Diet Nihilist
August 27, 2018 2:32 PM   Subscribe

CW: Diet and weight loss talk. I am the classic yo-yo dieter: I have been trying to lose weight my whole adult life but each attempt just ends with me getting fatter. How do you get back on the horse when you suspect that maybe horses don't actually exist?

I'm a 35 year old woman, married, two young kids, in a small Canadian city. My wife and I both have a significant amount of weight to lose.

I have tried many diets and "lifestyle changes," and I'm fairly well-informed. I've lost weight through counting calories, through both moderate and severe carb-restriction, through peer support, through intense gym training, and through the program at my doctors' office, but each time I lose my way and yo-yo up to a higher weight than before.

Now I find myself uncomfortably large, and it is getting in the way of things I want to do with my life; like play on the floor with my kids, go paddleboarding, not be in constant pain. As I try to make a plan to get there though, all I can think is "I tried that already and I failed." I failed calorie counting. I failed carb-restriction. I failed going to the gym regularly. Fail fail fail fail fail fail fail. I find myself paralyzed by 20 years of failure and I just can't make myself commit to starting again. I also "well-actually" myself out of any ideas: "Keto works for a lot of people, but well actually the evidence is showing that it isn't any more beneficial than calorie counting." So then I do nothing.

So I guess my question is this: I understand the physiological mechanisms of losing weight, but how do I get myself psychologically capable to do so, when I am paralyzed by so many past failures?
posted by arcticwoman to Health & Fitness (28 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds like you didn't fail at losing weight, you did just fine! You were a success. But then you went back to eating too many calories and gained again, that part is the failure. Think of any new lifestyle as an attempt to refine your previous successful efforts by improving maintenance, not as starting over. And you have time while you are losing the weight to really figure out your maintenance plan when you get there.

The science is pretty clear. In the absence of a fat storage disorder condition, which do exist but are fairly rare, you WILL lose weight by restricting calories in any fashion at all. The bit that trips most people up is that you also need to restrict calories to maintain weight loss. When thin people say they eat whatever they want, they are still eating very much less than you or they think they are. A lot of people only eat one big meal a day and one or two snacks. Maybe the majority of people.

So, in summation, losing weight is hard and you have succeeded at that- yay for you. Now you just need to work out a maintenance plan and apply adaptive management principles to it: monitor and adapt as needed. You can totally do this.
posted by fshgrl at 3:02 PM on August 27, 2018 [18 favorites]

My doctor just sent me to a nutritionist who read me the riot act about my cholesterol levels and my high blood pressure.
Bottom line was he told me to eat better or die. [drama or what]
To that end he recommended I read 'How Not To Die' [happy title or what] by Dr. Michael Greger and then get his cookbook and try follow it as well as I can.
I'm only a week in and it's a struggle. The book did the job of scaring me straight on nutrition and what I ate but shifting the diet of me and my family is going to be an ongoing journey. Baby steps and gentleness towards myself.

And, like fshgrl said, yay for you!
posted by drinkmaildave at 3:08 PM on August 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

Not to be too much of a cliche, but if you feel that psychological patterns are holding you back: therapy?
posted by mosst at 3:11 PM on August 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

Is your wife the first person you ever dated? Ever had a relationship with? (If she is, I guess my metaphor won't work.) Chances are good that you dated/hung out/got serious/broke up with some number of humans greater than zero before you met and married your wife. All relationships succeed until they fail, until you're in one that succeeds and doesn't fail.

So, give yourself some grace. You have repeatedly succeeded. You've lost weight. So remind yourself that you already have THOSE successes behind you. You've got that down. Now you have to practice maintaining, which takes a different set of skills, both emotional and physical.

I mean, there are all sorts of steps you can follow to avoid eating more calories than you should, given your caloric burn and bodily needs. You could hire someone to be in charge of all of your money and food and only parcel out the food (or money for food) you're allowed to have at each meal. You could require yourself to read a self-written statement that if want a chance at being healthy when your children are grown, then you'll have to stick to your promises to yourself as a promise to them. You can put someone else in charge of you, or you can put you in charge of you. Either way, you just have to keep doing what you have to do, and that means saying, "Yep, I feel like I failed before. Too bad. I still have to not eat any more calories tonight because I ate all that my body needs. So what else can I do? Can I drink some ice water? Go play with the tiny humans? Have naughty time?"

