Up and Down and Back Again

You’d think after three years that this ‘healthy lifestyle’ would be an intrinsic part of my life; a natural habit that I don’t have to think about. But it is never that way. For me it is a continuous struggle. It scares me how easily I fall off the wagon, how easily I can stop thinking about what I eat, how easily I lose my focus.

Why have I fallen off again? It started as festive overindulgence. Or being too daydreamy and loved up to bother with the gym. Or working 6 or 7 day weeks thus not making time to plan healthy meals.

There’s also complacency. When you’ve lost a shitload of weight, the equivalent of an average woman, it’s so easy to think you’re on top of things, that the weight will surely keep coming off. But there’s still another twenty kilos to go. I just stopped putting in the effort. I stopped thinking of my weight as an issue. When there’s suddenly this someone who likes you for who you are, you start to think you’re not so bad and put the thought of those last twenty kilos to the back of your mind.

Now here’s where it gets strange. While I’ve never felt so happy and cared for, there’s another part of me that has felt dark and miserable. There’s been this anger quietly simmering, frustration at having to work two jobs to earn so little, crankiness from being so tired all the time. Then there’s my first British winter. When it gets dark at 4 o’clock, all I’ve wanted to do was crawl into bed and hide when I get home, rather than bounce off to the gym.

The problem is, it’s taken me so long to see this unhappiness and return to bad habits. As ridiculous as it sounds, I’ve been so busy and/or tired to notice how I’d stopped taking the stairs at work, how household tasks like laundry and cleaning were too overwhelming to tackle, how I kept stopping at the corner store on my way home to get a Mars bar.

Finally on Sunday it came to a head. I actually had the day off for once, and when I was in the blackest mood. Have you ever just woken up and loathed yourself? Just felt like your whole being was nothing more than a huge puddle of flesh and a tiny paranoid brain? The Boy was there and trying to talk to me but all I could do was scrunch over one side of the bed and hope he wouldn’t notice me. All day long I proceeded to make stupid little irrational comments. Like making breakfast, there were only two pieces of bread, I insisted he eat them. He asked why, I pointed to my body and just shrugged, "Well, come on!".

He shook his head, totally bewildered, "Why do you say things like that about yourself?"

And of course I just started bawling because I didn’t know why I was saying all this hateful stuff about myself. I couldn’t even blame it on That Time of the Month. I hadn’t thought such negative thoughts for years, let alone actually say them aloud.

I guess it just hit me that morning that I didn’t feel in control of my life. I thought of how I’d had to run around my room before The Boy arrived, ferreting out all the chocolate wrappers. My jeans weren’t tight because they’d shrunk in the wash. For the past two months I’ve just been living in this bizarre combination of bliss, stress and fatigue. Only now I was realising my good habits had come unstuck.

Monday night I dragged myself back to the gym after a 3 week absence. But not before I scoffed a ‘final’ King Size Mars Bar and a 150g packet of sweet chilli crisps. First I got on the scales and found I’ve gained 3 kilos (6.6lb) since 6 December. Not as bad as I thought, but as soon as my Body Pump class started I knew I had lost a lot of muscle. I was so weak and shaky I almost gave up.

But the more I squatted and lifted, the more I felt the positive vibes creep in. I have gotten off track before in this journey. I know how to get back on again.

I decided to set some tiny goals this week, achievable so I don’t get overwhelmed. Don’t take the lift at work. Drink more water. Walk a longer route to the bus stop.

So far those little goals have been fine. But the food thing is proving tough. I cannot stop thinking about food. All day at work today I was daydreaming of muffins. First banana, then chocolate chip, then chocolate chocolate chip. I could taste them so clearly. I could feel the crumbs stuck in my teeth, the bits that cling to the roof of your mouth. It was almost painful.

Why the bloody hell am I so obsessed with food? How did I get away from that place where I wasn’t continually thinking of my next meal? I’ve also lost that voice in my head that forces me to think before I eat. Now I just see food and grab it, I don’t stop to think. This afternoon I ate three M&S Chocolate Mini-Bites before it occurred to me, "Maybe I don’t need to eat these."

To gain 3 kilos might not seem much when i’ve still lost 65 kilos overall, but it’s not so much about the number but what that represents. It represents a loss of focus and control, a step backwards, a kick in the guts for the ol’ self esteem. I need to find a way forward again.

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9 thoughts on “Up and Down and Back Again

  1. Hey dg, don’t be so hard on yourself. Ok, you lost some control and gained back a few kilos, but you’ve put a stop to it and most importantly, you’re AWARE of what you’ve been doing. Speaking as someone who has lost 20kg to date (with 40 to go, joy), I went crazy over xmas and have managed to put on 5kg in 4weeks. BUT I went back to the gym last night and already feel a lot better about myself.

    Thanks for keeping us updated, I love reading your journal and am thrilled to hear about the lucky guy in your life. Enjoy!!!!!!

  2. Aw, hun – cheer up. You refound that wagon, that is HUGE. I mean you could have let it move more ahead of you until you just sat back and gained it all back.

    Sometimes, we need to move backwards in order to move forward.

    Take small steps, get back into it – you can do it!

  3. Hey DG, people who already have a predisposition to depression are prime candidates for Seasonal Affective Disorder – and you’re in Scotland which is darker than here in England for me. The winter is a big adjustment isn’t it? Exercise, and getting out in the sunlight are really important – can you take a walk at lunchtime to make sure you get some light? Apart from that piece of advice, just wanted to let you know that my confidence in you has never shaken one bit, and that progress is generally not smooth when we change things in life. A glitch is only a glitch, and it’s an opportunity to learn, and you sure are good at learning. Chin up, matey!

  4. oh man thanks for being so kind you guys.

    i just feel like crying all the time lately. which doesn’t make sense when there’s so many things going on that make me feel so happy.

    mopsy, i remember seeing articles on SAD in magazines back in oz, do you find it amusing that they ever published them in oz? i mean, WHAT winter? i will never ever again complain about the winter in oz.

    i agree with you though, it’s a shock to the system after australia. it’s actually been a mild winter up here in scotland but i didn’t realise how it had got to me. i like your idea of a walk at lunchtime.

  5. hey dg, I agree with jen, please don’t be so hard on yourself! look at how far you’ve come. ok so you haven’t been ‘perfect lately’ – who is??? at least you know why you gained back those few kilos, and you’re already doing something about it. GOOD FOR YOU. you’re still a total legend in my eyes.

  6. dg, hang in there! Let me recommend a wonderful books that really helped me: When You Eat the Refrigerator, Pull Up a Chair. It’s by Geneen Roth, who’s done a lot of work on this very thing. She gets to the mental part, which f*cks up so many of us, including me.

  7. dg, as I read your post, I immediately thought about SAD. My partner suffers from it (although not so much this winter because we’ve had a lot of sunny days). A friend of mine invested in a sun lamp and it totally turned her around. You may want to talk to your doctor about it. In the meantime, hang in there chickie!!