Doing It All Over Again

We all know that losing weight can be really difficult.  Especially if you have a food addiction or are a chronic overeater.  Over the past few months, I’ve learned that it’s even harder to do it again.

I’ve explained before that I’ve been overweight since about the 3rd grade.  I still don’t know what the turning point was, where I went from a skinny child running around in tube tops to being so overweight that the kids in my class called me a “beach ball.”  But there was one, and regardless of what brought it on, that’s what happened to me.

I steadily gained weight throughout school until I went to college.  Most people gain the freshman 15.  I lost well over 15 pounds.  Probably closer to 40.  I really don’t know, because I avoided scales like the plague.  I’m sure it was a combination of things that helped me lose weight during that year:  lack of  car (unable to run and get fast food, had to walk everywhere), having to walk to classes, and being around lots of new friends.  I’ve never really had a problem with controlling how I eat in public or around friends.  I’ve always done my eating in private, or as private as I could make it.

The book that I’m currently reading is “Angry Fat Girls” by Frances Kuffel.  You can check out more details on Amazon through the link, but in it she has focused on the topic of losing a lot of weight and then regaining a lot.  Due to my own situation, it has been very interesting.  When I first mentioned the book on my blog a few weeks ago, I mentioned that I knew that I had her previous book, “Passing for Thin,” but couldn’t remember if I had read it.  So I did a search on my blog and I have read it and even wrote about it.  Um, I also wasn’t very flattering to it.  I wish that I could say that I liked the author more while reading this one, but she put me off towards the very beginning of the book once again with the way she described her so-called friends.  Luckily, for most of the rest of the book, I’ve been fairly successful in trying to ignore these comments and just focus on the heart of what she is trying to say.  I haven’t finished it yet, but from what I’ve read so far, I would recommend it to anyone who has lost and then regained a lot of weight.

To bring it back to the public vs. private eating, I read a scene a couple of days ago in which one of the characters, I can’t remember which, had a final blowout before getting back on plan.  She drove to one fast food restaurant, ate a large amount of their food in their parking lot, then drove to another, and then another, all eating the food while sitting in the parking lot.

Also, in “Lbs.” (I swear to God, I do think of other things…I promise), the main character is shown sitting in a diner more than once with the table covered in plates of food.  I would never have done that.

In both situations (hitting several drive-thrus or ordering at a restaurant), I would order the food and then take it home to stuff myself silly.  If I went through drive-thrus, I would hope that they would think that I was taking some of it home to family or friends.  Even if I ate out with friends, a lot of the time I would end up taking most of it home, only to end up finishing it off later that night.

You see, I kept my shame private.  I was a private person. (Then a got a blog and it was all downhill from there.  LOL)  But unfortunately, no matter how private I tried to keep my shame, there was no way I could keep it completely private, because the pounds just kept coming on.  And you can’t hide those.  That shame is out there for the world to see.

So I lost a lot of weight my freshman year in college and then started regaining the summer after my freshman year, because I moved home for the summer and had access to a car again and was back in my old environment (I sometimes really understand Neil’s act of moving to the country to try and lose his weight in “Lbs.”).  Since I brought my car back with me my junior year, the weight just kept piling on.  It also didn’t help that we moved into on-campus apartments (from the dorms) and my roommate was out of town constantly.  Lots of time for that private shame.  And let me tell you, a Sam’s Club membership that year probably wasn’t the best idea.  We’re talking corn dogs, taquitos, and french bread pizzas by the bulk.  My mouth waters just thinking about what my freezer looked like.

So I kept gaining through graduation.  I got a job that turned out to be both good and bad.  The good was that it helped give me a bit of self-confidence and made me a bit less afraid to talk to people.  I was an office manager that also had to deal with the public regularly.  I also believed in their mission and felt that I was doing some good.  On the bad side, my boss was an absolute nightmare.  One example:  she would come to my desk to ask me what conference room I had scheduled for the meeting that was in half an hour.  That was fine, except that she never told me about the meeting and there were going to be 20-30 people there.  I was also expected to do the work of about four people (no exaggeration).  It really sucked the life out of me and I continued to gain.

