Hat on Top, Coat Below


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November 23, 2002

This was going to be an entry about how my weight is in the 140’s for the first time since early 1995. I was going to reminisce about that time, how I was working as an accountant at a job that had me stressed out (and wearing pantyhose) most every day. How we’d just gotten a computer at home and were getting online for the first time. How I hadn’t done The Artist’s Way yet and so don’t have a lot of paper journal entries to help me remember just what was going on in my life then.

Except my weight isn’t in the 140’s. I thought it would be—the scale said 149.5 when I snuck on it Thursday morning, so I was expecting it to be at most that, maybe even a little lower, for my official weigh-in day today. No such luck. It read 150. Still. Again. What a difference a week makes. Seven days ago, 150 made me happy. Today, it made me sigh. It’s not the worst number I could have seen; it’s just that I was anticipating something better, hoping for something better. It’s frustrating to have done everything right last week—stuck to my new, lower points limits and worked out three times—and still be the same weight. What makes it worse is that this isn’t going to be the like as the last time I cried “plateau!”; I’m not going to see a loss next Saturday and no longer feel stuck. With Thanksgiving with my family coming up, I’ll be fortunate to stay the same. I suppose I could keep counting points right through the holiday, but that wouldn’t be good for my mental health and so I’m choosing to let myself indulge for that one day.

Maybe the consistency in the scale reading is the result of all the thinking I’ve been doing about maintenance this week. I’m getting close enough to goal that I’m starting to wonder about keeping the weight off once I’m no longer in losing mode . For me, maintenance is the really hard part. I’m afraid if I wait until I’m at goal to think about it, this weight loss will disappear the way all my others have. I regained some of the losses quickly and some of them slowly, but all the pounds came back, sometimes bringing friends with them. Why? Because I couldn’t keep doing what I’d been doing when I lost the weight in the first place. No, I didn’t WANT to keep doing what I’d done to lose the weight. In college, I went on a 10-day grapefruit and protein diet. I didn’t like grapefruit or its juice before I started that diet, and after 10 days of having some before every meal, I was not won over. Obviously, I could not eat that way forever. I lost a lot of weight, but put it all back on as fast as I’d taken it off. But even when I lost weight sensibly and slowly, as I did with Weight Watchers the first time, I haven’t been able to keep it off.

To get my Lifetime membership at WW, I had to maintain at goal for six weeks. That was no problem; I was still all excited and motivated from reaching goal and just kept doing exactly what I’d been doing for the six months it took me to get to that weight. I was on a roll, and there was a reward at the end of it—the other half of the pin I got when I reached goal. After those first six weeks, though, it got harder. I no longer wanted to budget my food intake and write down everything I ate and work out six times a week. I certainly didn’t want to have to do that for the rest of my life, but the goal weight I’d picked was too low to be able to do anything else. I struggled with it for months, not willing to admit failure by requesting that Weight Watchers change my official goal weight to something higher, something I could have a hope of maintaining without making it the primary focus of my life. I stopped going to WW when I found myself considering using laxatives and diuretics to try and make weight.

I now have an official goal weight that’s more realistic, but I still worry about what will happen when I reach it. Will I be able to relax at all? Will I be willing to do what it’s going to take to stay at that weight? I know I feel better and look better and can do more, more easily, at a lower weight, but I still wonder if all that is enough to keep me on the right path. I also wonder about how to find that road; I know what I need to do to lose weight (this past week notwithstanding), but I’ve never had success at staying the same. Ten more pounds to go, and then I’ll have the chance to try again.

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