I Am That Girl Now

Friday, March 18, 2005

Obligatory First Post

This isn't a weight loss blog. This is a weight maintenance blog.

To make a long and very complicated story short, I had my watershed moment in late November of 2003, joined WeightWatchers via their online program, started exercising January 1. I'm 5'3", if you fudge the measurement a bit, and I started out at 185 pounds; I lost sixty pounds in seven months.

For me, weight loss came pretty easy; I had a lot of support from my boyfriend-then-fiance-now-husband, and I applied myself with a will of iron. The rewards kept coming regularly, in the form of downward scale movement and smaller sized clothes, so I could easily bolster that iron will and just keep chugging. This was it, I thought; I was going to get to the end of the weight-loss portion of my life and then I could live like a normal person. A normal person who exercised and kept a careful eye on her portion sizes, sure, but compared to the long push toward my goal weight, maintenance was gonna be a breeze.

Then, one day, it happened: I was done losing. And when I started easing up my iron restrictions, all the wheels came off my little red wagon and the numbers started going back up. Old habits came back; the binge-eating problem that I thought had gone away reared up again. I was terrified. I was furious. I felt betrayed. It was inconceivable to me that after all that hard work I wasn't going to get the easy maintenance I felt I'd been promised, that was owed me; sure, I knew that maintenance was something I'd have to deal with for the rest of my life, but if it was going to look and feel exactly like being on a diet I didn't know if I could face it.

I despaired. I wallowed. I raged. And somewhere in there, I finally accepted that obesity isn't something you cure; like cancer or diabetes or alcoholism or some kinds of venerial disease, it's something that you wrestle into a controlled state, then spend the rest of your life working to keep it there. It's not a cold, not some invading virus that you get over; when you've been overweight to the point that taking care of it means losing 1/3 of your starting weight, being overweight didn't just mess with your mind, it reprogrammed your body, your cellular structure.

The choice came to this: I could either be the girl who had a brief Flowers of Algernon-style period of thinness before succumbing to fat again because the upkeep was too hard, or I could become-- for life-- the girl whose habits and preferences keep her thin and fit. I chose Option B.

I'm about six months into Option B right now, having to do all the adjustments to lifestyle and outlook and habit and sense of self that they sort of hint at in WeightWatchers, but that never really looks like a big deal until you have to do it. This blog is going to be about becoming That Girl (no, not Marlo Thomas), about becoming the girl who just does these things because that's who she is, becoming the girl who has likes and dislikes that just happen to mesh with what it takes to keep the fat in remission, about becoming a girl who's in touch with her body and emotions, who has confidence in herself and her appearance and her decisions.

This blog will also be about what I learned while losing weight, and my theories about how the whole thing works, and links to articles and other blogs and whatnot. What it isn't meant to be is a one-size-fits-all concept of how to lose weight and/or keep it off. One of the biggest things I've discovered over the past six months is that there's no one true way to do this, not even one true way per person. You put it together yourself.

To use a tortured metaphor, starting out on a weight-loss plan is like getting a car-- a really, really used car-- and having to repair and improve it using parts you scrounge from other old cars. Now, you might luck out-- the car might start up beautifully the first time and drive like a dream, never need maintenance, never break a thing. This, however, is highly unlikely, so you have to get used to digging through the junkyard in search of replacement parts. Some parts won't match up; some do, but break after a few hundred miles; some parts cause amazing improvements on the performance of that old car, but cause so much wear and tear on other parts that you end up having to upgrade a lot more parts than you were planning. People give you endless amounts of advice and opinion on your car saga-- they send you to a different junkyard, they prefer one kind of part over another, they have some sort of crazy scheme involving how to put a jet engine in that old clunker and tear ass down the highway (and they swear it worked for their cousin or co-worker or friend). Advice and opinions are also welcome, but at the end of the day the only one with a real feel for this car is you, and you make the final call about what needs to be done and what upgrades to consider.

It won't look pretty. It will undoubtedly break down when you least expect it. After five years of constant work you may not even have any of the original parts left. The thing is, you get it running, and you keep it running, and in-between repairs you keep an eye out for parts that might work, just kind of stockpiling 'em for the next time things break. As long as you're willing to put the work in, though, and keep trying different parts until you find something that will work (for now), you will be the owner and operator of a working motor vehicle. You can't expect it to run perfectly, but it will get you from place to place.

Read. Research. Learn. Keep scrounging. This isn't a hobby, man, this is a necessary part of keeping the machine running. So it's not new and perfect; so nobody else can fix it for you and you have to put in all this work. That's reality. It's what you do from that starting point that determines whether you're going to have a working machine or a broken one.


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