One Pound Forward, Two Pounds Back

It’s been a few months now since I recommitted to living a healthier life once again, and you’ve probably noticed that I haven’t made too many mentions of it since. Well, there’s a pretty simple reason for that. In a turn of events that shocks absolutely no one, I’m sure, things have not gone super rosily in the healthy living department. ::shrug::

I was doing really well for quite a while, actually: logging all my food, being more mindful of my eating, and what have you. I lost around 10 pounds, which might sound like a decent amount, but while it isn’t anything to sneer at, 10 pounds really isn’t all that much when you’re my size & height. It was a good start. But you all know how it goes: maybe Penny had a bad week sleepwise, or I had a bunch of work commitments, or I went out of town, and little by little I just, I dunno, slid back into my old habits. And things just kind of… settle. I haven’t stepped on the scale in a couple of weeks, but I have a feeling I’ve started to gain back a couple of even the small amount of pounds I lost.

As I’ve mentioned before, having Penny really has changed my perception of my body and given me true appreciation for what I’ve got. So I’m being honest when I say I hadn’t been as bothered by weight the same way I used to be… until quite recently. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been extra bloated this past week, or because my skin has been freaking out on me, or just because I’m whatever pre-Penny mindset I used to have is finally starting to creep back in, but I simply haven’t been feeling very good about myself lately. I find myself groaning at photos of myself, whining to Sean, agonizing over what to wear, and just generally not feeling myself.

 

Regardless of whatever number I see on the scale, I just want to regain the feeling of being happy when I look in the mirror. I want to feel good about myself, to take photos with Penny without feeling self-conscious about how I look, and to focus on how beautiful and wonderful she is instead. I want to look into my closet without my first thought being about how I can best disguise my mid-section today. I just want to reinvigorate my confidence — mostly for my own happiness and wellbeing, but also because I don’t ever want to surround Penny with the kind of negative self-talk (or even self-thought!) that has plagued me for most of my life.

So, you know, that’s where I’m at! Now that Penny seems to have gotten a handle on sleeping all night (for this past week, at least… watch, just typing out that sentence will totally have jinxed it and tonight is gonna be terrible hahaha), it seems like a great time to focus on myself a little bit more again. So it’s back to the basics for me! I’m trying to make sure I stay super well-hydrated, move more, grocery shop, meal plan, and just be mindful about what I put into my body. I actually have been a lot better about getting a smidgen of movement going a little more often, even if it’s cleaning the house (which I think totally counts!) or taking Penny or the dogs on a quick walk around the neighborhood.

 

But my latest greatest problem is constantly waiting too long to eat, so by the time I finally get around to it I make all my food decisions out of hanger and desperation. I also don’t get to the grocery store nearly as often as I should, and so while we have been doing better with regard to not eating out or ordering in quite as much as we were before, it’s still just suuuuuch an easy fallback solution for us. Having real food around the house so I can whip up really is really key to me staying on track.

So my mom was dealing with some health issues at the beginning of this year that led her to go on an elimination diet in an attempt to suss out what’s been giving her grief. It’s been SUPER strict (and she’s just in the phase now of starting to add things back in) but it’s actually done her a lot of good — she says she has more energy, her joints don’t hurt as much, and as a kind of unintentional effect, she’s lost quite a bit of weight as well. She’s been talking to me a lot about her diet and suggested that I cut out sugar since she feels like that’s the thing that has caused her the most issues.

Based on my past history with diets and disordered eating, I don’t think it’s realistic for me to cut anything out of my diet completely, but I will admit that I’m starting to wonder if it might do me some good to cut back on sugar, simple carbs, etc. I mean, this probably sounds like a no-brainer to some of you, but eh, you know me, I gotta do everything in my own time. And since I have been a little extra indulgent in the sugar department lately (regular soda, chocolate, and lattes being specific culprits), I’m wondering if that might be contributing to my skin acting up and feeling as bloated as Jabba the Hut.

I know that I need to cut back on my dairy consumption again too… or at least to frickin’ remember to take my Lactaid since my lactose intolerance seems to have made its unfortunate return as well (it went away during my pregnancy!).

