Down a Vacation

I’ve lost a vacation. And I’m happy about it!

I don’t mean “vacation” in the literal sense. I’m talking about working backward in weight loss; I have lost the gain from my last vacation. I was gone for nine days and it took me nearly a month to lose those nine days of eating what I wanted — when I wanted. I’ll add that I knew before I went on that vacation that I would eat what I wanted and I would gain weight; I went on a cruise with a cruise line that’s known for good food, so eating was part of the experience.

Now, Spring Break looms in front of me; my husband and I will be spending time in some old favorite haunts, but for me at least, it’s not a food vacation. (Maybe more so from him.) I might have a couple of deviations, so I expect the scale may be slightly up at the end of our time out, but hopefully not by a lot. I’d rather spend my time enjoying my surroundings, the things we do, the places we will be. When this “vacation” is done, I don’t want to spend another month rolling it back off my butt.

I’m getting my focus and determination back and doing the hard work that’s necessary to peel off the vacations that have contributed to weight gain. While vacations aren’t entirely to blame, it’s a different way of looking at my weight loss and gain history; I keep track of my weight and it’s a different way to determine weight goals. I know when the stretches are that I don’t weigh by looking through my data, so I know how much I gained during each vacation stretch. That includes longer traditional holiday breaks that tend to be eating holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas.

So far, I’ve rolled back my February cruise. Next are Thanksgiving and Christmas, but the low before those eating holidays is only eight pounds away, which is a nice, solid, and easily attainable goal. After that, the next is another similar drop. And I like those easy goals that are short-term; while I know from direct experience that it’s absolutely possible to achieve long-term big goals, shooting for the small ones is much better when I know my mental commitment can get overwhelmed. So while I’m doing the mental work necessary to build myself back up, short goals will do just fine.

I know about long-term big goals; remember, I lost 206 pounds over the course of roughly 8.5 years, and it’s not my sole large weight loss. I find, this time, that it’s not the end goal that bugs me mentally but the amount that I’ve gained. I’m working on not beating myself up about it; letting in emotional self-judgment tends to drag me down. I’m much better off being objective about both the way I gained, and the methodology I must use to return to where I was. And once I get there, again, truly embrace the tools I have to remain there… and most of all, to be happy there.

So here’s to losing a few more vacations along the way!

Don’t Stay The Same

Things stay the same when the same is where you stay.

Deep, right? Even if I heard that on a Delta Airlines commercial recently. They were touting adding color to your world instead of living with “breige” (a combo of gray and beige), and urging folks to travel to places that trigger their sense of adventure. I love to travel; I can totally get behind that idea.

For some, the idea of sameness is a comfort. I also understand that; there are just times when I’m ready to pull away from the world for mental restoration and put a temporary stop to a constantly changing landscape that often isn’t all that good. My mental batteries drain when there’s too much going on around me or challenging me. They recharge when I turn inward.

“Same” can’t become the norm.

That process can also lead to deception and to self-comfort. In my case, while I have continued to weigh myself nearly every day despite gaining weight, I had thresholds I didn’t want to pass. Not ever again. And yet, I passed them and deceived myself into believing that for now, self-comfort and restoration were more important. The problem, there, is that self-comfort has to take a form that’s not also self-destructive.

As I work my way back down through the pounds I’ve gained, it’s been the social times with others when I’ve told myself I should be able to eat or drink like a normal human and face only small consequences. Just about all of us gain weight on vacation, for instance, and can take it off fairly quickly afterward. But for me, that’s just not true. While I know how to maintain my weight, I’ve let in the voices that whisper you could be normal and just live it up a little.

And by all means… the occasional deviation from the path is fine. It’s when that stretches from one week into two or three or a summer.

Eventually, that higher level of intake is what becomes the same. For folks like me, my body adapts quickly to same, and regardless of how much of a comfort sitting in sameness may be, I can’t stay there. My body needs constant change or it does exactly what it’s done over the past year or so; mechanisms work hard to return my body to where it was. Like a rubber band, letting go of the stretch results in springing back to what my body prefers, and it doesn’t prefer a lower weight. And my body’s base of knowledge is permanently screwed up and I will fight this fight for as long as I draw breath.

So it’s back to the work of kicking same out of my arsenal of self-comfort, at least resting in the comfort of food and drink.

