Five years ago today - December 12, 2011 - was DAY 1 of my last "diet." My son was two-months old and my daughter, almost six. I was wearing maternity pants. The night before I remember having pizza and beer for my "last supper." If you have followed my blog for awhile, you know I started dieting as an early teen. It was all I knew. I'm trying to think now about whether I knew this time was different. I don't know that I did. I do remember that my husband found this program when I was about 8-months pregnant and I refused to go listen (in my defense, his timing was laughable.) He brought it up again when our son was about one-month old and again, I refused to go listen. I was DONE dieting. I wanted no part of any program ever again.
About two weeks later I did agree to go listen to this "health coach guy" to support Mark - because he wanted to get healthy. I showed up, infant in hand, and said "I am here for my husband, I am not interested." Again in my defense, I wasn't sleeping, but still... I totally had an attitude. I was mad. And desperate. And cranky. Unlike after my first pregnancy, this time inside of going down, the scale had started going up.
It was about half way through the conversation, in the midst of my stubborn fog, somehow the words, "this program is offered at John's Hopkins Weight Management Center" that broke through. I remember thinking if it is good enough for John's Hopkins it is probably good enough for me. I signed up in two days. Which brings us back to December 12. The day after my beer and pizza fest.
I remember being all organized and excited about starting a new plan. Especially the part about holding off on exercise the first few weeks! The chapter in the book titled, "It's not your fault," about the diet industry, also stands out. My biggest memory though was at the two-week point. The scale was moving faster than I expected, so my momentum was really high - but it was more than that. I was sitting on the coach one night after dinner, when I realized my cravings were gone. That mental battle - "I want the bread/ice cream/chocolate (insert whatever), but I shouldn't have it, but I want it, but I shouldn't have it" was so part of my life I didn't know there was another way. I thought healthy people just had more willpower. I didn't realize they didn't have those same cravings... that my issue was blood sugar, not willpower. In that moment I knew - this was different. This is the last time I would ever weighed this much and this was the last program I would ever follow. I remember wondering, "well now what am I going to think about?"
Fast forward five years. You would think this would feel monumental. According to a recent article in the Medical Examiner, "the chances of keeping it (lost weight) off for five years or more... 5 percent." Yet, honestly it feels normal. It's hard to even remember that overweight person from before, who was so hard on herself. Every once in awhile I will have a day where I feel bloated and think - gosh this is how I used to feel all the time? Or I will see someone who is my former size and think - is that how I walked around all the time? It looks uncomfortable. And not healthy. Occaionally I will wonder why I had to spend so much time there, but I know it wasn't my fault. I am just so grateful to be free of the struggle now and for all the years ahead.
What was different this time was I got underneath it and was able to solve. Why do I want it... and bigger yet, why do I do it? I kept a notebook in the kitchen for two months. Every time I was roaming around - not hungry, not having cravings - I wrote it down, until a clear pattern emerged. The problem was no longer, "I'm just an emotional eater" which is really big and really vague - I now had something tangible to tackle. And then I did the work. People always want to know what to eat or how much to exercise, but that, in my opinion, is the focus of the 95% who gain it back. The 5% who succeed long term - solve. They figure out the motivation, habits and triggers at the root of why they choose habits in direct conflict with what they want. And get really, really clear, aligned and engaged in a take no prisoners, everybody out of my way - kind of way - where they are willing to dig in and get messy. With the right tool and support.
So, in reflection and summary - am I am relieved, thankful, pleased five years later - yes. Absolutely. I feel like me. Which is very settling. But am I worried or surprised - or in a big celebration mode - not so much. There isn't a chance I will go the other way ever again. And the journey, as annoying and frustrating as it was all those years - I know is now my biggest asset. For all the people who I hear say, "I know what I need to do I just need to do it" - I know the part they still don't know - the part beyond the diet. And it's really fun and rewarding to be able to help - when they are ready to let go and learn - and be the 5% who succeed.
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