I hate when people give me the frozen smile say and "you look great!"
March 20, 2019 6:53 PM   Subscribe

This was me three months ago. Nothing has changed except I've gained five more pounds. People who haven't seen me in a while are taken aback.

I've gone from 120 pounds 6 years ago, to 140 pounds about 4 years ago, to 102 pounds 3 years ago, to 130 pounds now. (I'm only 5/2". My doctor said I should weigh 113 given my frame.) My normal weight was always 115 - 120 until I moved to a new place, stopped exercising, and gained 20 pounds over about a decade. After losing it fast, my lifelong struggle with bingeing went haywire.
.Ok, so I took all the suggestions from the last question and tried to make use of them, specifically asking my family to stop having junk food in the house. They actually didn't care much one way or the other. Yet, I am still bingeing and gaining a lot of weight. If my family doesn't care about having chips and cookies, I just buy a box of muffins on the way home and eat them all, or eat a giant bowl of oatmeal with maple syrup when I'm no longer hungry, or eat an entire bag of nuts. Whatever.
This is what I am doing to try to break the cycle:
1. I am in therapy for depression and anxiety, including eating issues.
2. I am also working with an online binge-eating specialist therapist/life coach. There is no one in my town for this, but the phone calls are just as good as in person sessions.
3. I am on medication for anxiety and depression
4. I am doing a group app -- Noom -- to be accountable.
What I am NOT doing:
1. Weight watchers - I've done it in the past, don't like it.
2. Overeaters Anonymous -- I tried this, it is really, really just not my thing for all kinds of reasons, not just the higher power but just in general I can't get into the idea of it.
Really, I know that none of the tools I've put in place to help support myself will work if I don't somehow really want to do this for myself. When I do want to, it's easy enough to have self-control. But at the moment of overeating, I don't care.
It is seriously impacting my health. I am 25 pounds overweight and my body is not the type that works well with extra weight. And if I keep going I'll be 50 lbs overweight.
What I am asking for here:
I keep telling myself this story: I lost weight, and gained it back. I keep telling myself that I can't lose it again because no one really loses weight for good a second or third time they've done this.
But is this true? I feel like i've blown my chances to be fit and healthy. I would like to hear about people who:
1. Have yo yo'd and *then* lost weight again.
2. Have found motivation outside of OA
3. Have a kind word to say to someone struggling with an ingrained way of dealing with stress.
In the last question I asked, someone said: One piece of candy won't do the trick, so seven won't. That helped me a lot for a while, until it sort of lost power. But more insights like that would be awesome.
Thanks all.
posted by barnowl to Health & Fitness (31 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
2. I’ve found OA eating guidelines to be helpful even though I don’t ascribe to the whole program. I was dealing with coming back from living in different cultures and periods of food insecurity, American portion sizes, a roommate who would eat pints of ice cream for dinner and social media that told me that having half a bottle of wine every night with pasta was hilarity and the height of bonding. OA’s guidelines just got me back to a place of three normal meals and healthy snacks. Coming from some food insecurity made me feel like I had to binge otherwise I would never get that food again which was not good when I had access to every grocery store imaginable. This leads me to your part 3.
3. Two things have helped me 1. Having some high quality chocolate (just one bar) available at home and knowing that it (meaning a piece, not all of it) was available if I wanted. I wasn’t deprived. I could have it anytime. If I wanted another I could go buy one and that was ok too. That may or may not be helpful for you. The other part was reminding myself that I could have anything I wanted from the store/bakery/etc and I could go get it tomorrow. It would still be there. I would survive the day/night without it.
More generally keeping busy and know that food is available has also greatly helped me. I’m not worried or scared that if I don’t eat lunch right now more won’t be available later. It is and I can go but it, so I don’t need it right now unless I’m actually hungry.

Overall focusing on what my body can do, rather than what it looks like has always been positive. It might help to reframe some of your goals as health related things such as “be able to run a mile in account minutes” “go on a 5 mile hike with friends” “be able to do 3 push ups” or whatever works for you

Good luck, this is hard stuff
posted by raccoon409 at 7:18 PM on March 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

I'm in recovery from an eating disorder severe enough to require hospitalizations so my frame of reference is going to be from there.

Honestly, the thing that worked best for me to maintain my recovery was focusing on feeling healthy. What made me feel good, able to do daily activities, sleep well ect. For me that wieght was higher than what is recommended, and people did notice that I felt better and looked better. I just try and maintain that.

Getting support from people who understand and can help focus on that control of eating (or out of control eating) is about intenal states of mind and the emotional control rather than the actual food itself, or the wieght, or what I looked like.

I think there are lots of helping professionals that can work with you in a variety of contexts. I'm not sure what would be best for you, but I have had some amazing nutritionists and therapists help center me and focus on being healthy and happy and not obessessed.
posted by AlexiaSky at 7:27 PM on March 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

Take the following with a grain of salt, because I'm not very familiar with binging and the associated thought patterns. However I would recommend you try keto. I have found that carbs can have an addictive presence in my life, and they're *much* easier to eat even if you're not very hungry. It's much harder to overeat on, say, pork chops, than muffins or potato chips. I would gently disagree with much of the premise of your question, which seems to situate the problem as a mental one, of willpower and self-control and motivation. I think that working to hack your brain's reward system is much more sturdy a solution than plain willpower. Keto has really helped diminish sugar and carb cravings, and also having them completely off the table (so to speak) has helped me not think "I'll just have one muffin/chocolate/chip". I've accepted that they're completely not allowed, and they're much less tempting. The satiety and luxuriousness provided by the high fat in the diet really aids compliance. I eat to satiety now (with keto foods) and am not tempted to eat further. I also indulge in keto sweets on occasion (usually Lily's Chocolate, or keto desserts I make from the bazillion recipes online, like peanut butter cheesecake made with erythritol). Being able to have some treats allows me to stick to it, and might also help you similarly (it sounds like you're binging when you feel strong restriction).

