Anatomy of a Bad Day (and a Chart Update)

You know how some days start out good, and end terribly? Tuesday was one of those days for me. I woke up ready to go – excited, even – because it was a weigh-in day. I hadn’t weighed myself in three weeks, and for most of those three weeks, I didn’t miss the scale. It was over the weekend that I started becoming really curious about my weight. Then, all of a sudden, Tuesday couldn’t come quick enough. It was joyful anticipation: overall, my three weeks had been good. I had exercised 17 out of the 21 days, and eaten well, too. I was expecting to lose the pound I’d gained since hitting my all-time low, and maybe even lose another pound on top of it.

I brought my scale out from hiding – it’s been living on the top shelf of my closet, where I didn’t have to look at it every day – and I weighed myself. Three times. And all three times I got the same result:

I gained 2 pounds.

What?!? It didn’t make much sense. My eating and exercise had been good. I hadn’t had any binges nor swung by any buffets. I had been pushing myself at the gym. I was in shock when I updated my chart:

Here’s a couple more pictures of the chart, since it’s been a while since I’ve posted any:

What’s interesting (and positive) was that my initial reaction wasn’t to beat myself up or curl up in the corner and cry. I was confused, but I wasn’t disappointed, and I wasn’t angry either. I decided I should go back to weighing myself weekly, but keeping the scale in the closet except for when I use it. Then I continued getting ready for work. In the car, I went back through the past three weeks in my mind, seeing if there was some big event that I wasn’t remembering, but there wasn’t. There were no late-night runs to Taco Bell. There were no pie-eating contests. There were no episodes where I ate an entire can of frosting with my fingers in front of the television. I couldn’t be mad at myself because I couldn’t identify what went wrong. As I pulled into the parking garage at work, I decided all I could do was continue making good choices. I just had to keep it up, and the weight would eventually come off.  As I settled at my desk and prepped for the work day, I felt proud, because I’d handled a weight gain better than I ever had before.

That was the morning. But the afternoon, my tune had changed.  Most of the work day went fine: I had brought all sorts of healthy foods – enough for lunch and dinner, so I could go straight from the office to the gym. Around 3:30, I was feeling really hungry – it had been a few hours since lunch, so I decided to eat part of my dinner. I ended up eating all of it. Around 5pm, I was filing up my water bottle, and I noticed I was hungry again. I was in the office kitchen, where there’s a whole wall of chips, granola bars and candy. A granola bar wouldn’t be the end of the world, I thought, and it would hold me over until after the gym. So I grabbed one. Well, I’ll grab two, since I’m here, and keep one in my desk for tomorrow.

Both granola bars were eaten within minutes. Then I noticed that the snack stash for the project I’m working on, located mere feet from my desk, had been replenished, and over the next hour, I wandered over there a few times for a handful of almonds or crackers. And two more granola bars. By quitting time, around 7pm, my brain was in full-on sabotage mode: You’ve already ruined the day, David. The ship has capsized and it’s sinking. There’s nothing you can do. Screw the gym, David – you won’t put a dent in the caloric damage that’s been done. You can get back on track tomorrow. Plus, what does it really matter? You gained weight even when you do everything right, so what’s the point of making good choices?

This self-sabotage is nothing new. I’ve experienced it on every diet I’ve ever been on. I’ve gone long stretches in the past couple years where I’ve warded it off, thanks to careful food planning, but I obviously haven’t beaten it completely. Yesterday, it really grabbed hold, and tight.

When I left the office, I didn’t go to the gym. I went to the store. At the store, I bought a package of 4 veggie sausages, since I was really craving a hot dog. I also bought a package of 8 rolls. I also bought a bag of potato chips. It wasn’t a gigantic family-size bag, but it definitely wasn’t a single serving, either. Then I went home, where I ate all of it. All of it. Then I felt ashamed. And depressed. And pathetic. Like a failure.

I didn’t want to exercise. I didn’t want to write a blog post. I didn’t want to do my burpees. I just wanted to sleep. So I went to bed.