Penny’s face pretty much sums up how I feel about all that… so I’m still in the “just thinking about it” stage with regard to the sugar thing right now, haha. But I am already dialing back on the dairy, and we’ll see how all of that goes. Pasta is also often our fallback easy dinner (because, duh, pasta is delicious), and while I’m anywhere near willing to say goodbye to noodles, I do think I need to start refocusing on balance when it comes to the meals we prepare at home as well. Ugh, why is there always so much to consider! ANYWAY. The entire point of this useless post is for me to simply say: here’s to getting back to that wonderful place where I feel healthy and happy, but not deprived!

Wish me luck. Heh.

Back on the Wagon

For those of you who may have been unaquainted with this blog in its earlier inception, I began my life on the interwebs as a weight loss blogger. My blog was named “Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen!” was completely, utterly, 100% meant to help me lose weight.

I began this blog in August 2010 at 246 pounds, and through diligent(ish) calorie counting, forcing myself to work out, and the support gained from readers just like you, whittled my way down to a glorious 186 pounds by October 2011. Sixty pounds gone in just over a year! Sometimes I don’t really think I’d believe it were it not for the photographic evidence that I used to look like this:

God, I miss those arms.

Anyway. Through the course of the years that followed my initial weight loss, I found out a lot about myself. I found out how to be kinder to myself, how to love myself better, and how to start going after what I want in life, but primarily, I found out that weight loss is really hard for me to maintain. I experienced first-hand the reality of how easy it is to gain it back. And ultimately, I found myself right back where I started, more or less.

It wasn’t a linear process, re-gaining my weight. It’s not like I just suddenly hit 186 pounds and immediately started sliding backwards. It happened in small increments. I maintained my complete sixty pound weight loss for a while… until I didn’t. It happened slowly and completely unintentionally. It seemed so innocuous at first. You know, just a few pounds gained here, a couple pounds lost there. Up and down, back and forth. It all balanced out.

But then… a few more were gained, but not lost. And so it went, until one day, the clothes that I was once so excited to wear didn’t fit anymore. And I found myself untagging myself from more and more photos on Facebook. And I was reaching for cardigans to cover up even when it was 90 degrees out.

The weight, well, it all came back.

So here I am, five years later and pretty much back where I started. Well, when it comes to the number on the scale, that is. Life-wise, I’m in a much, much better place, and I can chalk it up to these three major differences:

First, I am happy. I mean, man, I’m so happy. I’m engaged to a great guy. I have literally THE best job in the entire world. I have two awesome pups, a wonderful family (which has just grown by one more — my sister had her second baby last week!), and generally, life is pretty sweet. Five years ago, I was depressed, in a not-so-great relationship (hindsight really is 20/20), had a boring, unfulfilling job, and felt generally aimless.

Secondly, I really do like myself a lot more. I know, most of that can probably be chalked up to being a 27-year-old versus a 23-year-old (aaaand now I feel old), but I really did go through a nice, big, cliche journey of self-acceptance. Sure, I still have a lot of annoying qualities, but I dunno, I guess I’m growing on myself.

In fact, the whole reason for rebranding this blog came out of this idea of me liking myself better. Because I didn’t want to be known as the girl always trying to lose weight. I just wanted to be me, and being me meant being able to love myself at any weight. And I truly believe I’ve taken a lot of strides in making that happen. But just because I love myself regardless of how I look, doesn’t mean I can’t want to change the way I look, right?

The third difference is one of those love-hate things. Because I love that I can say that my weight gain this time around isn’t the result of binge eating and a toxic relationship with food. It has been very liberating for me to live my life without the shackles of disordered eating. But, I also kind of hate that I don’t have that as an excuse this time. I know that probably sounds super messed up, but it’s just so much less embarassing to say “I got to 246 pounds because I had a binge eating disorder,” than “I got to 242 pounds because donuts are pretty much the perfect food and also I am lazy as fuck.”

I mean, it probably doesn’t help that the aforementioned most perfect job ever has me like

Food and Drank

all the freaking time. But, still, I know, it’s not an excuse.