(N.B. Keto is often paired with intermittent fasting, but if you have binging struggles, I would strongly recommend against IF for you - I'd recommend just trying normal keto.)
posted by ClaireBear at 7:27 PM on March 20, 2019 [7 favorites]

You are me. Except that I'm quite a bit larger than you.

I've been fat for most of my adult life, but my weight has gone up and down as I've gained and then lost weight. At one point I was down to 140 and that looked fine - I'm 5' 6" - but I slowly gained the weight back again. Since then I've yo-yoed up and down, but I hit my worst point last year, at 357 pounds. That's right - 357. I was in agony, my joints were screaming, I could not walk without pain, and I couldn't even wipe myself properly after using the toilet without standing up and contorting myself into a weird position. What did me in was school stress - I was in college working toward an AA degree, and trying to maintain a 4.0 GPA despite crushing poverty and an abusive landlord/roommate (I live in the SF Bay Area, where finding affordable housing is a nightmare, so it took me a long time to get out of there.) I had also cracked three of my molars, which meant that I had to live on very soft food, mostly ice cream. Well, I discovered that the ice cream diet will pack on a lot of pounds. If that wasn't enough, I also take psych meds that have a weight-gain side effect.

Finally I couldn't stand it any more. After finally getting my teeth fixed and into a less stressful housing situation, I resolved to do something about my weight. Like you, I cannot stand most weight-loss groups - I'm not a group person in general - so I knew I would have to do this myself.

Basically what I did was pretty simple: I cut down meals to one a day, and I made myself eat half of what a normal meal would have been for me. I forced myself to look at how many calories were in what I was eating, and what the portion sizes were. I stopped eating out as much as possible - when too tired to cook, I would rely on Lean Cuisines (the baked chicken one is particularly good.) This was not easy, and I had a lot of false starts and falling off the wagon, but forcing myself to look at my fat body in the mirror did a lot to motivate me. I found that I was hungry at first, but that eased off eventually as I got used to eating less. Also, like the previous commenter who mentioned keto, I didn't follow the keto plan exactly, but my general eating pattern was high protein, high fat, low carb, which really seemed to work for me.

I have now lost 63 pounds since last year and my end goal is to lose a total of 200, because I need to get down to a normal weight so that insurance will pay for my breast reduction. I'm nearly 1/3 of the way there already.

Key advice:

Acceptance. Accept that your metabolism is not the same as other (thin) people's, and that you will have to watch your weight for the rest of your life. This was a hard one for me, because I thought that once I became a thin person my troubles would be over.

Forgive yourself for "falling off the wagon," when it happens. It's part of the weight-loss experience. Don't attach "good" or "bad" labels to food, or shame yourself for eating them. You can have treats as long as you factor them into your overall calorie count. When I have extra one day, I eat less on the next day. It doesn't mean my diet is blown.

The praise that I am getting for losing all the weight I've lost also motivates me. I tend to be lone-wolfish, but we are social animals.

Reading other people's stories is also a big motivator. There are so many people in the same boat, and it is liberating to me to know that I am not the only person who wants to binge on a carton of ice cream.

You can do this! I'm rooting for you.
posted by all the light we cannot see at 7:48 PM on March 20, 2019 [21 favorites]

Hello. I can't help with a lot of what you posted, but I can help with #1. I was overweight by around 20-30 pounds for ~5 years. I lost 30 pounds and then gained 25 back for around 3 years. I then lost it all and have been extremely stable at a weight that is in the middle of my BMI range for the last 15 years.

It's not easy but also less stressful and anxiety-ridden as I have aged. I also found that aging helped me to stop emotional eating. Right now I am in a bit of a rough patch because I am back on medication that I know from experience will cause a 5-10 pound weight gain. But at my age, I know the patterns and know what I will need to do to loose it once I am off of the medication, which helps me to not feel too stressed about it.
posted by seesom at 7:52 PM on March 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

I keep telling myself this story: I lost weight, and gained it back. I keep telling myself that I can't lose it again

A different way to look at it might be, you know how to lose weight.
posted by salvia at 9:27 PM on March 20, 2019 [10 favorites]

I'm a little over 5'5" and weigh about 160. I've been slightly lower than 120 and slightly over 170; most of my adult life I've been 140-160. People have told me I look good/sexy/stylish at ALL of these weights and sizes. I used to only believe them when I was truly thin but now? I believe them that I look good/sexy/stylish at all of these weights and sizes because I do. I finally accept my body as is; sure, I wish I weighed a bit less but I'm damn sexy and good-looking past, present, and future. We all are beautiful and sexy in different ways! For example, there are tall and thin folks whose dream body would be yours.

I am hardly at the edge of overweight yet I have fretted about my weight and size ever since college. Which is a shame and a lot of wasted time! My new attitude is living my best life now: not just taking that selfie but posting it, too, even if my face doesn't look "thin" enough. I KonMari'd and only have clothing that I love and feel good in.

For years, I thought having no junk food at home was the solution. For many people it is and there are certain foods that I immediately eat if they're there. However, the more treats I had, the better I got at eating "appropriate" amounts. They were still treats but not some special unicorn I could also admire from afar.

I have focused on fitness and toning rather than weight loss. I do a lot of burpees because they're great for getting fit fast. I jog or swim or bike or hike when I feel like it. I do yoga and stretching occasionally as well. Rather than focus on how "flabby" I am when I don't exercise, I focus on the little steps of progress when I do.

