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Stay the Course, or… March 26, 2014

Posted by J. in Genius.
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Well, it’s here. Part of me knew it was inevitable. I have seen other people lose large amounts of weight and drop right down to where they want to be. Sure, it slows as the pounds come off, but it keeps going, the numbers keep falling.

Me? Not so much. I plateau. I am the queen of the plateau. I spend so much time here I’m the Mayor of Plateausville.

I hit this plateau every time I lose weight. It’s right around this length of time and this amount of weight and general pound area. Usually I get a bit closer to 200, but considering I started higher this time, it all comes out in the wash.

By “hitting a plateau” I mean that my weight loss has slowed to the point of nearly stopping. I am not eating more, or less than I have been. My dietary changes have been minor. If anything, my workout intensity has increased, as has my fitness level. It seems impossible that those things would cause me to come to the dieting equivalent of sitting in rush hour traffic, but here we are. The car moves, incrementally, after very long pauses. As you try to relax and listen to some music, but the longer you inch along, the grouchier you become.

I’m trying to be patient, but I’m an Aries, and it’s not my strong suit to start with. But I can talk myself into patience. I can and do frequently remind myself that this is a long haul kind of thing and not a sprint to the finish. There is no finish. The course doesn’t ever really end. I can do that much.

Still, I am having a case of the anxiety/depression attacks that I know stems from the fact that this is where I’ve always dropped out in the past. I get to looking good, to feeling good, and then things just stop. I find myself still working hard, eating right, exercising, but it’s all just to maintain an unacceptable level of fat.

Yes, I consider myself very fat, and for me, it is unacceptable. I’m 220 pounds and that’s at least 70 pounds overweight. I think. Math is hard. I’m wearing a size 14-ish top and 18 bottoms. I know that my physical size isn’t the whole story…not how I look or how much the scale says I weigh. My ultimate goal is to feel good about how I look and feel, whatever that turns out to be.

But my friend Haley asked me the other day if I could be happy if my size turned out to be say, a 16.

The answer is no. I don’t think I can be happy at 200 pounds, mostly because it’s still too fat. I can do better than that. Can’t I?

What if I can’t get there? What if “less fat” is as thin as I get?

What if I do get there? What if I look at myself at 140 pounds and still see fat?

I haven’t been thin since I was in the 3rd grade.

I think a lot of the positive reaction I get is because the change in how I look is so very remarkable. Everyone I know has known me as a Very Fat Person. I don’t think they can imagine me weighing 140 pounds, even though we all know people who weigh that, or less, even. We’re just used to seeing them thin. Me, not so much. Fat is part of who I have always been.

Easter sweaters, 11 months apart.

Easter sweaters, 11 months apart.

So I sit here at 220 pounds. I’ve lost 1.5 pounds in the last 3 weeks. February’s loss was 4.6 lbs. Even losing a pound a week, that’s 70 more weeks to get to the high end of my weight range. I don’t know that it’ll pick up. I don’t know if I’ll be 200 pounds for the next 6 months. Or six years. Or forever. I was looking forward to the clothes I bought this winter not fitting me come fall. Needless to say, I won’t be tossing them in a bag as soon as (if it ever) warms up.

That thought makes me sad.

I know…I should be looking at it as it’s still losing. I will still get there, eventually. And I’ll have a better chance of keeping it off.

I keep hearing the advice, “Stay the course. You’re doing the right things, just keep going. Don’t be so impatient.”

But what if I’m not doing the right thing anymore? What if my body has changed and it needs something else? More food? Less food? More exercise? Different exercise?

I don’t know how to get through a plateau because I’ve never managed it. I have always gotten so frustrated with working so hard to maintain my unacceptable weight that my brain just caves. I try to do things to shake it loose, and when it doesn’t work, I give up. I figure if I’m going to be fat, I’m going to eat. I’m going to relax and not worry every day about if I can get to the gym or not. Or if this food or that one is bad for me. I want to go to a restaurant and order what I feel like eating, not what “fits into my plan.”

I know that stupid. I know I’m still better off maintaining this weight for the rest of my life than gaining it all back. I get it. I know it. But the way it usually works is you eat a deficit in calories to lose the weight, then to maintain it, you add some calories back in so that your weight levels out.

My weight has leveled out, but the math says I should be losing almost 2 pounds a week. So does this mean I have to eat this little food forever? Maybe that’s the case, and I have to deal with that sad knowledge as well.

I don’t know if this is my body making some adjustments. Maybe my metabolism is shifting in some way. Maybe it’s the running. Since I’ve picked that back up and it’s going well, maybe I’m trading my leg fat for solid muscle. Maybe it’s ramping up my metabolism and I need to eat more. It would explain why I’m always so freaking HUNGRY lately.

Maybe I’ve been eating too many carbs and my body is hanging onto them and turning them to fat.

Maybe it’s too much sugar.

Too much sodium?

I check my food journal and read labels. I’m weeding out the little bits of crap that have drifted back in as I attempt to feel a little more normal at mealtimes. I’m going to add free weights to my workout to build more lean muscle.

Beyond that…I don’t know what to do.

I know I should just keep swimming. But I’m just treading water, and right now, I’m scared to death of drowning. There are days that fear reaches near-panic levels.

And then there are days I feel good. I can run three miles at a go, and I do it once a week. I run every day now, usually only 2 miles though. Easier on the knees. I’ve increased my speed a little bit, and have determined that I probably won’t ever run fast enough to make racing worth it. But that’s okay. Being able to put my sneakers and earbuds on and head out for a run any time I want is plenty, really. I’m not competitive. I just like to do it. It quiets the demons for awhile.

