If you are reading this, it is likely we share a few things in common, one of them being a health journey that has been stopped and started several times. And we probably have both had bouts of extreme success followed by no follow up. So what is it that keeps us from starting back on track when we see results slipping away? What is it that gets us back in that pit from whence we just escaped? I know there are lots of things, but today, I am burning about something very specific. The false narratives and realities that we let ourselves believe.
When I knocked off the 100+ pounds in 2010 and 2011, I was on top of the world! I was in the best physical shape of my life, I was a runner, I was very active. I remember once I had some friends I was helping move furniture, and the girl was marveling at the fact that I wasn't even breathing hard, at which point, I noticed and marveled myself. I had literally achieved my dream and in my mind, I was never going back. I should have been aware of the dangers that lie ahead, as I had also worked my way into phenomenal shape in 2000 and 2001, and let that go. But I was cocky, and I didn't put a good plan in place. Not to mention, my life exploded in 2011, so I really really needed something to keep ahold of my progress, but I didn't have a thing.
So here is how the whole thing unraveled. Step 1 was that I had worked really hard and dedicated a crap ton of energy to losing the weight and getting in better shape in 2010-2011. The reality is, it was pervasive in my life. I tracked every calorie and I worked out excessively. I had a formal workout first thing out of bed, then on the way to work, I would do laps around Walmart. If I was at any event that the opportunity was available, I would do laps around the area to get a little more in. I blogged EVERY SINGLE DAY without fail. I poured all my heart and soul with every ounce of energy I could muster, every day. So when I first hit below the 200 pound mark on the scale, it was a huge victory. I pressed pretty hard for a few more weeks, but in my head, I was tired and I started to play like the game was won, and I was not required to protect the endzone anymore. I made a conscious decision to "start eating intuitively" which was the worst decision I could have made. I did however keep working out for a bit. But here comes the part where I really needed a plan. in July of 2011, I was accepted into law school. I was excited, to be sure, but the big problem I didn't have a way to combat was the school was 55 miles one way trip. I had a family and a mortgage and wasn't going to be able to work for 3 years, so getting a place near school wasn't an option. I was going to have to drive and 2 hours a day, on top of class and homework. In my mind, I simply ran out of hours in the day (false, I just didn't want to put the work in). So at that point, I had quit tracking my food, thinking I was smart enough to eat sensibly without supervising myself ( false, that has never worked for me) , and now, the exercise I was keeping up was going away too. This is all setting up for the obvious conclusion. I didn't protect my endzone, and I was going to lose it.
I think every failed section of a health journey has a moment in which you could have turned things around before you lost all the ground you just gained. I remember the one from 2011 very vividly. I had started law school and was about a month or so in. I recall I had a shirt that I put on and it was snug, so I decided to weigh real quick and see what the deal was. My absolute lowest scale reading was 196 lbs I think. On that day, I weighed 214 lbs. A thousand times or more, I have thought about the fact that had I said "holy crap, it's time to do something right now!" and decided to get a plan together, I wouldn't have gained back 80 lbs. Hell, if I could have just held the line at 214 for the duration of law school, I'd be in a better position now. But I didn't do anything. I believed everything would be fine, I just put a little on because I can't exercise as much now ( was doing zero). Oh to have that day to do over again.....
I am a huge believer in one thing. Every "failure" is only a failure if you don't learn something from it. I am old enough and aware enough now that once I am successful getting to a healthier weight (I am presuming success, another thing I have learned) I will protect that with all I have to give. If I have to track food and blog and say daily prayers from now to the end of my days on earth, so be it. I will never have to walk back down the road again.