When I first woke up on Wednesday, I didn’t remember the prior night’s activities until I went into my kitchen and saw the dirty dishes. I decided then and there that today had to be different. This bullshit couldn’t happen again. I packed food for the day, and at work, I ate it. It turns out I didn’t bring enough, so I supplemented it with a salad from a nearby restaurant. It was a long day at the office – I was there until 8:30pm or so – but I came home, and even though I was tired, I did my burpees, all 47 of them – the 23 that I skipped the day before, and the 24 for today. Then, I went for a run. My goal was to run for 35 minutes, and walk for 5 minutes before and after, for a 45-minute workout. I ended up running for 58 minutes, and with the walking warm-up and cool down, I was gone for 68 minutes. My route was too boring to show on a map: I picked a nearby major street, and ran down it for about a half hour, then turned around and run home. I ended up running 5.7 miles, at 5.6 mph. I’ll take it.

Tomorrow, I gotta do the same thing: eat well, and exercise. On Friday, the same thing. Same goes for the weekend. My goal is clear: I gotta…

…Keep it up, David.

TOMORROW: A big announcement.

THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW: I announce the winner of my $20 iTunes giftcard giveaway! If you haven’t entered, click here!

15 Responses to Anatomy of a Bad Day (and a Chart Update)

  1. Katherine says:

    You know, it could actually be the fact that you put the scale in your closet. It was standing on its side right? That could mess with the calibration and give you a false weight. Maybe better to weigh yourself at the gym? Or maybe all the burpees are building muscle ( and adding weight)? In any case, don’t sweat it. You’re a rockstar. I wish I had half your motivation. And don’t worry about the chips/dogs. It’s obviously behind you. 47 burpees! Ouch.

  2. It could be you’ve reached a set point and need to give your body a break by maintaining your current weight for a few months. I’m no dietitian/weight-loss guru – and I don’t even play one on the ‘net! – but everything I’ve read about plateaus says folks who lose a LOT of weight (and there’s no denying you’ve lost a LOT of weight!) get into these stagnant periods… and, obviously, stagnant periods are fraught with danger. Maybe it’s time to do all the right things toward just standing fast. Exercise, eat right, and enjoy life for a few months and keep it at 235 ’til your body’s ready to reach for 220.

    You keep it up, David! I’ve lost 79 pounds due, in part, to you and your honest reporting on your journey. You can obviously do this and a day like Tuesday can actually work in your favor in the long run… and lausy knows there’s no longer run that losing and keeping off a lot of weight! It’s like taking on a full-time job that requires nights, week-ends, holidays, and 24-hour on-call. Every now and then, you gotta take a day off.

  3. Adrienne says:

    David- thanks so much for sharing and being so honest about all of the critical self-talk that you had going on in your mind that day. I think many of us can relate to having many days like these and not always reaching the ideal goals that we set for ourselves. You obviously are working really hard and most days things go really well, so please don’t beat yourself up for one small day and a few chips and some sausages. Though it can be hard for all of us to accept, the things that make us imperfect are often the things that also make us interesting and dynamic people. I also think Katherine’s point about gaining muscle is a good one and its so important to remember that the weight on the scale is just a number but its all of the great choices and hard work that you are making most of the time that are making a difference in your life. And most of the time meeting those goals is a lot better than many of us do. Sending good thoughts your way!

  4. Oh, my friend. I love you. And I love your honesty.

    In NO WAY are you a failure. You – like me – are a food addict. Which isn’t like being an addict to anything else, because we have to eat it to stay alive. We are bound to have bad days, and I have the same experience of the floodgates opening. What matters most is what you do next, and your Wednesday food and exercise was a terrific way to take care of yourself.

    I read an article recently about spending. Apparently, once a person buys one item, especially if it’s a bit pricey, his/her brain struggles to properly assess the financial worth of EVERYTHING else, and it leads to mass-spending. If I had named this phenomenon, I’d have call it “Shopping-at-Target-itis.” I wonder if our brains have the same problem with food – that once we select something that isn’t nutritious, our brains have trouble assigning nutrition values.

