Find me some motivation
September 18, 2012 9:10 AM   Subscribe

I'm losing focus on my weight loss goals and I don't want to fall off the wagon. I have had to fight hard to lose what I have lost, and I do not want to back track. How do you get your head back in the game and really find the time to focus on it and prioritize it when your life has become extremely busy?

- 30 year old female
- used to be in the mid-300's but have lost close to 100lbs over the past couple years, 25lbs of which I have lost so far this year
- working full time and have a family
- been on WeightWatchers for the past couple years and I attribute most of my success so far to that program
- I have a very supportive partner
- I go to the gym regularly and work with an athletic therapist to help manage my joint issues

I had been doing really well, but this past month or so I got sort of pushed off course by trips and guests and dinner parties and a very busy family schedule (normal summer stuff I guess), but I've been losing focus for a little longer than that. In the past two months my weight basically hasn't changed. I've lost and gained the same 5 pounds and haven't been able to gain traction. The past two weeks in particular have been hard in terms of food and exercise, and it was enough of a break for me to fall back in to some bad habits (poor food choices, larger portions, not following WW as strictly as I should, not getting to the gym enough, etc).

The other issue that we are flat out BUSY. Between our misc social engagements and the tonne of things relating to our son, our schedule is jam packed. We actually have to keep three separate calendars for different types of things to be able to manage them. I feel a bit guilty at times taking the time to go to the gym after work when there are so many chores at home that need to be done and when I could be spending time with my family. I tell myself that for me to be a good mate for my partner and for me to be the best parent to my step-son I need to be healthy so my gym time is important...

Do you wise individuals have any suggestions for how to get my head back in the game? How do you jumpstart the mental aspect of getting healthy? I find myself really focused on the fact that my weight basically hasn't moved for months and that I haven't been engaging in necessarily healthy behaviours and that is really discouraging. I had a goal of 50lbs for the year, and the year is 3/4 of the way done and I'm only half way there. This is also extremely discouraging.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
First of all, congratulations!

Secondly, you may simply be in a plateau stage of your weight loss, where your body becomes accustomed to your new level of fitness and nutritional intelligence. You just got to ride it out, but you can potentially make some tweaks to see if you CAN jump-start the downward changes again.

My own mantra for the past few years is that you (I) can't exercise your way out of bad eating habits. So I've been focused on being mindful at every meal. Tracking food (a la WW for ME is the way to craziness), but actually paying attention to what I am eating and how full I feel and stopping eating before I feel "full" has been a very helpful thing for me.

So maybe do some experiments. Go starchy carbs free (not carb-free, enjoy all those fruits and vegetables) for a week, see what happens. Really focus on amping up protein for a week, see what happens. Go vegan for a week, see what happens. None of these things needs to be your new normal, but experimenting in this way may reveal to you food choices that aren't the best for you but you haven't been addressing. This type of thing has worked for me, but your results may vary (of course).

That said, I am also committed to exercise. I do three days a week of cardio (usually running 5-10K with intermittent sprints) and three days a week of weight-lifting. The weight-lifting is new for me this year, well not new new, but I've become more serious about it this year and the results have been revelatory. My posture has improved, my sleep has improved, and I just feel more of a bad-ass. So if you aren't lifting heavy things several times a week (and by heavy things, I often mean my own body (pushups, pullups, planks, lunges, etc.), start getting serious about that.

But above all, don't take a plateau to mean a failure. You may not hit 50 pounds this year, but you have still HUGE changes to your life. Celebrate that. Don't let yourself fall into the trap of thinking, Oh well, I didn't hit my goal, I guess that means I'm a failure and I should give up.
posted by ilikecookies at 9:36 AM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

I struggle with some of the same issues, so I will be following the thread, but STEP 1:

Getting discouraged is a vicious fucking cycle. You will have days, weeks in which you screw up. Because you're busy or whatever. The important thing to do is to not give in to that demoralizing action and then continue to avoid the gym / eat more than you should / etc.

I don't know about your exercise routine - I do a decent amount of weights / bodyweight exercise, last year I boxed, and I can always tell when I've slacked off for a week - that first time back is hell. Which often causes me to delay getting back. Which is dumb. Usually I can remind myself of this, and keep up the exercise.

