I just finished two days of what felt like nonstop eating and no workouts in Pennsylvania and today I tried to get back on track.
I went to the gym last night for an hour. I hit the elliptical hard with intervals and now my arms and legs hurt and I'm finding it hard to keep my eyes open again although it's Friday and I'd oh, maybe, like to watch a movie because I'm crazy like that. Oh, and then there was that delicious unnecessary snack I just had to have because I was in some kind of post-workout hysteria wherein I just cram whatever happens to be on the counter into my mouth in a ridiculous act of self-sabotage.
I was doing so well from the spring to late summer. I lost almost 20 pounds. I was exercising daily. I was eating like a relatively sane person, and it wasn't even that difficult. I had cut my wine intake drastically, partially because the workouts were helping me to better manage my moods and partially because the last thing it turns out I feel like doing after working out for almost two hours is to pour any liquid besides water down my throat in excess or to eat food that I know isn't bad for me. Funny how that works.
Anyway I was feeling optimistic, like I had a handle on this thing after a couple years of really not having a handle on it at all. I had an eye on a 40 pound weight loss goal and felt for the first time in years that I could hit it.
Then it all fell apart, in late August a little bit and then by the middle of September for real. I started a new semester and with it the exercise routine became more erratic. I started getting a little more lax with my food, and once the workouts dwindle it becomes frighteningly easy to rationalize the food thing too. This is why I can't just manage my weight with calorie reduction and not activity. It's totally intertwined for me.
I started October true to the Shredheads challenge. I worked out seven out of the first ten days of the month. The habit started to reform, and I started to feel better about spending the time every day in focused physical motion. Then, as the month wore on, my schedule bit the dust again, and I started giving myself inches of skipping that turned into yards. By the time I got to Pennsylvania on Tuesday I was in a terrible mental space and embarked on two days of completely off-the-chain down home eating. I'm talking poor road food choices, using absolutely no restraint at huge conference buffets, a long afternoon drive in the countryside of fatty foods and carbs, a failure to put my workout clothes to use even though the hotel had a fitness center and I had (if I was honest) time to use it.
I ate cake three times. That is all.
By the time I came home I had overexaggerated all of my choices in my mind to the point where I was convinced that I had put myself up in another digit that I had planned on never seeing again. I felt bloated and sick. I was sentencing myself by the minute to a return to the weight I'd been at in April when I started this process. In fact, if it were possible to gain back the 14 pounds I've managed to keep off of my totals since then, I was convinced I accomplished that in two and a half days.
I did what I always do.
I kept going. I went back to work. I drank a crazy amount of water on Friday. I went to the gym after meeting a friend for an early happy hour (not advisable, no, but I had made plans with her and didn't want to bail on meeting her. I just did the best I could with the hours in my day.) Today, I went out to scope a photoshoot site for a dear friend of mine, and because it happened to be at a county park with miles of hiking trails, I went in reasonable hiking clothes and hit the trails for an hour.
I weighed myself this morning, because not knowing is always worse for me, and it turns out that the focus and determination of the past 24 hours - in spite of last night's ill-advised snacks and a couple of beers - undid whatever happened in Pennsylvania and I'm still 15 pounds down from my highest weight of last spring.
I'm still doing this, although right now it is difficult. Right now my head is not in the game as much as it needs to be. Right now I feel very discouraged and tired. I feel like I've set myself back and wasted a couple of months that I couldn't afford to, and I'm still not happy that I've gained back a few pounds instead of continuing to make progress in the other direction.
But I know this is not the worst it can be, in fact it is far from it, and I know that I can do this. I know enough about my weird psychology combined with a somewhat erratic and taxed body chemistry to know that I have to expect this. I have to treat this like a mental and physcial marathon and a process that I'll be engaged in on some level for the rest of my life.
I am strong. I can manage an hour on the elliptical and burn off 600 calories and still feel energized. I can go outside and walk fairly difficult trails and still feel like I'm doing myself some good. I'm not obsessed with exercise or food, which during college, one of the last times I embarked on some unhealthy ways to lose weight, I couldn not say.
I am still trying very hard to take care of myself. If I said I didn't care about the numbers that would be a lie. If I said I wasn't worried about the holiday season that would be another one. But I know what I have to do and to some extent I'm doing it. This is still a priority for me, and in November, I'm recommitting myself - just like I'll have to try to do in every day in every month to come.
I feel okay - not great, okay. I am still much better off than I was in April and not worse. I feel better. I look better. So there's that.
Thanks to Bill and Kristen for the continued motivation and opportunity to hear from and talk to others who are walking (and running, for sure they're running) similar paths. It helps.