I have been loving two series lately. Shrill on Hulu is amazing, and I recommend it 100%. TV is so lacking in representation across the board but, gosh, it's both amazing -- and depressing -- that it's the first mainstream US show to feature a self-identified fat woman as the smart, sexy, stylish, and sincere protagonist. And it has brought tears to my eyes, and maybe yours, too? I'm also loving Queer Eye on Netflix, especially the new season. With clothing that feels good and fits well, literally everyone can look not just their best but genuinely awesome.

Therapy has been very good, too. Understanding myself better, loving and accepting myself across the board has really helped with my body image. I did not lose weight, I did not make any crazy changes, but I started to believe the compliments from others and began to feel positive about myself on my own. Negative self-talk is so hard to even recognize and even harder to break free from!

I don't know if my sharing this is exactly what you had wanted or if it will help at all. You're trying hard and I hear your frustration and disappointment. Body image is a lifelong journey, and I wish you luck on yours.
posted by smorgasbord at 9:58 PM on March 20, 2019 [22 favorites]

Also, this: "I'm only 5/2". My doctor said I should weigh 113 given my frame."

What?!?! If they were truly making you feel bad for weighing over 113, I recommend you get a new doctor. There are lots of ways to be healthy, and your current weight is well within a "normal" or healthy range.

I once had an OBGYN tell me I had to lose weight; the next year, she told me I weighed less than most of her patients and should "hurry up and have a baby." (Um, I was 30 and had never told her whether or not I wanted kids.) The following year she asked me if I planned on having any more kids (this was before my clothes came off, btw.) I switched OBGYNs and have been very happy since. It's good to have a doctor who's not afraid of having honest or difficult conversations with you. But it sounds like yours is a bit unrealistic or at least adding to your stress rather than trying to help you feel better emotionally so you can make the physical changes you desire.
posted by smorgasbord at 10:04 PM on March 20, 2019 [24 favorites]

Oh, yes yes yes. First of all, hugs and high-fives to you. You are doing GREAT. Life is super fucking stressful and we all deal with that in different ways. Don't beat yourself up. You are doing therapy, group accountability, medication AND trying a bunch of different eating techniques? That sounds like a LOT of stuff, especially if the therapy is bringing up old wounds. Are you giving yourself time to decompress and just be? Are you sleeping and resting enough? I have in the past binged to numb out, and one of the things that decreases my urge to binge (besides going on antidepressants) is doing less.

Second, yes, I have yo-yo'ed a ton in the past and about two years ago quit dieting... And then, in the past year, have slowly been losing weight. It wasn't a choice to stop yo-yo'ing -- I just couldn't diet anymore. The "diet" part of my brain broke after years of binging/restriction. My (slow!! very slow!!) weight loss in recent months is not from dieting, it's just from slowly teaching myself how to cook for myself and eat in a way that is not focused on calorie reduction/cutting out whole food groups/subsequent binges.

Third, yep, I tried OA and while it was helpful to be around others who were talking openly about disordered eating, it definitely did not work for me -- (a) the higher power thing (b) the fact that it was based on AA but food is different than other addictive substances (c) the people in the meeting I attended seemed to be using OA as just another diet plan (I would hear people check in and talk about how they were "so happy" that they were "following their plan" of no white flour, etc. and it felt like Weight Watchers to me...).

Some resources that have helped me:
- Julie Duffy Dillon's "Love, Food" podcast - she's a body-positive dietician who drops truth bombs about the diet industry!
- Watching 'Shrill' on Hulu - sooo good on body issues and body positivity
- Buying clothes that fit my body as it is now
- Fat Shame - Stigma and the Fat Body in American Culture - an academic book that unpacks how toxic and ineffective body shame is

Sending lots of encouragement, admiration and Rosie-the-Riveter-style "You Can Do It" vibes. Fuck what other people think about your body - it's not their business. Focus on how awesome you are and the amazing things your body can do, and does do, every day!
posted by rogerroger at 10:45 PM on March 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

I read your previous question and I have to say I'm extremely surprised to see your weight in this latest question. You don't sound overweight at all. I'm your height and I weigh 140 pounds, and I'm not overweight...I'm a size 4 US / 8 UK.
113 sounds extremely small to me. What is it about your 'frame' that means you should weigh this much?
Do you exercise much? Because muscle really can make you weigh more. I used to weigh 120 and gained 20 pounds when I started exercising seriously(ish). I also gained weight entering my 30s. I'm just a bigger person now than I was when I was in my 20s and a dress size smaller.

I don't think you should be fixated on a number. That sounds very dangerous to me. I would move your thinking towards healthier food choices and exercise.
posted by thereader at 11:29 PM on March 20, 2019 [24 favorites]

I had problems with restriction and bingeing from my early teens until my early 20s. Like raccoon409 I grew up in a house with food insecurity, artificially created by a controlling and body-shaming parent rather than because we literally couldn't afford or access food, but it had the same effect.

I felt completely stuck in a boom-bust cycle of bingeing and restricting - I'd eat anything I could lay my hands on while I was "allowed" to binge, because who knew when the next restriction cycle would kick in and I wouldn't be "allowed" to eat most things/potentially wouldn't be "allowed" to eat at all.

The thing that got me out of this cycle was learning about intuitive eating and understanding what healthy ways of raising kids around food look like, essentially reparenting myself. I found the Ellyn Satter Insititute and the Fat Nutritionist's blog archive incredibly helpful as resources for remodelling what a healthy attitude towards food and my body could look like.