One option, given your concerns about spending time at the gym rather than w/ family: do you have the opportunity to do sporting activities with your family? Growing up I'd cross-country ski & bike with my folks - great exercise, great memories, and you won't have to choose between them. Of course that depends on your family life; the same applies to your trips if you include family vacations, you might be able to take everyone for a hike in a far-off place.
posted by Lemurrhea at 9:38 AM on September 18, 2012

re: business - do you agree to every event or obligation or social engagement that is suggested to you? Some people have a hard time just saying "no" for fear of offending people, or perhaps they feel as if they are failing as parents if they do not over-schedule their kids with organized activity as much as their peers do. If so, then that's something to think about; a little breathing room in the schedule could help you a lot in terms of your ability to focus on your personal goals.
posted by thelonius at 9:39 AM on September 18, 2012

Oh hey, whoops. Forgot to mention: Congrats on the weight loss so far! 25 pounds is 2.5 pounds/month, with a full-time job and a kid? Damn good.
posted by Lemurrhea at 9:39 AM on September 18, 2012

Congratulations! You have made amazing progress.

I've run into a similar situation. My body just doesn't want to let go of any more weight. I am seeing a doctor and we are working on it from that perspective.

I was slipping into a frustrated "why bother" pov because of the plateau. Then I came across this quote (on Pinterest):

"Just because you don't see results after a day or even a week, don't give up. You may not see changes, but every smart choice you make is affecting you in ways you'd never imagine."

Reading that was the "click" my brain needed. I want to be healthy. Weight is tied to that goal but it is not THE goal. Our continued work towards good health is valid and useful even if it doesn't result directly in weight loss.
posted by cat_link at 9:42 AM on September 18, 2012 [6 favorites]

Congratulations! You've done an amazing thing that many people cannot do.

I understand where you're coming from with the mental games you have to play to keep going. I find that mixing things up a bit helps; by that I mean I try to focus on different things when I've stalled. For example, an easy thing I can do is drink more water. For some reason that one thing can refocus me more than other things. I also try different exercises. I've been having good success with weight lifting, and while I've not had a lot of action on the scale, lately, I've been happy because I've been able to lift heavier things.

The key thing is to not see it as all or nothing. Sure, you've had a bad month or two. It doesn't mean you should stop and eat like you used to and go back up to your mid-300s. You can restart any time. Instead of focusing on pounds, focus on achievements you can make at the gym. "I will be able to do XX at the gym by mid October, and YY at the gym by mid November." And take your measurements. You might find that while you're not actively losing pounds, you're instead losing inches. The goal is health, right?

Also, can you include your family in some of your exercise goals? Then, while the laundry might pile up and the dishes linger in the sink, you're still spending good time with the family. Like bicycling, or taking walks after dinner, or whatever your joint problem will allow.
posted by clone boulevard at 9:43 AM on September 18, 2012

I'm a bit older than you, but one other thing that helps me is thinking "It's taken me 47 years to put on the weight. It can take a few years to take it back off." Really! It's hard to keep that in focus when you see examples of people who've taken it off in a year, either due to weight loss surgery or being on a television program. But really, you're not in a race! The goal is to improve your health and to form healthy habits you can live with for the rest of your life. So focus less on the pounds, and more on the health.
posted by clone boulevard at 9:52 AM on September 18, 2012

Response by poster: To answer a couple questions:
- including my family in active stuff is harder. We do what we can on the weekends, but on the weeknights we basically just have time to get home, make supper, eat supper, bathe the kid, and then put said kid to bed. Then it is dishes and cleaning and misc chores before we both collapse in bed only to be awoken at 5:30am the next day. We don't watch any tv, don't even subscribe to cable. In summary, we don't exactly have the time during the week to do family activity of any amount. Plus, it is never of the intensity level that I need. My workouts aren't just for my physical health. I need them to help manage my depression, and I need to do them at a high intensity or else I don't get the "high" that keeps my brain happy. I tried to get by with just doing-active-things instead of going to the gym for a couple weeks this summer. It was a bad scene...

- my gym time is carefully planned out and scheduled. I have manage to negotiate an adjusted work schedule. I come in an hour early so that I can leave an hour early and go to the gym and still be home in time to eat supper with my men-folk.