In Like A Lion

I’m not quite back in the habit yet of getting this blog out in a timely manner — more so, since I’m pretty tired this morning. March is marching upon us like a lion.

We were up just before 1 am and hanging out in the bathroom; we don’t have a basement or storm shelter, so when there’s a tornado warning for our area, that’s our safe place. Spring seems determined to do that whole “in like a lion” thing, and we’ve dealt with severe weather for two nights, straight; last night was the worst of it. We’re safe, fine, and have power, and I really expected the likely outcome would be a power outage.

Several weeks ago, our area was hit by an ice storm, but we didn’t get the brunt of it until the third round in as many days. The power went out here, but it was back up by day’s end; other people in our county weren’t as lucky. Quite a few in our area were without power for several days.

A cranky lion, at that

The point is — you can prepare for the unexpected, but you never really know if your preparations were enough, unless or until something happens. Every circumstance is unique. But I will also argue, particularly after being raised in a Boy Scout family, that being prepared is the best way to meet any given situation.

I spoke last week about diligence, which includes preparing yourself in appropriate ways to meet challenges, both expected and unexpected. Challenges can be good, as well, although we tend to address positive challenges with different language: opportunities. Regardless, any challenge, any opportunity — requires adaptation and change, whether it’s for a moment or a lifetime.

Trying to drive somewhere, and you come across a street that’s blocked? You can either sit there until it becomes unblocked, or turn to a block over and continue on your way.

You can end up with existential crises that you opt to ignore in the hopes they’ll resolve themselves, or you can grab that challenge and work it out so you can keep on your path.

One situation doesn’t really take much preparation; just a willingness to change course temporarily. The other can creep up on you until you realize you’ve tripped yourself up and need to have a Come-To-Jesus with that reflection in the mirror that hasn’t been completely honest with you.

I needed to be realistic with myself, and stop telling myself that my weight gains were easily solved. The physical act of losing weight is difficult enough, but I’ve gone on ad nauseum about the mental work required, and that’s what I need to solve. I started my 2013 effort (nearly 10 years ago, now!) by faking it until I made it; doing the physical until the desire to recognize the needed mental work began. I have been ahead in the game, knowing that the answer to losing my gains has its origins in sorting the mental reasons for allowing weight gain.

For me, carrying additional weight is a barrier. A protection. When I was at my heaviest, it was a way to withdraw from the world and from the challenges I faced. My default mode is to put up barriers of protection; it’s a physical response to a mental situation. Gaining weight, past the normal ups and downs, is an indicator to me that I still have work to do, so I’ve spent my time since returning home from my vacation, exploring the things that threaten me and what I can do to take control of those situations.

The road isn’t at an end. The dream isn’t over, yet.

Correcting the Course

Hi, there. Did you miss me? I’m back here for some accountability.

It’s no secret that I’ve gained weight. I’m doing some deep dives into why I’ve let myself do that, and while I’m still sorting through the mental stumbles I took when I thought I had all this figured out, it occurred to me this morning that what I’ve lacked has been diligence. And not just over how I feed my body, but in letting negatives in that have set back my mental attitude.

I thought going on vacation with good friends might give me some clarity, and it did, but not in the way I thought it would reveal itself to me. Three things happened that slapped me in the face and challenged me to do better.

One was the simple actions of people being in no hurry to sit next to me on planes; I flew Southwest, where seats aren’t reserved. Three legs of my five-leg journey (there and back) were full flights; for two of those three, the spot next to me remained empty until nearly the last passenger. The third was filled by a lovely couple I chatted with for the duration, and thank goodness for them! When I traveled before this most recent gain, I didn’t go through this. It was subtle but most definitely there.

Another was me, joking around on social media, posting a pic of a fat seal with the comment “me, not saying no to cruise food”. It was meant to be funny, but instead, I got more of a sympathetic reaction. People, the day I lose my sense of humor about anything is the day I have no remaining brain activity. Goodness. But that, too, was telling. Oddly enough, a friend who has lost a great deal of weight made a very similar joke a couple of days ago, and people laughed. Perhaps the difference is that he’s a man? We tend to accept weight gain more in men than women, for whatever reason, but that’s a rabbit hole for another day.

