever I want and be unhealthy. This is all about trying to implement a shift in my perspective, and I think it’s time for me to take a break from this total fixation I have on my weight, my size, and my body in general. Or at least, to TRY to take a break from it.

And you know, while I’m working on the full mental overhaul that I’m sure will be required to get me to see things just a little differently (I tell ya, the media industry really has done a number on me), I’ll continue to eat healthily (for the most part, as I do now) and go to the gym (for the occasional part, at least) and we’ll see where that gets me for the next little while.

Aaaaand since this post has LONG since passed the “eyes glazing over” stage right into TL;DR territory, I’ll go ahead and stop myself here. Let’s see how this attempt at a shiny new perspective goes, shall we?

The Biggest Loser & America’s Obsession with Judging

So, I, like many of you, caught wind of The Biggest Loser finale last night. And even though I haven’t watched a full season of the show in many years, for reasons that I’m sure I don’t need to get into too deeply — promotes unrealistic expectations of weight loss, contestants do atrociously unhealthy things in preparation of the finale (purposeful dehydrations, starvation, etc.), and % of weight regained in subsequent years is very high (though, obviously, I can’t really comment on that since, well, you know). ANYWAY.

In case you aren’t abreast of the current controversy, Rachel Frederickson, the winner of this season, is being criticized for “taking it too far” and losing too much weight. She, at 5’4″, has lost 155 pounds — in the 7 months or so since filming began. That, my friends, is a LOT of weight lost.

And, granted, she does look incredibly thin. Losing over 60% of your original weight will do that to you! I’ll fully admit that my initial reaction when I saw Rachel’s transformation was pretty much akin to Bob & Jillian’s:

Shock. Awe. A not-small amount of secret jealousy. And “concern.” Because, yes, I am concerned about the implications that losing THAT kind of weight has on impressionable people who watch the program. But honestly, those kinds of implications have ALWAYS been there — I mean, losing 8 – 20 pounds every single week? Uh, yeah, talk about inadequacy-building. So as I sat there, reacting to Rachel’s results, very nearly jumping right onto the “She looks too thin! She must be anorexic! Unhealthy! Blasphemy! Bad role model!” bandwagon, I had to force myself to take a step back.

Are these feelings of judgement over how much weight Rachel has lost and how she looks really coming from a place of honest, good-will-towards-men concern? Probably not. They’re probably coming from a place of envy, of wishing that I had someone — or some huge monetary incentive — pushing me to lose 150 pounds (well, not really that much, but sure, like, 80 or 90!), and of wishing that I, too, could be that skinny. while I do of course HOPE that Rachel didn’t do anything too unhealthy or damaging to get there… would any of us honestly be able to blame her if she did?

After all, I can’t say she honestly looks much thinner than most of the celebrities whose images are thrust upon us daily. The timeframe in which she lost the weight makes it shocking, to be sure, but if she had lost the same amount over a longer period of time would people be having the same reactions? Plus, with all the articles I’ve read about the pre-finale dehydration that contestants put themselves through, I wouldn’t be surprised if she did bounce back a few pounds immediately anyway (though, to her credit, I do hope she is able to maintain at least a portion of her weight loss for the long run!)

I’m not here to drop opinions on whether she looks “anorexic” or “too skinny” or has taken this whole thing “too far.” I’m not even here to wax poetic about how The Biggest Loser in general promotes disordered thinking and puts an outrageous amount of importance on weight in general. I’m here instead to draw the eye a little bit further back, past the specific circumstances of Rachel Frederickson’s weight loss, and to the bigger picture of America’s incessant need to judge. The comments I see on Facebook and Twitter in response to the finale — and not just about Rachel, but ALL the contestants — are SO judgmental. Rachel lost too much weight, but Ruben didn’t lose enough! She looks great, he looks terrible, blah blah freaking blah. And, granted, these folks literally signed up for that when they agreed to be filmed as part of a hugely popular reality television show, and I would be lying if I said that I myself didn’t get some kind of voyeuristic pleasure out of watching these kinds of shows, the same way I enjoy watching America’s Next Top Model and all the rest of that crap.