Maybe it’s superficial. Maybe it’s adrenaline and endorphins and serotonin flooding my brain. But I don’t care. I run very fast because I desperately want to stand very still. I run to seek a void. The world around me is so very, very loud. It begs me to slow down, to sit down, to lie down. And the buzzing noise of the world is nothing compared to the noise inside my head. I’m an introspective person, and sometimes I think too much about my job and about my life.

I feed an army of pointless, bantering demons.

But when I run, the world grows quiet. Demons are forgotten, Krakens are slain, and Blerches are silenced.”

Matthew Inman, The Oatmeal, “The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons I Run Long Distances

I have some pretty clothes and I’m confident that I clean up nice. Still not happy with all the hanging, flabby, saggy, blobby bits, which are getting more and more freakish by the day, but if I keep that shit covered, it’s fine. I can’t find pants to fit because I got an itty bitty waist and a big round butt, but I look good in skirts, so fuck it. Gives me an excuse to buy more sweet shoes.

There are always NSV’s and good days. Days I feel powerful, like I can do anything. There are days that the hard work isn’t all that hard. Sometimes it’s even pretty easy.

And then there are days where I’m acutely aware that my weight is going nowhere fast, and the notion that this level of suck is merely temporary doesn’t bring its usual comfort. ‘Cause what if it’s NOT.

You don’t know that it’s not. I don’t know that it’s not.

I have to stay the course.

Unless I need to change course.

I have no way on earth to know, and I’m scared. And disappointed. And today, I’m very discouraged. And on days like today, the victories have little soothing effect. I have to address the fear and disappointment over being stuck on this plateau. It is a lonely, painful, and demoralizing fight, and I can only pray that it doesn’t last for long, since I don’t know of any practical way to get past it.

The best I can do for today is try to outrun it, if I can.

 

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Comments»

1. sarahdudek80 - March 26, 2014

You don’t know me but I just read your very thoughtful post and all I could think as I was reading this is just how beautiful you are and just hot far you have come. I hope you feel positive again soon because you seem to me like one awesome woman and good things are sure to come your way.

2. Brian - March 26, 2014

Might be a new commenter, but I think maybe I’ve left a note or two before. Maybe.

Anyhow – you look great and you’ve done a remarkable job thus far. I’ve also done a fair sized weight loss regimen and noted that I plateaued a couple of times on the way to shedding 80 lbs. I was a pretty big guy, 6′, 265lbs at the start. I crafted my own diet, tracked everything that went into my mouth and every minute of exercise I did. I was lucky in that I could eat 2400 calories a day, exercise 4 – 5 times a week and maintain a pretty steady 1.5 lb a week loss rate. Then there were the plateaus. It finally occurred to me – as I lost weight the number of calories my body needed for base metabolism was dropping too. So really, as the weight came off, I should have been gently lowering my daily intake to maintain the same daily (weekly, wtf ever) caloric deficit.

What worked for me after an extended period of blah was to trim 100 or so calories a day and add 15 minutes or so of cardio to each workout. That gave my diet the kick in the pants it needed to get moving again.

Of course, then I got a nasty little injury, couldn’t exercise for 6 months, then forgot how to get to the gym once I did get better. Not a pretty picture. I an DYING for spring to finally reach my corner of upstate NY so I can get myself back out & riding around. Don’t know that I’ll ever get back to where I was, but I could be happy getting back to 200 lbs myself. (No, I’m not saying how far away that is)

Keep your chin up, stick with it and try tweaking things a little. Keeping it the same isn’t working, so why not?

3. Lisa McLelland - March 26, 2014

Ooh Jenn…. I am so sorry you are so frustrated. It is hard. Have you ever thought about seeing a trainer? They have nutrition facts and exercise plans that would work for you. Just a thought. I know a guy that is great. I hope you don’t mind but I forwarded your blog page to him. His name is Jeremy.

4. Corey Dickson - March 26, 2014

Jen, the transformation that I see in those photos is amazing! I think that you should be very proud of yourself at making such an effort and the results are obvious. Keep doing what you are doing. Eat organic, avoid packaged foods and find some excercise that you enjoy. You got this! Pointer Sisters forever!

5. Jennifer Chominski - March 27, 2014

Jennifer, I’ve never met you, but your posts are very inspiring to me. It hurts to know you are struggling so much with a plateau, but nobody can blame you for your fears when the plateau has always been a wall in your past. I learned recently from a diet program I followed that the main reason for stalls and plateaus is because your body has spent previous time hanging out at that weight, so you hypothalamus sticks there, and goes into starvation mode, slowing and stopping your losses. Since you have previously hit the same wall, the wall gets stronger and harder to break down each time you return to the same plateau. I also just learned that you body gets used to your exercise routines, and we need to change them up every month or so. I know you’ve been working hard, and pretty sure you already know to change it up, but maybe you need a completely different routine to break through the plateau? If you already switch it up regularly, maybe you can add another switch – do you hike at all? One of my weight loss and get healthier goals is to take a walk or hike with my dog each weekend in the summer in the stage forest. It’s less intense than exercises, but you move differently as you go up and down and around the lakes and ponds… just an idea. Sorry this is so long, but I want to be sure you know we all are amazed at what you have accomplished, and are rooting for you to break down the wall!


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