I Wish I Could Stop

Isn’t depression the best? I was first diagnosed with major depressive disorder after a scary hospitalization when I was a teenager, and depression has been a visitor that I suspect will come  a-knockin’ every so often for the rest of my life.

Depression has been a recent house guest. I’m getting over a funk that I’ve been in for the past couple weeks. It might be some post-holiday blues, perhaps, and it could be related to the bruised or cracked rib that I’ve been healing from. Whatever the cause, it held on to me for a good solid two weeks, and it planted a thought in my head that got stuck there. I kept on thinking these five words over and over again, like a song you can’t shake:

I wish I could stop.

I wish I could stop eating sensibly and just eat whatever I want.

I wish I could stop exercising and just be naturally thin.

I wish I could stop reading food labels and swapping ingredients and packing a gym bag and watching my portions and logging my workouts and focusing so much on what I need to eat and how much I need to move and skipping the snack aisle at the store and ordering the dressing on the side and updating my weight loss chart and making sure to stretch and thinking about my health ALL THE FUCKING TIME.

I. Wish. I. Could. Stop.

These thoughts stem from the very basic fact that losing weight and keeping it off is hard. It’s very hard. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. And, because it’s hard, it can be exhausting. There are times when I’m feeling very gung-ho, and enjoy exploring new recipes and spending time at the gym, and there are times when it all feels like a never-ending chore. Lately, despite good days, it seems like the scales have been tipped towards chore. Temptations have come one after another, as opposed to more sporadically. Dealing with cravings has been a harder fight than it’s been in the past, and that fight is tiring. It gets harder to keep up the good fight when you’re tired.

And so I started thinking I wish I could stop. And then I would elaborate further: I wish all this came more naturally. I wish I had a different metabolism. I wish I had a smaller appetite. I wish, I wish, I wish.

Guess what happened after a few days of thinking those thoughts on a loop? I started believing what they implied: That I’m not trying hard enough. That I’m not good enough. That I’m not a success.

RELATED CONTENT: Feeling Hopeless? Here’s What To Do.

Thankfully, when those thoughts started percolating, red flags went up left and right. STOP! DANGER DANGER DANGER! Those are NOT good things to think, because they’re just not true.

So I reminded myself of my successes, whether it be having a healthy lunch or completing a record-setting workout or ohyeahhowcouldIforget losing and keeping off 160 pounds. And that helped keep the train from completely derailing.

But that damaging thought cycle kept returning, no matter how many times I squashed it with more positive thoughts. I can’t say that there was one specific moment or event that lifted me out of this particular funk (I’m not sure I’m fully out of it yet anyway, although I’m much better than I was a week ago), but there have been a couple things that definitely helped.

1) EXERCISE. Part of the funk stemmed from an idea I had that I was going to have to start over in the gym to get back into shape after my rib injury. I blogged a couple weeks ago about my first weightlifting workout in a month, and while that blog post was optimistic about future weightlifting workouts, what really happened was that this depression got the better of me, and I didn’t touch a barbell for another week and a half.

This depression made exercising a major drag. I struggled, and on a couple days I couldn’t muster the strength to do anything at all. Other days I did the bare minimum – moderate effort (at best) on a recumbent bike. I was banking on my awesome 15-mile hike to snap me back into a gung-ho attitude, and it did – but only for a day or so.

Finally, last Thursday, I took one of Richard Simmons’ classes at Slimmons and I felt terrible. Sluggish. Weak. I didn’t want to be there and I couldn’t wait to leave. I refused to absorb any of Richard’s infectious energy and positivity. And on the drive home, it dawned on me that I was getting to a very perilous place. If I didn’t buckle down and take my workouts seriously, than I was only going to continue spiraling downward.

So, the next day, I hit the weights hard. The day after that, a thorough cardio workout spread between 4 different machines. The day after that, more weights. And what I quickly realized is that I had completely underestimated myself. I wasn’t nearly as out-of-shape as I thought I was, just a little rusty. And a couple quality workouts did a lot of good towards shaking off that rust. I feel good about the week ahead in regards to my workouts, and feel confident that I can do what I need to do without questioning my strength, muscular or mental.

