I’ve been sort of in a weight-loss doldrums for about five months now. I go up a pound, down two, up one-and-a-half, down one … eventually losing a few pounds but nothing really motivating or fun. I began doing Weight Watchers in March of 2010 and have lost sixty-three point something pounds. If I could just lose one point something pounds I’d be down sixty-five, but for some reason that pound point something just is hanging around.
It’s been a rough 2011 emotionally between having an aging parent suffer a broken hip and a sibling die and facing a few of my own significant changes that had to happen, so even though it’s demoralizing to have a slow but steady weight loss process come to a grinding halt, I realize things could be a lot worse.
I’m an emotional eater and have used food as a comfort and distraction device since childhood. A few years ago, I completed a yearlong residency in a hospital as a chaplain. Chaplaincy training, or Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) focuses on interpersonal relationship skills aside other things like theology and psychology and being a non-anxious presence for people in crisis. CPE was the most challenging year of my adult life. The program I went through included spending the night in the hospital on call every fifth night. (There were five residents and we rotated on call duty.) It was physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausting. It was also incredibly transformative.
About a year after CPE was over, I realized that my eating pattern had changed. I was eating less. Then I realized that my anxiety level had diminished. My response was to get anxious about not being as anxious as I had been before. After I finished laughing at myself, (really? getting anxious about not being anxious?) I decided that maybe it was time to find a tool that would help me learn what a normal portion was, and become aware of how much I ate—compared to what amount of food would support a normal sized body. I was carrying the weight of two people.
So I joined Weight Watchers. I have a great leader who is funny and engaging and self-effacing. She totally gets my approach to Weight Watchers as a tool for me to use as part of a larger process of transformation, and not just about getting a scale to show a particular number when my body is standing on it. This is about self-actualization, not fitting into size-ten jeans.
And now here I am, in the doldrums. But here is what is also going on, or not going on: I’m bored and I’m not eating my boredom to the point of regaining a lot of lost weight. I’m frustrated and I’m not eating my frustration to the point of regaining a lot of lost weight. I’m feeling the boredom and feeling the frustration and even acting out by eating, but I’m eating carrots. Yep, I binge on carrots. I eat garbage, too, but healthier garbage and less of it… I know that there is nothing I can put in my mouth that will address the source of my stress and pain.
I’m also discovering that another concern of mine is being addressed. I haven’t been the weight I currently weigh for about ten years. When you weigh a certain amount for a certain amount of time, you wonder if you’ll ever weigh less and if you lose the weight, if you’ll be able to maintain the lower weight. So as I sit here in the doldrums waiting for the stress-winds to die down and the weight-loss winds to pick up, I try to remember that I am maintaining the sixty-three point something weight loss, and quelling the anxious voice that wondered if I could maintain it.
Sometimes success is obvious and delightful and sometimes successes are hidden in challenging circumstances waiting for us to perceive and understand and appreciate.