The Slow Gain

In the past four years since I started this whole blogging thing, I’ve gained weight and I’ve lost weight. I’ve gained and lost in the small-picture, week-to-week sense — 2 lbs lost here, a pound gained there — and this minute yo-yoing of the scale inevitably proved inconsequential, as in the long run, I made it to a whopping 60 pounds lost in total. And so the individual gains that may have happened along the way were, of course, overtaken by the individual losses that I experienced.

But, of course, as we now know, I’ve also lost and gained in the greater, bigger-picture sense, with a much less celebratory outcome — sure, 60 pounds were lost, but then 10 pounds were gained. And then maybe 5 pounds were lost again, but another 10 were gained. And so on, and so forth, eventually leading to a grand total of 50 pounds slowly and surely attaching themselves back onto my body over the course of the years that followed.

Yeah, I know, that’s a lot. Just like 60 pounds is a lot of weight to lose, 50 pounds is a lot of weight to gain back. But here’s the thing, it really didn’t SEEM like a lot at the time. Each pound that crept on really seemed to do exactly that: creep. Unlike in my previous life as a binge eater and general destroyer of my body, I didn’t think that I was doing that much particularly unhealthy stuff. I wasn’t sneaking Baconators into my dorm room, I wasn’t tiptoeing around the kitchen at midnight, I wasn’t pretending like I didn’t already eat dinner only to go have a second dinner with friends.

Sure, I also wasn’t running anymore, and I had stopped counting my calories, but it’s not like I was diving headfirst into a pile of chili cheese fries every night either. I ate lots of normal, healthy, whole foods (and occasionally some unhealthy foods too, of course), with the key word being “lots.” I was simply eating more than I should have been eating, and not moving as much as I should have been moving.

And so the weight, it came. It came slowly and quietly and in the dead of night, and it’s almost like I didn’t even notice it was there. I say almost, of course, because in reality I did notice.

It’s not that I was in denial about gaining weight. Denial suggests that I had no idea that I was gaining weight, that I was filling back out, that my clothes were getting tighter. Of course I had an idea. Of course I knew. I mean, I was having candid photos of me taken on a monthly basis! It’s not like it’s something I could really hide. When you’re fat, it’s not like you don’t KNOW you’re fat. Sometimes you just don’t care. Unfortunately, when it came down to brass tacks, I still did. Care, that is.

So it wasn’t that I was in denial over gaining the weight. I was in denial thinking that I didn’t care I was gaining it.

I didn’t want to care. I didn’t want to continue feeling emotionally tied to a number on the scale or label in my pants. I didn’t want to look in the mirror and be discontent with what I saw. I didn’t want to untag myself from photos on Facebook that I didn’t “like.” No, I wanted to be able to find that glorious place within myself where I could not care about my size, where I could look in the mirror and smile without a caveat, where I could simply love me for me.

And don’t get me wrong, there was not a small amount of soul-searching that came with trying to force myself not to care, and amazingly I did come out the other side with a much richer understanding of how awesome I am.

But, as much as I truly do believe in self-acceptance, body-positivity, and loving yourself no matter your size, weight, or body type, what I think the whole “me not caring” thing really came down to is that I just didn’t want to TRY anymore. Losing weight is easy but it’s hard. The theory is simple but the practice takes dedication and willpower and I had the mistaken thought that losing weight would be a one-and-done thing for me: I’d lose the weight, change my habits, and be at a happy size forever.

As I’ve learned, it’s a constant, constant struggle for me. Regardless of whether I’m 180 pounds or 230 pounds, I’m not the kind of person who can play it fast and lose with her portions. I am going to need to keep an eye on how much I eat for the rest of my life. And that’s a hard thing to really wrap your head around. It’s the kind of thing that makes you not really want to bother trying to lose weight.

And yet, here we are again. Partially because I’ve totally jumped on the New Year’s Resolution bandwagon this year, but moreso because I’m simply ready to start trying again. After all, my happy weight is any weight at which I feel happy, and I’m just not feeling my happiest at my current weight anymore.

Of course, starting back down this road again does beg some questions: What’s my goal this time around? What am I gunning for? Why now? And, of course, given that I’ve tried rebooting my weight loss several times over the past couple years, what’s different about this time?

What are my goals? Well, I admit that I’m not totally sure where my goals lie at this point. I know that I want to lose a bit of weight, but I really am trying to maintain a focus on my overall health and fitness as opposed to just my size.