At first I just absorbed this stuff, ideas like intuitive eating and the fact that I could have a fat body and still deserve to feel good and healthy in it. For a long time these felt like concepts that I could understand for other people but didn't think I'd ever be able to apply to my own body and life. But I kept reading these kinds of resources and slowly they sank in.

The next step was committing to no more restriction. I tried a very open form of intuitive eating - if I want it, I can have it. No questions asked, no threat that access would be taken away at random in the future, no shame or guilt about the food chosen or the quantities consumed.

Taking out the concept of "forbidden" or restricted foods helped with bingeing pretty quickly. I also started paying more attention to my body's sensations - how do I genuinely feel when my body is this level of full vs that level of full (instead of the tunnel-vision binge state where feeling your body is very much not the point). I also paid more attention to how I felt after eating certain foods.

This cured a lot of casual eating/bingeing pretty quickly. When all foods were always accessible and I actually paid attention to how I felt when I ate them, my quality bar for food increased pretty quickly. Gas station cookies taste pretty bad, don't make me feel good, and aren't really worth eating in comparison to a truly delicious dessert that I actually enjoy that I'm allowed to eat whenever I want. It was very easy to say no to random sugary crap out in the world now that scarcity was no longer a constant driver. It was much harder to binge in good faith when I knew I'd feel much less physically and mentally gross if I ate a satisfying amount of exactly what I wanted.

In order to make this work, I had to lose focus on body and weight for about five years. The risk of being re-triggered into disordered eating through body or weight shame seemed too high. I didn't weigh myself during this time, and I habitually wore loose, lightweight clothing that didn't feel restrictive if my body was changing. I didn't exactly love my fat body (which was more than 100lbs heavier than your body is right now) but I learnt not to hate it as much, to tolerate where it spilled over my imagined boundaries because that sensation was less terrible than my brain being consumed by disordered eating thoughts 24/7.

Then about two years ago I got to a place where I felt I could safely and non-compulsively exercise, and I started doing more of it and genuinely enjoying the sensation and how good it made my body feel. Again, I had to relearn and reprogram a bunch of stuff around exertion sensation, not feeling ashamed for being out of breath or like I was in genuine pain from exercise exertion, because moving my body (like fuelling my body) was a war zone of shame and bad feels thanks to shitty parenting. Through working out more (and not changing what I eat at all, and still allowing myself to eat whatever I like) I've lost a decent amount of weight and gained strength, conditioning, muscle tone and flexibility. My body is still fatter than society and I would prefer it to be, but it feels so much better to live in than it did in 2012 or so.

I also spent a lot of time in therapy talking about the terrible ways my family talked about and treated my body. This really helped with context and resolving some of the trauma I felt around my body, weight and appearance, but the bulk of the actual eating disorder recovery happened outside of therapy using the process I outlined above.

I still eat too much and make less-ideal food choices sometimes, but it no longer feels like there's a drive in my brain commanding me to cram sugar into my mouth in case we're never allowed to eat it again. I don't feel anywhere near as sugar-addicted as I used to; I like dessert still, but I can take it or leave it, and often choose to leave it. Because there will always be more permissible dessert in the future and I can save it for when I actually really want it without fearing I'll never get it again.
posted by terretu at 12:15 AM on March 21, 2019 [16 favorites]

I've never yet been able to get over the bingeing mindset - for me I think it's a combination of a need for comfort and a pretty deeply-ingrained instinct. But what has worked for me is defining what I can binge on. I basically decided I wouldn't eat (binge or non-binge) grain-based or sugar-based foods, but if I wanted to binge out on fruits or nuts or a really rich curry without the rice and so on, that was okay. Sometimes I'll see that I'm eating a lot of cheese or something and seem to be gaining weight, so I'll cut that out for a few weeks. Figuring out really luxurious-feeling foods to eat within those restrictions has helped a lot both with staying within them and with the kind of feelings that make me want to eat anyway.

When I live in places where it's harder to cook, or don't have time, or when I'm stressed for money and can't always afford good options, it gets harder and sometimes impossible to eat the way I want, but when I do have access to food that feels rich or luxurious without the categories I don't eat, it works surprisingly well. For me, using lots of herbs and spices including cinnamon and cardamom helps satisfy the longing for sweetness. I also found it helps a lot to plan ahead and think of satisfying things to eat instead of the usual when the urge to binge strikes you at home, at work, or on the road. You want to have appealing alternatives that come immediately to mind when you're fixated on stopping for a box of muffins.

Also it sounds like you're really down on yourself. You actually sound like you've always been at a decent weight range - even now. It also seems like exercising worked for you in the past. I know for me the worse I feel the more I want the comfort of a nice binge, so maybe give yourself a break on feeling so bad about your pretty-ordinary weight, exercise a little more, eat a little better, and see where that gets you in half a year or so. Drastic improvement is overrated - even if you lose weight super slowly it's fine when you keep it up over a long period of time.

And regarding your question about losing weight for the nth time - of course. See above about the times when I have more potential control over what I eat versus less.
posted by trig at 1:50 AM on March 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'm confused about your math: You say you are 130 pounds but your normal weight is 115-120. Your doctor said you should weigh 113. How are you 25 pounds overweight? I see that you are 27 pounds than your lightest weight, but your lightest weight was only 2 pounds above an underweight BMI, so I wouldn't say that means you're 25 pounds overweight! That, coupled with the title of your post, gives me the impression that you are being really hard on yourself or freaking out about this. (And I am 5'4 1/2" so I understand how a small amount of weight can impact your frame.) It is just weight. You can lose it.