We all fail in large and small ways all the time. It's OK to fail. We learn from failure. We just can't give up.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 3:13 PM on August 27, 2018 [3 favorites]

Failure is normal until something works. I'm on my third time losing weight, and I know this time it'll stick because I'm a lot more mindful of what's very different around my life.

For my activity levels, I only really need to eat one regular size meal and an appetizer-size for another meal and then some high protein snacks inbetween, if needed for times when I'm EXTREMELY hungry, like I will gnaw off another person's head level. Surprisingly doesn't happen very often. I'm extremely sedentary and only do one 15-30 minute walk a day. Once I up my regular activity levels, I'll probably have to eat more, but I currently don't. I also lowered all the salt levels in my food and felt way less thirsty, and less thirsty = less chance of thirst confusing my brain and making me believe I'm hungry.

I gain weight because during the course of my life, I let other people or systems dictate for me how much to eat or not eat. Restaurants give me portions, school makes me stressed out, and etc etc. I eat much more than I need because I'm eating far more than I actually need.

So you have to grasp your own psychological relationship to failure and start with that at the root, and realize how it stretches into many different parts of your life. I have scarcity issues with other issues of my life, but I realize that I don't give myself enough credit for my agency or willpower as I should, and that's helped given me some more information to stick to my weight loss even as life gets more stressful when school starts. I'm ultimately in charge, and it takes a lot of free will and self-examination to get back to that.
posted by yueliang at 3:25 PM on August 27, 2018 [2 favorites]

I find this Canadian's writing on diet and exercise to be really helpful. His Caloric Deficit Cheat Sheet is particularly useful.
posted by COD at 3:30 PM on August 27, 2018 [2 favorites]

You’ve had a rough time of it and done your best. But that’s not to say that you failed. Maybe keto, severe carb restriction, and going to a gym (that might be out of your way?) just aren’t sustainable approaches for you (as is true for many people!). I know some see success with those takes, but over say five years? Not sure.

I don’t think the problem is you here, I think it’s a question of finding a general approach that’s possible to maintain over years, that fits into your actual life (your social life - you should be able to have a piece of birthday cake or a drink, IMO; your working life - going to a gym that’s more than 10 minutes away will make that hard, etc.)

Instead of going to the gym, walk after dinner. Successful losers on the National Weigt Loss Registry averaged an hour of exercise a day (usually walking). That will burn a bit at the beginning, and as you lose and maintain, it’ll serve more as a buffer and motivational anchor for dietary changes.

I’d suggest going with a moderate plan - moderate deficit, moderate carb (meaning 100-120 g, so you can get enough fibre and your RDA of vitamins and minerals, via veg, beans & lentils, etc), save 10-20% of your diet for birthday cake, a pint of beer, normal stuff that’s part of life. For a target, just track what you’re currently eating for a few weeks, and eat a little less than that, so that between the deficit from diet and walking, your body is getting 500 calories less. (The deficit from diet doesn’t have to be enormous, but trying to cut by 200 will probably lead to error unless you’re super precise. So maybe 300-400 less from diet, and whatever you burn on a brisk walk, for say 30 minutes, to start.) Try to get interested in new recipes, so you’re not so much taking things away as adding new things. Tweak to your liking - you have to like the food you eat!

I admire those who manage with what I consider more extreme approaches, but I couldn’t last a day on keto, and I’ve never eaten under 1700, and I’ve lost and kept off a significant amount of weight.

Your motivation is going to come from an understanding that a weight loss approach that’s sustainable is doable. It’s got to fit into your life.
posted by cotton dress sock at 3:51 PM on August 27, 2018 [2 favorites]

Is your weight currently stable? What if your goal for the first six months was to remain stable? Many adults gain 1-2kg a year and it just creeps up. You mentioned that you lost before and ended up gaining more each time. That happens and it sucks. Maybe starting with the after dinner walk and holding steady would be a gentle way to get started.

