I don't know how to lose the weight again!
January 3, 2011 6:55 PM   Subscribe

I lost a lot of weight (~90lbs) through hard work and subbornness, but for a handful of things that happened last year I have gained a little over 30lbs back. Help.

In 2008 after I dumped a mediocre boyfriend I took a hard look at my life and made some huge changes. In the next two years I went from totally inactive to going to the gym five days a week, I joined Weight Watchers online and learned to eat properly, and managed to lose just over 90lbs - went from 335lbs to 243lbs. Still majorly over weight, but looked and felt so much better. I was the most fit I had been, I was muscled and strong and had great endurance, and I was the most proud of myself that I can ever remember being. I had crafted fantastic habits and skills that were paying off in so many ways, and I amazing momentum.

Then all hell broke loose.

I had major foot surgery to repair a torn ligament so obviously couldn't continue with my normal gym routine, there was a flood in my apartment, had bad dealings with an ex, my car got spray painted, and for the first time in my life I suffered from a significant depressive episode. Went on Paxil, gained 15lbs, went off the Paxil, became depressed again, gained some more weight, and finally went back on antidepressants - Welbutrin this time.

So here I am, foot more or less healed (though I'll never be able to go through a metal detector silently ever again), relatively emotionally stable (but still medicated and will continue to be for the time being), but extremely upset over the regained weight. I know I am still way farther ahead than where I was when I started back in 2008, but somehow the regaining has left me feeling defeated before I even start. I have tried to get back on the wagon, so to speak, but have failed every time. All those carefully crafted habits are gone, I've fallen back into familiar unhealthy behaviours, and I haven't been able to regain that momentum or even enthusiasm for getting healthy and weight loss.

I need help getting back on task. I'm turning 29 in two months, and I would like to greet my 30's feeling healthy and strong, not defeated.
posted by gwenlister to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Imagine if all of that had happened and you'd still been 335 lbs.

Your personal fitness (not just physical, either) is like a foundation you build; you build it so that you can withstand challenges. Sometimes, challenges can shake your foundation, but a well-built one remains. You're not defeated, just weathered.

Set a goal to return to your previous weight, and do so; then continue from there as if you hadn't suffered a setback.
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:12 PM on January 3, 2011 [2 favorites]

Maybe your goal should be to be muscled, strong, and have great endurance rather than to lose weight? Are you in physical therapy yet?

I'm really not a fan of Weight Watchers. I don't think it's micromanaging approach is sustainable. You don't give many details about what you eat, so it's hard to analyze. But honestly, for me what worked was simply cutting out certain foods entirely. 4 years on, I've kept the 30 lbs I lost off. With rare exceptions, I don't buy or keep certain foods in the house. This includes everything with sugar, bread, and processed carbs. Notice I didn't say I don't eat these foods. If grandma gives some fudge to me, OK I'll eat it, but no buying fudge or keeping it in my fridge. It's pretty easy for me to stay trim with this rule.
posted by melissam at 7:14 PM on January 3, 2011 [4 favorites]

First, I think you should step back and recognize that you have made major strides in the last year, just not with your weight. Look at all the adversity you overcame to be able to think and focus on your health and not the other bs that can happen in a life.

If I were you, I would not look at the bigger picture of regaining the habits for a lifetime. I would just do what I needed to do today. And then tomorrow the same thing. Just like AA, take it one day at a time until you have gotten into the good habits. Set mini goals as well as bigger goals. Daily goals, weekly goals, monthly goals and of course yearly and lifetime. Know that missing one day or not "being good" one day means just that you had a bad day; not that you are off the wagon and a failure. Too many people say, "Well I had the five cookies today so I am off my diet and I can have that cake." No, you had a temporary lapse, but you are back in the saddle from that moment forward. (Just don't look at it like my friend who smokes who tells me that he quites every 40 minutes right after the last one.)

Good luck, for all you have accomplished both physically and mentally, you have me motivated to try to lose the weight I want to lose!!
posted by AugustWest at 7:16 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have been precisely where you are. I had lost about 10lbs less than you, from a very similar starting weight, and then I had a week in which I suffered through a home invasion and had my car smashed in a parking lot accident (during a Metafilter Meetup, no less), and had some girlie problems that involved birth control to fix them and a variety of other shit that meant I now weigh 20lbs more than I did when I started that damned diet the first time.

