At one point in my health journey I had become obsessed with my weight. I had lost 205 pounds, more than half of my starting body weight, yet I felt that I still had more to lose. I pushed myself over the next several months, weighing myself daily (okay, sometimes twice), watching every single calorie that came into my body. I managed to lose another 5 pounds bringing me to 194 pounds, my lowest adult body weight. However, my eating disorder was getting out of control the more I pushed, and my metabolism was wrecked. I hit the wall after almost a year and a half.
I had lost quite a bit of muscle mass with my weight loss. I felt weak in my upper body and my friends and family kept telling me, “Don’t get too skinny!” I remember how that use to make me so mad when people said that to me. I sometimes responded, “You’re worried about me getting too skinny, where were you when I was over 400 pounds?!” Looking back I can see I was in denial about how much weight I had lost. I was most likely experiencing body dysmorphia.
I remember I was riding home from work when I told my wife it was time for me to stop my plan for a bit. I was in tears as I told her that I was scared to death that I would lose everything that I worked so hard to do. But I also knew that I couldn’t go on pushing myself any longer without a break.
For 2 weeks I stopped tracking my food intake and stopped all exercise except for my walks during my work lunchtime. The first day or so was hard mentally, but I persisted. I even went to a Chinese buffet and ate whatever I wanted (within reason). I knew this was dangerous for a person like me with a binge eating disorder, but it was something I had been craving.
During the break I did a lot of thinking about my next steps afterwards. This was the critical point where most people fail: Not planning for the long-term. From the beginning I knew at some point I was going to reach my goal weight and have to some toning and building. So I wrote out a body building plan with some help from a friend. He also reminded me, “Buddy, you have to eat more when you’re building.” As you can imagine, I was a bit apprehensive about that.
I bought protein supplements and began my new routine. I gained weight quickly, both muscle and fat… I didn’t want to stop weight lifting, so I read up on techniques body builders use to build muscle and cut fat. I experimented with intermittent fasting and carb cycling, sometimes losing weight, but quickly gaining it back when I stopped the cycles. It was getting monotonous. Soon it became a living hell for me again, checking my weight often, and kicking myself each time I realized I was gaining.
Many people were amazed to find out that I wasn’t happy after losing all of that weight. Most of them cannot even imagine what it is like to try to maintain it.
At some point I met some people involved in the Health At Every Size movement. I did a lot of reading on the subject and began to realize that it was far more important for me to be healthy overall than worrying about reaching a perfect body and weight. Also around this time a lot of press came out about contestants from the Biggest Loser gaining weight back after the show. Reading up more on the subject I wrote an article of my own called, “The Biggest Loser Effect: One Step Forward and Two Steps Back“. Back then my focus was more on the fact that I believed that many of the contestants had not changed their lifestyles after losing all of the weight. Fact or not for them, I was struggling too.
So I decided that I needed to stop struggling altogether. Weighing myself and being disappointed was stressing me out every day. I needed to:
Stop Chasing The Scale!
So I stopped weighing myself and continued to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle. Some of my smaller clothes got a little tighter, partially because I gained some fat, but I was also getting a lot more muscle mass from the body building. Freeing myself from the scale was such a relief. Most of all, I feel better now.
I admit that I am still frustrated with some of the fat around my abdomen, some of which may be skin leftover from years of morbid obesity, but over time I am getting accepting that it is not worth all of the stress to try to get rid of it. I am extremely fit overall, eating healthy and getting regular exercise almost every day.
I have said it since the beginning that this is a health journey and I continue to learn more each day. At one point in my life all I could think about was losing all of the weight and being normal. I had no idea all of the things I would experience along the way, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. With a lot of hard work and introspection we can become free from the prisons we created for ourselves. True happiness comes from within, not from the world around us.
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