I finally reached my breaking point, quit, and moved back home all within the span of a week’s time.  Totally spur of the moment and probably the most spontaneous thing I’ve ever done.  At home, I somehow was able to maintain at about the weight that I came home at.  But then the unthinkable happened and my brother was killed – less than a year after I moved home.  I still sometimes think that it was all meant to be.  If I hadn’t had the job from hell and hadn’t reached my breaking point and quit and moved home, then I would never have had those last nine months with him.  I wouldn’t have had all of those days to fight and argue with him.  🙂  I would probably have only seen him once or twice that year.

After my brother died, my weight skyrocketed and I gained another 60 pounds at least, until I reached my all-time high.  I’m still not quite sure what it was, because I had already started losing a little bit before I joined Weight Watchers and bought a scale that would actually weigh me.  And you all know the story of what happened next.

I’ve wanted to lose weight ever since I was a kid.  Especially, as a kid, I always believed that losing the weight would fix everything in my life.  It would solve all of my problems.  As I got older and got to know myself better, I realized that this wasn’t the case, but I still knew that it would make some things so much easier in my life.  But I was never able to actually do it.  I would write up all of these great plans – food and exercise – and would always start “tomorrow.”  But again, that was the “tomorrow that never came.”  In all my life the only times I’ve ever lost a lot of weight were my freshman year in college and on Weight Watchers starting in 2006.  And the Weight Watchers attempt was the only intentional one.

So in 2006, I got it “on like Donkey Kong.”  LOL  And lost about 164 pounds over the course of about two years, only to regain over 80 of them.

So this is where I am today.  Trying to re-lose those 80+ pounds.  And it’s nowhere near as easy or as fun as it was last time.  Last time it was like a game to me, and the excitement of stepping on the scale each week to see losses was intoxicating.  Fitting into smaller clothes and seeing progress photos after reaching each 25 lbs lost was also intoxicating.

But now, while I can watch the scale drop, the excitement of the smaller clothes and the progress photos just isn’t as much as it was.  I already have clothes that I will be able to fit back into – though maybe I’ll make a policy of buying at least one new item.  I also don’t have the excitement of finding out how my new progress photos will compare with the last one.  I already have all of the progress photos.  I already know what I’ll look like.  And now each one will just serve to remind me of how far I fell and of where I was when I had lost 164 pounds.

It’s no secret or understatement when I say that I was extremely strict with myself when I first started Weight Watchers – with my points anyway.  There was no veering off plan and I rarely allowed myself the things that I really craved.  Pizzas made on Thomas Light English Muffins with fat free cheese (that now makes me say UGH just thinking about it) just aren’t the same as Domino’s.

I was looking at my Progress Chart (link above on the toolbar to all of the horribleness) the other day and was looking to see where all my issues began.  The first major appearance of the “?” under the Flex Points Used column happened around my birthday in September of 2007.  I remember that moment very well.  We had taken a weekend trip to Branson to celebrate my birthday.  I remember we were at our hotel and I remember specifically deciding “Damn it! I want pizza!  I’m going to have real pizza!”  And so we ordered Pizza Hut.  And I stuffed myself silly and loved every moment (until I felt sick afterward).

Things kind of fell off track, but I kept losing until I reached my lowest.  Then there is a clear break on my Progress Chart.  It’s right about the time that my friends came to visit me and is also about the time that my doctor told me that my new goal weight should be 170 instead of the 153 that WW told me was the highest I should be.  To be honest, I think I freaked.  I remember posting this about my doctor changing my goal weight. Here is a fairly scary (in hindsight) quote from it:

What then?  Losing this weight has pretty much been the focus of my life for more than two years.  Looking forward to that weigh-in each week and praying for a loss is what kept me going.  Will I be able to maintain it?  And if I am able to maintain it, will seeing a similar number week after week be enough to keep me interested and on track?

And then, from that moment, the “?”s took over my Progress Chart and my weight skyrocketed up.

So now I’m trying to find that excitement again.  It comes and goes.  I did peek at the scale today and am half a pound below where I was the week before last, so that was pretty exciting.  But I’m almost starting to think that I just need to forget about all of my previous progress photos and allow myself to get excited all over again with each new one.  And to allow myself to have new ones.  Hopefully, over the next month or two, I will reach 100 pounds gone again, and hopefully I will be able to celebrate it as if it were the first time.