Anyway, I think you can all pretty clearly see where this is all heading (in case the title wasn’t a dead giveaway, hahaha.) I am actively trying to lose weight… again. I don’t think that the fact that this is happening is a huge surprise to most of you — I made it pretty clear when I rebranded this blog that I probably would get to a point where I wanted to lose weight again. So the question instead is: why now?

And well, I’ll be honest. It’d be pretty easy to chalk me up as another wedding cliche — a bride-to-be trying to lose weight for her big day — because that is definitely a contributing factor. I can’t say that the fact that I’m getting married in five months has absolutely nothing to do with it. I mean, I’m only human! Of course I want to look and feel as beautiful as possible on my wedding day. BUT. That really, honestly, truly is only part of the reason.

I mean, let’s face facts. You can’t say that being at the weight that I am is healthy, because it’s not. I definitely don’t feel healthy. And I can’t say that I look good at this weight, because I don’t think that I do (and believe me, I think very highly of myself, so it must really mean something when I say that, hahahaha.) But while I’ve been at this weight for a while now, just like the first time around, it’s just taken me a while to get to the point where I actively want to do something about it.

So you’ll probably see me throw around the term “wedding diet” a lot in coming months, partially because it’s a convenient way of hashtagging the overabundance of food photos that tend to grace my Instagram, and partially because I am, indeed, trying to lose weight before my wedding. But I’m also going to try to continue losing weight after my wedding, until I get to a weight that I feel good at again (I’m not going to put a number to that just yet). And generally, I do hope that this time I’ll figure out the magic formula that allows me to keep it off for the long term.

The thing is, weight loss wasn’t exactly easy the first time around, but it wasn’t really that hard. I mean, hell, I lost sixty pounds in like, what, sixteen months? That’s really not a lot of time for a pretty significant amount of weight. This time around, however, it has been legitimately difficult. It’s like my body doesn’t want to let go of the weight again. “C’mon,” it’s saying, “we already did this once, that’s all you get!”

So despite going through the same process — counting calories, trying to clean up my diet, increasing my activity — the scale barely seems to budge. I’ve lost about four pounds since restarting my “weight loss journey” (barf at that phrase, but whatevs, it’s apt) but each ounce feels like pulling teeth, especially because I can’t help but compare it to the first time around. I lost something like eleven pounds the FIRST WEEK back then, and here it’s taking me weeks and weeks to see any progress at all.

I really hope that my decision to lose weight again doesn’t undermine what I’ve said in the past about body positivity, body-acceptance, and self-love, because I still truly believe in all of that. I still think that there’s far too much societal pressure for women to conform to one standard of beauty, and I don’t want to propagate the idea that you have to be thin(ner) to be worthy.

But, that being said, if I wanna lose a little weight, I think I should be free to do so, and that’s exactly what I’m attempting to do. Again.

Here we go.

Three Learnings from the Weekend

Alternate blog title: Two useless things and one really long rant about being discouraged.

So I learned a few things over the weekend.

#1. Mid-January is evidently the best time to buy a new calendar.

Sure, you miss out on, uhh, knowing what day it is for a couple of weeks, but you save big money! Some random store at the mall was advertising 75% off calendars, so I snagged this smexy Marilyn Monroe calendar for a whopping $3.97. #girlcrush

#2. I don’t know why I’ve ever bothered drinking from any water bottle other than my Hydro Flask before.

I bought one over the summer after witnessing its magical cold-maintaining powers at the pool one day thanks to my friend Lara. Despite sitting out in the summer sun for an hour and the outside being hot to the touch, the inside water was still ice-cold! Literally, there was still ice inside! Epic.

I kind of forgot about it after the summer heat faded, but dug it out again recently as I’m trying to increase my water intake (given this whole thing where working out makes me sweat about 50x more than I used to… and I’m already a really sweaty person…) and I’m still so impressed by it’s Elsa-like powers to keep my water iceeeey cold. I know that it’s winter, but drinking copious amounts of water is SO much easier for me when it’s cold. I think cold water just tastes better.

 
#3. My body doesn’t want me to be sane anymore.

