I’ve been hyper-focusing on losing weight lately. I recently realized after a yearly wellness exam that the evil doctor’s office scale number was 20 pounds higher this year than the last. I’m 5’9″, so this is perhaps like a shorter woman gaining 10 or 15 pounds, but still. Not cool.
Furious at myself for not noticing sooner, I immediately leapt into action, both psychologically and literally. I eliminated all carbs except non-starchy vegetables from my diet. I only allowed myself 2 high-protein shakes for breakfast and lunch, then a tiny toddler-sized, high-protein dinner. I added 30 more minutes of cardio to the 30 minutes I normally do every other day. I started doing cardio every day, in addition to the weight machine strength training I already do 4 days a week for 30-40 minutes.
My knees are fucking killing me.
(I thought I’d be cute and run throughout my 20s, despite the fact that both parents have bad knees. I was warned I’d regret it, and they were right. I can’t even do a squat anymore without it sounding like someone cracking their knuckles. The cardio bike doesn’t hurt at all… but damn, the treadmill is a bitch.)
Because I dropped below 800 calories per day, I lost 7 pounds in 9 days, and then, also because I dropped below 800 calories per day, my metabolism shut down and I plateaued at the same weight for days.
This infuriated me, and started a war between my mind and body, and soon I was eating nothing but liquid protein, determined to win. I became scared to eat solid food. That scale was coming the next morning, and that number had better drop, damn it.
I do this. I become scared of food and just stop eating. This is a lifelong pattern for me. I’ve starved and over-exercised myself down to 115 pounds, and didn’t get my period for nearly a year because my body fat was so low. And I still thought I needed to lose weight.
Never thin enough. Never good enough. Never enough.
I don’t lack willpower — quite the opposite, actually. You could drop a box of doughnuts in front of me right now and I wouldn’t even think about it because they’re not an option. The same quality that makes me an annoyingly stubborn human also gives me a will of steel that has allowed me to travel through the cruel moments of life unbroken. It’s a blessing and a curse.
In short: You won’t break me. But I might.
My husband had to talk me back into eating after a few days of probably less than 500 calories because I was furious at my body for not doing what I wanted it to do. He told me, “You’ve shut down your metabolism and put your body into starvation mode because you’re not eating enough. You know how this works.”
And then I cried like a big baby because hungry people are emotional people, and admitted he was absolutely right.
So I agreed to add a handful of nuts, a string cheese, an apple, popcorn, or other such small, healthy snacks into my daily allowance of “2 protein drinks and one tiny meal” to keep my metabolism from shutting down. We also agreed that the daily weigh-ins were obsessive and potentially mentally harmful, so I’m only weighing-in on Fridays.
Trying to lose weight is like doing really hard math all the time. I hate having to think about exercise and food so much. Those people who say, “All you have to do to lose weight is get a little exercise and control your portions!” can suck it. They’re grossly oversimplifying what is for many people — who have damaged their metabolisms and have food/weight/body image issues — an incredibly complex and stressful process. And it’s insensitive and rude to say “It’s so easy for me!” to people who want more than anything in the world to have what you have, and to feel good about themselves. It’s mean. Stop it.
I just told you I’m having trouble losing my pregnancy weight, you replied that you wore your pre-pregnancy jeans home from the hospital, and I’m not allowed to punch you? I call shenanigans.
The Losing Weight is Easy! folks are also not taking into account that everyone has a different hormone blend, thyroid/metabolism, age, bone structure, genetics, etcetera. And the fact that pregnancy can completely change the physiological system of a woman has been confirmed to me by many doctors.
One doctor told me, “Yes, most women are dealing with a completely different metabolism and body post-pregnancy. Sometimes it’s a good change, like they’ll stop having the asthma they had before. But usually, unfortunately, it’s negative.” He told me this because I was having my blood drawn to see if my thyroid isn’t functioning properly, because I’ve never had trouble losing weight in my life… until I gave birth. Whole different ballgame, and I don’t know any of the new rules. It fucking sucks. My thyroid is fine, which is great. But I wanted a reason. My thyroid sucking ass would have given me a reason for the way I can’t lose weight as easily as I used to lose it.
Because I like reasons. I like answers. And I fucking hate feeling chubby. I don’t feel good about myself and it affects every other aspect of my life, no matter how hard I try to talk myself out of it. I can tell myself all the enlightened things; “You’re more than just a number!” and, “Your body size doesn’t determine your worth as a human!” But all societal media and advertising influences say otherwise, and they got me. I’m brainwashed. You win, fat-shaming, chubby-mocking American culture. I am at the top of my acceptable BMI range, and I hate myself for it. Are you happy?
I’ve also been trying to figure out why I gained weight this year, and again, my wise husband helped me realize that I’ve been depressed. I’ve been depressed because my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer last April, and that was a scary and stressful ride for the whole family, because we love her, and worry. And when anything like cancer slaps you in the face with mortality and the random unfairness and unpredictability of life — it fucks you up psychologically, whether you realize it or not.
I don’t keep cookies in the house, or candy, I don’t like potato chips (they taste like old, cold grease to me), and find soda pop/soft drinks to be gross (mmmm… fizzy chemicals), so I’m actually a somewhat healthful eater. Even the protein shakes I’m “eating” now are a healthy blend of pure vegetable (pea) protein combined with flaxseed meal, chia seeds, and a few handfuls of spinach. (I tried the pre-packaged Atkins shakes and they burned my mouth. I’m pretty sure they’re made from nuclear waste, liquefied desperation, and Satan’s piss.)
But I did lose myself in multiple Netflix binge-watching sessions and definitely had a sedentary last few months, curled on the couch in a blanket, 3 days past a shower, crying over other people’s fake film problems. I’m sure this contributed to the weight gain.
Maybe some comforting, yet entirely unnecessary carbs slipped in there, too. (I miss you, pizza! Call me!)
Depression’s a bitch, amirite? But I feel like I’ve turned a corner, and I’m going to keep working on getting my ass AND my mental outlook in better shape.
Hope you’re well, friends.