There is no rush, barring immediate medical needs, you have some time to think and plan what's best for you, your life and your goals.
posted by five_cents at 4:03 PM on August 27, 2018 [2 favorites]

Oh man, I feel this so hard. I am currently on my umpteenth attempt to lose weight in a manner I can keep it off, and it's really hard to fight the fear that this will be another time I lose 20 lbs only to eventually end up 10 lbs heavier than I started.

Now, first, let's get real: most people who lose weight do eventually put it back on and gain additional weight (of course, most people gain weight as they get older in general). That can be discouraging, but it's also helpful to frame it in terms of not being a "failure" but just being a normal person. However, some people do eventually lose weight and keep at least most of it off. And this is often after many more normal (not failed!) attempts! So it's not like they're superhuman.

Years ago, I saw a PSA about quitting smoking that said most people take 7 attempts before they successfully quit smoking. So looking at it that way, each unsuccessful attempt could be seen as one step closer to the successful attempt. I think one can look at weight loss the same way - each time you try, you learn something new, and strengthen your "losing weight" muscles.

In my new attempt, my three big rules are: 1. Be willing to try new things even if I don't know if they will work (like going mostly meat-free, which has turned out great). 2. But don't try to force myself to stick with something I don't feel like I could do for the rest of my life. So for me that means nothing overly restrictive. 3. Be ok with sloooooowwwwwwwww weight loss. I've been doing Weight Watchers since February and I've only lost 20 lbs. Which is kind of painful when other people in my weekly meeting lose that in two months. But I'm slowly building habits that I will hopefully be able to keep going for a long time, and that takes time and patience.
posted by the sockening at 4:07 PM on August 27, 2018 [8 favorites]

I just participated in a workshop led by the author of this book, and it was life-changing. The activity we did, which is detailed extensively in the book, is designed to uncover your secret big assumptions which influence your behavior. Diet and exercise were used as examples, although we were doing it in a business context, and I think it would be really, really helpful if you wanted to change behavior related to food. I really can't say enough about this book and how powerful it was for getting me to change my behavior; plus, it changed my framework, and now when I am struggling with something I'm much more generous with myself and look harder for my hidden motivations.
posted by stellaluna at 4:12 PM on August 27, 2018

Failure is normal even when something works.

I really believe our ability to exert higher levels of self-discipline (and it DOES take some of that to do pretty much anything reasonably productive, in part because so many entities want to a) sell us things to ruin our productivity so they can b) sell us things to solve our productivity problems) cycles pretty dramatically by some biological mechanism(s), and the hard part is not riding the wave at a peak but rather getting yourself through the troughs with as much harm reduction as possible.

And that's not an innate talent, that requires acquired skills, a matrix of them. Your experiences in the past are part of that development process. The way you move past previous failures is to reframe them as lessons.

In the low carb groups I'm in, there's people skidding in all apanicked a dozen times a day because they ate a thing, and the replies are always the same: drink some water and get back to it. If it's working for you except that sometimes you fuck up, use the experience to figure out how to make it easier to not fuck up, and sometimes that's not going to work and all you can do is just drink some water and take a breath and go back to it.

That's all you can do. Drink some water and take a breath and get back to what you know works for you. Think about the factors involved when you aren't doing that, and learn from them. Figure out how to avoid or short-circuit or hell, sometimes you just plan for them and also plan for what you'll do afterwards to get back to what you know works for you. You may have to do that ten times this week, but if what you're wanting to do is at all sustainable that should pay off next week when it's only 8, and then you'll have longer and longer runs of minimal wobbles but when you do wobble, and you will, drink some water and get back to it.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:14 PM on August 27, 2018 [3 favorites]

Hi, I just wanted to say that the only thing that has worked for me around weight is a considerable time and money commitment to hiring a personal trainer. The focus at my studio is very much on making healthy habits stick and incrementally I'm seeing that each habit is improving, like now I drink maybe 2 Stevia sodas a week instead of at least one HFCS soda a day. My trainer has her degree in psychology and we talk a lot about the why behind the unhealthy choices. I never thought I would liked working with a trainer but I love it and I'm so much healthier now. I would recommend it to anyone, just make sure you get matched with the right style of trainer for you (like mine is gentle but direct.)
posted by fairlynearlyready at 4:19 PM on August 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