I have had lifetime problems with bingeing and comfort eating. Here are some mental tricks that have helped me:

- I am a calorie counter. I am terrible at self-regulating because I will easily eat 5,000 calories a day if I can eat whatever I want. I'll still eat if I'm not hungry. I naturally gravitate towards fattening and sugary foods. I smooth the number out over the course of a week. If I am not hungry, I bank those calories for another day when I am or to allow myself a treat or dinner out on another day. I really like this method because it allows me a mechanism to eat whatever I want at some point so I don't feel completely deprived but also requires long stretches of healthful eating.

- I find exercise helpful mentally because it gets me into the mindset of thinking of myself as a fit and healthy person. Would a fit and healthy person eat this whole bag of cookies? Also, it feels awful to "undo" all your hard work, if you're exercising in part to lose weight or look better. (Yeah, yeah, I know there are other reasons to exercise.)

- If I want to eat something awful, like something that would completely blow my calorie count out of the water, sometimes I will tell myself, if you still really want this tomorrow, you can have it. The craving has often dissipated by then.

- I will have small portions of high-calorie foods but add low-calorie foods to them so they don't feel small. I could never relate to people who talk about satisfying cravings by having "one square of high-quality chocolate and really savoring it." Whatever. So I might make pasta and cheese, but add green veggies to it to give it more volume.

- If I'm feeling good about sticking to my calorie limits and don't think that feeling hungry will trigger a binge, I will sometimes eat fewer but larger meals because I like feeling full and the veggies just don't cut it. Some days I can't stand being hungry and eat more regularly.

- I generally don't force myself to eat if I'm not hungry. I've never been a big breakfast eater and forcing myself to eat it just starts my desire to snack earlier. I ignore all the nutritionist advice to force myself to eat breakfast because the food science out there is not as settled as they lead you to believe. Six small meals a day was always the common wisdom, but now intermittent fasting is the hot new trend.

- I subscribed to a meal delivery service that has the quickest meal prep time, and I accepted the fact that I hate to cook. It felt "extravagant" given that I have plenty of free time to cook, but I hate it and would never do it and the groceries would just rot anyway. Now it's much easier for me to prepare and eat healthy meals in the evening.

- I allow myself other daily treats that aren't junk food, like 30 minutes of vegging out in front of the TV or fancy health drinks or foods. Yeah, I mean, maybe this is some kind of avoidance and I need to work on finding motivation from within, but fuck it, I'm in my 30s now and if some harmless treats help me get through some things, then I'm going to give myself some treats.

I'm never going to be that person who considers an orange a dessert or who ever says "This is too sweet!" but with some work what you want to do can be done. Good luck.
posted by unannihilated at 3:08 AM on March 21, 2019 [6 favorites]

The chart says I'm supposed to weigh 165 which seems ridiculous to me. I've weighed as much as 212 and had settled at about 205 for quite a while though at one point I got down to 185. After the last month or two I've gotten to 197 and falling, not fast but heading the right way. I think the biggest difference between this time dieting and previous ones has been meditation. If you have no interest in meditation then you can stop reading because the rest of this post is about how I think it's helped me with weight loss. (Actually, I think I have a couple of other tips that I'll put at the bottom.)
I keep telling myself this story: I lost weight, and gained it back. I keep telling myself that I can't lose it again because no one really loses weight for good a second or third time they've done this.
And this is why meditation was helpful. Well, meditation and a helping of Buddhist philosophy (no beliefs, just advice). The meditation is sitting and watching what goes on in your head. The philosophy that goes with will say things like, "a thought or a feeling is just a thought or a feeling" and it'll point out the human penchant for taking a thought or feeling and blowing it up into a big story that makes us miserable.
But is this true?
As true as you let it be.
I feel like i've blown my chances to be fit and healthy.
This is another story. If I was a "positive thinking" person I'd tell you to replace it with a happy story with rainbows and unicorns and new, thin you, but that's just bullshitting yourself in the opposite direction. The solution to stories is learning to recognize when you're telling them and then decide if they're useful. If they're not useful you let them go. And meditation is how you practice paying attention, noticing the thoughts/stories and letting them go. And you do it over and over so when it comes times to do it for real you've flexed those muscles lots of times.

Good news and bad: Meditation is super easy, but not at all fast. For me it was three years of 10-15 minutes most day (lots of gaps in the first year though) and then something clicked and life got better and dieting became possible. I have no idea if that's typical but I do believe I could have sped it up a bit. I'll also note that I was NOT dieting until after the click so I can't say whether dieting would have been easier earlier in my meditation.

The differences in dieting this time are largely in my relationship to hunger and stories. I'm hungry all the time but it's background noise. It doesn't stress me out or distract me the way it used to. Stories about how I just needed one cookie used to carry me into the pantry all the time. Now I notice the story and decide I that carrots and hummus will be fine, or some walnuts, or that it's close to lunch and I can wait a bit.

Added bonus to meditation, the basic skills of watching, noticing, letting go and returning are super useful in every part of your life.

If you're interested I can recommend books, apps, etc. I'll go ahead and mention Meditation for Beginners by Jack Kornfield, it's only 90 pages and covers the basics very well.

The other tips:
Mindful eating is sort of meditation for dieting. I'm somewhat skeptical as I think the mental training of meditation is the useful part but it would be worth looking at.
Intermittent fasting is essentially limiting the hours when you're allowed to eat or fasting periodically during the week.
• Get on an online forum for weight loss or whatever and answer beginner questions. They're the same questions over and over and it seems tedious but it makes you think through the issues repeatedly, with slight variations. Trying to find words to help other people is really, really useful for improving your understanding of things. Speaking of, thanks for asking this because in answering I've realized that my weight loss slowed a bit because I've been ignoring a story about cookies.

