Gain. Purge.

I woke up today, and this happened:

It’s the first time that I’ve ever gained weight in the 14 months since I started this whole shebang, and I really, really hate that my chart now has a line that’s going up.  I really hate it. But it’s there.

I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been in a funk about it all day.  Perhaps it’s silly (it probably is), because it’s just a pound, but my mind hasn’t wandered from that pound, and what it represents, all day.  I can predict what some of you are thinking: don’t be so hard on yourself… it’s just a pound… everyone stumbles… you’ll rebound… look at what you’ve accomplished… what the fuck is wrong with you that you’re so depressed so quickly after working so hard to rid yourself of the last depression? Didn’t you see the dozens of amazingly positive and supportive comments from your post on Sunday?

Yes, I’ve seen them, and today I re-read them, and yes, they help.  One of the things I battle regularly is the feeling that I’m alone in all this, even though I know I’m not, and your comments do wonders as ammunition in that battle.  And yet.

The photos above show the Gain I refer to in this post’s title.  Now for the Purge.

Don’t worry, it’s not that kind of purge.

I’m going to spill all of it.  I’m going to articulate exactly the thoughts that keep returning throughout the day.  They’re what I want to purge out of my system.  Maybe, once I get them out of my head and into the universe, I’ll be better equipped to just move on.  It’s worth a shot.

Take a deep breath, David.

Generally speaking, I’ve been feeling a little defeated lately.  Some of it, I think, is residual frustration from my recent month-long plateau, but a lot of it stems from a notion that’s really sunk in and grabbed hold lately – the notion that this really will be a life-long struggle; that despite my accomplishments this will never be easy; that I’ll never be able to really let my guard down.  Then, when I have days where I lose control, as I’ve had the past two Sundays, I start thinking about how close I must be to losing my footing altogether, and starting down a slippery slope that leads to me gaining back 165 164 pounds in a matter of days or weeks.

Yes, I’m aware I’m extrapolating to an end that, according to the laws of science, just isn’t possible, but I go there because that’s the theme of a recurring nightmare that I have.  Every few months or so, I wake up in the middle of the night from a dream about how, without notice, I’ve gained back every pound I’ve lost, and everything becomes excruciatingly difficult: None of my clothes fit.  The seatbelt doesn’t reach across my waist.  People point, shake their heads, laugh, and walk away.  These dreams terrify me.

It’s an completely unreasonable fear.  I know that.  But they’re the dream-world version of another fear: that a time will come when I won’t be able to keep it up. That my success has an expiration date, and once that passes, my willpower and resolve will evaporate.  My pride will disappear.  And the pounds will return, and unpack their suitcases, and settle back onto my body with no intention of ever leaving again.

I know I have to be in this for the long haul.  My weight has been a life-long issue so far, and it will continue to be.  There’s no way around it.  I think about the decades still in front of me, and reflect on how hard I’ve worked over the past year, and wonder, despite the new habits, if I’ll have the stamina to keep it up for 40 or 50 more years.

I hate where my mind goes next.  I caught myself twice on Sunday, and once earlier today, wondering: Am I worth it?  Am I worth staying on top of the ball for the years and years to come? I know the answer.  Of course I am.  No doubt about it.  But then why do I ask myself that question?  How does it even come up?  Why is it that despite all the good I’ve done, despite all the changes I’ve made, despite all the hard work that’s been paying off in spades, despite all of it, I still think like I used to think during the darkest days of my life? I don’t want to be terrified of my own mind, but in the past few days, I have been.  It’s the worst feeling in the world.

So when I lost control for an hour the other day, and found myself next to an empty box of Corn Pops, I didn’t think of it as a minor slip-up.  When I stepped on the scale this morning and saw that 1-pound gain,  I didn’t think it’s some small obstacle I could easily overcome.  My mind, instead, races way past ‘minor slip-up’ and ‘small obstacle,’ and settles quickly on ‘this is major, because now you’re so much closer to being back at square one, and you’ll never regain this momentum.  You’ll never be this successful again.  You’re inches away from returning to that place where you’ve spent years before, that place where you’ve come to terms and accepted the fact that you were meant to be obese and unhappy, with a life that’s ultimately unfulfilling, and, in all likelihood, solitary and short.’