And a post-script to that: uncouple the idea of your weight or your performance of weight loss from your identity and value as a person. That's fucking hard to do, but it really does seem to be critical to making long-term programming changes in your biological OS. You will fail less if failure isn't both crime and reward-punishment but instead just a thing that happens, like traffic or weather, just a thing to navigate.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:20 PM on August 27, 2018 [10 favorites]

The thing that seems to be working for me is changing my eating habits very slowly over time. I’ve lost about forty pounds doing this - but it’s really been five pounds at a time. So I’ll identify a change I want to make, make it, which generally has seemed to result in a five-pound loss, then just stick with that until I’m ready to make another change. For instance, I stopped eating between 7 at night and 8 in the morning. Or I quit eating potato chips at work. Or I replaced two of my three daily cups of sugared tea with unsweetened green tea.

Over time, I’ve made huge changes. I basically follow the diet in the How Not to Die book referenced above because I’m actually more concerned with health than weight (I have a kind of cancer associated with obesity, which is very motivating - but it’s also important to me to avoid heart disease and diabetes). That’s a vegan diet with no added oil, so it’s not easy. My diet is completely different than what it used to be, and my tastes have even changed over time. I used to love fried chicken, and now it just seems gross.

I think it’s important to recognize, though, that you have to find what works for you. Other people can only tell you what worked for them. And it’s not your fault. I mean, it’s literally someone’s job to invent foods that you’ll want to overeat. So pat yourself on the back for any success you have.
posted by FencingGal at 4:49 PM on August 27, 2018 [8 favorites]

As a fairly thin person, I stay this way by monitoring my weight. When it creeps above my ideal range, I cut back on treats for a few weeks. So once you lose the weight (and you will!), you could try weekly weighings. It’s easier to lose 3 pounds than 40, so try to catch at 3. This works for me, after a 20 lb weight loss several years back.
posted by Valancy Rachel at 5:21 PM on August 27, 2018 [5 favorites]

I'll just throw this against the wall (different ideas work for different people). I lost 60 pounds by losing 3 pounds a month and keeping at it for 20 months. It was a combination of aerobic exercise (I did elliptical at home, but a lot of people just take long walks) plus careful portion measurement/recording calories of foods I enjoyed (but that were not absolute diet busters). I think (???) people get discouraged when they don't see themselves losing 3 pounds a week, or see some up/down, when they only wanted down. You may have to take the long view. But that doesn't mean you don't get rewarded until the end. As time goes by you will feel better, clothes will fit better (or fall off) and you will get positive comments from others.
posted by forthright at 6:00 PM on August 27, 2018 [3 favorites]

Maybe you could try redefining your goals? Rather than weight loss, you could think about achieving the things you want through other methods - like maybe you build up your cardio-vascular fitness to make running around and playing with your kids easier, or work on the skills you might need to paddleboard (balance? flexibility?) in the body that you have now. Or try and eat healthier food with the goal of feeling good everyday, rather than losing weight.

Some of these things might lead to weight loss, or they might not, or you might regain the weight you lost, as you have in the past. But it might be easier to maintain the lifestyle changes that make you feel better if your measure of success is not what you weight, but rather how you feel.
posted by misfish at 6:00 PM on August 27, 2018 [3 favorites]

I recommend looking into a HAES dietitian and/or therapist. There’s less focus on getting down to a certain number on the scale, but a healthy lifestyle with less focus on following a strict diet, which can lead to a miserable time.
posted by buttonedup at 7:12 PM on August 27, 2018 [2 favorites]

So, I can't tell from your post how much extra weight you're carrying. What I'm going to say is tailored specifically toward women who are seriously obese. It's coming from the perspective of a woman who has been fat all her life, and who topped the scales at 350 lbs, and whose obesity is now in remission.

The fact that you have tried everything and nothing has worked makes you dead normal. It is vanishingly rare for anyone who is significantly overweight to be able to lose that weight through diet/exercise and keep it off long-term. Only something like 5% of people can do it, and many of those do it by turning weight loss into a career. Trying to fix obesity with diet and exercise is like trying to repair a computer with a hammer - the harder you try, the more you fuck up the machine.

