Although I lost 70 pounds back in 2007, the real challenge was focusing on how to maintain the weight loss on my own, once I reached that goal. It’s a common cycle: people lose weight using a certain plan, book, trend or own personal method and once away from the helpful support groups and portioned meals, can easily fall back into the bad eating habits that led them to become overweight in the first place.
No way was I going back to that ever again.
Me, 70 pounds heavier.
To not have to be relegated to the basements or back sections of stores where plus-size clothing typically existed was thrilling. To no longer have rude comments made directly to my face was refreshing. To be called “tiny,” or even “stunning” was a joy to me, who lived for way too long with strangers’ ugly comments and those who engaged in friendship-shunning actions.
But . . .
Living in fear of regaining weight
Excited as I was, it was scary to be on my own, faced with a bevy of supermarket choices, fearing regaining the weight again and undoing all the hard work (mental and physical) that went into the initial loss.
I simply refused to be over 200 pounds again.
So strong was my willpower that I admittedly let my “on a diet” mode linger much more than it needed to, dieting after the diet was over and falling into a pattern of shunning virtually anything that looked, smelled or sounded like a carb, refusing to have seconds, and not touching sweets (even honey in tea was a no-no as was sorbet or one stinkin’ truffle) with a ten-foot pole. The offer of a breath mint, I remember, once sent me into a tizzy, my mind filled with anxiety over the open tin in front of me. Yet I simply would not give in to such a “treat.”
I also recall brining my scale on vacation. Seriously, I did.
Yet, I truly believed that I was following a healthy course that at the time, seemed logical. So long as there were veggies in the mix and most importantly, I wasn’t gaining weight, I was the epitome of health.
My determination to not gain any weight back overpowered my common sense, and so, I’d even pass on healthy foods just because they had such strong “fat” associations in my mind: any oil, dressing or bread was “bad.” Heck, almost anything was. And so, yogurts filled with aspartame and diet sodas typically graced the inside of my refrigerator.
The excess skin that comes with the territory of losing such a significant amount of weight compounded my out-of-whack eating behaviors, making me feel fat even though I knew full well, that although I’d gotten to a weight that fell even below my goal, I was anything but.
Looking svelte, but feeling fat, mainly due to excess skin that happens when a person loses a lot of weight.
And yes, the media, with its skimpily-dressed female models and smooth, strong-chested cologne-modeling men fueled it all too. But more than that, in fact, much more bothersome than that for me, are the ordinary folks like neighbors and colleagues and friends and significant others (who supposedly know about air-brushing, tact, respect and all of that “it’s what’s inside that counts” stuff), who often engage in hormonally-fueled conversations and blatant, disrespectful flirtations, especially while making references to someone in an ad, movie or involving a dangerous health tread (i.e. saying as a woman walks by that she “has the perfect thigh gap”).
I recall one male friend who used to be part of a group I used to associate with, who was so hung up on the female form, that every moment was filled with a picking apart of them while in my (and his own girlfriend’s) company, right down to what he liked and didn’t like about this waitress or that hostess’s stomach, rear and so on. To me, in the middle of a restaurant, in between his darting (and often lowering) eyes at those across the room, he said, “Don’t get me wrong, Jen. It’s great that you lost weight, but I just like them with butts more like, well . . . that .. . ” First of all, I didn’t really care about his so-called preferences, which frankly seemed to change with the wind anyway, but often wondered why he felt the need to pick the body apart with such scrutiny. Scrutiny that went well beyond fun people watching and more along the lines of bizarre, rude obsession.
Still, the “them” and the “that,” that he gestured to was a young woman, someone’s daughter, wife or best friend, who had just emerged from the restaurant restroom and who had, in his opinion, had a derriere so incredible that his love for it had to be conveyed both non-verbally and verbally . . . and even brought up in the conversation later.
Between it all, my head was spinning.
Mental and physical toll of dieting well after the diet is over
Not only did I feel pretty darn miserable and grumpy inside, envious of those who enjoyed bread with their soup or ate some peanut butter while still maintaining a perfectly healthy, trim figure, but it began to take a toll on my health.