Even if I choose to forget (or try anyway, because I am still proud of what I accomplished) where I was on the low end of the scale, I will never forget where I was on the high end of the scale.  I will never completely start over and say “this is my new starting weight.”  I worked damn hard to lose those pounds and I am going to appreciate each and every one of them.  They were a part of me.  They helped mold me into the person that I am.

Of course, I don’t ever freaking want to see them again, but I’ve started to learn how to appreciate who I am because of them.

10 Responses to this entry

  • Taryl Says:

    Thank you for sharing more of your story, I think it’s surprising how many of us can relate in one way or another. You are absolutely right that losing the weight a second time is a whole different type of brutality than doing it the first time, when it’s successes and novelty and BEATING ourselves at our own games, finally. The second time feels a lot more like catch and failure.

    But that’s just the thing, while it feels like you failed by regaining, it is NOT. That is a lie we tell ourselves, but not reality. Reality is that as long as you keep moving forward and commit yourself to action, you can NEVER fail. Life isn’t a start and stop game, IRS continual. You retraced some weight you’d already seen, had a rough go, and a few setbacks, but you ARE moving forward and on your way back down the scale.

    That counts for a heck of a lot more than you are giving yourself credit for.

    I agree that a new reward for weight lost may be just what the doctor ordered. You shouldn’t let yourself get in the habit if not celebrating your achievements just because its not new territory – that is a recipe for disaster. Acknowledge that the feat you’re undertaking now is as momentous and amazing as it was the first time, and that YOU are every bit as deserving of celebration and praise as you ever were before, and perhaps moreso now. Any one of us who have struggled with obesity for most of our lives knows well how much harder it is to pick ourselves back up after a perceived failure, and your perseverance is a testament to your character that you shouldn’t ignore!
    .-= Taryl´s last blog ..Happy birthday to me! =-.

    Posted on May 14th, 2010 at 8:32 pm Reply | Quote
  • Pamela Says:

    Oh man, Taryl, thank you. I’ve got tears in my eyes now. You’re amazing!

    Posted on May 14th, 2010 at 8:59 pm Reply | Quote
  • Fitcetera Says:

    I know it’s tempting to look back but our eyes are in the front of our heads to look forward. 🙂
    I was down to my lowest in over a decade (208) and then I completely gained it all back to get up to 241 so I have to go back down again and no, it’s not as fun, I agree.
    But …
    our eyes are in the front of our heads …

    Taryl’s comment is awesome.

    Posted on May 14th, 2010 at 11:41 pm Reply | Quote
  • Ron Says:

    Pam,
    As I have said on my blog, you have to have your head in the game, you have to ‘want’ to do it. Because it is a lifestyle change. I had to change the way I eat and I had to change what I eat. People will tell you not to deny yourself foods you love or you will fail….. I have changed ‘the foods I love’. I would not be where I am today if I hadn’t. You mentioned Pizza, I think I have had pizza once in the last 3 years….. I think I just found something I want to blog about! Have a great day!
    .-= Ron´s last blog ..New Hard drive for the laptop =-.

    Posted on May 15th, 2010 at 7:43 am Reply | Quote
  • Jaime Says:

    Wow that was a great post. The other comments are just beautiful. I think you should think of this as a new chapter in your journey and celebrate every loss and NSV as if it were new. That excitment is what keeps us going somedays. Like you I did most of my eating in private. Around others I wasn’t pigging out but I think that is a bad thing.If I only would have eaten around others I would have controled things alot better out of embarressment. I think you should take NEW progress pics and allow your self to buy a few new things to celebrate . You ARE beautiful !!!!
    .-= Jaime´s last blog ..Feeling Free =-.

    Posted on May 15th, 2010 at 8:48 am Reply | Quote
  • Ben Says:

    Losing it the second time is a bigger accomplishment in my opinion. The first time, it was new and exciting. You had something to look forward to in seeing what you’d look like at that new all-time-low number. That was a strong driving force in the motivation department. Now, you’re doing it through sheer force of will. No exciting new pictures to see. You’ve seen em. No celebratory confetti drifting down around you. You’ve already celebrated those losses. Nope, now is when you have to be your strongest because you’re walking a path you’d already tread before. So fuck it. Wander off the path into the woods. Keep moving in the same direction, but look around and enjoy the change of scenery this time around. What did you not notice last time that you could this time around? Figure that out and you’ll have made this a whole new game.