But I don’t really want to be this judgmental. After all, it’s incredibly hypocritical for me to make any kinds of judgments on someone else’s weight loss journey when I’m going through one myself — and I have firsthand experience with having people judge me for having regained what weight I lost, so I know just how much it sucks. So, yes, obviously I do hope that Rachel’s journey wasn’t damaging or unhealthy, but I am also going to refrain from joining in on the chorus condemning her for losing “too much” weight. Everybody’s journey to health looks different, everyone has different challenges and setbacks. So who the hell am I to judge?

I guess this is just one step in me trying to adjust my perspective on what it means to be healthy, to be fit, to want to be thin, and to try to be an advocate for — and supporter of — healthy body types and shapes of all kinds. Both for myself, for my own desire to love my body and be happy with wherever I end up, and just to be one more person in this vanity-obsessed, judgmental society that has at least tries to see a different picture. That way, even if I do slip back into my old, petty, envious, judgey mcjudgerson ways every now and then, I’ll hopefully be able to take that step back, take a deep breath, and try again.

What’s Different the Second Time Around

Sooooo, apologies in advance that this entire week is evidently full of super heavy posts. I’m thinking it’s like 25% because I have so many feelings about restarting this whole weight loss endeavor, and like 75% because — as evidenced by the tears that welled up in my eyes during last night’s viewing of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse on FX — I am PMSing pretty hardcore.

So last week I finally manned up and openly admitted that I’ve regained the majority of the weight that you all watched me lose once upon a time. And it was probably one of the hardest and most emotionally taxing things that I’ve done in a really, really long time.

I mean, c’mon, it’s hard enough having to admit you’ve gained weight… to yourself. But add in an entire internet audience, and, as I’m sure you can imagine, it becomes just a liiiiittle harder. And as if that weren’t enough, lest we forget, this is the SECOND time that I’m having to admit it. So, we take everything that was difficult about typing out my weight and then pressing “publish” that very first time, then we pile on all of the victories and defeats that accumulated in the following couple of years — wherein I actually LOST 60 pounds and was feeling pretty good about myself — and then multiply it all by the fact that everything I already went through ended up being for nothing. Because here I am again.

So yeah, it sucks.

And I’m going to be honest and admit that I’m already really struggling this time around. Not struggling to get back on track, because I’m actually doing pretty well so far: Tracking all my food, eating well, getting some exercise in, doing a lot of good things in that department. No, instead I’m struggling with all the mushy, icky, complicated emotional stuff. I’m struggling with the HOW. As in, how could I possibly have let myself regain FIFTY pounds? How could I not have noticed, how did I live in denial for so long, how could I not have stopped myself sooner, how could I have let it happen at all?

After everything I went through the first time, after all the progress that I made and all the things I accomplished and all the ways that I grew AND all the ways that I shrunk, how did I get back here?

As I explained in my post last week, I’m not really 100% sure. I think the main thing is that I stopped really caring about maintaining a healthy lifestyle, I stopped prioritizing good choices over easy choices, and I just stopped paying attention to my weight. And for someone like me, someone who loves food entirely too much, someone who is oftentimes physically repulsed by the thought of exercise, someone who has a known history of abusing food, abusing her body with food, and abusing herself because of how she’s abused food… not paying attention is pretty much an automatic precursor to backsliding.

So when I try to think about what’s different now, the second time, I can’t think about how maybe it’ll be easier because I already know what to do, or how because I’ve already done it once before, that must automatically mean I can do it again. No, all I can think about it how much harder it already is. And I’m not even really talking about the actual losing weight part: the calorie counting, the working out, the being accountable. That stuff is honestly all the same, because, yes, I have, done it all before. I do know that I can do it, and while I hate all of it just the same, it really is just like falling back into old habits. It’s the emotional weight that is now attached to every pound I gained, a weight that still remains even as they are starting to fall back off.