    Have you considered that the addition of work – and the resulting stress – might be contributing to the gain? Cortisone isn’t kind.

  5. ragemichelle says:

    Try not to be too hard on yourself. Focus on what you HAVE accomplished..and THAT, my friend, is AMAZING!!!

  6. Sheilah Lowe says:

    Muscle weight?? Keep it up David!!

  7. Ooops…typo. You can delete my previous comment.

    Reading your post reminded me so much of my own habits. We all have these days. We’re human! Sometimes I get so discouraged and just go all out and I have to tell myself to keep my head up and start over. I often joke about the fact that I’ve been the girl on a diet since I was 12. Since then, I’ve always said “just 15 pounds” and I’ll be happy. 17 years later, I still can’t drop them. Losing weight is tough but look at your chart and the incredible progress you’ve made. Keep it up David!

  8. I found this blog by accident from my twitter account! I absolutely love the graphs you put around the office! I am gonna def tell my clients about this awesome idea!
    It’s easier to lose weight at first, but you have lost a LOT and that by itself should be a motivation!
    You are doing a great job! Keep it up!! Anytime if you have any questions regarding nutrition or exercise feel free to contact me anytime! I would love to help out 🙂

  9. amy says:

    you’re still freeking adorable : )

  10. Coco says:

    Nice job on those burpees, Daveeed! You are one tough dude. Eff the scale, you picked yourself up after a bad day and went back to doing what you need to do. In my book that’s a bigger accomplishment than anything else. I’m proud of you, and hopefully you’ll inspire me to do some burpees. Keep up keeping it up!

  11. auntiekim says:

    I so love that you are able to eloquently share what the rest of us have been through too. We’ve all been there. The guilt, the shame, the confusion of weight gained when we’ve done everything ‘right’. You’re doing great. Keep it up, David.

  12. Carey says:

    We all have bad days, weigh ins..right now ive been at a stand still for 2 weeks..Ive lost 65 lbs so far.So Ill keep on track with healthy eating and exercise and hope that the scale moves 🙂 I had a question Ive been meaning to ask you David…I see that you Ive been wanting to start thing is I dont know how to begin..I know you just dont start running…Ide pass out for sure…lol. Is there a right way to begin??
    Keep it up David!!! The scale does not define who you are!!

  13. Nurse Karen says:

    Throw away your scale. You don’t need it anymore. It’s a ball & chain around your neck. It created anxiety, and sometimes the resultant anxiety seems like true hunger. My stomach even growls sometimes in anxious moments. The test is (1) is it about 3 hours since last meal? (2) if so, eat nutritiously, knowing it is true hunger & not an anxiety attack. I also suspect you were feeling angry at your lack of weight loss, as alot of time anger turned inward is depression….you punished yourself for not losing what you thought you should in poundage, by binging…don’t get mad at me, and I don’t know why you feel the need to lose more weight. You look perfect. You seem to feel good most of the time. You can freakin’ RUN! Amazing!!! If you want to build even larger muscles than you already have, ok, –keeping in mind you need more protein for muscle building–your whey protein shakes are good for that–but otherwise, just stay healthy and do what you’ve been doing. Enjoy your life sans ball & chain. Send me your address so I can send you a book that enlightened me. Hang in there. Love you lotsa. xoxoxo~

  14. chauncyrenay says:

    Thank you for this post. I appreciate your honesty.

  15. Rebecca Hill says:

    You always make me feel less alone with my own food/ weight struggles. You also inspire me in that you keep going and get right back on the wagon even if you have an off day. Definitely – definitely – Keep It Up, David! You’re doing so well!

    Sincerely, Rebecca Hill

    p.s. – The line I relate to most in your blog is “This Bullshit Can’t Happen Again” (I think that will be the title of my auto-biography if I ever have reason to write one! 😉

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