2) PHOTOGRAPHS. I have a go-to pile of “before” photos. There’s about 10 of them that I see frequently. I compiled them years ago, when I started building my Photo Gallery page. I keep one in my wallet to remind myself of my accomplishments. I keep a small album on them on my phone to show people who ask about my weight loss. When I get so lucky as to be interviewed on TV, I sent off a bunch of them so the show’s producers can make graphics and such.

About a week ago, I saw “before” pictures that I had never seen before. I was hanging out with my friends Kristy and Mike, whom I’ve known for over a decade, and they had recently stumbled across photos from a get-together they hosted in 2009.

David-before-bench

David-before-bench-bel-air

These pictures had a profound effect on me, primarily because they provided the perfect rebuttal to my nasty I wish I could stop thought cycle. I looked at these photos for the first time ever and thought:

This is why I can’t stop. This is what will happen if I don’t take care of myself, no matter how difficult it may be sometimes. I don’t ever want to be that size again. Never ever. So I can’t let some dumb depression get the best of me. I can’t let some negative thoughts take hold and derail all the amazing things I’ve done. I can’t let some bad habits take root, because those bad habits, like weeds, can choke out all the good habits that are paying off each and every single day.

I much prefer this photo, which was taken three weeks ago:

David-mexico-solo

Did you notice what this photo has that the two “before” photos are lacking? A smile. That smile speaks volumes about my strength, my abilities, my confidence, my health, my quality of life, and, small depressions aside, my happiness. Most of all, that smile says…

…Keep it up, David.

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41 Responses to I Wish I Could Stop

  1. Paul Ernewein says:

    Hi David
    First time I have posted anything. I have been reading your blog now for about a year. I understand your feelings. Most of us who deal with weight problems suffer from types of depression. In those times of doubt and hate, that is when we need to dig deeper and lean on others to help. Just remember that you are not alone!
    I am proud of you, not that it matters since you don’t know me.
    You know what it takes to beat this problem and you are doing it! You are blessed to have a great group of friends who are helping you. But ultimately as we learn, we are responsible and we need to take ownership of our lives.
    You have been an inspiration for me. I started at 424lbs and now am right at 301. It has taken me a year to get here and I need to lose about 80lbs more. As your blog title says “Keep it up” and stay focused
    That is all we can do, one day at a time.
    p.s.
    I am from New Orleans and have to break the cycle of “Living to eat” each and every day. Anytime you need an ear, please contact me.
    take care
    Paul

    • David says:

      Thank you, Paul, for reaching out. It doesn’t matter if we haven’t met, I appreciate your words and am grateful for them. It’s very freeing to learn that other people can relate to your problems and have fought the same fights. And holy crap, your 123-lb loss is incredible! Well done, and KEEP IT UP!

  2. lorraine hubbard says:

    Hang in there David. Thank you for sharing your struggle. I am feeling a similar struggle and trying to get back on track. I have lost 42 lbs over the past year and suddenly the past couple of weeks it has been a real struggle. Your story will help me. Thank you.

  3. patti says:

    David..i know what ur feeling. I finally in my life realize i have dystymia. Spell check..its a low grade continual depression…im 57 years old and im taking ownership. Im choosing to take care of Patti and tellbthe depression to get lost. Well i wish i would but i have embraced it .. you got this. keeo smiling..everyone on this journey of life has purpose!!! Look at that smile and smile bigger..God Bless

    • Sugar Lee says:

      The photo also says healthy. The before said otherwise. You’re a bright young man with much to offer. I believe that sentiment was what originally motivated your friend, Richard Simmons. You’re aging a fan base, David. Keep it up.

    • David says:

      Thanks, Patti, and you too! Taking ownership is a huge step… and it will only lead to great things. Keep it up!

  4. Robin says:

    Wow David! I really needed to hear this today. Its like you wrote down what was in my head. You are an inspiration. Im sure your posts of your journey has helps many people including me. You are such a beautiful man!

  5. Sugar Lee says:

    Gaining a fan base. Auto correct!

  6. TheFatGuy says:

    TheFatGuy knows exactly what you are dealing with. I have gone through many struggles over my journey http://fatguydiary.com/struggling/ and http://fatguydiary.com/thefatguy-s-mindless-eating/ are 2 times I have blogged about the challenges among many others. The key for YOU and ME is we remain on the journey thru the ups and downs. I eat when I am depressed, happy, sad, ……… :)

    Anyway the pics and the fat pants are other great motivators! I love to look at my journey to know where I don’t want to go and re-energize my focus on where I want to go. Good luck David and Keep it Up. Your ups and downs give honest motivation to others, including me :)

    Keep Smiling.