Please believe that you haven't done anything wrong. You haven't failed. You've got exactly as much willpower and inner strength as any normal-weight person. People who are thinner than you don't have any secrets. They are what they are because their bodies LET them be what they are, not because they're just that awesome.

You don't need another way of thinking about dieting or a better way of motivating yourself to exercise or managing your emotions about your weight. And you certainly don't need therapy -- unless it's to get over the piles of mental and emotional crap society has been shoveling onto you since you gained your first five extra pounds. There is nothing wrong with you. Let me repeat, with greater emphasis: There is nothing wrong with you!

Nobody really knows how weight loss works physiologically. Certainly nobody in the scientific community devoted to the study of obesity. Believe me, I have made a PhD-level survey of the literature. Everybody knows how to lose weight in the short term; nobody knows how to keep it off long-term.

At this point in our scientific understanding of weight loss, there is only one thing that reliably reverses obesity for the seriously obese - and that's weight loss surgery. It works really well for most seriously obese people who have it - while diet and exercise alone only work for about 5% of them. But since most people still tend to view obesity as a character flaw rather than a physical illness, most people (and most doctors) will just advise you to diet more and exercise harder. Hell, that's what we tell ourselves, too. It's somehow comforting to think that if we were better people, diet and exercise would work for us. It's not so comforting to admit that they probably never will.

I'm not responding here to preach. I just wish someone had told me fifteen years ago, "Hey, you're not weak. You're just sick. There's a physical cure for it, you should look into it" instead of telling me to eat less fat, or fewer carbs, or go to the gym more, or see a therapist. Because I wasted literally years of my life eating less of whatever and exercising more and examining my emotions and adjusting my mental state -- but what finally cured my obesity was a couple of hours with a surgeon, who rerouted my insides and gave me a shiny new metabolism that allowed me to return to a normal weight.

TL;DR: If you're in the weight range that would qualify you for weight loss surgery, I would seriously suggest you look into it, because it's a simple and safe procedure that corrects the metabolic processes that keep you fat. Science doesn't know for sure why it works, but they know that for most people, it does. I'm convinced that for the seriously obese, any other advice is basically woo.
posted by invincible summer at 7:53 PM on August 27, 2018 [15 favorites]

I recently came across this relevant Ted talk: The Mindset for Healthy Eating. It talks about why it's so easy to eventually fail on a diet. Similar to what others have said, that's been my experience too - years ago I used to try to "diet" and it was never a permanent solution. Making incrementally small lifestyle changes that I enjoy has been much more successful. It's also important to me that I don't have any guilt around food, that there are no "bad" or "good" foods, nothing is off limits, and I don't feel virtuous or unclean based on what I eat. Most diets subscribe to those mindsets and I think they can really wear you out and damage your self-worth.
posted by beyond_pink at 5:47 AM on August 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

I had a really hard time losing weight simply by cutting back on calories and exercising after I left my early twenties (exercising usually leaves me hungrier). I also dislike the concept of dieting or constantly watching what I eat simply because of all the negative connotations associated with same - women in particular being taught self-hate for their bodies - and even if I find it easier to run at a certain weight and generally like eating healthily anyway. It's the judgemental language towards certain foods that immediately gets my back up: "cheat meals" and "syns", for example. I guess I'm someone who finds the idea of daily moderation with the odd, forlorn, oh-so-thoroughly sensible treat too prescriptive and restrictive. What I found eventually worked for me was the Fast Diet (5:2) because, despite the name, it didn't feel like dieting. I also liked the non-nanny nature of Mosley's book ("Here's the current science, make of it what you will").