Here’s the skinny (HA, apt choice of words) on losing weight this time around: It. Is. Not. The. Same. As. Last. Time.

I’m just a little over two weeks into my — shudder — journey (I really hate using that term, but hey, you gotta call a spade a spade sometimes, eh?), so I realize that this may sound super whiny and annoying and entitled and generally make me sound like a brat, but I am feeling super discouraged right now. Why, you ask? Well, because despite carefully tracking my food (I use My Fitness Pal) and working out six days a week, I have yet to lose a single pound.

Yuppppp. Not one.

So, here’s the thing. Logically, I can kinda understand. My body is “adjusting.” Maybe it’s holding onto some extra water. I’m on my period (sorry dudes.) I get that there does technically exist some kind of reason why this may be happening.

But.

I don’t really know what that reason is.

And emotionally, I am not able to make peace with it. Because the last time I made some serious changes to my eating habits, you know what happened? I lost TEN POUNDS in one week. Yes, back in August of 2010, the very first time I started counting my calories, tracking my food, and cleaning up my diet, I had lost ten fracking pounds by the second time I weighed myself. I kid you not.

Now, again, LOGICALLY I realize that it was almost all water weight, that I was probably super bloated from my terrible eating habits and blahblahblah. It’s not like I was really expecting the exact same thing to happen this time, but I did expect SOMETHING to happen. I mean, even with all my admittedly half-hearted attempts to reinvigorate/kickstart my weight loss over the past couple years, I’ve at least been able to drop a pound or two in the beginning. You know, before giving up again. Heh.

Look, I know that weight loss isn’t supposed to be my main focus this time, my overall health and fitness is. And that’s still true. I am genuinely excited about the non-scale related changes that I am starting to see — completing P90 moves faster or more easily, my waistband leaving a shallower impression in the skin on my stomach, being able to hold a plank for more than 5 seconds (seriously, that’s how about how long I could manage the first time), feeling something that resembles muscles underneath my squishyness.

But, all that being said, as someone who, in the past, has really only measured her progress by the numbers on the scale, it is still SUPER frustrating that I am not losing anything. Frustrating and so, so discouraging. I just don’t understand how the scale can be staying the same when I AM seeing the above-mentioned changes!

If I was doing something blatantly counterproductive to my weight loss, that’d be one thing. If I was accidentally overcompensating for my new workout regimen by eating way more than I’m burning, if I was not actively tracking my calories and thus there was a big disparity between what I thought I was eating and what I was actually eating, well, that would explain things.

But I’ve been tracking my food and counting my calories quite diligently over the past 10 days. I’m averaging between 1500 – 1600 calories/day (some days lower, some days higher, of course), so wouldn’t you think that I should have shifted down a pound or so by now? Am I eating 100% clean? Of course not. But even if I ate, say, pizza, I kept my portions in check, logged it, and compensated with my food for the rest of the day.

Even if I was underestimating my calories and logging less than I’m actually eating (which is technically possible, since I do have to making estimations when I eat out and whatnot), I can’t imagine that the difference is so great that I’m actually eating at maintenance level for my current weight. I mean, I weigh a lot. So, even without working out, or hell, even without walking around my daily life, my BMR is around 1,900 calories just sitting there, doing nothing but breathing.

I really wish I could blame this on something. I know I talked above about how there might be a few reasons why things are progressing so slowly this time, but there’s no real way for me to know for sure what the reason is. And I honestly think it would make me feel better if I could just figure out what specific something is making the numbers stay stagnant. If I could identify the problem and attempt to “fix” it.

But, sadly, for the most part, there doesn’t seem to be anything I can pin this on. Nothing apparent to me, at any rate. And while I’d love to be able to lay claim to the old adage that “muscle weighs more than fat” (technically a fallacy — muscle is more compact than fat, so it takes up less room, but a pound is a pound), that really shouldn’t be a factor at this stage in my fitness, or at my current weight.

So, I gots nothin’. Le sigh.

