The Head Games of Weight Loss

November 15, 2010

Recently, I hit a milestone.  I lost 50 pounds utilizing the Weight Watchers program.  It’s a BIG deal… and I totally get it.  The women at the meeting were all hugging me and congratulating me, it might as well have been graduation day for my parents they were so ecstatic, my friends couldn’t have been any nicer… it’s a huge accomplishment – one that I am very proud of.

But it’s not for everyone.

Weight loss programs are 100% subjective… it’s all based on what YOU think will work for YOU.  Just because Leona Lewis loses a few pounds doing a veggie and water detox doesn’t mean that it’s something that will work based on your attitude.  YES – weight loss is less about whatever program you choose and more about your attitude about weight loss in general.

We’ll touch on attitude in a minute but, since this has been successful for me, I thought I would tell you about one I tried that had a slightly less fulfilling effect on me… it ain’t all sunshine and roses!

The Cookie Diet.  Ahhh yes, many of my friends and family remember this one well – and cringe at the thought of me carrying my cookies into the bar.  I even had a waitress tell me that when I lost 15 pounds she’d let me do a ‘cookie shot’ off of her (use your imagination… it was fun).  You buy ‘cookies’, in daily packs, and each day you must eat all 6 of them… for me it was one at 8a, 10a, 12p, 2p, 4p, then ‘the sensible dinner’ (which would be 10 oz of protein and some roughage) with a final cookie at 8.  After consulting a physician before I started, I was also required to take a daily supplement for my vitamins to make sure I got everything I needed.  I lost 81 pounds in 3 months.  I did not mis-type that… I lost 81 pounds in 3 months… 36 in a month, 51 in 6 weeks, 81 in 12 weeks.  I thought I was gonna be the gahdamn poster child for this company… I was through the roof happy about what was going on.  All I had in my house was the cookies, diet soda, chicken, ground bison, and vegetables.  I was cruisin’ along, people were tellin’ me how great I looked, I was suggesting it to anyone who asked… I was on top of the world.

Until I woke up on the floor at the bottom of my stairs.

This is new to a lot of you, as I have not shared this with many people before pretty much due to sheer embarrassment.  Couple that with me notoriously keeping my personal life personal and ‘Viola!’ – that’s probably why you’re just hearing about it.  I passed out walking down the stairs in my house and woke up kind of sprawled up against the wall at the bottom of said stairs (those of you who were in my old house can probably picture it pretty well).  Well… I FREAKED OUT.  I had no idea what the hell just happened.  I’m all alone.  No family or friends that I felt I could call, so I called 911.  The paramedics came out, checked on me and, after determining that I was physically fine (ie no broken bones, neck issues, I wasn’t assaulted and lying about it, etc.) we hopped in the ambulance and headed over to get me checked out to figure out why I just ‘for no reason’, fainted.

Well, there most certainly WAS a reason.  To summarize, I basically didn’t have ANY of the nutrients I needed to have in order for my body function properly.  I wasn’t diligent on my daily multi-vitamin (I probably missed one to two a week) and totally got caught up in the weight loss number so I wasn’t eating as much as I was supposed to either during the day (snacks like carrots or celery were allowed anytime) or during my ‘sensible dinner’.  Diet soda was allowed – as much as I wanted – so I still wasn’t drinking any water and just went from Mountain Dew Code Red (gosh I miss them… I started salivating just thinking about how delicious they were) to Coke Zero.

But it wasn’t just me.  There is simply NO WAY that someone my size (I started just slightly under 320 lbs) should be doing a diet like this to lose a significant amount of weight.  Is this great for someone doing wedding dress prep with a month out?  I would say yes, it would be fine and healthy enough as long as you follow it to the letter.  But – for someone to just eat a cookie for months and months in order to lose a large amount of weight?  I kinda wish my doctor and I would have had a more personal relationship so that when I went in before I started it he coulda been like ‘Dude… eat a salad… WTF are you doing?!?!’

I lied about it for months… and the weight came back even worse than before and REALLY quick on top of that.  I was devastated.  I was never gonna get better.  I was resigned to the fact that my life was going to be lonely – but I’d still be a great tank in World of Warcraft!  After that, I did random things – South Beach, Juice Diet, Cabbage Diet… of course they all had the initial few days of ‘woo hoo!’ but then plateaued, which led me to stop them, because I’m way too results-driven – and they’re not effective for anything more than a few pounds quickly.

So the obvious question now becomes… “Dude, then why is Weight Watchers working for you now?”  Here’s the answer:

If you get your head right, other things will follow.

I’ve made no secret about the jumbled mess that goes on in my head.  I’m fully aware of it.  But being aware of it has led me to one thing – I need to make it better.  I mean think about it… you go to the gym to make your body look better, you diet to look and feel better… why wouldn’t you go to a ‘gym for your mind’ so to speak?  The reason that Weight Watchers has worked for me is because, for the first time in a REALLY long time, my mindset in achieving this goal is somewhat clear.  It’s realistic (some may disagree based on my goals being a 100-mile bike ride, the Tough Mudder and a half-marathon in Vegas next year), it’s possible, and I have the right attitude and plan in place to achieve what I want.

I’m convinced that this is why so many people are unsuccessful when they try to lose weight.  For so many it’s a diet, not a lifestyle change.  The minute they hit their target goal they’re ecstatic but then they go right back into their old habits and gain back 10% of what they lost almost immediately, which then deflates them and sends them back into a downward spiral all the way to square one.  They didn’t learn a thing.  It’s what happened to me… it’s what happened to a lot of people I know.  It’s just how it is.

On top of that… people have A LOT of other things weighing on their minds that cause weight gain.  A lot of people think “If I lose 20 pounds I’m gonna be so much happier!”  It took me a long time to learn this, but I firmly believe that it’s the exact opposite… you need to be HAPPY first, then you can lose the weight and have the right mindset in order to maintain it.  Losing weight isn’t gonna take away the majority of things that burden us each day.  Learning how to accept, manage and control those burdens will free your mind up enough to do those things that you want to… with increased positive results I might add!

I love therapy.  I hate therapy.  I am not embarrassed to tell people that I see a therapist.  I am humbled by the fact that a complete stranger can assist me in learning more about myself and help me understand how to deal with things.  And, just like with a diet, it’s certainly not for everyone.  But, before you spends hundreds – even thousands – of dollars on diets, programs, supplements, surgeries, etc. think about one thing:

“Am I mentally ready to handle changing my life FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE?”

If you don’t think about it that way – a total lifestyle change – you might as well just eat Mickey D’s because you’re throwin’ your money away.

I spent 4 hours talking to a close friend of mine a while back about therapy… does it help me, how does it help, why can’t you just do all of that on your own… the usual stuff.  He’s in a similar situation as I am so it was nice to have someone reach out to get an opinion – such a positive first step.  It was a great, productive conversation and I told him exactly what I thought, which may have been hard for him to hear at times.  Is he ready to see a therapist?  Probably not.  Does he need one?  In my opinion, it will certainly help.  But the only way to get your mind right is to accept the fact that you need to get your mind right.  He’ll get there… I’m confident.  You can even walk in skeptical (I told mine I didn’t believe it would help but I was willing to do anything).  All you have to do is know that you want to get help understanding how you tick.  Once you do that… everything else – diet, exercise, etc. – will all fall into place.

One comment

  1. Great entry! Loving this blog. Trying to catch up on everything… Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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