Why Losing Weight Before Was Easy. And what I’m doing wrong this time

by Melissa on April 19, 2011

Help scale tape measureMy weight loss has not been going as well as I planned.  When I first started my fitness routine back in January, my goal was to have lost about 20-30 pounds by this point (halfway to my 60 pound loss goal), so that I would look better for our engagement photos and so that I would be a little closer to “wedding size” by the time I started shopping for wedding dresses.  Well, our engagement photos are in three weeks and I’m going for my first wedding dress appointment this Friday, and I’m down only 10 pounds, and my clothing size has not changed.   I have no excuses.  I eat junk, too much of it, and I don’t workout as often as I should.

I thought I could do this!  I need a good ass kicking!  (Or at least to analyze some things in a blog post).  Maybe you all could give me a good ass kicking in the comments?

I’ve done it before.  *Sigh*

In 2004, I lost 40 pounds (just 16 pounds more and I would have reached my ultimate goal weight).  I had no specific motivation to lose the weight back then, other than I was tired of being chubby and wanted to wear cuter clothes.  Now that I have concrete motivation (ummm, WEDDING DAY PHOTOS WILL LIVE ON FOREVER!), I just can’t seem to keep my eating and fitness on track.  And it’s making me really, really angry.  (Side note, all 40 of those pounds were put back on by late 2007).

Why isn’t it working this time?

I’ve been trying to explore why weight loss worked for me back then, but why it’s not working now.

Here are a few things that I’ve eliminated as reasons:

Having junk around the house. Yes, we have junk food in the house now.  My fiance is not on a diet, so I see no need to refuse to keep any junk food in the house simply because I’m obsessing about my weight.  But back when I was losing weight in 2004, I was living at home with my parents, and we had plenty of junk food in the house then too.  Somehow, I managed to avoid all temptation to eat the packages of oreos and Edy’s Ice Cream in the freezer.  Also, since my parents are pretty set in their ways and have been eating the same 10 (unhealthy) dinner recipes for as long as I can remember, they weren’t interested in any of my “new, healthy” recipes.  So, I would make my own, separate dinner.

Going to parties or dining out or other things when there’s lots of temptations around. My fiancé’s family lives nearby and they have a lot of celebrations.  When I go to the parties, I indulge, way to much, in all their delicious food.  But, back in 2004, I went to plenty of celebrations and restaurants with friends and I managed to beat all temptation and order something healthy, or only eat the healthiest thing available.  And if there was nothing healthy available, I didn’t eat.  Period.

Working out regularly. When I lost weight back in 2004, I went to a gym for about the first three months of the weight loss.  But, because I was living at home and didn’t yet have a full time job, I cancelled my gym membership to decrease my expenses.  Guess what?  My weight loss continued even though I wasn’t working out!  Just eating right was all it took.

So, the fact that I continue to have junk in the house, go out to eat, and don’t work out regularly, shouldn’t affect my weight loss given my past experience.

So, what is different this time around?

I’ve given it a lot of thought, and a few things come to mind:

Being hungry was okay. I know that this is probably not what nutritionists or doctors or other experts will tell people, but, like I mentioned above, if I went somewhere and there were no healthy options, then I wouldn’t eat. A lot of times that meant I would be hungry, sometimes for several hours or more, and in the presence of very tempting food.  And you know what?  That was okay with me.  But now, any time I feel any pang of hunger, I’m like “MUST EAT SOMETHING NOW RIGHT AWAY NO MATTER THE CALORIES OR WEIGHTWATCHERS POINTS.”  This is also compounded by the fact that I seem to get headaches nowadays if I’m hungry for too long.  I don’t remember that happening before.

After about the first 10 pounds, weight loss became addictive! I weighed myself on Wednesday mornings, and I would look forward to every Wednesday to look at that scale and see how much weight I had lost!  It was addictive to see that scale go down.  I didn’t want to do anything to sabotage that downward movement, so I followed WeighWatchers perfectly.  I remember the first time I had a gain.  It was eight weeks into my weight loss.  I was devastated!  I followed my plan perfectly!  I didn’t do anything different!  It wasn’t “that time of the month.”  There was no good reason for a gain.  I went on the WeightWatchers messageboards and voiced my concerns (that was actually my first post ever!).  People were supportive, and basically told me that gains will happen sometimes, despite doing everything right.  But now, my weight has yo-yo’ed so much over the last several years, and I’m wondering if that addictiveness is gone.  “Oh, another 2 pounds lost.  Whoop-dee-doo.  You’ve done that bunches of times before.”  I need to figure out how to get that addictive quality back, or if I can’t, replace it with something else!