    Glad to see you’re still at this. Email me.
    .-= Ben´s last blog ..A closer look, or, how NOT to give up =-.

    Posted on May 15th, 2010 at 9:23 am Reply | Quote
  • Rebecca Says:

    Thanks for such a provocative post!

    I wasn’t a binge eater during the past couple decades. Didn’t eat drive-through food or processed high fat stuff. Nope, only whole grains, fat free dairy, splenda-sweetened products, lean meats and plenty of fruits and veges. Did not eat white sugar or white flour.

    (Rarely: a few slices of pizza, almost ALWAYS homemade with whole wheat flour and part skim mozzarella.)

    I simply ate portions that were too large, and I ate too many servings (especially things like yogurt and fruit! Good ol’ fruit.)

    Seriously.

    I used to get so damn angry when people assumed I ate cookies and doughnuts.

    (Like I was such a virtuous person because I only ate HEALTHY food! LOL!)

    I can honestly testify that a person like me (probably an average metabolism for my age) can become obese by eating too much fruit and too much air popped corn. (As in: 8 cups of airpopped corn. Almost. Every. Night.)

    500 extra calories a day, above what one needs for maintainance, is still a weight gain of a pound each week, which obviously adds up to a 52 lb increase in only one year…even if the extra calories are from, say, fruit, popcorn and yogurt.

    Throw in another 250 calories a day from a slightly larger serving of oatmeal at breakfast, with a couple TBS of flax seed for Omega-3, and a few raisins, or maybe a slice or two of dry whole wheat toast (mid morning or afternoon) and a few extra chugs of nice cold milk…well, there’s an ADDITIONAL 30 to 40 lbs during that year, for a total gain of more than 80 to 90 lbs.

    Finally, along with all those extra lbs came an INEVITABLE reduction in activity.

    Soooo…..

    For me, gaining back over 100 lbs of weight that I had struggled to get off (not once, not twice, but three times) was, actually, VERY easy. Very easy yet very painful and confusing. (I won’t even talk about the times I lost 40 or 50 lbs before starting to regain.)

    Need I continue?

    *sob*

    It sort of defies the stereotypes of how *we* gain weight.

    I’m sure it happens more than we realize. I would even bet that much of your regain originated with *healthy* foods…in portions too large or servings too many.

    Posted on May 15th, 2010 at 4:53 pm Reply | Quote
  • moonduster (Becky) Says:

    You will get the weight back off, and yes, you should enjoy seeing the scale going down again as if it was the first time. Maintaining can be so difficult! I’ve only been in maintenance mode since February.
    .-= moonduster (Becky)´s last blog ..The Courage To Dream =-.

    Posted on May 16th, 2010 at 9:41 am Reply | Quote
  • MB Says:

    I know exactly how frustrating it is to struggle to lose lots of weight only to regain it and have to lose it again and again. The last time I lost over 60 pounds I thought I had it all figured out and then regain it all plus an additional 20+. What went wrong? How did I let myself do that again?

    This time may not be as exciting as the last time you lost the weight but you can get excited about this being the LAST time you will have to do it right and keep it off.
    .-= MB´s last blog ..Thematic Photographic 97 – Spring Has Sprung =-.

    Posted on May 17th, 2010 at 7:15 am Reply | Quote
  • Skye Says:

    Wow! What a touching and deep post. My heart goes out to you Pam. My biggest fear has always been to lose the weight, once and for all, only to regain it back. I’ve had a weight problem since I was 7 years old. Obese is all I know.

    I completely agree with your last full paragraph! I do not believe you should ignore all that you’ve accomplished and adjust your starting weight. In fact, last week I changed my “total loss” number. I had lost 17.6 lbs in 2009 and I wasn’t giving myself credit for it. So, I updated my chart to include it. ( :

    I feel so much better when I see that I have lost 31 lbs rather than just the most recent 13.4. Sure, the first half was lost well over a year ago, but I still need to acknowledge that I did lose it! And so do you! Because God knows we worked too darn hard to ignore it! ( :
    .-= Skye´s last blog ..My Worst Enemy =-.

    Posted on May 19th, 2010 at 3:45 am Reply | Quote

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