I wrote way too much and it still feels like there's so much I left out.
Good luck
posted by Awfki at 4:46 AM on March 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

I know I just wrote a book but another reply made me go look at your weight again. If you're 5'2" and 130lbs you're in the normal range with 5lbs to spare.

You should still meditate, because everyone should, but don't obsess over your weight.
posted by Awfki at 4:51 AM on March 21, 2019 [7 favorites]

I'm sorry but where you are right now sounds like symptoms of an eating disorder. Your weight is healthy. People are probably not looking at you with frozen smiles over five pounds, even if you think they are. Additionally, do not be friends with people who comment on your weight at all, ever. It's totally inappropriate and functional adults know this.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:59 AM on March 21, 2019 [34 favorites]

I yo-yo’d Throughout my life until I was in my late 30s and within a few weeks my dad had a cardiac event and I got a high blood pressure reading at a work screening event.

In other words, I got scared for my health, not my appearance (please note: plenty of larger people are healthy!)

I lost 35 lbs and have kept them off for 10 years including going back after pregnancy and after breaking my leg. I’m not thin and I’m not overweight, there are a few poochy areas (see also: pregnancy!)

Here’s what I learned:
- when other people’s reactions are “wow, you look -great-“ after weight loss, that’s society-driven toxicity. I mean, that unbridled delight in accomplishment is lively but...how do they know it’s not cancer or stress? It’s not real. It sounds like you are chasing that. I give you a counter-example: I didn’t consult my doctor before my weight loss and I went in after. Her jaw hit the floor and she said “please tell me you deliberately lost weight.” She thought I might be coming in super sick!
- I maintain weight best when I’m exercising. It makes me hungrier to start but then it provides me with more balance that helps me choose higher quality foods
- I try to eat high quality food - I’m not anti any food group but “crap.”
- I know a few people who have lost significant amounts of weight, many different ways - low carb, intermittent fasting, etc. I think this is pretty individual and more about finding what works for you. BUT
- all of those people including me kind of still have a “last few pounds” feeling. I think it’s important to really think through the difference between feeling good, including feeling that your clothes flatter you, you like your own style, and some kind of ideal. It’s too easy to aim for the ideal, miss, and then forget that you want to be healthy and strong...right? Not just a number.

posted by warriorqueen at 5:00 AM on March 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

It's your health and your body but 113 sounds really, really small. I hope you aren't listening to cultural messages that say women should all weigh no more than 100 pounds. (Some doctors--who are shitty doctors-- have also absorbed this messaging.) The only thing I can think of is, your frame must be small. Even so, 113 doesn't leave a lot of room for muscle. How is your fitness? Can you run around the block a few times? Walk a mile without getting winded? Do a dozen push-ups?

Yeah, 80% of weight is diet, but you haven't mentioned exercising at all, which is also part of fitness, and your goal is to be fit and not just thin, right?
posted by coffeeand at 5:28 AM on March 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

So I feel like there are two issues here, no doubt linked:

First is your relationship with the numbers on the scale. As others have said, I read this expecting it to be from an overweight person, but you're not overweight at all. Your weight sounds very much normal for your height, with room to spare before you're overweight, and 113 pounds sounds very thin/light. Not only that, but there is no such thing as one perfect weight for a given height, there's a whole range. I'm about 5'3", about 142lbs and consider myself a healthy weight. I could lose a fair few pounds and still be a healthy weight, because there's no single figure. I have a relatively uncomplicated relationship with food and my weight fluctuates by maybe 10lbs over the course of each year. And over a decade? Gees, show me someone who hasn't gained a fair chunk of weight over a decade, especially if you're anywhere above the age of 30. We all look at 20-year-olds with wonder that they can eat junk and drink loads of booze and still have washboard stomachs. That's what happens as the years move on.

I feel like i've blown my chances to be fit and healthy.

If you're talking about your weight, you are fit and healthy. I do hear you though, on the fact that your weight is tipping upwards and you'd like to make sure that doesn't continue. But I feel like maybe the number on the scale shouldn't be your priority right now.

Secondly, though, is the bingeing, and I know that can be a problem even when your weight is healthy. You don't mention what type of counselling you're having, but a friend of mine just received CBT for bulimia and is now in her 4th month without bingeing, after doing it every single day for 20 years. So it is possible. In her case, which might give you hope, the first round of CBT didn't really 'stick', but she went back a second time and now it seems to be working for her. I would never have known she was bulimic if she hadn't told me, because her weight was healthy and consistent.

So there is hope, but it sounds like rather than your current project - 'I need to lose weight and also adjust my relationship to eating' you might frame this more productively as 'I need to adjust my relationship to both my weight and to eating'.

Go burn your scales!

(But also: Echoing everyone above giving you a high five for all the work you're doing! You can do this!)

Oh! And one last thought - you don't mention what medication you're taking for anxiety and depression, but if it happens to be mirtazapine/remeron, there's your culprit right there. I read someone once saying while they were on a higher dose of it, they could practically stand at the cupboard eating sugar out of the bag by the spoonful, and my word, I identified with that. It seems fine on a lower dose, though.
posted by penguin pie at 5:45 AM on March 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

Other people have mentioned this, but I want to be very explicit about it:

You've spent almost all of the last 6 years at a completely normal and healthy weight.

A healthy/normal BMI is 18.5-24.9. A healthy BMI for someone 5'2" is 101 to 136 pounds. BMI guidelines aren't always totally accurate - if you got really into weightlifting, for example, a higher BMI would be ok.

At your heaviest, 140, you were just sneaking out of the healthy BMI range and I'd be surprised if a doctor addressed that beyond "make sure you're eating your vegetables and taking some walks every now and then."