I know that I need to keep a level head about this. After all, these things take time, and two weeks is barely any time at all when you’re talking about a lifelong journey (there’s that word again). And I know I really shouldn’t compare this time to the first time, because there are so many factors that have changed. I’m older, for one thing. I’ve already lost and gained a significant amount of weight, so my metabolism may not be functioning quiet the same way. And the fitness thing is, as I’ve already explained, a really big change for me, so maybe it is just taking my body some time to figure out how to deal with that, haha.

It’s just… hard. I don’t want to feel like this — emotionally tied to a stupid number on a stupid scale. I want to be able to be confident that what I’m doing is making a difference, whether the scale wants to admit it or not. I want to feel proud of hitting milestones like two weeks of daily workouts — a real achievement for my lazy ass! — instead of despondent because it’s not working fast enough.

But… I also want the reassurance that what I’m working for (because it really does feel like work right now) isn’t in vain. I want to be able to see myself doing this — eating well, working out, leading a fitter life — well, I dunno, like, forever? And it’s just hard to really imagine that without receiving any kind of incentive or motivation along the way. I mean, you wouldn’t work at a job you didn’t like if you never got paid, right?

But hey, I just gotta stick with it, right? Discouraged or not, unmotivated or not, I keep going. I whine a lot, but I keep going. Who knows, maybe this week will be the week that things regulate and the number starts dropping. Or maybe once my monthly ladybusiness is all tied up and I’m feeling a little bit more balanced, I’ll just feel differently. Maybe I’ll be able to focus more on the positive notes that I totally glossed right over in this post, haha.

So here’s to the next two weeks, and the next two after that, and the two after that. With hopefully at least a little bit of good news, a smidge of motivation, and a few encouraging results along the way. Okay, rant over. 🙂

Every Day I’m Struggling

I know that this is like, the ultimate white girl problem, but I really struggle with working out.

I’ve just… never really liked it. I didn’t grow up in a super active family, I was never very athletic and don’t have great physical coordination. I don’t love getting sweaty, and I hate being obligated to shower (especially with my various hair colors, where it’s important not to wash my hair too frequently.) Working out is not something I’ve ever been able to easily work into my routine (primarily because I never tried that hard to work it into my routine, but I digress), and it’s not something I’m used to doing on a daily basis.

The P90 schedule 

But, as you are aware, I’m trying to turn over a new leaf and really shift my health and weight loss efforts to have a major emphasis on fitness.

Which, you know, means I actually have to work out.

And, amazingly enough, I am! Frankly, I’m pretty impressed with myself for simply being able to say that I’m two weeks in to this daily working out thing and I haven’t missed one yet! Given that I’m pretty sure I could win the Guinness World Record for World’s Laziest Woman, that’s a pretty big milestone for me.

But before I give myself too many self-congratulatory pats on the back, I gotta be honest. Because while I did work out yesterday, it was the first day where I almost didn’t. I almost skipped my workout, and I almost broke my streak.

Sure, I’m sure I could’ve mentally justified it if I had gone ahead and skipped out on my gettin’ sweaty time. I was tired — I didn’t fall asleep until 3 AM the night before.  I had a lot of work stuff on my plate. It was cold and I feel like I’m getting sick and I wanted to take a nap and blah blah blah. Miraculously, I managed to hold steady against all of these built-in excuses and peel myself off the couch long enough to work out… at about 9 PM.

Now, I know, I know, the important thing is that I didn’t skip it, that I did do it, even if it was late in the day, even if it was as a last-resort, and I should feel good about that. Except, I didn’t really feel good about how the workout went either.

My muscles were heavy, my body was aching, and everything seemed like it took three times as much effort. So I only really made it about halfway through the workout before essentially giving up and just half-assing the rest of the moves.

And I didn’t feel so great about that. Which is also kind of a new feeling for me, because who would’ve known? Who really cares if I don’t give my 100% during a workout? It’s not like Tony Horton is going to crawl through my TV set to give me what-for. But, as it turns out, I care! Who knew?!

And after giving it a little bit of thought, I think that I came to some important realizations that will probably be good to note as I continue through this journey:

1. Taking a rest day is important.

I didn’t take my rest day on Sunday like I was supposed to. I did an extra day of cardio because I had started P90 mid-week, and I wanted to make sure my first week started strong. And as someone who has always had a disproportionate number of rest days over workout days (you know, like, 10:1, ahahaha), I didn’t really realize that giving your body a day to recover — even if it doesn’t feel like you need to recover — is an important thing.