  7. Dana says:

    Wow David! Love, love this blog. You addressed so many of the same things that are floating around in my head. I decided that 2014 is the year that I do this, get the weight off, get healthy, stop letting life pass me by…then that little voice starts especially the one that says “ha, who are you kidding!” Thanks so very much for being such a great inspiration and helping me get started and stay on track!

  8. Pat says:

    I’ve been fortunate enough to know both of the guys in those photos (Going on 12 years now). And I’ve seen that smile broaden with each pound lost. Keep it Up!

  9. Leslie says:

    David you wouldn’t be “normal” without some down days… we all have them. You are doing great! Keep that chin up! Also, make sure you get some exposure to the SUN regularly :) ~ Leslie

  10. There are so many thoughts running around in my head right now that I think the best thing to say is “Thank you”. Those two words don’t even begin to express the positive impact that reading your post just had on me. Just knowing that someone else out there has faced/is facing the same battle raging in my own life makes it easier somehow. Thank you isn’t enough, but “thank you” will have to suffice. I have my own set of those before photos Now it’s time for me to get to work on the “after photos.” Again, thank you.

    • David says:

      You’re welcome, man. And thanks for sharing my post with your readers and taking the time to comment. That, too, means a lot! Can’t wait for the awesome After photos… Keep it up!

  11. Reblogged this on 5-6-7-8 Dancing My Way to a Healthy Me! and commented:
    I’m sharing this post because, well, it hits very close to home for me. I’ve been following David’s blog for a while now and I’ve admired how he’s managed to succeed and do what I’m trying to do. I never new until this post that he too suffers from bouts of depression. Right now, I’m in the midst of one of those bouts myself. Think “Le Brea Tar Pits” and you kinda get the idea about where I’m at right now. When this appeared in my inbox today, I don’t know what made me click on it. There’s nothing in the title that would lead me to think that the article speaks to being depressed and the never ending battle of fighting for fitness and NOT being depressed… …but click on it I did.

    I’m so glad I did. It is nice to know I’m not alone. And that success is possible. And that even when you’ve “made it” that you’ll always have to “keep” making it. Bravo David! And thank you. I’m not in the fight alone. Knowing that means a lot. Especially now. And if Uhmmm… someone could maybe tell me how to get this tar out of my clothes, I’d appreciate it.

  12. Emmie says:

    I think something is in the air because I had the same bout of self doubt and mental beatdown recently also. Not a full depressive episode (thank goodness, the meds are doing their job) but enough to really drag me down. All I can say is that you are amazing and continue to accomplish great things.

  13. David: I love your honesty about your struggles – emotional, physical and intellectual. I think you’re inspiring and human. I think so many people who battle depression are afraid to talk about it and when they’re on a weight loss journey it’s even harder to battle those negative voices.

    I’m sorry about your injury and for those negative voices getting louder in your head but I’m very certain that you have the strength to tamper them and right yourself in more ways than one.

    We all have bad days but knowing you have support makes things a little better (at least in my world).

    Best to you!

  14. Jennifer says:

    David you are amazing and what you have done inspires me every day. Thank you for sharing your true feelings on the blog. Weight loss is such a hard journey and you have to stay on the road every day. By showing us the good and the bad, you encourage me to stay on track and try to keep going even though it is hard.

  15. Okay, I just read your blog and all the comments. I just took a deep breath. I haven’t walked my steps since Thursday. Everyday i’ve been feeling more and more depressed. It’s so hard to stop this depression train once it starts rolling. Thank you for writing this blog today. Part of my depression is the overwhelming feeling of being alone. Your post has helped me realize that there are other people out there that feel the same way i do and that I’m not that unusual or abnormal. I will post my steps tomorrow! I will continue this journey. I will continue to fight and keep it going!

