One of these days, I’ll write the post about Rich proposing to me. The original journal-type posts about it run to 18 pages long. Which is great for Longreads, of course, but it’s not written in that lovely literary style. There are comments about Christmas shopping and Hannukkah candles and watching The Little Mermaid, not grand thoughts about The Meaning Of Everything. If you want the raw story, well, I could dig it up, but it seems more appropriate to do some editing so that you have a better-told tale.*
In the meantime, let’s continue talking about my weight loss journey. Suffice it to say that in January, 2007, I found myself engaged. I was utterly delighted. (And still am delighted, ten years after we got married!)
At that point, I was at about 185 pounds, a plateau that I’d been holding at for some time. Somewhere along the way, I’d joined the WeightWatchers online group, but I wasn’t tracking at that point. I’d found it difficult to keep up with it and was just trying to eat well. It wasn’t really working, though; I was slowly gaining weight.
I had started looking at what I was doing wrong back in October, though in retrospect it’s clear I was doing a lot wrong. I didn’t jump right into changing things. Instead, I tried to understand what was going on in my environment that wasn’t helping. (A good tactic, one of a few that work for me regularly.). There was so much that it was almost overwhelming, but the incremental changes approach came to my rescue again. I decided I’d try not to gain any more weight over the holidays, and that I would not contribute to the opportunities for weight gain.
So… I missed the office holiday party. I wasn’t in the office when colleagues brought in cookies. And more cookies. And all the other holiday goodies on the planet. I decided that Liana and I would continue our tradition of making rather than buying the gifts that she gives — something we were doing to be frugal and because I wanted her to learn to make as well as buying. Instead of cookies, though, we made soap. We painted candles. We made stick pins and beaded bracelets. Our family and friends loved the gifts, and I never once had the urge to eat raw soap or freshly frosted candles.
On Christmas Day, I thoroughly enjoyed fairy food and smidgeons from Berntsens, things I’ve been enjoying since I was ten. And then… the day after Christmas, Rich proposed. Suddenly I was faced with the thought of fitting into a wedding dress. Lordy! More importantly, though, the lifestyle changes that I’d been worrying about took on more urgency.
Rich had food issues similar to mine, and in particular, the panic-and-eat reaction. You know the one I’m talking about. It’s the one that says that a challenge to how you eat needs a panic response because soon it’ll ALL BE GONE. (He has since worked through it, and I am so proud of him for the bravery it took to face those demons. They still show up, but his reactions are far healthier.)
The day after the last guest left, I threw away three, maybe four pounds of sweets. I couldn’t quite bring myself to throw away the Godiva chocolate or the deep, dark, Trader Joe’s bars. There were other things I tried to keep, too. They probably added up to another 2 pounds of stuff. I put them in the freezer, hoping to keep myself away from them.
A week later, after watching myself binge on the “unavailable” treats, I threw the rest of it away. Except the Godiva chocolates, which I gave to my brother, and the Trader Joe’s chocolate. In another two weeks, I ate half of the remaining stuff.
Poor Rich was horrified. He tried to be supportive, and still couldn’t help but say, “You threw away the COOKIE DOUGH?” Yeah, I did. I could always make more, and I didn’t want to put it in my mouth just because it was there.
The binges didn’t stop just because I’d gotten stuff out of the house, though. I was serious about making a lifestyle change, and some part of me was Not Happy about it. I watched what was happening, rather than reacting right away, which led to being more conscious while I was eating, but probably not less intake. Looking back on it, emotional reactions were certainly a component of the problem. They were not, however, the entire problem. Paying attention to this was useful, but not enough to get me through.
I did make some improvements in those weeks after New Year’s Day. I started carrying my water bottle again, and even drinking out of it. I signed up for a fitness challenge. I don’t think I finished it, but it still gave me a sense of how inactive I had been over the past few months.
I had a great caramel-corn-is-my-saviour moment after a terrible drive back from Rich’s house through a rain-sleet-snow storm.
The next morning, I looked for what works best if you really want to get healthy and lose weight. I found a Weight Watchers study (sorry, I don’t have the link anymore) that said that one-on-one counseling in addition to WeightWatchers was more effective than either one by itself. And that both of those were more effective than “going it alone.” (Not that I really listened well to that advice!). I also found a WeightWatchers meeting that would work for my schedule. It was on an evening when Liana was with my ex, in same the shopping center where I got my haircuts and where I still buy my groceries.
But I didn’t go. I found an excuse, something like, “I’m too tired and I’m already going to work 65 hours this week; how can I possibly add a meeting?!?”
I looked at several sites for weight-loss coaches, folks who would be able to provide me with support by phone. But I closed all of the web browser windows without contacting any of them. They all want several hundred or several thousand dollars, money I really didn’t have budgeted to spend.
But I had the information, and I wrote about it. I had the knowledge to use the next time I had the will to move forward.
It wasn’t the only knowledge I’d stocked up on. A few weeks before, in my lackadaisical, slow, unstressed research on all this, I’d done a once-a-month weigh in on the WeightWatchers site and, just to get a sense of how it worked, I’d switched to the core plan. The core plan at the time meant not counting every bite, but instead had quite a few “free” foods. Things like fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins were all free, and the first two teaspoons of olive oil. There were points to use for other foods and I could earn points with exercise. I switched over to it, took a deep breath, and started.
I managed to eat on the plan for the whole first week, including a fancy dinner out with Rich. It was not easy. I couldn’t find core plan foods on most restaurant menus, didn’t understand the categories very well — so my food choices m alternated between wildly creative and incredibly dull — some even verged on inedible. Other things were excellent. (Eleven years later, I don’t remember what any of it was.)
So on that next Tuesday, I wrote that I was planning to leave my office at 6pm and go to the WeightWatchers meeting. I was totally nervous about it, something I would not feel as strongly today. But that’s only because I’ve done it before. Then, man, it was hard to admit that I was one of those fat people who needed something like Weight Watchers, rather than just finding health and fitness on my own. I’m sure that’s still one of my flaws!
*One of these days, there will also be a What I Did To (WID2)… Make a Blog thread about the amount of work it takes to take raw writing and turn it into something I’m willing to read again.