A year ago I did a little series on my post Mountains to Beach Marathon attempt to “lose that last 15-20 pounds. I actually lost about 5 pounds, yet didn’t keep it off. I started that little attempt weighing in at 168. This morning, almost a year later I weighed 171. (Racing Weight – Getting There, OOPS – Racing Weight, Week 1, Really?!?! Racing Weight Week 3, Slow & Steady – Racing Weight Week 4)
The good news in this, is that weighing 3 pounds more after one year could be looked at as weight maintenance success. The challenge internally is that I continually bump up against 170 but never go lower. Maybe, this is a good weight for me, who knows!
What scares me though, is that it has been pretty hard to stay at this weight…it feels harder than losing the 80+ pounds in the first place. Some of this might be memory, as we sometimes forget how hard past struggles actually were. But the struggle is very real.
Last year I read the book, “The Hungry Brain” by Stephan J. Guyenet. This was both a hopeful and not so hopeful book.
The not so hopeful part is that our brains are designed to prevent weight loss. This quote and analogy gets to the heart of it:
“In effect, substantial weight loss triggers a starvation response, whether a person is lean, overweight, or obese – and this response continues until the fat comes back.
If you’ve never had the experience of fighting your own body’s starvation response, Jeff Friedman provides a helpful analogy:
Those who doubt the power of basic drives, however, might note that although one can hold one’s breath, this conscious act is soon overcome by the compulsion to breather. The feeling of hunger is intense and, if not as potent as the drive to breather, is probably no less powerful than the drive to drink when one is thirsty. This is the feeling the obese must resist after they have lost a significant amount of weight.” (129-130)
These are not very hopeful words at first reading. I think that anyone who struggles with weight can understand the analogy. I can think of times when the desire to eat, and eat anything is so intense that its overwhelming.
But then, on further thought, hope can be found in this knowledge.
First, with the realization that the struggle is real. It is not about will power or some moral failure. It is about a fight against our bodies. We can’t effectively engage if we aren’t aware of the struggle.
Second, we have nothing to be ashamed of. But when we make is about will power, we introduce the concept of shame. In our culture, it is shameful to struggle with weight gain…especially the re-gaining of weight. This insidious shame makes it worse, because one of our best weapons is to be open and honest about our struggles. It is only in a position of openness that we are able to receive support from others. This is why I am now open about my weight.
Third, and most importantly, your weight has nothing to do with your value as a person. Yes, a healthy weight…is optimum for quality of life. But the number on the scale or size of your clothing are not indicative of your worth. You are a precious child of God, created in God’s image, and the number on the scale will not make God love you any more or any less…because God already loves you unconditionally! Maybe as we learn this, we can learn to love and show compassion to ourselves and others.
So what do we do? We don’t give up! Really, what do we do? I’ll share some thoughts in another post. Meanwhile give yourself a hug because you deserve it!