- I go to the gym 3-4 times a week. It usually consists of 30 minutes of high intensity cardio on the elliptical or upright bike, followed by 20-30 minutes of strength training (3 different workouts that I rotate so that I don't work out the same muscle group two days in a row). This is all under the guidance of my athletic therapist who creates my workout plans and changes them up every month or so. I have a history of majorly over doing things, and I about a year and a half ago I was going to the gym twice a day, five days a week. Lo and behold I have some now chronic injuries because of it. Working with my athletic therapist and following his instructions to the letter is what is keeping me from hurting myself, basically.

- I have a fair number of significant joint issues naturally since I was hefting around about twice what my frame should be carrying. My ankles are arthritic and one ankle has a plate and screws in it (unrelated to my weight, I fell and tore a ligament). I have a chronic shoulder injury, and knees that hyperextend and that constantly give me grief. Some activities are flat out not doable (hiking, running, anything on uneven terrain). I have found there is a theraputic window for them. If I don't work out enough, they all kill. If I work out too much, they all kill. It is hard finding a balance.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:39 AM on September 18, 2012

Congratulations on what you have done to get to a healthier you!

I think the most important thing to remember is that it took years to get to your highest weight and patience is what will take the weight off.

How to get the focus back on? I recommend that you write out a plan. List specific things you plan to do in the next week to help you get back on track. Do this every week. Also, write a list of 10 reasons why you decided to make the life style changes you have made. Take this list and post it on your mirror, door, fridge, at your work desk, etc... Read over this list every morning and each time you pass the list. I do this when ever I lose track of my goals and it really helps to remind myself why I NEED to be doing what I NEED to be doing.

Do you cook food in advance? I spend time every weekend cooking so that I can save precious time during the week. I even bought a small freezer to assist with this. This also allows me to ensure that the healthiest choices will be made for each dinner.

I am also in the process of losing a substantial amount of weight. Along the way I have lost my path, but always found my way back using my suggestions above. Most recently I found a new exercise to get me excited about exercising again. Maybe that could be a change to get your weight loss jump started.

Finally, be kind to you. Weight loss is hard. You have accomplished so much so far. You know what you have to do. You can do what you need to do. Remind yourself how much better you feel today than you did a year ago.

Good luck!
posted by Coffee Bean at 12:31 PM on September 18, 2012

One way to fit workout time into your day if you're, say, 7 miles or less from work, is to ride a bicycle to work. Depending on traffic, actual travel time might be less than your commute by car.

For that distance, I've gotten away with taking a shower at home, then doing a "bird bath" with baby wipes in the bathroom at work.

Stick with it. You may be plateauing. On the other hand, if the trend goes to far upward, you may want to re-boot your diet. For all the gains you've made, you sure don't want to lose them.

I lost 70 lb. in 2005 and realized this summer that I'd gained them pretty much all back. It was gradual until this summer when the last 10 pounds came out of nowhere. I'm back on South Beach Diet and have lost 14 lb. so far. It took going all the back to Phase I to get my discipline going again. Maybe you can go back to the initial part of WW?

As far as food choices, make them ahead of time. Pack your lunch and snacks for work in accordance with your diet, and simply don't eat anything that isn't in your lunchbox except for water (and maybe coffee, if you drink it black).

DO NOT stop at convenience stores or gas stations for snacks. EVER. Same with vending machines. Of course, if you're packing your lunch, you won't need to.

I understand losing the momentum in a diet. Sometimes you just need to renew your commitment; what got you going to begin with? Can you rekindle that frame of mind?
posted by Doohickie at 1:50 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I saw a personal trainer for a few sessions to kick myself back into gear. It's important to pick a good one, who'll meet you where you are at and help you accomplish goals, and not just yell at you or try to "break" you.

Other times, I've taken surprisingly intense workout class like...

1. Aqua zumba
2. Laughing yoga
3. Bhangra pole dance

These were totally amazing. :)

The other thing that helped me was getting weight loss buddies. I just joined Weight Watchers online... wanna be my me-mail buddy about fitness?
posted by spunweb at 10:50 PM on September 18, 2012

I'm by no means an expert, but I recall that there is some evidence that weights before cardio is better for weight loss. As for overdoing things, is there some way you can spend more on your feet during the day - walking 30-60min a day for example? Staying active doesn't mean you have to go hard at the gym!

Good luck.
posted by piyushnz at 9:15 AM on September 19, 2012

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