I only have to not think about eating for one or two days - or I can enjoy making a game out of how much I get to eat for 500 calories, like stretching five dollars - and then I get to not worry about calories on other days. It doesn't feel like a diet, rather a challenge; it's flexible; it feels more natural because humans did not have three to five plates of food easily accessible to them per day in past times; it links me with something practiced across different cultures and praised by Rumi for reasons not related to Slimming World; and it does make me appreciate my food more when I have it (I eat less mindlessly). For whatever reason, it suits my personality and it also works for my metabolism. I'm not doing it at the moment because it's a particularly stressful time right now and my weight is creeping back up, but that's a cyclical thing anyway. My weight also goes up in winter when it's colder and I have a ravenous appetite and mistake myself for a bear about to hibernate. But I then use 5:2 over a period of eight to twelve weeks to lose again if I need to. Like Ann says of her weight in Arthur Miller's 'All My Sons': "It comes and goes". I always liked that line.

I do know how you feel though about trying and trying and trying in a particular area and not having the heart to go after something again because it feels futile. I do think in some cases that you just need the right catalyst.
posted by Lilypod at 5:55 AM on August 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

15 years ago, I lost 150 pounds and I've kept it off. For a long time, I didn't have any real wisdom to share about it. I basically felt my success was due to obsessing over not being fat more than I was obsessing over not being able to eat any/everything I wanted. But these last few years, I do think I have landed on one perspective that may help. It's about failure.

Okay, so, the metaphor that comes to mind is about meditation. I remember reading that the point of meditation isn't to be perfectly, blissfully aware of the breath or present moment or anything, but rather to realize that you've got caught up in some thought process and come back. That the attention muscles you're training need the resistance, much like the bicep needs a barbell, to become stronger. Without the failure of attending to the present moment, you'd never be able to strengthen your attention. I've found that perspective especially helpful when it comes to weight loss. The point isn't to be perfectly, blissfully thin or successful at a diet, but rather to come back each time I've failed.

If you could peel back the veneer of my after picture, you'd see countless failures -- to me, what feels like nothing but failures! -- every day, including yesterday when I ate a whole bunch of M&Ms I did/didn't want to eat. But alongside those failures, you'd see just as many efforts to come back and keep trying. Failure and success are not opposites. Failure is a moment of awareness. We can use it to strengthen our muscles of creating the life we want to live.
posted by 10ch at 8:16 AM on August 28, 2018 [12 favorites]

Response by poster: Your encouragement is staggering. Thank you thank you thank you. I'm going to give this a day and then reread it all again, and I've added a few books to my library queue. Thank you.
posted by arcticwoman at 8:37 AM on August 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

I use a fast style too. I eat for 3 hours a day and fast for 21. That sounds really extreme I know but read on.

Someone lent me a book about food addiction. I read it very skeptically, and then with dawning realisation and then in abject horror. I fit the profile perfectly. And I realised I could never stay thin because the addiction, which can be subdued for weeks or months at a time with a weight watchers plan or a calorie counting regime, eventually resurfaces, the eating begins to get out of control and I end up heavier than ever.

The book was okay. It suggested some ways to get control, but I'm not posting a recommendation because in and of itself it actually didn't help much. I became aware of my addiction. That was it though. Food addiction is hard to deal with because we all have to eat.

Anyway I was put on an ssri for Reasons Unrelated and gained about 30lbs. This on top of the 40lbs excess I'd already been carrying. A friend had been discussing on Facebook her intermittent fasting lifestyle. In January this year I began to taper my ssri and by March I was nearly off it and freshly horrified by my weight. I messaged the friend and asked for guidance which was readily given.

I decided to fast daily because in the old days I'd tried 5:2 and it was a 5 day binge for me. I'd gained weight on it. I realised I needed to time box my eating because any sort of counting wouldn't stick. I began with skipping breakfast and then breakfast and lunch. Over about 2 or 3 weeks I moved to only eating between 3.30pm and 7.30pm. A month or so back I shaved another hour off. It is truly amazing how quickly you adjust to it. I get hunger pangs about 30 minutes before I'm going to eat. And that's it. I never get them in the day any more. I sit down and eat with my family every evening. Then I brush my teeth and that's that until tomorrow. There are no more bargains or deals about food. I eat whatever I want when I eat so all the old inner debates and arguments I'd have with myself about it all are silenced. The answer is no, until 4.30, then it's yes until 7.30. It's so simple.

Another factor for me was that 3 weeks into my fasting regime my sister died suddenly of an obesity related heart attack. She was 53. That thoroughly galvanised me.

