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!