Finally, the worst was at the airport for my return trip. As a double knee replacement recipient, I know that I will have to submit to a pat down and munitions residue check any time I fly. It’s rare that I don’t go through that on cruise ships, although they pass a wand over me instead of patting me down. In any case, I know the routine, and because it’s generally a pat down up and down my legs and sometimes my arms, I don’t request a private room for the sake of time. I am (usually) not easily embarrassed.

This time, I wish I had accepted the private room option — because the area of concern was my groin, and the pat down was invasive and mortifying. I know the agent was just doing her job, but for a couple of minutes I had to stand with legs spread and her feeling the insides of my thighs both back and front, I felt like there was a spotlight on me.

After getting home and googling it, I read comments from former TSA agents that state that body sweat/moisture in certain locations of our bodies can show as “hot” on the TSA screening equipment. I am currently a large woman, and I had been lugging heavy bags, just coming in from Florida heat. So yes, there were parts of my body that were sweaty. And yes again, that’s MUCH more likely to happen when I am at a higher weight.

While I am far from regaining all the weight I’ve lost, my gains have been substantial. For now, that’s my admission for accountability, and I’m throwing it out there.

Unlike previous times, while I had stopped journaling this time (in the belief that I had said all I really had to say on the subject), I have continued to weigh in and I have had a clear picture of my gains. I know why. I know how to change it. But I’ve not stuck with it.

That changed once I returned home from my trip. I’m a week in and feeling somewhat better about my situation, reminding myself that punishing and beating myself up for failure tends to result in more punishment and then eating in defiance. My emotions are controlling my eating and I need to get back to where my logic is in charge. I’m working on it. And I’m here to admit it.

I don’t want sympathy or even acknowledgment; this blog is for me and you are invited along, but my purpose here isn’t to ask for sympathy or compassion; it’s for me to accept where I have failed and correct my course.

Knee Jerk Reactions

Last Saturday was my spring concert. I have looked forward to that day with both excitement (I loved the music we were playing!) and a bit of trepidation (solos, even if they were on the small side). Any orchestra concert takes a lot of prep work; for me personally, not just playing the parts as best I can. Since I’m also involved in supporting the orchestra as a whole, there are always a bunch of other things to handle, including board meetings, fundraising, advertising, and more. But I know, from experience, that all I can do is prepare the best that I can, and accept whatever point I’m at when the performance comes around.

One thing I hadn’t planned on, though, was knee problems, especially since I thought I’d left the bulk of them behind several years ago when I upgraded equipment to a new set of knees. But that’s just the hardware, not the surrounding muscles, ligaments, and whatever else is holding the bionics in place. I managed to do something — I suspect one of those slides through the mud when you almost fall but end up looking like you’re trying to balance on a surfboard before falling off — and aggravated a tendon. To add insult to injury, parts of my knee remain numb after surgery and I didn’t realize I’d done anything until it gradually got to a point where my knee felt under assault from random tasers.

Yep. All me!

If you’re thinking “OUCH!”… well, yeah. I’ve said that, plus a few other things. And being out of practice with misbehaving knees, I only partially knew what to do. I iced it and took NSAIDs, but it wasn’t enough. A medical friend gave me some excellent advice and I managed to alleviate some of the issues by the time my concert rolled around on Saturday, but not completely.

The pains, although not as sharp as they had been (taser level was reduced to something more like cramps; at least I wasn’t jerking forward and gasping every time one gripped my knee), still upset me a lot. I’ve gotten used to doing, not sitting on my butt and letting everyone else do. I also feared my knee would cramp up during the concert. Seriously, I just wanted to cry. I had worked so hard on trying to get my parts worked out and I needed my total concentration, not an underlying fear floating along that my knee might jerk in the middle of a short solo.

My knee did misbehave during the concert, but fortunately, not to a point where it affected my ability to play. Any goofs I made were entirely my own. 😉 And all in all, I was happy with the concert.

The good news is that my doc checked out my knee this past Monday, and while I’m on the DL for probably another week, my knee feels much better and I feel a bit smarter for the experience. Really, no matter how much we plan for anything, the possibility exists that something will come along to screw it up.

