My Health, Off the Rails (Day 0)

How the hell did this happen? I’d been losing weight so consistently for so long. Now I’m … well,  I’m cinching my belt two notches less, and I’m scared of facing the scale. I … well …

Things were only moving smoothly briefly. Over the winter months, things were hard. My goal progress slowed, sometimes staggering to a halt, but I was still heading in the right direction. Half a pound lost per week. Working out less consistently, but still doing something. Eating decently, but still craving heavier foods. Then the spring began, and by late in February my goal progress had picked up its pace.

Then I got engaged in late March, and that was initially purely positive. I didn’t anticipate the level of emotional work that would happen right after. I won’t go into details here, but it got really stressful for a bit in the aftermath. With the stakes raised and this tension ongoing, I fell into a depression, and before long was eating my emotions. I also felt de-motivated on other goal fronts, but continued to some degree regardless.

When those emotional mountains were scaled, however, the strain wasn’t over. We had fallen behind on wedding planning, and Heather – in addition to end-of-semester work – was taking care of a kid with pneumonia. It made me feel alone in pushing the wedding plans forward, and I felt incapable of handling other tasks at the time. So I let go of other goals. This would have been sometime in May.

And then, right as we hit the critical two weeks prior to the wedding, Heather got pneumonia and was incapable of helping out. So I did what I could to make things run smoothly in the household and to get the wedding plans on track. During that time, I ate non-stop – feeling panicked beyond reason – and abandoned my fitness goals. I surrendered to the self-destructive coping mechanism. Because hell, I needed to cope somehow.

With the wedding — which was wonderful — stress decreased. There was still a giant stack of things to do at home, but in the immediate lead-up to the wedding, the wedding itself, and the honeymoon after, I opted to not re-focus on my goals. While largely about not taking on stressful mental work at that time, I also dug myself deeper, over-eating constantly as those two weeks went by. By the end, clothing was more snug. Shame more present.

Now that I’m home and getting into some of the work that needs to be done here, I find myself demoralized. I’ve backslid a substantial amount; I’m completely dependent on caffeine for energy; I’m constantly craving junk food, giving in, and feeling like shit in the aftermath; and feeling like I’m incapable of making a lasting change.

Oh, and to that we have to add my shoulder issues. Things that shouldn’t hurt but do: Lifting a glass to my mouth. Adjusting my glasses. Turning door knobs. Sitting down (how? why?!). I have shoulder surgery scheduled for July 18th. Part of me just wants to worry about goals after that, but no … I don’t want to be healthy only when the skies are clear. You know?

I’m trying to re-focus, to get back on track, but also to figure out what made my health skip the rails so I can prevent it the next time. In that pursuit, there are a few things that are clear. First, that when I have been in an unhealthy state for a while, it is very hard for me to break that pattern. Pushing through inertia for physical activity is a challenge, and junk food bingeing seems to lead to more craving and difficulty resisting said cravings. Caffeine dependency also plays a role.

The second thing I know – and this seems to be one of the more important big-picture items – is that I tend to use food as a way to deal with depression, stress, and anxiety. It’s easy to look back at my weight history, and history of loss and gain, and see immediate triggers in these emotional categories.

Uncomfortable disclosure? The time when I found weight loss most easy was a time when I was using self-harm as a way to deal with the same emotions, and I honestly don’t know that that was the less healthy option. Stigmatization is real and I don’t blame people for not being able to understand, nor do I want to hide or feel ashamed … plus there’s a really notable compulsion element … and the entire “I have a family now” thing … and a dozen other reasons going back to self-harm would be a terrible idea. Still, it’s tempting, given the stigmatization of weight and the life quality benefits of getting healthier. But I digress. The real goal here is to find a pattern that isn’t self-destructive. No use dawdling on a debate over which form of self-destruction is really the most destructive.

This is so key, it seems, in managing my weight and health over the long term that I wonder if I should enlist a therapist. The hunt for a good fit in a therapist is such a task, though, that I’m not really sure. Plus, would they really be able to tell me more than what I could find in independent research?

So those are the two things. And they both warrant further discussion. But for now … for today … let’s start by talking about what comes next.

 

I know that liquid fasts can help on the craving front, that I can break the hold of caffeine with a week or two of concerted effort, and that if I can get myself to work out and eat right for a few days in a row I’m able to capitalize on that momentum. And I know that I need to find better coping mechanisms. So that’s where we’ll begin.

And in the interest of doing one thing at a time, I’m going to start a liquid fast tomorrow. From there, I’ll be pushing to quit caffeine, research and compile coping strategies, and talking to those close to me about their thoughts on this entire topic.

Okay. Enough for today. I’ll talk to you about this whole “liquid fast” thing soon. And maybe I’ll share pictures of pretty things I drink in the coming 48 to 72 hours.

Cheers.

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