But I weigh 15 lbs less than I did a few months ago, so that's something.

The thing is, you do know how to lose the weight again. Sure, you might have to make some adjustments -- perhaps swimming instead of treadmills for cardio to ease the stress on your foot, for example -- but you have the basic tools.

What you need to do -- what I'm struggling with every day -- is to find the resolve to make those changes. Again. Knowing that it's not the miracle cure that every weightloss book trumpets, but hard damned work, and work you have to remain dedicated to, and work from which you will sometimes backslide.

Did you make all the healthy changes to your life at one time? Or did you start with one thing and add another later? One of the things I've found helpful is to not try and start back where I left off, but instead to start back where I began. It helps me to rebuild the foundations of my good behaviours, instead of trying to simply pick up the whole load again.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:18 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Your weight is just a number, just information. It isn't your identity, it isn't a judgement. It is a number. It is no more a source of guilt than your height or age.

If your number changes, that is also plain, unadorned information. Maybe up, maybe down, it is still just a number. It can't talk to you, it can't help you except to give you feedback.

A smaller number isn't always better and a larger number isn't always worse.

Just a number.
posted by trinity8-director at 7:24 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Just got to say I'm impressed.

Here's what I believe:

1) Take it one day at a time. Forget the past: focus on what you can do today.
2) Welbutrin has really helped people I know.
3) You're gonna be saying no to a lot of things--like sugar--which is gonna be hard hitting. Make sure you're saying yes to some new things that balance it out (like take dance lessons, take a friend on a hike, get a cat, start a garden, choose a nonprofit to help, get that degree you always wanted--and not the practical one--go after the one you always wanted).

And finally: don't listen to all the people who tell you it's impossible or you can't do it. Those people are generally just frustrated with their own issues.
posted by Murray M at 7:30 PM on January 3, 2011 [2 favorites]

You know exactly what to do to lose the weight. You hit a speed bump ended up having a snowball effect take hold. The good news is that your health is a long term goal that you have your whole life to work on.

Start again right now instead of saying I'll try again on "x date."

You should be angry and I think it's good that you are. A lot of hard work went wasted and you're going to have to work hard to get back to where you were before. Life happens.

I saw this picture a few days ago and found it inspiring.
posted by zephyr_words at 9:07 PM on January 3, 2011

So you are down a total of 60lbs for now right? That's no small feat, you have a taste for getting healthy and you probably never want to see that high weight again right. So don't. Don't get hung up on bumps in the road. Go over the bump, acknowledge it as it is happening and then forget about it and keep working towards your goals. It's easy to dwell on things and beat yourself up. But it's not going to help it and if you keep a long term view you realize these things won't matter so long as you get back on track. There are plenty of bumps but so long as you keep at it and not give up, then you will get there. And it will be worth it.

I think you are on the right track, you just need to continue with the already fantastic progress you made.
posted by WickedPissah at 7:05 AM on January 4, 2011

Get a personal trainer. Until the motivation to do it on your own comes back, buy it from someone else.
posted by MsMolly at 7:22 AM on January 4, 2011

That sounds similar to my story. Lost around 55 pounds with a regular gym routine over a year, then hit some major life speed bumps and fell into depression. Started gaining weight slowly. Eventually started on an SSRI and gained even more weight, erasing about half my total progress. Then switched to welbutrin and have been slowly dropping pounds since then, currently 70 down from my original starting point.

You didn't say how long you'd been on the welbutrin, but if you've only just started and it helps with the depression then I think you'll find it to be a big help with weight loss. It took several weeks for the side-effects to subside, but I found that I didn't get sugar-cravings like before and was generally just less hungry all the time. I still had bad eating habits though. The type and size of meals that I made, the things I would order at a given restaurant, these were all ingrained habits that I had to break out of. But if I changed those patterns, I didn't jones like a heroin-addict for more food or sweet things like I always had before.

It sounds like you're already prepared to begin improving again, starting right away. Try to get back to being physically active, as much as your ankle will allow. Adjust your eating routines to break your mental food habits and experiment with eating different, smaller meals. Don't keep any form of snack food except vegetables in the house.

Starting to do these things is the hardest part. Once you've done that, I think you'll find it much easier to continue.
posted by dodecapus at 8:15 AM on January 4, 2011

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