I admit that on Friday, I was ready to bow out of the concert. I just couldn’t see how on earth I could possibly play when I found it difficult to even walk. In fear, I even bought a cheap adjustable cane, since I had already donated the ones both hubby and I had before knee surgeries. At that point, what I feared most was that I’d jerk while playing and damage my lips since my reactions to the pain were sudden and outside of my control. Thank goodness I stuck it out; not because I thought no one else could do my part. I know better; I’m not that special! But because giving up on something that meant something incredibly important to me was just too much to consider without putting everything I had into finding a way through it.

Now, in retrospect, I’m glad I did the hard thing (seeing it through) instead of the easy thing (giving up). I know I didn’t do it alone, too. Doing the hard things usually results in the best possible outcome, and having already done so many hard things in my past, I would have totally lost faith in myself had I not followed through. But as a musician, I also know there are times when the best thing to do for the entire group is to step aside. Sometimes, it’s very difficult to figure out where that line is — and resist the knee-jerk reaction.

Enjoy my concert!

Litany of Spring

Last week, we were on Spring Break at a cabin in a local state park. Normally, we’d camp, but we were both thankful we’d chosen the cabin when thunderstorms blew through all night long and then heavy winds chased them the next day. Temperatures also dropped enough that staying in a toasty, safe cabin was a much better alternative. We then spent the next few days doing yard work and enjoying the sun, until allergies laid me low Saturday into Sunday.

This week? Well, people north of here woke up after a tornado hit their town at 4 am. We had storms and high winds, but no damage, other than some random limbs to pick up. This morning, when I saw the frost warning on my phone, I was thankful that we moved our tropical plants back inside the garage because of storms, and hadn’t taken them out, yet.

It’s been the kind of spring that will give you weather whiplash, swinging between spring-perfect days of flowers and sunshine to the wrath of dangerous storms and — yes, just a couple weeks ago — snow. And yet, today, I’ll be filling up the hummingbird feeders in anticipation of them darting around the backyard, and I’m in the middle of my plant shopping list.

I know, despite the litany of bad behavior, spring will rise and shine. The dogwoods will open, the pine pollen will temporarily dye my white(ish) vehicle snot yellow, and the mating calls of lawn mowers will be firing up soon.

I admit that this, my second spring without my mother, has been on the tough side. She would have wanted me to drive her around, excitedly pointing out the jasmine blooming and hanging out of trees along the roadside. She’d call and recite one of her sillier poems — spring has sprung, the grass is riz, I wonder where the birdies is? (Most commonly attributed to Ogden Nash.) My heart hurts just a bit, seeing the world turn green yet again, knowing how we both loved this time of year so much. My oldest brother lived in state briefly; he once described spring in Arkansas as too many shades of green. He wasn’t wrong, but it’s hardly a bad thing.

Likewise, as I continue onward toward my health goals, I’ve been waylaid by things I haven’t expected as well as bad choices I’ve made for myself. While I know the joy of being at my peak, I have had to endure the storms and remind myself that these times are the exception, not the rule. While I’m still learning, I have to have as much faith in myself that I will see the benefits of the times I’m going through, as much as I can count on the sunshine to win over the rains. While I don’t enjoy the trials of getting back where I was healthwise, much like enduring high winds and thunderstorms, I know that sticking it out is part of the growth process. I don’t like the rain, but we need rain for flowers to grow.

I have plans laid out clear through next spring break, and I’d like to do them with this body since I know it’s capable. I also know and accept that this body works better when it’s healthier than it currently is, and that’s completely within my control, just like my reaction to spring weather events. Rather than seeing setbacks as a source of frustration and complicating them further, I must look beyond them for the benefits I know are on the other side.

This is my Spring, and I’ll get through it to the sunshine, soon.

On a related note, at least for the time being, this blog is moving to a monthly format, rather than weekly. Thank you for your past support and I hope you’ll continue your support.

Battles We Face

It’s been just over a week since Ukraine was invaded by Russia. And yes, I know my blog is primarily about my weight loss journey, but stick with me; it’s relevant in some ways.

My grandparents were Ukrainian immigrants to the United States; they met and married here in the US. My grandfather escaped Ukraine to New York City via Austria and then Canada. And like many others currently, my grandmother escaped to the US via Poland. This was in 1917 or 1918.

I really never gave much thought to what they faced, to be quite honest. My grandfather was a teacher before he left, and spent the rest of his life as an elevator operator. My grandma became a cleaning woman. Of the two, I knew her better, since she died when I was a young teen; my grandpa died when I was two years old. In fact, he was buried in Ukraine, because he died during a visit there. My father went there to honor his death, which prompted a visit to our door from the FBI. It was 1963, after all.