I wish the stakes weren’t so high, but they are.  This is my life.

Earlier this evening, I talked through a lot of these feelings with my sister, and it was very helpful.  During the phone call, she said the one single thing that made me smile more than anything else today:  “You’re right, David, it will be a life-long struggle.  It’s going to be a life-long struggle for all of us.  It’s in our genes, and that’s just the way it is.  We all inherited weight genes, and depression genes, but hey – at least there aren’t any stupid genes that got passed down.  It could be worse – we could be stupid!”

She has a point.  This would all be a lot tougher if I were dumb.

I’m done purging now.  It’s 1:30 am, and I need to go to bed.  My immediate gut reaction is that I do feel better, so maybe this whole exercise was a fruitful one.  I’ll let you know how I feel tomorrow.  And, in the meantime, I’ll focus on some good things:  1) Today I ate really well.  2) Today I had a wonderfully brutal workout at my boot camp class.  3) Tomorrow I plan on eating well and have a great workout planned.

Look at that! Three reasons, right there, to say…

Keep it up, David!

22 Responses to Gain. Purge.

  1. Am I understanding that right, the first gain in 14 months?! That’s unbelievable, I don’t know how you do it. Purging is good for the soul. Good luck!

  2. Reen says:

    I believe this is the first time I’m commenting on your AWESOME BLOG! Your post brought a tear to my eye. I know your fears. I understand them. I have the same fears. My loss was 75 pounds (would like to take off another 10), and I think that fear of return is what fuels me every single day, sometimes every hour, to continue on.

    This has been a lifelong struggle for me. I had been heavy all of my teenage and adult life until the last few years when I reached goal. I have a new life. It’s a battle…a battle that I am willing to fight every single day to hold onto this new life.

    You are doing a tremendous job, and I love the “purge” idea, clearing your mind of the thoughts and fears that are pulling you down. Hope you have another good day! You deserve it. You deserve it. You deserve it all.

  3. Elaine says:

    Are you working. so that you can think of something else?

  4. Nicole says:

    David – I just got done reading your post and I have to ask…how did you get into my brain?? HAHA! I feel the same way a little too much. I find that I struggle with weekends more than anything. I do great all week (eating healthy) but come Friday night I fall off my journey and by the time Sunday night comes I am wondering how much weight I’ve gained instead of lost. Other thoughts that creep into my head are…”do I really have to do this forever?” “Am I going to be able to really change until the day I’m gone from this world?” I guess I am still looking for the “quick fix” and I know there isn’t one out there.
    Sometimes I really just don’t know what to do. I have yet to go to the gym and actually work out. Basically all I have been doing is trying to watch what I eat. The pounds are SLOWLY coming off but, I know I can do more. I have had a weight problem my whole 28 years and I have been on and off diets for as long as I can remember. I want to finish (if there is a finish line) this once and for all. I just can’t seem to get my mind in the right place.

  5. Heidikristen says:

    As you get closer to your goal, you’re likely see a lot more ups and downs… The chart of my 65 pound loss since August looks like a downhill slalom with lots of moguls (sp?)… Not to minimize your feelings about all of this, of course. The bigger issue is how you deal with the psychological burden of knowing that maintaining can be harder than losing the weight in the first place… if you haven’t dealt with the emotional baggage that fed into your genetic predisposition for depression and weight. I wish you continued strength… and even clearer self-reflection.

  6. Lanae says:

    David, Life is gonna give you lemons (bad days) and you’re just going to have to make lemonade (good days). As a cancer survivor I understand the dark days but sometimes I just have to say to myself – it could be so much worse. Focus on what you can control. Heidikristen is so right when she says that we all have to deal with the emotional baggage that got us to this point in our lives where a weight loss journey is even necessary. And your sister, oh my gosh, that is so true and yet so funny!! Hang in there David! Thank you for being so honest and candid.

