Ever since I started to gain weight back (about two years ago), I’ve gone through several frantic attempts to fix it. I felt one of those fits coming on again this past week, in fact, as evidenced by my last couple of posts.
And every time I get into one of those fits, I either a) do some radical challenge like the Whole30 or Joshi's detox to lose a bit of weight quickly, or b) start trying to recreate the conditions of my past success.
I've always sort of known that option A doesn't really work. It's a nice jump-start in theory, but usually just ends up with me binging when the challenge is over.
Option B always seemed like the right answer. I mean, it makes sense, right? Let’s do everything the way I did the first time: join Weight Watchers, eat the same foods, same quantities, look up boot camp schedules. Restrict and burn, restrict and burn.
Good in theory, except after a couple of weeks (or a couple of days) I’d get burned out on it.
But the other day I had an epiphany. There is no point trying to recreate the conditions of my past success – because the past wasn’t really a success at all. Sure it worked in the short term, but I wasn’t able to sustain it for more than a couple of years. So why am I spending this energy trying to get back to where I was last time, only to (likely) end up back here yet again?
Eating the same foods I ate back then DOESN’T WORK FOR ME ANYMORE. I got burned out on those foods after eating them constantly for two years. I don’t mind eating them occasionally now – I don’t mind butternut squash for lunch sometimes, but not every freaking day.
Drastically cutting calories the way I did back then DOESN’T WORK FOR ME ANYMORE. I cut too much last time and it was an effort I couldn’t sustain. I still want to cut my calories back, but going to 1200 or 1300 is completely unrealistic long term. (For me. YMMV.)
But I still want to lose weight. I want to look better and feel better. But I also want to feel BALANCED. I don’t want to try to become a totally different person. I want to be the person I am now – just with slightly less food on her plate, and slightly less junk in the trunk.
So this time I’m doing it differently. I’m counting calories but I’m not making huge and drastic changes. In fact, my daily target is 1800 calories. That should (theoretically) still allow me to lose somewhere around 0.75 lbs a week. Which seems like a small amount, but works out to almost 40lbs in a year.
Considering the fact that I’ve basically GAINED 40lbs in the last year, losing 40lbs seems to be a pretty awesome alternative. Even losing 25-30lbs would be good. Hell, NOT GAINING would be good. If my weight stayed right here for a year, I could live with that.
Eating 1800 calories a day is not a huge shift for me. It’s not big enough to make me feel deprived, or like I can’t go out and enjoy myself. But it’s also enough of a shift to make a noticeable difference, if I stick with it.
Eating 1800 calories a day means I can still have a glass of wine in the evening. It means that if I eat a scone for breakfast, I don’t have to write the whole day off as ‘ruined’ (which always just leads to a whole day -- or more -- of awful eating anyway.) It means that if I don’t have time to make my lunch in the morning, I have more than three choices of what I can buy for lunch that will fit in my calories. It means I don’t have to eat butternut squash soup unless I actually want to.
I can’t even tell you the amount of peace it’s brought me to think this way, even just over the past couple of days. Tracking my calories has become fun again, instead of an exercise in frustration. I won't have epic weigh-ins to report, and my success may not be as dramatic as it was last time. But my true hope is that I'll find a way to do this that will be sustainable over my lifetime.