It was 3:00 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon when my typical afternoon snack cravings kicked in. I was at the office in the break room eying up the vending machine as I waited for my popcorn to finish in the microwave (only 100 calories for the entire bag!).
Pop … pop … pop … then, I heard a shrill, “That popcorn smell is driving me crazy! It’s my favorite food and I’m on a diet! Not that you would know anything about those!” A robust redhead gave me a scowl, turned on her heel, and walked off.
Was she talking to me? Yelling at me about dieting? I struggle with my weight on a daily basis! Surely, she was not huffing at me about weight loss! Then, it hit me. She thought I was one of those girls. You know, the skinny girls that eat whatever they want and never gain an ounce. The skinny girls that get to eat the real popcorn with the real butter—and eat as much of it as they want.
But, I’m one of the other girls: one of the 25 percent of Americans who are trying to maintain their current weight. And I’m trying not to be one of the 95 percent who will gain back all of the weight I’ve lost. It hasn’t been easy.
I thought losing weight was the most difficult thing I’d ever done. When I lost forty pounds and five clothing sizes to reach my weight goal, I thought that that was my proudest accomplishment. But, as each goal weight anniversary passes, I realize that my hard work is just beginning. Keeping the weight off is far more difficult than losing it. When I was losing, I had new things to learn each week to get me more engaged into my healthy lifestyle. I also looked forward to stepping on the scale. It was motivating to have the potential for a substantial loss each week because it meant progress and new clothes! But, now the forward progress has stopped, the newness is now considered tough habits to keep and the compliments have ended. Even worse, people now know me as “skinny.” People I’ve met within the last few years, and even the redheaded woman from the break room, have no idea the person I used to be: overweight and unhealthy—eating fast food and drinking a two-liter bottle of Cherry Coke every day. And, of course, I scoffed at those who exercised.
Since then I’ve become so many things I never thought I would be: a gym rat running 5Ks, a health nut who drinks 100 ounces of water each day instead of soda, and a wellness advocate and blogger who loves to inspire others to achieve their health goals. And, best of all … SKINNY!
I sustained my weight loss and even stayed below my weight goal for a long honeymoon period. Compliments, new workout routines, and support groups kept up my motivation for quite a while. But, it’s now almost five years later and the motivation has been dwindling slowly. I play games with myself where I gain weight for a few weeks, almost on purpose, just to bring back the satisfaction of losing again. Old habits creep back slowly – the cookies I swore would never see my cupboards again, somehow make their way into my grocery cart. But, it has gone too far.
I’ve been hanging out at about five pounds above my goal weight for the past year. I have a few “good” weeks where I journal my food intake and exercise every day. Then, there are the “bad” weeks when I lose resolve completely. Five pounds doesn’t sound like a lot, but five can soon become ten, and ten becomes twenty. Then, I would become one of the 95 percent who gains back all of the weight they lost!
Now, spring is here and I was supposed to have lost that extra weight over the winter. I’m still cursing myself for overindulging during the holidays and for not achieving resolutions I made in January. Today I had a long heart-to-heart with myself while staring at the “before” picture that makes me cringe. It’s time for some real motivation! Not playing tricks with the scale or resolving never to eat cookies again, but getting back to the basics. The key is to make small habit changes over time. Just do one thing different today and keep going each day. Over time the good habits will form again helping me to stay healthy and positive.
As for the redhead, I ran into her the next day. I explained to her exactly what kind of girl I was, and let her know that you never know where people come from. Also, I let her in on the 100-calorie popcorn secret!