If you’ve been around me at all in the past couple of weeks, you’ve heard me say that. “I’m hungry.” Why? BECAUSE I AM ON A DIET FROM HELL.
Ahem. I apologize for that outburst. That was very unlady like.
I’m a bit peckish because I am participating in a month-long DietBet. A diet bet is exactly what it sounds like: you and other folks, either friends or strangers, pick a goal and throw $25 in the hat to see if you can make it or not. In my particular case, our goal was to lose 4% of our body weight in a month, from Jan. 4-Feb. 2. The plan seemed doable and a good way to start off the new year, especially after the chocolate/champagne diet I had maintained through the holidays, like I was the newest cast member of Absolutely Fabulous.
My goal for the month was to lose 7.8lbs. In the scheme of things, that’s not THAT much, except for the fact that when I looked back on my MyFitnessPal profile, in all of 2014, I lost 6 whole pounds. SIX. Which is insane because I felt like all I did was think and talk about weight loss. Why can’t the energy we put in to losing weight actually HELP us lose weight? My god, I’d be a waif.
So I was frustrated. I feel like this goal of mine to lose 100lbs is never going to happen. I’m closer than I was when I started, for sure, but at the pace of 6lbs a year, I’ll be too old to appreciate my smoking hot bod by the time I get there. So something needed to change.
My plan for the month of January was the following: no booze at all (SOB), restrict calories to 1200/day per MyFitnessPal’s calculations on how to lose 2lbs a week, work out 5-6 times a week, up protein, cut carbs and eat as clean as I can. And for the most part, I’ve done it. I haven’t had a drop to drink. I haven’t missed a workout. I’ve stayed within my calorie goal most days, with the exception of high work-out days when I felt it necessary to eat more, I’ve changed what I actually put in my mouth and haven’t had really any junk or treats to speak of.
So how’s it going?
Rough. That’s how.
Look, dieting isn’t easy. If it was, we wouldn’t be the fattest nation in the world or whatever. I get that and I’m ok with that. I actually enjoy very much the way I feel when I eat right and exercise consistently. But this month has gotten to me, I’m not going to lie.
Mentally, dieting/weight loss can be very taxing. The reason why I was willing to really restrict myself for this challenge was because it was for one month. I typically don’t buy into huge restrictions because I figure it’s either unsustainable or not worth it. I truly believe life is too short to never have birthday cake again, so I’m never going to say “I’m done with sugar forever!” I believe you can make mainly good choices, have a bit of fun and still lose weight. But since last year was an almost complete wash when it came to my meeting my goal, I was willing to step it up. But at what cost?
This month, I haven’t really done much with friends. I didn’t want to be tempted by a glass of wine, because I said I’d give it up for the month. I’ve also scrutinized every bite that went into my mouth. Food journaling isn’t new to me and I stand by it as a very effective weight loss tool. However, 1200 calories isn’t a lot, and getting enough to eat to feel satisfied without going over did take some work, and I even have the lapband to help with this. I realize there are a lot of people that would say “that’s not enough to eat!” but all the information that exists on weight loss is so confusing. Eat more! Eat less! It’s not how much you exercise, it’s what you put in your body that counts! You need to burn off the fat you’ve got! You are in starvation mode! etc. Eating what I was for the past 2 years hasn’t been that helpful, so I did the only thing that made sense: reduce what was going in.
Another issue with this restricted diet, however, was that I found myself kind of “hoarding” my calories through the day. I’d eat breakfast and lunch and be really careful, so I could save room for dinner. Yet on a few occasions, I found myself at the end of the day well UNDER my 1200 calorie goal, which was scary. I KNOW that’s not healthy and it’s not something I want to get in the habit of doing. However, when it’s 9:00 before I realize, “hey, I’ve still got 300 calories left,” there’s not much I could do besides eat at bedtime, which I ALSO don’t want to do. So I’d be stuck again, wondering where I went wrong and how to fix it. Again, taxing.
So, I’m restricting food and booze, working out like crazy, eating right, etc., so obviously I’m seeing results, right? Well, yes and no.
The first week, I saw a 3lb. loss. Great! Almost halfway to my goal! The main reason for that loss was really the fact that the holidays were over and I wasn’t day-drinking and eating baked goods all day. I hovered at that weight for about 2 weeks straight, however, and I started to get really frustrated. I was working hard and the scale wasn’t moving. And yes, I weigh myself often. I have for years. I keep myself in check and I can see how what I eat affects me as much as how much I eat. And this is why weight loss can be SO DAUNTING. It’s not linear. X+Y doesn’t always equal Z. Our brains tell us “If I eat X calories and exercise, the scale will go down.” But the scale will go down, and then up, and then nowhere, and then down again and then up again and…. UGH. And again, there’s more confusing information. Switch up your workout! Switch up your diet! Workout in the morning! Don’t do cardio! Do some cardio but add weights! And all of that may be true, but you know what? I don’t have time for all that. I have a job, kids and a husband that all come before my time at the gym. So my time at the gym is that. MINE. I want to do what I want to do when I want to do it. I have classes that I love at times that work for me, and that’s what I’m doing. Period. I can’t switch things up every month or try new things all the time because schedules are in place and if you get me off my routine, then the next thing you know, it’s been a week since I’ve worked out. And I know THAT doesn’t help at all.
So I was frustrated. And grumpy. And hungry. And I wanted some chocolate and some prosecco. But I kept going and as we got within 2 days of the deadline, I did it! I made my goal!! The only issue: I had to maintain that goal until the actual weigh-in date, when you have to take this official photo. The DietBet site gives you a word that you write down and photograph next to the scale with your weight on it. Then you take a photo of yourself standing on the scale, so they can verify you aren’t cheating.
Plot twist: weigh-in day was the day after the Super Bowl AND my son’s 4th birthday. OUCH.
I tried really really hard to be good. I knew that even a piece of pizza would bloat me right up. I knew if I could hold off on the delicious cake just ONE DAY, I’d make it.
But I caved. I had one tiny piece of pizza. And maybe two not-so tiny handfuls of Chex Mix. And when I got on the scale this morning, sans clothes, I was .2 below my goal weight, which was good! Except when I put on my very minimal amount of clothing, it put me over.
Luckily, we have 48 hours to weigh in, so I knew I could just drink lots of water and have one more day of salad and eggs and hot tea for a “treat.” But man, I’m tired. I don’t want to go gorge myself on a Big Mac or anything, but I am ready to relax. Stop obsessing. Stop talking and thinking and counting and shaming myself. Because that’s what I’ve been doing. Beating myself up. I want to be at a healthy weight, and yes, I’ve come really far from my starting weight of 260lbs. But I’m still 30lbs away from a truly healthy weight.. It’s not about vanity, really. I could easily stop here, at 177.4, because I can now shop in regular stores and I am the fittest I’ve been in years and by all accounts, I’m healthy and normal. I have muscle tone now and feel great. But I’m 5’5, and 150lbs is the weight I need to be at to continue living without developing health issues as I get older.
So this plan to get off my plateau may work, but it’s been harder than I ever imagined. And if I don’t make this goal, it’ll feel like ALL of that was for nothing. Not really, I know, but I at least want my $25 back so I can go buy some wine.
What I have learned is in order to reach weight loss goals, we have to be kind to ourselves. We need support and healthy people around us, and probably professional help, if you are lucky enough to have access to it. Patience is helpful, as is a safe place to exercise, which I’m lucky to have and not everyone does. The bottom line is, if you are on a weight loss journey like I am, or know someone who is, lift them up. Help them out. Don’t sabotage them, be supportive. And when we reach our goals, big or small, it’s ok to celebrate.