Ironically, I chalked it up to just being par for the course for someone who wanted to eat, um, healthy. So, out of whack went my iron levels and then came some scary hypoglycemic incidents where my body was just as shaky as, I’m sure, my ability to reason well in many instances and life situations. Begrudgingly, I took the hospital’s crackers and juices and yes, I felt better. Even still, the silliness continued, the thrill of being “model thin,” as some said I was, well worth the mounting frustrations in my body and soul.
Eventually, all the people coming up to me ooohing and ahhing about teeny little me was becoming more annoying than exciting. I’d wonder what they ate that morning. Was is nothing, like me, who was saving a banana and fat-free yogurt for a breakfast/lunch combo?
The road to eating well: “Healthy carbs” is not an oxymoron
For about two years now, I can happily say I’m in a truly healthy place. I look at the times I’d mentally freak out when a server accidentally put the oil and vinegar ON my salad instead of on the side and can’t believe I had such thoughts.
It took some soul-searching, discussions with a few family members, friends and professionals, and sessions with a nutritionist to get me where I am now. You can imagine my surprise, how, one week after following the nutritionist’s meal plan he designed for me, when I was able to eat things like oatmeal and a hard-boiled egg (for breakfast alone . . . imagine!) and not gain any weight. I followed his plan and thought I was in heaven. All this time, all the worry about this calorie or that, all those thoughts that carbs being awful and so on . . . while I knew why I had such thoughts, I finally knew I didn’t have to give in to them.
I now know of course that “healthy carbs” is not an oxymoron and that oils like coconut and olive are wonderful for overall health and won’t lead to excessive, if any, weight gain. When healthy food choices are coupled with exercise (and yes, dare I say, even the occasional pizza slice or buttery bagel) people who lost weight won’t regain it. And if they do put on weight, it likely won’t be of Jabba-the-Hut proportions.
These days, I absolutely love the delicious food combinations fruits and veggies offer and even how simple things like baking versus boiling, or adding a sprig of rosemary can impart a drastically different and satisfying flavor. I actually enjoy making and eating meals, even ones with whole wheat pasta, rather than fearing them. I even check out healthy recipes on web sites (honestly, there was a time I wouldn’t be caught dead whipping up foods in the kitchen, or seeking out a recipe in the first place). I have a twinge of excitement when I go food shopping because I love to see all the options that exist, all the things I missed out on in the past for fear of gaining weight. However, these are all healthy options and that’s the difference from my potato-chip eating past. I’m in awe of all the flavors and healthy goodness around me . . . things like Ugli Fruit and fennel, farro (ancient grain), mangos and shredded coconut.
May 2014. Happy and ready to head out to dinner with someone special.
I mostly eat fresh, whole foods like salads loaded with spinach, almonds, avocado, fennel, tomatoes and feta cheese (with dressing, and none of that low-cal kind either), or oatmeal with chia seeds, coconut oil and cacao powder blended in. There’s also plenty of salmon, eggs, quinoa, pumpernickel bread and spinach wraps loaded with turkey and tomatoes, along with mango smoothies and healthy chocolate puddings made with avocado. And yes, I’ve downed some pizza along the way.
These days, I provide recipes to some web sites like RawandNaturalHealth.com and am an author with Natural News, a site that promotes natural, healthy dietary lifestyles and overall health.
Am I as stick-thin as I was seven or even two years ago? Thankfully, no. But by no means am I obese or on the path that caused me to gain weight initially.
So, I will continue along this journey, one that still keeps my weight in check, but one where I choose to nourish my body and soul in the process.
That kind of happiness, I know for sure, is well worth gaining.
June 12, 2014 : )
©Copyright 2011-2014, Jennifer Lilley, FlabbyRoad.com, Flabby Road and Flabby Road: Moving on & Leaving the Elastic Waistbands Behind. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Lilley and Flabby Road with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.