Why now? Because, well, why not? I don’t think I need a specific reason to want to lose weight, get healthier, or shape up, but I guess that, just like the very first time, it boils down to a lot of different factors all reaching their tipping point: I want to be able to wear my old clothes again, I want to tone up, I want to feel confident having my photo taken, I want be able to keep up with my energetic almost-two-year-old niece, and I want to set up habits that will help keep me healthy and strong as I continue to get older. I’m still pretty young, so yeah, I can carry an extra 50 pounds around and it doesn’t seem like a big deal. But in another 5, 10, 15 years? Knowing that I’d just be making things more difficult for my future self, why would I wait any longer?

What’s different? An emphasis on fitness, being active, and actually trying to establish a true habit of working out daily is a HUGE difference for me. Even when I was being a weight loss rockstar, exercise was the most minimal part of my routine. I was really only working out or running when I had a specific race to train for, and even then, it was probably only three times a week. Approaching this from the fitness side of things feels like I’m coming at this thing from an entirely new angle.

So here’s to another onslaught of incremental losses, miniscule gains, and my overall weight loss, fitness, and health. Let’s see if it finally sticks this time, shall we?

Back to the Grind (Weigh-in)

Well, I know it’s been a minute since I actually last posted about something related to weight loss. Which is no big deal really, except that it’s, oh, you know, just the whole main subject of this very blog. And I’ve really only recently gotten back on the bandwagon, as it were, so it’s pretty bad of me to fall behind already.

That being said, you all already know the reasons why I have fallen behind, so I’m hoping you’re willing to cut me a wee little bit o’ slack. Trips galore, planning gigantic promotions for local businesses, and a mind-boggling sickness (stupid #CMWeekPlague!) that lingers on EVEN TODAY… but whatevs. I’m here now, and that’s all that really matters, ain’t it?

So let’s not dilly dally here. I’m sure it comes as no surprise to you all that I wasn’t exactly on my best, most rigorous weight loss behavior on my various jetsets across the country, so I was pretty much bracing myself for the worst when it came to the scale this morning. Shall we take a look?

(Re)Starting Weight: 236.6 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 226.2
This Weigh-in: 228.7 lbs
Difference: +2.5 lbs

So, I gained a couple of libbies back, surprising nobody. But really, i’s not the WORST thing that could’ve happened. I mean, it’s not great, but if we’re all being honest here, I think we know it could have been waaaaaaay bad. I mean, eating out for literally every single meal while I was in SF with a group of other gorgeous people who are experts on goooood fooood, drinking at night (and I don’t really drink much, so I’m sure that had a big impact) all the cakes and candy and ridonkulous sugar highs that came with planning and executing a one year old’s birthday party… Plus, we all know that I can gain 5 pounds by pretty much just looking at a stack of nachos, so all things considered, I’m actually not that discouraged.

Well, actually, now that I’m really thinking about it, I probably DID gain more than 2.5 pounds back, but since I’ve been back home for almost a week now, maybe I’ve already normalized a bit. Which does make it ever so slightly more depressing, but… meh. What’s done is done, eh?

After all, I’m nothing if not resilient. So I’ll just keep on keeping on (it’s kind of my thing). I’ve got some new inspiration for some awesome recipes, I’m focusing on consuming more protein and healthy fat, and fewer carbs (I’ve given up potatoes for Lent which should help eliminate about 60% of my current carb addiction problem… man, I love potatoes), and in general, I’m feeling pretty good about how things are going. Or, rather, how they will be going, from hereon out.

PLUS, I just got my braces adjusted, which means that I’m pretty much limited to a diet of applesauce, pudding, and mashed avocado for the next few days. I mean, sure, it’s kind of an involuntary diet, but hey, if it works…!

Thanks, as always, for sticking around with me on this crazy ride. And, you know, not judging me toooo harshly on weeks like this. And hey, since I kickstarted this weightloss thing back in January, this is my first weigh-in reporting a gain, so that’s one way to justify look at it, right? #silverlining

PS: There’s still time to enter the AllWhites givewaway for a $100 gift card! Check it out if you haven’t already and get paiiiiiiid, yo!

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.

Deja Vu All Over Again (Weigh-in)

246.

That’s the number that I found myself face to face with (well, more like face to ground, since I was standing on a scale at that time) back in August, 2010. That is the number that caused my breath to catch in my lungs, the tears to well up in my eyes, and reality to hit me square in the chest. It’s the number that, nearly three and a half years ago, made my life literally come to a halt.

And thank God it did.

Because the life I was living at the time? Just having broken up with my first serious long-term boyfriend (for the first time… but that entire ordeal is, of course, another story)? Fresh out of one job that I absolutely hated, but into another one that was as boring as the last one had been horrible? A couch potato so lazy that I made other sedentary people look like marathoners? The not-so-proud owner of a myriad of serious food issues? That life was not so good.

So, it took me until I reached my highest (known) weight of 246 pounds for me to wake up and finally say, “Enough.” You know the story: I asked my brother to help me create a website, I posted my weight on the internet to humiliate myself keep myself accountable, and I actually — miraculously — started to turn things around.