If your doctor told you you need to be 113 pounds, either they are wrong or you misunderstood. There is a range of healthy BMIs/weights for people of various heights. There is no specific number that is your ideal weight.

With regard to binge eating:
Doing things to excess when we don't want to is really upsetting and can be scary. I haven't experienced this with food, but I have with [a completely innocuous hobby].

The thing that helped me let go was understanding that bingeing on [innocuous hobby] was a coping mechanism for me and that I was getting a real benefit from it, even though my bingeing was really negatively interfering with my life. Once I understood how it was helping me and why I needed the help, I was able to step away and replace my habit with better coping strategies that I chose consciously. Now I can just enjoy [innocuous hobby] again in non-life-damaging doses.

I believe that most of what we do, even if it seems bad for us, are ultimately us trying to take care of ourselves. Acknowledging that makes it easier for me to break bad habits - "Doing [innocuous hobby] distracts me from [incredibly painful thing] that I wasn't ready to deal with. I'm so grateful a part of me was kind and clever enough to recognize I needed help and came up with a way to comfort me and help me survive such an [incredibly painful thing]. Having [innocuous hobby] really got me through some difficult times.

But now I'm turning to [innocuous hobby] when I'm distressed about nearly anything because I've learned that it's so comforting - and it's interfering with my life and what I want to do. What are other ways to cope with [incredibly painful thing] and daily stresses?"
posted by congen at 7:01 AM on March 21, 2019 [10 favorites]

I'm so grateful for all the support, wisdom and personal sharing here. Thanks so much. There isn't an answer here that isn't helpful!!
I just want to head off one thing though. If I were muscular I would be fine with this weight. I've never been very muscular and now in fact I have osteoporosis (I am 54 years old and it is premature osteoporosis, maybe even from losing weight without adequate protein over the years, who knows) and that makes your frame and BMI ideal lighter. The reason I think I am overweight is not a number on a scale per se, it's because at this number, I just personally have a lot of fat on my body, like I mean many inches of belly fat, my bra size went up 3 sizes etc. It doesn't feel right. But I hear that I should pay less attention to numbers on a scale and yes, I do have an eating disorder. I know I do, in fact (and right now that's disordered stress eating/ bingeing.)
If I felt I could eat in a healthy way without eating a box of muffins after dinner, and not have large excess rolls of fat on my torso, then I wouldn't care what number I weighed within a normal BMI. Just wanted to put that out there.
But again, this is all incredibly helpful and making me soberly realize how anxious I am and how much of this issue is about calming down about it.
posted by barnowl at 7:23 AM on March 21, 2019 [6 favorites]

If I were muscular I would be fine with this weight. I've never been very muscular and now in fact I have osteoporosis

You might want to look into weight training - it helps build bone density, plus if you have more muscle on your body you will burn more fat even at rest. It could be a really good way to feel in control of your body shape in a way that has nothing to do with food.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:31 AM on March 21, 2019 [8 favorites]

If you’re prediabetic and have osteoporosis, and have a high body fat percentage (and corresponding low muscle and bone mass), it’s possible you’re getting the cardiometabolic effects of overweight even in the normal BMI range. This is associated with a lot of health problems (including the ones you’re experiencing), because of the hormonal dysfunctions that can happen when there’s a lot of adipose tissue compared to lean mass.

What you can do about it: you can “recomp” - maintain your current weight (at least for now) while building muscle mass to flip the proportions and make your body more hormonally & metabolically efficient and healthier. So maybe you could, for now, focus on just not gaining, and work on building up that muscle and bone. You’re actually in a good place for that! (It’s harder to build muscle when you’re lighter.)

Once you’ve got some more muscle, I’m betting hunger will be somewhat less of a problem because your hormones will be more in check. If you still have medical issues at that point, you can lose and it will probably be easier.

So for that, you’d want to keep protein high (fibre too since you’re prediabetic, just a classic lower carb diet) and *lift weights* at a challenging level. Daily cardio will help regulate metabolism too - it can just be brisk walking after dinner, this will help with bone mass as well. For more specific guidance, check out reddit’s r/xxfitness.

(Also, a question - how’s your sleep? Sleep deprivation can increase hunger, especially for sweets/carbs, and actually can contribute to diabetes/prediabetes.)

Also, look, it’s super normal for life changes to affect your ability to stick with a program. Job change, moving, changes in family, injury, illness, grief, pregnancy - SO much can shift and your mindset and capacities will shift with that. So it’s a question of figuring out what will work with the mindset and capacities you’ve got *today*.

On preview what showbiz liz said :)
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:47 AM on March 21, 2019 [9 favorites]

I wouldn't even say it's "being anxious." I started to draft a response along the lines of what DarlingBri wrote above last night, but it was too delicate a topic for the lateness of the hour. You are progressing nicely into a serious eating disorder. You need to treat that first, before anything. People talking to you about how you can lose weight again, etc., are being supportive and mean well, but you need to get yourself away from all such thinking. You are actually losing your ability to assess reality (no, people are not even noticing that you gained five pounds, much less having to suppress the urge to recoil in dismay). Get serious, grown-up, professional mental health help. No coaches, no therapy that may touch on "eating issues." You have a real problem. It has already done serious damage to your life. It can do a lot worse.