I think that my body feeling sluggish and my legs feeling heavy and all that stuff is, at least in part, due to me not giving myself enough time to really recover. Not that I’m here running marathons or anything, and hey, maybe when I’m a little bit more fit, I won’t really need a full rest day, because my body will be much more used to pushing itself. But at least for now, while things are still new, my body’s still adjusting, and my muscles are still being woken up from their long, long slumber, I should keep a closer eye on things and let myself rest if need be.

2. Turns out, fueling your body right matters.

I’ve never been a huge fan of health lingo. I’d kind of roll my eyes or find my mouth forming a smug little smirk anytime I read references to “fueling the machine” or “feeding the temple.” I mean, it’s just EATING, right?! Well, maybe it’s not, exactly.

Turns out that if you are trying to lead a more active lifestyle, these terms start to take on a little more meaning. The timing of when you eat really does impact how energized you feel — i.e. “You gotta fill the tank before going for a drive!” (LOL eyeroll.) I used to go most of the day without eating, and would only finally eat my first meal of the day in the mid-to-late afternoon. But now? If I expect myself to workout in the morning, I need to make sure I’ve eaten something beforehand. Only, not right beforehand, because my acid reflux is bad enough without sprawls and burpees contributing to the issue, haha.

Yesterday, my eating schedule got a little messed up due to a series of appointments & meetings that I had mid-morning. So I didn’t really end up eating anything of significance until around 2 PM, and I do think that contributed heavily to my lack of motivation to workout.

Furthermore, due to my slightly hectic schedule, for the first time in the past two weeks, I totally picked convenience over nutrition. Which actually brings me to my final point…

3. Not all calories are created equal.

I like to think that I’m pretty knowledgable about calories at this point. I’ve been counting ’em for a long time. I can tell you off the top of my head how many calories are in an egg (70) or a banana (90) or a cup of romaine (8). And while I was losing weight the first time around, I took a lot of pride in being creative with my daily calorie counts.

I felt (and I do still feel) that it’s totally possible for you to continue going out to eat and ordering in, and still lose weight. Because a calorie is a calorie, right? Even if you eat out a lot, you can still make food choices that keep your calories a little lower. And if you were to spend two-thirds of your daily caloric allotment on fast food, but still stay under your overall intake goal, it’s not that big a deal. Because as long as your total number of calories in is lower than your total number of calories out, you’ll eventually lose weight.

Weeeell, I still believe that’s true. Kind of. However, when you add physical exertion into the equation, the type of food you’re ingesting becomes a lot more important. Suddenly, your body is actively utilizing the calories you ingest for energy. To make it so you are physically able to do the sprints and the press jacks and the side lunges and the tricep dips. And the kind of energy your body extracts from a McDouble (390) is definitely different than what it might take from, say, a salad with grilled chicken, tomatoes, bell peppers, red onion, and avocado (which could land you around 390).

Given my poor performance yesterday, I feel pretty confident that the kinds of calories I need to consume matter a little more than they used to. I had a lazy, convenience-driven day yesterday, and I really felt it in my muscles when I worked out. I felt sluggish and heavy and just general not-great. So while a calorie may just be a calorie when it comes to weight loss, a calorie is NOT just a calorie when it comes to fitness.

So, yeah. Consider these my beginner’s lessons learned thus far. Granted, it may be a little bit silly for me to be trying to spout these wisdoms now, with my active lifestyle still in its relative infancy. But, hey, a learning is a learning, right?

I mean, all that said, I am still proud of myself for rallying and working out yesterday. In spite of the many factors I had working against me, at least I can say that I tried! And some activity is always better than no activity, there’s no doubt about that.

Besides, today is a brand new day, so hopefully with some better fuel in my system (oatmeal for breakfast!) a full-night’s sleep (in bed by 1 AM!) and a more normalized eating schedule (awake in the single digits!), I’ll be back to sweating it out and feeling good about it in no time!

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?