The stakes feel so much higher this time. I’ve already failed once, after all. Who’s to say I won’t fail again? Who’s to say that this won’t just be ANOTHER huge waste of time? I mean, no, I know that it wasn’t really a waste of time the first time around. I learned a lot of things about myself, I finally started to really fight back against my addiction to food, my binge eating, my relationship with my body, with myself, blah, blah, blah… but still, when you look at the hard facts, when you break it down to the fact that a year ago I weighed fifty pounds less than I do now, it’s hard not to see it all as a total wash.

One of the most difficult things that I’m having to face is how easy it was for me to gain all the weight back. I mean, it’s not like I was going to the drive-thru every night and cramming fifty pounds worth of Baconators down my throat. I clearly wasn’t trying to gain weight. I knew my eating habits weren’t great and I wasn’t getting much exercise, but it’s not like I was going balls-to-the-walls here, either. It was a pizza night here, a pasta night there, going out for a friend’s birthday here, sharing an appetizer AND getting dessert there. The pounds came back on slowly enough that for the first 10 or 15 I barely noticed anything (since 10 pounds on my frame one way or the other doesn’t exactly make for an earth-shattering different in appearance). And after I did kinda-sorta start to think maybe I was gaining weight back, I was entrenched enough in my habits that I guess I just didn’t want to think about it.

So, yes, the fact that it was so easy to gain all that weight back — and how capable I was of ignoring the gain — is absolutely terrifying.

Because everything about this second try seems hard right now.

I’m really not trying to pull a sympathy plea here. Just like I tried really hard not to come up with excuses in my initial post, I’m not trying to backpeddle and plug them in now either. I got myself back into this situation and I’m the one who wants to change in the first place, so everything that’s happened and everything that will happen moving forward is on me. I’m not looking for anybody to baby me (well, that’s not really true, I actually love being babied, according to the still-growing collection of stuffed animals hiding in my closet), I’m just trying to be honest. Honestly trying to figure out how I got back to this point, and honest about why, even though I’m going through a lot of the same motions, it all feels different this time.

Because now, on top of the shame and guilt for having already failed once, there’s this overarching, pervasive layer of fear. Hell, maybe there always was, and I’m only just now recognizing it. I’m scared, okay? I am scared that I won’t be able to get back to where I was. I’m scared that even if I do, I’m just going to regain everything all over again. I’m scared that even if I don’t regain a single pound, I’ll never be able to stop paying attention, stop prioritizing, stop caring so damn much about my weight. There won’t ever be an end, there won’t ever be any reprieve, and I’m scared knowing that I will continue to have to fight for the rest of my life.

I’m not saying that it’s not a good fight — to fight for your health, to fight for yourself? It’s probably one of the best fights out there. But the thought of fighting, all the time, from now until forever? To have to continue to carefully portion out how much I eat, to count calories, to be mindful at all times of what it is that I’m eating and how active I’m being, not just whilst losing weight but forever afterwards as well? Find me one person on this Earth that isn’t exhausted just thinking about that.

The fact is, I will always love eating. It will probably always be the thing I suggest when there’s something to celebrate, the first thing I want to do when something’s made me sad, the way I like to bond with others. But as much as I love food, I do know — whether due to years of misguided dieting or having a bad body image or maybe just because I’m programmed this way — that it’s entirely too easy for me to take it too far.

And I definitely do not love what overeating does to me. I don’t like feeling bloated or having digestive issues or being fat. I don’t like being out of shape and weak and exhausted. I want to be healthy, I want to be strong, and, as I discussed yesterday, sure, I also want to look bangin’. The point is, I do want this. And so for now, I just have to keep going down this road, and hope that part of the reason that this second time around feels different is because it is also destined to end differently.