(OK, that still doesn't sound very delicate, but I am very concerned for you.)
posted by praemunire at 9:29 AM on March 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

praemunire makes a very good point. You do not want to try to fix a disordered eating pattern by adopting a different disordered eating pattern.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:35 AM on March 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Last threadsit: to praemunire: thanks (really and sincerely) for the concern. I didn't mean that people react that way to 5 pounds, but I do notice people's reaction to a 20 pound weight gain which becomes obvious at a certain tipping point, and comes on 5 pounds at a time. I agree that adults should not comment on each other's bodies or weight. And also, very true that who cares anyway if someone notices a weight gain (or loss.) But before others answer, I'm not *quite* as delusional as I probably made it sound - I really do know that no one gives a shit about my 5 pounds up or down. OK threadsit over!! _barnowl
posted by barnowl at 9:42 AM on March 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

First things first: it's GREAT that you're speaking to a doctor about this, because it sounds very much like there's some strong elements of disorder about food. You haven't blown your chance to make healthy updates to your lifestyle and reap those benefits—you can do it!

But I also agree with others upthread that it's a little suspect for a doctor to be giving you a specific weight target rather than an approximate range if recommending weight loss, especially when you're already in a healthy BMI range and the target number is on the lower end of your range. Like, I'm 5'1" and I haven't weighed 113lbs since early high school when I was in JROTC—it would be an incredibly ambitious, bordering on unrealistic goal weight for me now as a 30-something lady with a desk job. (YMMV, but I suspect you know this.)

Diet and exercise regimens tend to stick better when the goal is centered around feeling happier and healthier. Sometimes that results in weight loss; sometimes not. Would you be okay with that? If the primary outcome was health and happiness rather than weight loss?

Before you try to embark on anything new, especially a regimented system like Noom that is explicitly centered around weight loss (albeit healthy/sustainable/lifestyle-change oriented weight loss), it might be worth first checking in with yourself to make sure your compass is oriented in the right direction for long-term success, which is usually less about goal weight and more about feeling good in your body.

And now: anecdata.

I am also a short lady whose weight had yo-yoed a bit over the past few years. I would say that the biggest difference between me right now and me five years ago (other than I'm now in my 30s) is that I used to have a lot more incidental movement built into my day.

I took the bus to work at the time, so whether I liked it or not, I was walking about 40 minutes every day (in 10 minute increments). I lived in a very walkable neighborhood with terrible parking, so even if I was heading to a bar or a bakery, I'd usually just end up walking there. I don't recall any radical diet changes at the time, so I was surprised at how much these smaller things all added up, especially during a couple of intervals when I WAS tracking my meals and keeping a closer watch on my calories.

Now? I drive to work (and most places, because new, less walkable neighborhood and also winter), I let myself get stuck to my desk at lunch time instead of taking a stroll (like right now), and I occasionally fall into the "boyfriend trap" with food portions (I do not need as much food as a barrel chested 6-ft man AND YET) and, sure enough, the weight has inched back on. My main goal right now (other than eating more plants) is to identify ways I can try to build that habitual, non-negotiable movement back into my daily routine.

Perhaps there are some parts of your current routine that could be done less efficiently and with more movement required? Could be worth exploring. Good luck!
posted by helloimjennsco at 10:08 AM on March 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Also I was wondering what your exercise routine (if any) looks like. I used to do a lot of cardio and feel hungry and drained all the time (I was also trying to eat "healthy" and low-fat, so I'm not sure exactly how to parse out which factor predominated in how I was feeling, but it was in the mix). I started weight lifting a year ago, and feel so much better. I began seeing visible changes in body composition after a couple of months, which surprised me, as I always felt I never saw any difference with cardio. My weight on the scale stayed approximately the same, but I definitely gained muscle and lost fat, even with no change in diet, and keeping the exercise time per week approximately the same. I definitely felt and looked more in shape: I looked slimmer and more "defined" (I could see the outlines of particular muscles). And perhaps more importantly, the satisfaction of being able to move increasingly heavier weight has really been beneficial psychologically. It hit home that my body is functional as well as aesthetic, and I can improve the function even if I am not satisfied with the aesthetics. I believe it is particularly helpful in building bone density, so might be really good for you, although obviously consult your doctor etc.
posted by ClaireBear at 1:41 PM on March 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

Wanted to add: if you are pushed for time, even two or three 20-30 minute sessions per week of weight-lifting will have a noticeable impact.
posted by ClaireBear at 1:43 PM on March 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

Overeaters Anonymous -- I tried this, it is really, really just not my thing for all kinds of reasons, not just the higher power but just in general I can't get into the idea of it.

I don't know anything about food addiction, but I have known plenty of drug addicts who felt exactly the way you do about attending meetings. Unfortunately, I have also seen cases where this was the only thing that worked, for whatever reason.

Have you really given meetings like these a shot? If not, please, please, please consider pledging yourself to trying 30 days of meetings.
posted by xammerboy at 10:02 PM on March 21, 2019

I can't recommend Corinne Crabtree and Phit-n-Phat enough. Don't let the name put you off, she's amazing - all of her material is about changing your thinking about food, and eating, which I think would really help. I've been listening to her free podcast for a while now and my bingeing has come down significantly, and I'm in a much better place mentally as well.

What I like best about her is her focus on a) losing weight in a SUSTAINABLE way that you can do for the rest of your life (I know I would not be able to eat one meal/day for the rest of my life, for instance) and b) the process, and being happy during your journey, not focusing on 'I need to be X weight before I can be Y.'

She has a paid weight loss group that's opening April 3rd, but even her free podcast and FB group are amazing and I strongly recommend you check them out.

Also? I just want to say, you're awesome and gorgeous no matter your size. Will it help to reframe your body as a tool, and eating better as the best way to help it do the things you love doing? I found exercising regularly a lot easier when I reminded myself that I wanted to be able to lift my suitcases into overhead bins easily, or run to catch the bus without getting winded, than when I focused on what my dress size was.
posted by Tamanna at 10:59 PM on March 21, 2019

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