Seeing the struggles of modern-day Ukrainians against a country that once held power over them and wishes to invoke that power, again, has brought home to me the egregious decisions they must face. I have no idea what Grandma faced; I believe she escaped to Poland with a sister. Her age would have been 18 or so; my grandfather, 24. One or both were from the Chernobyl region. Times were different; they likely had to sift through rumors of aggressions, figure out what to do about it, whether leaving was an option at all, the timing to do it, what to carry with them, where they would end up.

The photo was taken in the US.

Even now, with technology relaying news as it happens, I imagine the same fears exist. Images of those who have sought refuge in Poland, crossing over on foot, carrying small bags, their pets, and their fears that cannot be allayed, are likely not that far removed from the dark days of 1917. Making the choice to leave your home, carrying just a few things important to you, knowing you may never see that home again? Wondering if it’s possible to return to your home at some point — if it’s still standing? If you choose to return, how will you rebuild? And if you can’t return — where will you end up?

Many of us fear the unknown. I know I certainly do. The courage and faith required to not just leave your life behind, but to eventually decide to cross an ocean and hope that your lot will improve, must be one of the biggest risks someone leaving a war-torn country must make. And then, to build a life in that new place, to find love, have a family, live your life? The number of unknown challenges must invoke a strenuous burden.

Life choices and changes are often beyond daunting. Choosing to leave behind what you have been previously in your life not only takes heroic effort to take those initial steps, but seeing it through to the results you hope for either will change who you are through necessary adaptation, or that adaptation daunts you and the change is never fully accepted and complete.

My journey to changing myself cowers in magnitude compared to what my grandparents endured, but it has taken strength, commitment to the change, and once changed, the dedication to stick with it. Such ongoing journeys always include slips and backslides; either we face them and battle through them, or we convince ourselves that where we are is good enough.

I’ve been battling through such a backslide over recent months. Initially, when I first decided to embark on my journey, I didn’t believe it could be done, as I’ve said previously. But through hard work — particularly, head work in accepting my faults and fears, and working through them — I came within a handful of pounds to an initial goal. I escaped the threats I knew were imminent to my health; back then, I feared I would die before I was able to make enough changes to truly save myself. I was caught in a prison that I’d built, and the only one who could bust down those carefully laid bricks was me.

I’ve had my setbacks. My previous fat was a shield against the outside world. When I’ve more recently faced challenges from that world, I’ve found the chinks in the armor I’ve built for myself, and I’ve had to make the committed choices to either figure out what I needed to survive or talk myself into the idea that where I was, was simply good enough.

My grandparents, once in the United States, never really fully embraced their new lives. They lived in a Ukrainian neighborhood. My father was taught from books written in Ukrainian. They never truly learned the language; even before she died, my grandmother had to trust bank clerks to write her checks for her. She was fearful and hid her money in her freezer, wrapped in foil, like frozen meat. My letters to and from her were translated by a friend.

In short, they didn’t fully make the entire journey. Once here, they stopped short. This is not in judgment of them; large cities everywhere have small enclaves of people of nationalities in common. They seek each other out and create their own small communities within the larger surrounding landscape. Not really having experienced what people within those microcosms have done to survive, or what they face, I cannot assume that they are in any way weak. In fact, most likely have made courageous decisions, and the choice to remain in their communities may have much to do with cultural choices. While I can only postulate, my grandparents may have achieved everything they wanted. Through my own personal lens of their lives, I assume they could have gone further, when they may have considered their journeys complete.

Likewise, I have faced whether I choose to remain where I am, or readjust and battle onward to the goals I was so close to just last year. My lot is, after all, far better than where I started. But do I want most of it — or do I want it all?

Friends, I most definitely want it all! Like my grandparents, I will fight while embracing my origins, because without recognizing the places I have traveled to get here, I can’t hope to remodel myself for now and for the future.

Less Than

This is one of those days when I feel like maybe I’ve written all I can write — but then, the intention of this blog was never to do it for you, the Reader. It’s more of a selfish effort; me, working out publicly (more or less) how I manage to get through each phase of my health journey. Today, I’m indulging that selfish effort.