  7. Su says:

    You’re doing a great job David! Maybe it’s time to tweak your mindset from “I am on a weight-loss diet and exercise program” to “I enjoy my healthy eating and exercise lifestyle / way of life”. And totally eliminate associating the word “struggle” with your life journey. Words have powerful meanings, and these particular words and thought patterns carry a specific emotional charge for you that has a less-than-positive effect. If you feel something is a struggle, well it will be, no matter all the positive steps you take! Continue with your positive affirmation: Keep it up David!! You’re doing excellent!!

  8. Ei says:

    Everything you said is true, and sweetie? People make mistakes, they screw up, they fall down. And they make the choice about if it’s instructive or a defeat. Let it be instructive. Hugs.

  9. Leslie says:

    Huge hugs David… as you’ve self-titled your blog “keep it up, david” – it will be an easier struggle and a worth-while endeavor… take a moment/day/whatever to grieve… and get back on the wagon!

  10. Would it be helpful to know that everything you posted here is something I feel on a constant basis as well? Probably not but it’s good to know your thought process isn’t so abnormal. I gained weight twice (each stress related and easily pin pointed) but I was devasted. Everyone around me said “it’s okay” but you and I know it was everything but okay.

    Here’s a funny story: when I look down at my 156 pound body I see the 270 pounds still there (which is strange since at 270 I couldn’t see my feet and I see them just fine now)…I have to constantly look in windows to see my thinner self. I realized in my reflection I can see my body as it looks today. If I see it the way other people see it I can accept it…

    Yhea this is 15 months later for me…

    This is for the rest of our lives David…

  11. Lynn says:

    I am 52 years old and I have had the weight struggle all of my life. A few years ago a friend said to me “You know it is not so much what you are eating as what is eating you.” WOW, she was right! What is it that sends me off on this self destructive behavior? I started keeping a daily journal so I could go back and read it to see what things were setting me off. It takes daily reflection and not looking ahead too far. Maintaining weight loss or sobriety is an hourly struggle, I never look too far ahead. Yes, it is a life long commitment, but take it a day at a time. I also had to find a new circle of friends, because my “old” friends were all enablers and had weight issues too. All I really had in common with them is our love of food. I also have a circle of 5 friends who I can call when I feel out of control to talk me out of binge eating. Kind of like an AA sponsor, one of them is always available when I need to talk. David, you just climbed a mountain, it was extremely difficult, just don’t lose your footing and fall back down.

  12. Jenny Dahl says:

    “Listen to the mustn’ts, child.

    Listen to the don’ts.

    Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts.

    Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me…

    Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”

    ~ Shel Silverstein

  13. Marcy Fabian says:

    No worries~~~Your Heart & Soul is all there!!!I say 1 pound of muscle you’ve gained if anything.Please be Happy with what you have accomplished. ~Don’t be Sad Be Glad~ Dumb saying I say once in awhile. #KeepitupDavid You are a Wonderful Human being and that counts for a lot!!!

  14. Sheilah Lowe says:

    David, you need to change your mindset to something like this: I am an intelligent, good looking young man with years and years to enjoy this new body and healthy lifestyle.

    Life is tough, you’ve got to keep it up, David!!!

  15. Joanne says:

    Thank you David for sharing your entire weight loss/exercise journey rather than posting only on your “best” days. As someone who has just started on the journey two months ago, I appreciate that you’re sharing it all. Your blog has been very inspiring to me. I know for me, it’s not just about food and exercise. I’ve also got to change my brain. One quote that has helped me a lot is “You don’t have to believe everything you think”. Hope to see you again soon at Slimmons.

  16. thebettylife says:

    No body said this was going to be easy. I mean if it was easy, there would be no fat people in this world lol. You are one of the determinded ones. You have sucessfully lost 165 pounds… 165 pounds that is awesome!!

