So, last year, I successfully lost about 90 pounds, and I’ve worked really hard to keep it off. So far so good it seems. People ask me all the time…how did you do it? How are you doing it?
Well, what I say is this: I haven’t done it yet, but I am doing it. Does that make any sense? I’m not “out of the woods” by any stretch of the imagination, and I’ve come to the clear conclusion that I never will be. One does not indulge in super bad habits and emotional over-eating for most of her life without the ticking fear of possibly “going back” to that dreadful place. The place where failure lurks behind every diet and every freshly launched health plan. The place where nothing fits. The place where even though there are clothes in six different sizes hanging in the closet, nothing actually fits. The place where your body, mind and soul are simply working way too hard. The hopeless place.
Here’s what happens, though, when you’ve made it to the “other side” of the diet. Since this is where I currently reside, I can say that maintaining a healthy lifestyle really does become easier with each passing day. It’s easier, but it involves quite a bit of self-reflection and mindfulness. Every time I say “no” and mean it, a little blade of self support and esteem sprouts anew in my system. And by system, I’m talking about my whole being. My mind, body, and soul do not have to work as hard when I say “no.” Simply put, “no” can be a happy place, not a place of denial and depravation.
Understand too that the most demanding part of losing weight is actually losing it. The most challenging part of the whole process is breaking through the wall that seemingly holds you back from getting to the “other side” and finally succeeding in a way that changes you profoundly. Serial dieters (most people!), understand this. They have a goal in mind and want to get there, but something always keeps them from it. The mountain that is the weight loss journey is LONG and STEEP and it’s natural to want to give up because it’s dreary. It’s tedious work. But if and when you finally break through and actually do the whole climb, there is this incredible view – this incredible view of life waiting for you. And it takes your breath away. And for a while you relax and revel in the fact that you actually made it. How wonderful for you! But here’s the kick in the pants that no one likes to talk about: After the period of revelry, when the “honeymoon” is over, you sit back and say, “okay, now what? Now what the hell am I supposed to do?”
The truth is, you don’t magically know what to do all the time, or how to handle maintaining this new way of being. The damn truth is, you are never “out of the woods” completely. It’s as simple as that. Like alcoholics and drug addicts, food addicts (hello!) truly need to be mindful each and every moment regarding the care and keeping of the fragile egg that is sobriety. I am ever mindful of my triggers, and why I turned to food for so many years. It’s quite tricky. But, what has helped me tremendously is that I actually think of myself as someone who is one bite away from a downward spiral. Dramatic? Yes. But this is how I think about the vicious cycle of food addiction, inertia, and the depression that ensues. I am ever vigilant of deflecting the precursors to destructive habits. This mindfulness is why it’s easy for me to say no (most of the time) and really mean it.
Saying no means sometimes you’re not fun. Saying no means sometimes you have to say it more than once to the same people. Saying no means heading home early. Saying no can sometimes mean putting exercise on your schedule and maintaining that schedule without distraction. Saying no means being aware of all of this, and understanding that in the truest sense possible, saying no is boring as hell but worth it.
After the weight loss, the maintenance of your healthy, new lifestyle NEVER ENDS. You are never “out of the woods.” and it’s a real bummer. Get over it. Some people are naturally thin and don’t seem to have to worry about their weight, ever, no matter what they eat, and no matter how much they exercise. Get over it. Maintaining your weight loss is sometimes boring and difficult. Get over it. Get over the fact there is no end game when it comes to taking care of yourself. It won’t be over. It won’t be over, ever. I, food addict, will never be “out of the woods” even though I’ve lost the weight.
But, enlightenment comes from this: Every moment you consciously make a commitment to the care and keeping of yourself, you are closer to being brilliantly fulfilled, or at the very least, you will be a little bit happier. You will come to understand that happiness is a state of well being that is earned again and again, that “no” can be your friend, and wandering around “in the woods” isn’t as scary as it seems.