Weight loss success is fragile. I have learned this in the past, but recently it has sunk in again, in a new way.
A few weeks ago, I found myself fitting comfortably into my skinny jeans. What got me to that point? I believe it was doing cardio (intervals) 2-3 times per week, plus some basic strength training 2 times per week, plus (and this is key) keeping a very close eye on my portions.
For a good two weeks or so, I would eat a reasonable amount of food — whatever I felt like eating, to be honest — and then wait until my next true hunger before eating again. I learned this strategy years ago, when I did the WeighDown Workshop. Before I knew it, my love handles were smaller, my stomach was flatter, and my clothes fit better.
Then — well, you know this next part already, I would guess — I grew complacent, my portions got bigger, and I got lazy about waiting for the next true hunger. Then I skipped a few trips to the gym, and before I knew it, I was back into my fat jeans.
So this brings me to the present. At any given point in the day, I need to decide whether I’m going to wait for hunger (anywhere from slightly hungry to — and this is not ideal–ravenously hungry). Often, I feel like I want to throw in the towel and just turn to food as a way to avoid dealing with boredom, fatigue, anxiety, and so on. Other times, I feel committed to waiting for hunger, but I feel physically uncomfortable (low energy, perhaps?) as I wait for the feeling of being certain that I’m hungry.
I know from experience that eating according to hunger and fullness has its difficulties, snares, and pitfalls.’ What to do, for example, when it’s 11 a.m. and I’m not yet hungry, but I know that when I finally get hungry in an hour or two, I won’t have a good opportunity to eat? What to do when I’m in a social situation where I’m expected to eat, but I’m not the least bit hungry?
But I also know that there are times when the only reason I am eating outside of hunger/fullness is that I’m using food as a crutch. This is what I need to avoid.
After years of struggling with my weight, I have learned a few things:
- My weight (size) does matter to me. There is no getting around this. While I’m not aiming to have the body of a swimsuit model, and while I realize that time will have its effects on my body (hello, sag!), I do wish to fit into certain clothes and to feel a certain level of comfort with wearing certain styles (e.g., anything other than a baggy burlap sack).
- In order to keep my weight in check, I have a few different choices. I can restrict the types of food I eat (South Beach Diet); I can eat any type of food but count calories or Weight Watchers Points along the way; or I can keep portions in check by eating according to hunger/fullness. These are the three approaches that have worked for me in the past. If I want to stay slim, I have to use one of these approaches.
- Exercise is useful for keeping my weight in check, and also (more importantly) important for my health, confidence, and mood. Belonging to a gym, and going there regularly, is the way I am most likely to stick to an effective exercise program.
It is good for me to think about these things as I face another week filled with stress and the temptation to overeat. No one can make these choices except for me. I am fortunate to have a husband who supports my efforts to eat well and exercise. I am fortunate to have a gym membership to a gym that is nearby.
Success is waiting for me; I just need to decide to choose success one moment at a time.