    Your will power and drive is in there somewhere, it is just having a week or so off (it has worked it’s ass off for the last 14 months!)

    Stand by yourself, and you will be back on track on no time. And thanks for sharing your thoughts, it’s good to know it’s not just me who has bad days weight loss wise.. Take care, Betty xxx

  17. 1) Hell yes you’re worth it.

    2) Yeah, it’s a life-long struggle that some people only dream of starting, but you’ve proven that you can do it. Worrying about it one day at a time is sometimes tough to do, but you can do that too. Try again tomorrow.

    3) I have to remind myself (often) that I’m not seeking perfection. This is a journey of ebb and flow – period.

    I’ve been at this for two years Saturday, and I have several minor ups on my charts, but I have sooooo many more downs…and I think it’s okay because again, it’s a journey to being healthier, fitter and lighter overall. That doesn’t require a flawless trip down (though your record is better than almost every record I’ve seen – ever.)

    4) I have similar dreams from time to time. I broke my foot at my highest weight, and sometimes I dream that I’m slipping down the wet escalator in the DC metro again…the paramedics and firemen had to carry me up at 400 pounds because there’s no elevator and my foot was broken. That painfully embarrassing experience from life before still torments me when I let it, but I’m not going back.

    I’d rather fight and take one step forward at a time than to allow myself to live a life that is less than awesome and far too short. (I talk like I’ve reached my goal. Obviously, I have not, but I’ve come far enough to know that I’m not going back. And I remind myself of that as often as I need to which is pretty often. 😉 )

    You’ve come SUCH a long way, and I understand why you’re frustrated. I even think it’s okay as long as you can pick it up again tomorrow – or very soon – and realize that you’re brilliant, successful and human.

    At this point, I think the emotional part is way tougher than the weight-loss part, and I felt a sense of pride as I read your frustration because dealing with these feelings make us stronger in the long run.

    So be frustrated a little longer then sleep then wake up and remind yourself that you had a fantastic day of eating and exercise then do it again.

    I just finished a workout that I struggled to complete today. Now that I’ve preached to you, I’ll sleep too.

    Night David!

  18. Kim says:

    David, I’m certain you know the Serenity Prayer.
    God grant me the Serenity to Accept the things I cannot change , the Courage to Change the things I can, and the Wisdom to Know the Difference.
    1. You can’t change the slip (or Genes)omg your human
    2. You can change eating, living habits (you’ve proven that)
    3. You do know the difference, you aren’t stupid!
    You are doing so good and so inspiring! Keep it up David!

  19. nicolette atkins says:

    Hey, David, I love you!

  20. Nurse Karen says:

    Nature abhors a vacuum. When one loses so much weight, the body wants to fill the empty spaces. Often that is water weight gain we see for a period of time, and then it stabilizes. I agree with the above, I think you gained a pound of muscle as you are looking so sleek and toned. David: you no longer have even a double chin! Muscle weighs more than fat. Muscle density is 1.06 g/ml and fat density is approximately 0.9 g/ml. One liter of muscle would weigh 1.06 kg and one liter of fat would weigh 0.9 kg. Therefore, muscle is about 18% more dense than fat. I refer to Mayo Clinic resources for the facts. I also think you would benefit from daily meditation [spend about 20-30 minutes]. I have some I will share with you next time in class [next week, I’m getting over flu this week]. Meditation also helps beat the blues and enhances positive affirmations effectiveness. You did very good in writing your feelings. Dig deeper to find out why you would even give one thought to being worthless if you are “fat”. We are NOT the sum-total of our bodies! We are Spiritual Beings having a human journey. I think the Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh said, “There is no way to happiness; Happiness IS the way.” *Relax*. You ate healthy, you did exercise, now you need to breathe & find some inner peace. All we have, is this moment. “Be Happy for This Moment: This Moment is Your Life”. {Omar Khayyam} You are loved! ^_^

  21. Such a beautiful post, David. Such strength. You’ve come far and I’ve no doubt that you don’t have the skills to keep climbing. Love, me.

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