Slowly but surely, the pounds started to come off and I started to grow up (a little, at least… I think), and one day I found myself 60 pounds lighter than when I started. But I still had the boyfriend issues (shockingly, it turns out, he wasn’t “The One” by a looooongshot), and I still had the boring job, and every day was still a struggle for me not to fall back into my old habits. I had to keep fighting not to backslide.

So when I did finally start to focus on those other, not as stellar parts of my life, it should come as no surprise to you all that I did start to backslide. It was just a little at first. A few extra pounds crept on, and I noticed but I told myself it wasn’t a big deal. Five extra pounds on a frame like mine? Nobody’ll even notice. Except… five eventually turned into ten. And ten turned into fifteen. And before I knew it…

I was almost right back to where I started.

Don’t get me wrong, some amazing things happened while those pounds were silently becoming part of my life again. I found an amazing new guy, I got my dream job, discovered how awesome it is to have unnatural colored hair, and, dude, I wrote a freaking book. But I had stopped making my health a priority — I’d stopped really caring at all. With everything else suddenly vying for my attention instead, the fight for my health just stopped seeming important.

Of course, all of those things are not an excuse for letting myself go, and I promise, I’m really not trying to make excuses at all. What happened happened, and now I’m back here, with my focus once again trained on my health. But, as my very wise and beautiful friend Cassie pointed out in her comment on my weight gain admittance post, maybe since now all those other things ARE right this time, juuuust maybe the fitness and the weight loss and, most importantly, the health stuff will stick around for the long run.

It took a lot of courage for me to post my weight on the internet three and a half years ago. I was terrified to do it. But, I gotta tell you, maybe it’s because hindsight is 20/20 (just like my vision is now, BOOM! Actually, j/k, my vision is 20/15 now. DOUBLE BOOM!), but it feels 80,000 times more mortifying to admitting my weight this time around.

Maybe it’s because I know I have coworkers reading now, or because there are more people reading in general, or maybe (most likely) it has something to do with the whole “I already failed once” thing… but I’m not going to dive too deeply into that now. This post is already heavy enough. The point is, even in my initial admittance post, I was too scared to admit my weight. I used a couple of vague statements to give a little perspective about how much I had regained, but I didn’t use any actual numbers. And, c’mon, you have to admit that was crappy of me, right?! I mean, I’m the girl that posts her weight on the internet so that God and her mother and all of her high school frenemies can see exactly how much she weighs, every week. I’m the girl that wants to help tear down the idea that a number can own anybody. And yet, I’m a girl who was scared of a frakking number?! Boourns.

Well, since you were all way too nice to call me out for that, I’ll do it myself: Gretchen, that was total BS. Own up to your number, and then take it DOWN. Literally. So, here we go. And, let me just say, that while some might consider this to be a sliiiight cop-out, since I waited until my first actual weigh-in (and thus, loss) to post my digits… Well, at least I’m still doing it.

Deep breaths, Gretchen. Deep breaths…

(Re)Starting Weight: 236.6 lbs
This Weigh-in: 233.4 lbs
Difference: -3.2 lbs

Yes, I gained back all but ten — just TEN — of the pounds I fought tooth and nail to lose. I regained FIFTY pounds. And I absolutely hate that I did. I won’t lie, it’s really, really hard not to hate myself for it. But as much as I wish I could time-travel back to every bad food decision and just straight up slap each hoagie, burrito, and pizza slice out of my hands, I can’t. All I can do is move forward, and hopefully downward, as I continue on this journey.

But hey, at least losing 3.2 pounds isn’t too terrible of a way to start, right?

The Music: I Am Facing It

All right.

So it’s been a little over a month since I wrote about my struggles with weight loss. Not the normal, why-is-losing-weight-so-hard struggles that I’ve been talking about for the past two years on whole, but whether or not I want to continue the whole “weight loss” aspect of this here weight loss blog at all. It’s been a month of me trying to make peace with my body, a month of seeing how I feel without also feeling like I need to make excuses to you guys for why I haven’t been posting my weigh-ins. A month of trying to live in my body, as-is, to see how it fits.

Well, that’s the official timeline.

Unofficially, I’ve really been off the weight loss wagon much longer. My last official weigh-in was May 2nd. That’s pre-Reach the Beach, pre-St. Maarten, and pre-Summer in general. And let’s be honest, even my efforts up to that point had been pretty lackluster: gain a pound, lose a pound, gain two pounds, lose two pounds, etc.

I think that now I can officially say that enough time has passed, enough energy has been expended, and enough thoughts have been, uh, thought, that I can say the following:

I am ready to start losing weight again.

Go ahead, roll your eyes. Scoff. Choke back your witty but sardonic remarks (or let ’em rip! Your call).

