Saturday, February 18, 2012

Order, Balance, Dresses, and Me

The other night, it was the site of this side of my bedroom that calmed me down. The lines between the pictures, the white and purple, the soft pillows... I was upset, so I focused on the wall and what we'd done to decorate this little space with the few pieces we had unpacked. As it turns out, seeing something clean, organized, and balanced can actually bring my heart rate down. Who knew?

Maybe I should bring you up to speed on my current mindset. Last year, I wrote about motivation and weight loss, coming to the conclusion that I simply didn't have the answer to getting myself on track and in shape. Looking at photos of beautiful and fit women doesn't get me off the couch like it should, and knowing that next week's weigh-in could be another colossal disappointment doesn't make turning down those Tacos al Pastor any easier.

Up until this week, things haven't changed much. To be honest with you, it's been a rough couple of months.

Since my post last year, I've gained another 10 lbs. Actually, since I moved away from Seattle in November I've gained 10 lbs. A lot of it was the holidays; a lot might have to do with unknown medical issues that may or may not be affecting my metabolism. (Birth control, perhaps?) Stress could also be a factor. What this means, though, is that whatever the factor has left me feeling deflated, frustrated, and helpless.

Naturally, finding motivation from those feelings is difficult, if not impossible.

So I asked myself again: What is the key? What is the thing that makes this lack of weight loss so hard to bear? It's not about finding a boyfriend (like it once was) or being physically weaker (if anything, my body is stronger) or seeing all those gorgeous ladies on Pinterest day-in and day-out. As these weeks since January 1st have passed with lots of work but nothing to show for it, my mood and patience has been tested.

I haven't been pleasant to be around. I pity my boyfriend and my family, often.

The other night, though, I had a breakthrough. It was a particularly terrible night, and Jon was doing his best to make me feel better, to no avail. I didn't know what to do, and I didn't know how to make losing weight work for me without spending hundreds of dollars on dietitians and personal trainers (not an option). Atkins was a total bust (3 weeks with zero results = ridiculous) and another 3 weeks on Weight Watchers proved to be a bit too lenient to get myself motivated and my metabolism boosted. And Medifast, while a sure-fire success option, is so strict and so unappetizing that I wasn't sure I'd be able to succeed like I did in college when I dropped from 183 lbs. to 154 lbs. in the course of just a few months.

So I panicked. In a big and scary way. This anxiety attack was so severe that I nearly passed out, and the panic came and went, then came and went again and again for hours. And it was during this midnight panic that I stared at my bedroom wall, calmed myself down, and came to this realization:

The memory of myself, 4 years ago, is my motivation. The memory of how good I felt is what will -- what must -- inspire me to change. The memory of once having control means it's possible to find it again.

It was clear to me that this memory is what was causing me so much pain. It wasn't other skinny girls, or seeing friends lose weight successfully when I couldn't. It was remembering how hard I worked, how happy I was, and how good I looked that made my rise back to 185 lbs. so unbearable.

It hasn't been about being "fat" (I'm not) or being "ugly" (I'm not that either) -- even though, in my less refined moments, it is what I think. What it came down to was disappointment in myself. I knew better. I have known the right ways to eat, the right ways to indulge, the right ways to move to the groove and stay active. I know how to cook healthy food.

Four years ago, I loved the person I became. The girl who spent the month of January reading 11 books, writing a one-act play that was then produced, and losing 20 lbs. to boot! The girl who spent spring 2008 walking everywhere, being productive, shopping for jeans and dresses with confidence, and indulging while always staying in control. Since then, I've lost her and that loss has been the most unbearable part of this weight gain. I've lost that control and that balance. It made me strong. Losing it has made me weak and that is, now, totally unacceptable.

So that's it. That's my motivation to get back to work and make the sacrifices I need to make. I want to see that person again, and feel how I once did: productive, happy, and in control of my body.

I want to fit into the sparkly and girly motivation dress I bought from Free People -- the one that is several sizes too small. The one that would have fit the girl from 4 years ago who worked so hard to get where she was. I want to fit into all the dresses, jeans, and jackets that constantly remind me what a huge difference 25 lbs. can make.

That is worth more than slices of pizza, sugary cocktails, and Mexican food. I can find my way back to a healthy life.

I will.

I will, I will, I will.


  1. Amen, Stacy :)

  2. I'm so firmly behind you on this journey. I know how hard it's been for you, and motivations come from the most random places. More than anything, I don't want you to get discouraged. Keeping active and productive will keep you in control with food, and you'll look at it more like fuel than an indulgence.

    No matter what, I want you to be able to eat anything you want. And my wish for you is that you won't beat yourself up over the tiniest splurge.

    I love you, missy! Stay strong, we're all rooting for you. <3

  3. That's great motivation, Stacy! You know WHAT you need to do, and you have a WHY and a WANT. The HOW is not just motivation though, it's mostly habit!

    The motivation and the know-how is the first step and a lot of the battle. Then you just have to choose to make the structure in your life to reinforce the good habits. For me, it is crucial to make a weekly menu, and go grocery shopping once a week. I don't buy snacks or treats, or impulse items. And like magic, they aren't around for me to eat. I've become pretty disciplined and developed pretty great willpower, but when there are treats around, or when I'm not in control of cooking (lunch meetings, etc), I have a hard time staying strong.

    It also helps me to count my day's calories at the beginning of the day. Then I know whether I absolutely HAVE to work out, or whether I can afford a treat if one materializes. If I have no wiggle room, it helps to strengthen my resolved if I know up front. Kind of like being committed to a relationship; if cheating is not an option, your mind won't even entertain the thought.

    I've also found this blog extremely helpful and insightful: She's a food sociologist, rather than a nutritionist. Her focus is really on children, and the site is geared toward parents, but it's really helpful in evaluating your own food hangups and values and beliefs and helping to change your habits and approaches for yourself, so you can provide a solid foundation for your kids. That's been my biggest motivator. I want to be the best role model I can be for Alice, and want to give her the best start possible so that she doesn't develop her own food issues and weight struggles and body image issues.

    Looking at other women's outward, physical appearances won't motivate or sustain you. But I've found plenty of other motivating words on Pinterest. "The hardest step for a runner is the first one out the door." "A year from now, you'll wish you started today." "No matter how slow you go, you're lapping everybody on the couch." "Sweat is fat crying." And my favorite: "Fat lasts longer than flavor." Because that other quote is wrong, some stuff DOES taste as good as skinny feels but it helps me to remember that the flavor is not always worth the calories.

    I've lost (almost) twenty-five pounds, and I'm so close to my goal weight. It's taken a while, and I've let myself be OK with that. Because the habits I've formed and the changes I've made are ones that I can live with every day forever on. Like life in general, "dieting" is not about the destination but the journey. Because once you get there, you won't be able to stay, you have to keep moving forward and you have to like the path you're on.

    I know you can do it, and everyone is rooting for you to be happy and healthy and live the life you want to live. Good luck!!!

  4. I'm rooting for you (and me, too), Stacy! It's tough because it's always changing - it's like hitting a moving target. I hope you achieve your goal!