  16. Nurse Karen says:

    My first thoughts were: have you all had any recent medical check-ups? Blood work to check for (1) Anemia (2) Vitamin B shortages (3) Vitamin D3 levels, (4) Adrenal function, (5) Diabetes, etc.?? There could be a physical reason for your depression. High blood sugar levels in the bloodstream cause mental sluggishness & in some cases, coma. {Moral of that: read labels, skip all sugar & processed baked goods, check out David’s Dietary intake, which is practically perfect!} Also, for those who live in the Winter Zones or have office jobs where you leave for work in the dark & return home in the dark, or swing-shift workers: “S.A.D.=Seasonal Affective Disorder” is very real. It can induce depression because the lack of sunlight promotes low Vitamin D3 levels, and melatonin dysregulation {which helps mood & sleeping properly}. Are you getting enough Sleep? Folks need at least 8 hours to properly function, ameliorate mood, and heal the body. If you cannot get eight hours in a row, try to have a 30 minute nap during the day but not too close to bedtime. The immune system does not function well at all, when we are sleep-deprived, and cortisol levels will not be at optimum levels. As stressors occur in our daily lives, the cortisol pumped into the body is not properly regulated due to the lack of sleep {and likely the lack of exercise} as we spiral down into being lumps of inertia. That’s when we reach for the food-fix, as serotonin levels will increase with junk food intake but the affect on your insulin levels & subsequent blood-sugar rush/crash is not good; the good news is we can still use a temporary food-fix, in the form of consuming salmon, sunflower seeds, fresh-ground flaxseeds, boiled eggs, baked turkey, chicken, old-fashioned oatmeal, peanut butter on celery sticks, brown rice, cruciferous veggies, berries, well, you can look up healthy foods as well as I can list them…I also bought a Verilux full-spectrum Happy Light from Walgreens for $69. It acts like a substitute for sunlight; read & follow enclosed directions. Here in the gloomy Pacific Northwest {think Forks, WA in ‘The Twilight’ Sagas!}, this light has helped my mood lift, for 20 minutes a day–long enough to do some stretches and dance in place for 15 minutes {hey, it’s a start!}. The other thought I had, is how hard we all are on ourselves. I *love* that you patted yourself on the back about your Successes, which is a Positive Focus, David! I know we have to Stop beating ourselves up, and treat ourselves as we would our very best friend: showing gentle compassion. I love this quote by Walt Whitman, the poet: “If anything is Sacred, the human body is Sacred.” “I Sing The Body Electric” is also a wonderful poem celebrating our humanity. Thank you David, for sharing your struggles as well as your Triumphs, for in that revelation, we all grow in a positive direction. You are so Loved!!! ^_^

    • Gerard Gizzi DDS says:

      Dear Nurse Karen, What a wonderful summary of considerations concerning depression for all of us. Some how I feel that “more sensitive” people feel depression more, as though it is in our “blood” somehow.

    • David says:

      Thank you, Karen, for all the suggestions and advice! You’re always such a fount of knowledge. It’s impressive and it’s helpful! Talk soon and have a great day! xo David

  17. David, thank you for sharing all your experiences-positive and negative, it really helps me have a realistic understanding of losing weight and maintaining a weight loss. I have lost 51 lbs on weight watchers in 3 and a half years, and have 100 more to lose. I just had my yearly physical and had a blood test checking thyroid levels. I was not surprised to find out that I have hypothyroid disease as I have a great deal of difficulty losing weight and both my parents weighed over 400lbs. I have started on medication but I am discouraged because my metabolism is so slow that I have to work twice as hard to lose weight.

    • David says:

      You’re welcome, Diana. Despite feeling discouraged, it sounds like you’re slowly but surely getting to your goal, and that’s wonderful news. Keep it up!

  18. Dr. Glenn says:

    Thank you for talking about depression, which is hard to talk about when one is depressed. Your words made a difference with me. Thanks.

  19. Lisa Long says:

    Keep it up. Please….you inspire me. I am struggling right now too. I start each day well with a great breakfast and do well through lunch and some days through dinner…but I am struggling. I am not exercising and I am not drinking enough water and I KNOW HOW TO DO THIS. I could lead a WW class and tell people how to drink enough water. I have been there done it got the ugly tshirt to prove it etc but I am not doing it. And I have 150 to lose….and every time I lose a bit I can tell how much better I feel.   The pictures of you are great…you probably said I had a great time at that party but you are right, no smile. Keep it up. We can both do this.. Lisa

    • David says:

      Thanks for the note, Lisa! Recognizing what you need to improve upon is a HUGE first step. Now you just gotta do it! I know you have the ability to make a few small changes – and that’s all you need as a first step. So drink your water and move a little bit, and the next day, do the same thing! You can build from there. Then all you gotta do is KEEP IT UP!

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