I understand. Really, I do. I know I’ve been here before. I’ve said these exact words so many times, they’re old hat by now. But that doesn’t automatically negate the authenticity of my intentions, does it? Just like with my original attempt at weight loss, all those months (now years!) ago, I’ve realized that these things just need to happen when I’m really ready for them to happen.

I’m a rebel. Okay, okay, fine, let’s call me what I really am: a brat. Evidently it would seem that I have to do things my way, in my own time, or they’re simply not going to get done. I climbed almost to 250 pounds before I was ready to change my life the first time around. Didn’t I realize that I needed to lose weight at 220 pounds? 200 pounds? Of course! Did I make halfhearted attempts to do so in response to bribes from my parents, subversive messages from the media, derisive looks from my skinnier coworkers? Sure! Did any of them work? Hells no!

I started this blog as a means to keep myself accountable for my weight loss, and it worked wonders for me. At first. I skimmed off 60 pounds and felt like I was on top of the world. But then, as time passed and my progress slowed, and as other things (good things!) started to cement themselves in my life, posting my daily eats and weekly weigh-ins just stopped working quite as well. Things felt perfunctory, and I felt like the only reason I was even still going was because I felt like I had backed myself into this corner with a big sign over it that read “NOT 165 POUNDS YET”. I felt like I needed to keep going just because this one time, over a year ago, I said that I had a specific goal in mind. It wasn’t about me being happy with my weight or my body or my lifestyle.

At the time I started this blog, I was supremely unhappy with a lot more than just my weight. I was in a job that I disliked, I was single, and I was generally just in a pretty low place. Now? I am fulfilling my dream of writing a book, I have a wonderful boyfriend, a thriving social life, and am just so happy most days that I probably annoy the crap out of you. < /brag>

But that doesn’t mean that I still shouldn’t want more for myself. And I think I am finally at a place where I’m ready to take back the original intentions of this blog: not just to lose weight in a vague, ethereal sense, but to put in place one more element of my life that I haven’t been truly satisfied with. I’ve actually been thinking all of this for a while now, but I wanted to make sure that my motivations for this particular recommittment (since there have been so many already) were finally coming from the right place.

So. Now that I’ve steadfastly declared that I’m back on board, let’s address the other part of this thing: my actual weight. Intentions are all well and good, but they don’t mean a whole lot if they’re not followed up with action (I feel like I’ve said this before, haha). This train is leaving the denial station starting now. (Get it? Back on board… train… anyone? Bueller?)

While I haven’t been going balls-to-the-walls with my eating this summer, I’ve definitely been partaking in more than my fair share of eating out and “celebrating”. A little too much Starbucks, and a little too little cooking at home. And though I have been (miraculously) maintaining some semblance of physical activity, that’s definitely not what it should be either (ughhhhh, exercise, bleh). I know that I’ve gained weight. I can see it in my face (and, oddly enough, in my upper arms), and I can feel it in my soul. (What, dramatic? Me?)

So here we are, just in time for Weigh-in Wednesday. Ready? (No.)

Starting Weight: 246 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 189.4 lbs
This Weigh-in: 206.1 lbs
Difference: +16.7 lbs

Wow.

Okay, just let me absorb that for a minute.

Well, I can’t honestly say that I’m surprised. Actually, that’s a lie. I am a little surprised — that I’m not more upset by this. Don’t get me wrong, I did have a bit of an… emotional… response at first (shock!). But I guess I kind of already knew that if I’d gained enough weight for me to actively notice sans-scale, we probably weren’t talking single digit pounds here anyway. I mean, when you’re 5’9″ and have a large frame, 5 libbies here or there doesn’t really have too much of a physical impact, you know? So gaining 16 pounds in 4 months may seem like a lot — and it is — but we all know just how easy it is to gain weight when your healthy habits take a backseat.

I’m actually feeling, dare I say, optimistic. I thought I would crumple into a ball of hysterics at seeing a number that’s over 200 again on the scale, but it actually makes me feel like I really have something to work toward now. It feels like this means it won’t just be more weeks of back and forth, losing the same 2 pounds over and over again. I know it probably sounds crazy, but it makes me feel kind of like I’m starting fresh. Like, that was Act I, and then there was intermission, and now we’re starting Act II (and we all know Act II is the most exciting one).

Weight Progression

And hey, at least all my size 12 clothes still fit, so that’s something. Does weight redistribute itself differently when you regain it? Huh.

All right, this has been mighty wordy already, so I’ll cut myself off here. Hopefully attending (and speaking at!) HLS this weekend will only further my drive to see this through (though hopefully not in a burns-out-quickly, sensationalist way). The bottom line is, I’m ready. Here we go again… again.