And right now, I’m in a quiet phase, or at least it seems like it. The most exciting thing I’ve faced, lately, is working through some minor plantar fasciitis; I bought an exercise bike to see me through the cold months of not being able to walk outdoors, and it has helped me stay active when the best course has been to keep weight off that foot.

Honestly, though, boring is very much the goal. Yes, I’m going through the process of re-losing weight I’ve already lost and examining why I allowed that to happen, as well as the physiology behind it. But I’ll take boredom any day over the hell I used to go through and had grown used to. I spent a lot of energy on things most of us would consider minor and inconsequential, and I’m frankly quite glad to be freed from those bonds. They’re far enough back in my past that it’s easy to imagine them never existing, but I hope I never lose that sense of desperation that pushed me forward.

Don’t make assumptions. You’re a small person if you think this.

A typical day for me, even after I started losing weight, was spent analyzing every move, or it seemed like it. I rarely left the house because of the energy it took. My knees were in horrendous shape, I wasn’t stable on my own feet. When I felt like I could walk, I walked with a cane, and on the rare occasions I ventured into Walmart, I knew where the benches were inside the store so I could rest. A mobility cart? I rarely used them, especially since I’d seen so many images of morbidly obese people on the carts, shown online along with the snide comments people made about them. I didn’t want to be one of them, even though I was certain someone, somewhere, had likely made fun of my weight. Just not to my face, perhaps.

We once opted out of buying a particular vehicle, because I would need to drive it and I couldn’t easily fit in the driver’s seat. I broke a chair in a diner, once, simply by sitting on it, and I wasn’t at my highest weight at the time. Others with me worried that I had hurt myself; the only thing truly wounded was my pride. Entering any restaurant — especially crowded ones — was a game of rules; please don’t seat us on barstools, because I couldn’t get up on one. Please don’t make me weave between too many close tables and force me to ask people to scoot in so I could get by.

These nonstop calculations went on at home, too, but at least I was at peace and knew my surroundings. One horrid morning, I woke up to a knee that had locked during the night; when this happened, I couldn’t put any weight on it at all. The solution was to put on a rigid brace and then work the brace enough that my knee would unlock. The problem, that morning, was that I had taken the brace off in the living room, and at well over 300 pounds, I couldn’t get there to retrieve the brace. I was home alone. I managed to balance on one leg enough to get into a side bedroom, where my travel wheelchair was stored, open it, get in, and scoot myself down the hallway into the living room, where I finally retrieved the brace. That took well over an hour, in my own small home — and the tears I shed that day helped fuel the desire to get past these personal torments and live a more normal life.

Those days of feeling very much less than were the incentives for change. And even though I am not done, being on the other side of such changes and dealing with something as common as plantar fasciitis seems like a simple shrug in the grand scheme of things. Yes, it’s a pain, but unlike those days years ago, I know I’ll see the other side, and I know what to do to get rid of it. It’s just another temporary factor in my day, rather than a process that consumes my energy and bruises my self-worth.

I am not less than, and I never was.

One Golden Shot

A few weeks ago, my daughter generously bought me a new coffeepot. I had mastered the old one pretty well, but the new one and I argued until I could fully obey its whims. One of which is that it doesn’t have an automatic shut off if brewing a full pot and the pot is removed. And, friends, my brain cells need that dose of caffeine to wake up and have a meaningful exchange with the world.

I woke up, walked out to set up a pot of coffee for the day, and headed out the door to walk the dog. When I came back, I realized that I’d done everything except insert the pot in the coffeemaker. I luckily only lost a cup or so, but it was all over the counter. Hopefully, I’ve learned my lesson: set up the coffeemaker the night before, while my brain cells are still talking to each other.

I go through similar break-in periods with other new things; electronic devices, exercise bikes, vehicles. I have to pay attention to what they are trying to teach me, or it doesn’t become a habit. And inevitably, if I don’t develop the habit, I’m more likely to screw things up. I have to learn how things work before we’re totally copacetic.

And sometimes before it’s done.

So you’d think that since I’ve had this same body for the past 60 years, I’d know exactly how it works at all times, but that’s not so. On the outside, the science surrounding our bodies is constantly evolving, and what we thought was true even a decade ago doesn’t necessarily hold true today. We’re in a constant process of discovery. Time changes such things; while recent changes are more subtle, we know now that bleeding patients with fleams to relieve them of their evil “humors” isn’t a good thing to do.

