Today marks week eight of my ten-week challenge. The goal for this challenge is to lose 10 pounds in a healthy, safe, and consistent manner. I meant to do a mid-point check-in but my middle week was really rough and I was afraid to share. I think it’s really interesting that I would have no problem sharing if that had been a good week, but because it was drenched in setbacks and I was sitting in shame, I couldn’t bring myself to be honest about it. I think a lot of the reason we believe we are not doing well is because it takes a lot more bravery to talk about the hard weeks than the good weeks, so we are less exposed to people’s setbacks and only see their triumphs. So while I did feel a bit like a coward for contributing to this by not checking in honestly at that point, I still think this is effective and I’m ready to write about it in a non-self-blaming or judgemental way.
So a reminder: the challenge was to lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks, to weigh in only once per week on Monday mornings, record the weight, and if I lose a pound, I put $50 in my savings account for some backpacking gear, and if I don’t lose weight, I donate the money to a worthy cause (I ended up donating to the We Want the Land Coalition, which is women organizing to buy the land that hosted Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival for decades).
I’m going to wait until the end of the challenge to write my stats, but I have lost weight every week except for one, where I gained 5 pounds. So right now I am on track with my goal. I will say, I have never tried to lose weight like this for this long before. Normally I would just give up and fast, which would trigger a binge. Or I would battle myself the entire way, with self-recriminations and cruelty. This time, I really have been kind to myself. And while there is a certain degree of deprivation—I have not had chips in EIGHT WEEKS—I also am keeping a lot of space for indulgences and treats.
I’ll talk about some of the things I’ve learned.
First—I cannot fast anymore. I really waged this war for a long time. Fasting has always been a reset for me, something to stave off the guilt of a binge. A clean slate. But I am currently not mentally able to fast without it triggering eating disorder behaviour. Maybe one day I can revisit this, but for now I know I can no longer take the chance. There is a degree of relief with this realization, but also the grieving of one of my main ‘outs’. If I can no longer fast to ‘undo’ a binge, then I need to really consider that binge long and hard. And interestingly, I have not binged since that ‘hard’ week, which was probably set off by a day of fasting.
I have learned it’s important to take my supplements even on a ‘bad’ day (my therapist directs me to call these ‘high calorie intake days’). Often if I am planning a binge, I just give up on all of my self-care. I don’t exercise, I don’t take my supplements, nothing. It is just a Big Mess. With this challenge, I dared myself to take my vitamins even on binge days, to try to exercise, to try to eat a smoothie even if the calories put me way over because at least I’m getting some good food into me. This has made it easier for me to come back from high calorie intake days. I no longer have the feeling of throwing up my hands and giving up.
Speaking of smoothies, I have been having them almost every day. Even though I don’t love the taste, and it takes time and effort, and I am not accustomed to eating in the morning, I have really come to like this. It takes the thinking out of the process.
I think I’ll leave it at this for now. The other things I want to talk about that I realized/re-learned during this process is that food will be there tomorrow, no need to eat it all today; binging on one day is sooo much easier to come back from than 2+days; and that weighing-in on hard weeks is really conflicting but the consistency and commitment have helped me.
Although it is hard to feel like I am working really hard to only lose a pound a week, it has allowed my body a comfortable and safe place to rest without my punishing interventions. I have noticed many positive changes, like more energy (I took up running again) and less preoccupation with food and eating. That alone has been a balm that I cannot understate.
I’ll check back in in a couple weeks with my conclusion. I am not sure where I’ll go from there. I need the space to examine whether my desire to continue to lose weight is rooted in my belief that I am not okay as I am, or if it is a reasonable intention to be more fit and eat healthier (and if that’s the case, why losing weight is a goal at all).
Lots to think about.