I took what I now call the “alcoholic” approach to weight loss. Just like an alcoholic can’t have a single drink, I never took even a single bite of an indulgence.  Why?  Because, like an alcoholic who can’t just have a sip, I can’t just have a bite.  I have to have more and more and more.  And before you know it, I’m full and feel disgusting.  Like the “being hungry” observation, I also realize that this is something that weight loss gurus would tell you is not a good idea.  They’re more “everything in moderation,” and “if you deprive yourself, you’ll just end up overeating later.”  Or some folks allow themselves one “cheat” day a week.  But, I cannot think of a single circumstance in the last several years in which I promised myself I would just have “a bite” or “take just a tiny bit of everything,” that it didn’t devolve into full-blown overeating.  Just one oreo turns into 20.  Just one bite of french fries or a greasy burger, I have to eat the entire plate of food.  If I eat anything rich, delicious, sweet, etc., I have to have the entire thing.  That is probably why my weight loss was more successful last time.  I didn’t even allow myself a single bite.  You know, this reminds me of a conversation I had with a co-worker during my weight loss in 2004.  It was right around Halloween, and she offered me some candy.  She knew that I was losing weight, so she said, “here, I brought in Reese’s Miniature cups just for you.”  She was well-intentioned, but I declined.  Even a single, tiny Reese’s miniature.  Why?  Because I knew that I couldn’t have just one.  I would’ve gone back for more and more.    I can’t eat just one peanut butter cup or a couple bites of dessert.  I need to learn to avoid all of that once again.

I tracked every bite of food that went into my mouth. And it didn’t go into my mouth if I didn’t know precisely how many weightwatchers points were in it.  Now, I’m doing the opposite.  I’ll eat something, and then calculate the points later.  Big mistake.  But most of the time, I’m not tracking what I eat at all.  I’m just keeping track mentally.  Or sometimes I’ll just enter all the previous day’s points the following morning when I’m on my computer at work.   Call it laziness or whatever, but if I eat some chips downstairs from the pantry, I’m not going to run upstairs to my computer to enter the points. Well, you know, maybe I should.  Weight loss is not for the lazy, and tracking what I eat is just as important as other non-lazy things like exercise and grocery planning.  Related to my above observation about hunger, if I was at my maximum Weight Watchers points allowance for the day, I didn’t eat anything, even if I was hungry.  Nothing, nada.  (I should note that Weight Watchers has changed their plan a little bit since then, so there are a lot more 0 points foods available).

I drank water like crazy. Like going-pee-every-30-minutes crazy.  Pre-2004, I used to drink regular soda almost exclusively.  Rarely water or juice or anything else.  I also hated diet soda.  So, when it came time to lose weight, I cut out the soda and went to water exclusively for nearly 6 months.  Well, after drinking nothing but water for so long, regular soda tastes disgusting and sugary, and diet soda actually tasted pretty good!  In the last several years, I have attempted to restart my weight loss with varying success.  I have found that I lose weight significantly faster if I drink water exclusively as opposed to diet soda.  I don’t know what it is, but diet soda definitely seems to hinder weight loss for me.

I stalked the WeightWatchers messageboards regularly. In your WeightWatchers profile, you can list your Starting Weight, Current Weight, and Goal Weight.  I loved checking the profiles of folks who had lost a lot of weight and loved looking at their progress photos.  Now, I don’t like reading the messageboards as much.  I’m busier, and there seems to be a lot of petty or non-weight loss related threads that bore me or frustrate me.  But, I think that motivation helped before, to be around like-minded people, even if it was just on a computer screen.

I’m more budget conscious now. (Stupidest, most nonsensical reason of all)  Nowadays, if I go out to eat, I don’t want to order some overpriced veggie sandwich or a salad with dressing on the side!  But, that’s what I used to do. It didn’t matter the value I was getting for my food, I just picked the healthiest option.  Typically a salad (dressing on the side, I’d dip my fork in the dressing, then grab the salad and eat) or a turkey burger (wouldn’t eat the bun) and I wouldn’t eat fries or any unhealthy sides that would put me over my points allowance for the day.  And it didn’t bother me.  But now, when I go out to eat, I feel like I have to get my money’s worth.  So no overpriced salad.  Give me a juicy burger! And certainly I can’t let those fries go to waste!  Dining out is a part of life, and when it does happen, I need to make better decisions.  Eating healthier is ALWAYS more expensive than eating junk, whether at the supermarket or at a restaurant.  I need to get over my obsession with “value” for my dollar.  As I write this, it makes me wonder.  Because really, what “value” is it?  Value that will be added to my waistline?  Future weight-related medical bills?


There are a few other things that come to mind (mindless snacking, etc.), but that’s enough for one post.

So, it’s time to re-visit my Wedding Fitness plan.  I’m not sure how I’ll revamp it because the working out motivation is not my problem.  It’s the eating.  Lots of parties and events coming up, so I need to learn to resist the temptation!  I’ve done it before, so I know I can do it again.

Ready for my ass kicking.

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