I stick to general guidelines for healthy eating, but very quickly found that eating this way I CRAVE fruit and veg and having one snack and one decent meal each day I eat my bmr caloric need no problem. It is easy for me to eat healthily when fasting. I take a good multivitamin too to be sure I'm covered.

I don't weigh myself very often. Food addicts quite often obsess about weight when the eating is the issue not the weight. Like an alcoholic can obsess about improving liver numbers but really they need to stop drinking. So I focus on fasting, eating well when I eat, and getting some decent exercise (I walk my dogs, I'm not a gym bunny). Having said all that I have weighed myself a few times to try to keep track of my bmr. I don't know what I currently weigh but I lost 28lbs between April 1st and July 27th.

The most important factor for me is that I can live like this. If I have a special meal out planned I move my eating window to then. When I went on holiday I relaxed a bit and only fasted 16 or 18 hours instead of 20. I physically can't eat 3x a day any more. After 2 meals I'm uncomfortably full and ready to stop. I can finally see how I can be a normal weight and stay a normal weight. And all I need to do it is a clock. It's a massive massive relief to be in control, finally.
posted by intergalacticvelvet at 9:15 AM on August 28, 2018 [3 favorites]

I really recommend checking out Sherry Pagoto, a PhD psychologist. Her site FUdiet is about the science of weight loss, nutrition, and fitness. She has a lot of really helpful posts about motivation! This one is a good starting place.
posted by acridrabbit at 9:20 AM on August 28, 2018

You are not alone in this! I also lost a big chunk of weight (70 pounds) through a year of obsessive calorie counting and moderate exercise about 6 years ago. Since then some poundage has come back and I've shed some of that, and then some comes back and I lose part of it again, and again, ad nauseum. It's harder every time and the trend is moving firmly back up to where I started. It's awful, like being chased by a giant turtle that I'm somehow failing to outrun.

All of this is just to say that I get it and I have a tentative book recommendation: Mini Habits for Weight Loss by Stephen Guise. The author is also a diet nihilist and the first half of the book is about why dieting doesn't work for most people (so much research). His prescription is the cultivation of mini habits, tiny things you can do consistently every day, even on your worst days. It's a tentative recommendation because I'm still reading the book and am just getting into the mini habits part. I did however set some mini habits for myself when I started reading a week ago, and it's surprisingly satisfying to meet and crush these small goals every day: do one squat, plank for one breath, eat a piece of fruit with breakfast.
posted by esoterrica at 10:43 AM on August 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

I lost 100 pounds in 2011 (I think), and have kept half of it off. I've yo-yo'd up and down in the remaining 50 pounds. So, I'm a partial success and these are the things that I feel like I need to do/have done to keep weight off.

1) Accept that I will always have to deal with this. When I first lost the weight, I thought, "whew, glad I'm done with that!" I'm not 25 anymore and I can't eat whatever I want.

2) The perfect is the enemy of the good. This is a big one for me. If I "fell off the wagon" then I would eat ice cream for dinner for a week. Or if I didn't go to the gym three times a week, I wouldn't go back for months. Etc. I allow myself failures and get back on the horse.

3) I will not buy bigger clothes. Or, if I do, I consciously confront myself with what I am doing. I was very good at denial about my weight going up and then, oops, I've put 40 pounds back on and am 3 sizes bigger. How'd that happen? This has actually worked really well for me. A couple of months ago I was wearing pants that were painfully tight, and I went around for a couple of weeks struggling with whether I was ready to put a stop to the gain or wanted to just buy bigger pants. I did not buy bigger pants (yay me).

Good luck. This is really tough.
posted by Mavri at 11:40 AM on August 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

Most books about how to lose weight (as opposed to books about nutrition, or psychology, or health) make me want to claw my face off. I don't need to hear someone tell me 'just stop eating when you're not hungry any more'. If it were that easy, noone would be fat. The only book I've that actually acknowledged the psychology of overeating in a realistic way was 'Bright Line Eating'. There were a number of things I didn't like about that book but it had a lot of useful stuff in it.
posted by bq at 12:30 PM on August 30, 2018

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