Monday, April 7, 2014

When the compliments stop

This isn't my first rodeo, you may say. As someone who has struggled with her weight since about the 4th grade, I know how this goes. When you are on your way down, size wise, weight-wise, etc. everyone seems to notice and compliment and encourage. When you are on the way back-up, there is nothing but silence and the silence is deafening.

So, this is probably my fourth time now taking this wild weigh-loss and re-gain ride. The first time I tried to lose weight was probably in 6th grade. I had been picked on at school a lot for being larger and people would make fun of me. This is the first time I turned to Weight Watchers (WW), which appears to be the only "thing" that has worked for me--weight loss wise. Now, I say "worked" in that I am always successfully able to lose weight while doing WW, however, clearly it hasn't totally worked in that this is a life-long battle and I feel as I will always go through this roller coaster of the joy on the way down and the embarrassment, frustration and discouragement on the way back up.

Back in 6th grade, I lost a decent amount of weight for a 11 year old. I kept it off for a bit, and while I was never a small person, I would do anything to be that high school size again, I was healthy. It is truly amazing how much I beat up myself and my body growing up. Beat-up, meaning put down and felt bad about. I was really my own worst enemy and would often try and find ways to put myself down before someone else had the chance to. In my mind this made perfect sense. I was and always have been really sensitive. I thought I had found the magic equation to ensure no one could ever hurt me. Not only did this not work, because there were other ways to get hurt, but I ended up being the one that hurt myself most. Always being the first to call myself overweight, fat, chunky, whatever and always being the first to think of myself as unattractive. I am not sure where all of this came from, but I really wish I had found another method of protecting myself. I think it all roots back to the huge fear I had of being hurt, but again, I ended up hurting myself the most.

Once I started getting involved in sports, I didn't need to do too much weigh-loss wise. I was always so busy running around, once again, while I was never a small person, I was always in shape and active thanks to field hockey, basketball and softball. I still considered myself overweight and according to all of Dr. Chung's charts I was, but I ate way healthier and was way more active than I am now. It wasn't until I went away to Wheaton and quit the field hockey team after my sophomore year that the weight slowly started to creep on. I would go up and down over the years, but never really did anything to try and lose weight again until 2003, after graduating college.

It had gotten to the point where my clothes didn't fit anymore. I feel like that is often my trigger and reality check. Ok, Patty, you don't have money for a new wardrobe, let's get back on track. I try not to weight myself all that often. The reason is because when I am feeling good, it can make me feel like crap if it is higher than I would have thought. So, I did Weight Watchers again in 2003 and got down to a very comfortable weight. Looking back, I would probably call it my goal weight. Again, I was never a skinny person. just looking to get healthier and more comfortable with myself. So, I was able to keep the weight off for over a year, which seems to be my success range.

We then moved back to NY and it slowly crept back on with trying to find a job, going to grad school, being in a new city and having some other stressful times. So, I guess what I continue to realize is that I am pretty good at losing weight, but I am also equally good about getting complacent and letting it creep back on. It also has become more and more apparent that my struggles are truly 1) how I deal with and internalize stress and stressful situations and 2) my lack of exercise.

So, my most recent attempt was back in October of 2011. I once again successful dropped the standard 30 lbs, which I have apparently become very "good at" doing. The entire way down, while I have a hard time with compliments and people "noticing me" I have to say, it is nice to hear all of the compliments you get while you are losing weight. All of the kind words, compliments, words of encouragement and cheer leading that happens on the way down. I have to say it always makes me a little uncomfortable to realize that people are noticing, but at the same time, it is always so nice to get those compliments and notice your hard work is really paying off.

My WW leader used to always joke that "regular" people just don't get it. And by "regular" he meant people without food issues. I cannot imagine just being one of those people that can just eat until I am almost full, or that person that doesn't feel the need to empty her plate. I cannot imagine being that person that has a stressful day at work and goes home for a run, instead of reaching for the bag of Cheetos. I really want to be that person. I really want to be the person that slowly starts to find new behaviors to replace the old ones. Just not there yet.

But, it felt so nice. It felt so nice to get those compliments "you look great," " you have lost so much weight," etc. etc. It really does.

Unfortunately on the way back-up, as equally good as it felt on the way down, it feels even worse on the way back-up. People that were suddenly paying attention to you and your changing shape and weight begin to realize that you are putting weight back on. The first time they see you after awhile and after you have put some weight back on, you can tell what they are used to saying, they suddenly realize they can no longer say. It is almost a comical moment, because you know exactly what moment they are having. The "hmmm..I am so used to saying you look great and how much weight have you lost, but that doesn't really apply so I will stare at you for a split second more than normal and just say hi how are you." I don't blame them. I clearly am not at my best, but I have to say, on the way back up, this time at least, I am feeling pretty good.

I don't like to make excuses and there are so many obvious patterns in my life, but it has been an extremely challenging year, to say the least. I have come out on the other side of a panic disorder after about 2 months of severe panic attacks, a multitude of medical tests and a trip to the ER after a panic attack while driving, I was promoted to a brand-new position, my boss was let-go, we got married, my cat unexpectedly passed away right in front of me and now we are moving. It has certainly been a year of change to say the least. So, while I have learned "how to lose the weight" I think what I really need to work on now, is how to not let life get the better of me, how to not eat my emotions and feelings and how to get to exercise more regularly. I know "how" to lose weight, I just need to want to and more importantly, need to learn, finally, how to deal with my stressful days, outside of food.

I guess these are the things that seem so simple as a child. I wouldn't think it would take me nearly 35 years to figure all this out. I continue to learn every day and I like to think, at some point, while my weight will certainly always fluctuate that I won't have such a long ride up again in the near future.

My hope is to find a way to deal with life better, not only to be healthier, but with all of my stomach issues (IBS, allergies to wheat and corn and a really really sensitive stomach) I always feel better the more healthy I eat. It is a vicious cycle. I get stressed, I eat unhealthy, my stomach gets upset, I feel awful, I get stressed, I eat unhealthy, I cannot work out because I feel sick, because I cannot work out I get anxious about trying to work out, so I work out and then I get anxious that my heart is beating too fast, so I stop working out, then I go home and eat unhealthy to keep the cycle going. It is all a huge cycle full of excuse after excuse, but they are all real challenges for me, whether or not they are excuses. The panic is real, the anxiety is real and unfortunately it doens't go away with the snap of a finger. Everyone has their own daily struggle. Everyone has their own challenges, including me.

Most importantly, your telling me not to eat Cheetos is the least helpful thing you could do. :) Until I find a way to deal better with life outside of food, your telling me I shouldn't eat Cheetos will just send super sensitive Patty into another bag of Cheetos and possibly a box of Pop'ems too. :)

As the weather starts to become warmer and I hopefully resurrect my lunch-time walks and with the pup coming in June I look forward to being outside much more often and with our nice new kitchen in our nice new apartment, I look forward to cooking. I feel like the stars are aligning for me to continue working on healthy Patty. I have no doubt I will continue to literally have ups and downs, just a gentle reminder to those around me that we notice when the compliments stop and while we don't expect them, because we know we are no longer achieving what we were being complimented for, just be gentle with those of us who continue to struggle with food and food issues, especially on the way back up.

And that's all she wrote.....

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