Likewise, over the course of just the last twenty years, I’ve learned that a calorie is a calorie is a falsehood for how my body works. My body does totally different things with three hundred calories of rare steak than three hundred calories of chocolate malt. Learning how my body stores fat, and then uses it, is a constant process because my body constantly changes. What worked for me to lose weight at 371 pounds doesn’t work nearly as well, now. My body has changed, and adapting to how it works at present, and discovering the best methods to move forward, are critical to success.

Atkins followers referred to this as “the golden shot” — meaning you get one chance to use the system to lose weight, and if you must do it all again, it’ll be a bigger challenge.

I believe, especially after having gone through any variety of diets over the course of my adult life, that as our bodies age, they change, and what worked before relied on what our body circumstances were at the time. Those circumstances may have changed slightly or massively; as an adult with metabolic syndrome, I’m pretty sure that being morbidly obese for decades changed my physiology to a point where everything I do to lose weight is more of a fight than it used to be. None of us are getting any younger, after all; pretty much everything I did 20 to 40 years ago was a lot easier, then!

I also think caution is in order any time we convince ourselves that failing after a first attempt dooms us to a life of difficulty. Had I believed that when I started this journey, I would have just convinced myself to accept my lot in life and not bother making the effort. Who knows where I’d be, now, if I were even alive. That’s a defeatist attitude; believing you can actually do something that seems impossible at the outset becomes even more important after you prove to yourself it’s possible.

Adapting means erasing that doubt and believing that achieving such changes can be effective and permanent. Accepting that there’s really never One Golden Shot, and instead, a limitless number of daily opportunities to change, makes much more sense.

Age Of Worry

I’ve discovered, over the course of learning about my body, that many of the same things that thwart weight loss efforts also slow us down in other areas of life.

One of those challenges is stress. Biologically speaking, stress produces cortisol, and cortisol can stop weight loss — or cause weight gain because of its effects on the body. The solution? Lessen stress. Easy, right? Ha! Far from it. It’s not like most of us were ever taught such things by our parents or in school; we’re simply told to deal with it. Some skills are learned; others are innate.

I can tend to be an anxious person by nature, which doesn’t help. I worry about scenarios that may never happen. I automatically take on burdens that shouldn’t be mine. My mind frolics at 3 am, showing me everything I’ve ever screwed up in my life and what I’m bound to screw up in the future. While that’s useful in writing fiction, it’s not so great when I’d rather be in deep sleep and dreaming of sun-sparkling oceans.

In other words, I increase my own stress levels. And at 60, it’s a struggle to change those habits that have always resulted in compounding worry. They’re ingrained. I have to catch myself before agreeing or volunteering to do things that create more stress for me. I’ve had to learn that it’s okay to say no, to set boundaries, to give myself time to find solutions to situations that require it, to figure out when I’m capable of meeting a challenge and accepting the knowledge when I’m not. I also have to guard against creating anxiety; I have spent so much of my life in a mental place where pressure was a constant, that I often catch myself inserting stress where there is none.

This is one of the many reasons I’ve regained some weight. Many of my actual pressures are things that taken by themselves, are relatively easy to solve. It’s when I have far too many of those things at once that I become overwhelmed, thinking of all I need to do and accomplish. I compound matters when choking on moving forward. Sometimes that’s my fault; often, it’s simply the circumstances of life that create waves of projects at times when I’m already carrying a load.

Sleep. Exercise. Self-care. Time management. Releasing what isn’t mine to solve. Being realistic about my own capabilities. Understanding that instead of doing a little for a billion projects just generates more work in the long run, and I’m far better off breaking down single projects into manageable chunks and devoting my time to them when possible. Like the old joke says — How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. In that light, doing what I can to reduce the herd of elephants helps a ton. It takes time I have to be willing to give instead of freezing. And in the meantime, I have to protect and nurture the small bits of myself that keep stress at bay.

Not only does managing such things help me with weight control, but such things reduce my worry in all areas. I can sleep well at night. I don’t feel guilty about taking the occasional day for myself if I know my obligations have been met. I feel happier and more satisfied.

What — me, worry? 😉 I know that as I work toward handling all of these items and move forward, I’ll make progress on my goals and be the better for it.