Monday, January 31, 2011

End Game

Four and a half months ago, I walked away from this blog because I knew that it had pretty much fulfilled its role. I had all of my behaviors in place, and I knew things were going to continue apace. That being said, a few things have changed, and though I have no intention of making this a regularly active blog again, I do want to record progress occasionally for my own record as well as for those kind folks who may still come back here on occasion.

First of all, I've absolutely continued along the same path. In fact, it has gotten so routine as to nearly be no struggle at all to eat such that I continue to lose weight (generally 1500 calories, sometimes a bit more or a bit less). All of my talk about being "cured"? It's still true. I don't obsess over food, don't eat like a food puritan, blah, blah, blah (the blog details all of this so I won't repeat it all here). All of the stuff that was in place when I walked away is still working for me.

At this point in time, I feel like I'm entering what I'm calling the "end game" of this process. When I started, I had 230 lbs. to lose. Now, I've got about 53 to go. That means I've lost a bit more than 3/4 of what I want to lose, and have absolutely no concerns about where I'll head from here because my psychological toolkit is very effective.

My progress has continued in these ways:
  • I am now capable of walking for very long periods of time without pain or difficulty (literally - up to 4 hours). This compares to not being able to go 3 minutes without pain in June 2009.
  • I can finally zip up my winter coat.
  • I can feel all sorts of bones I never thought about the existence of. And, no, it's not necessarily a good feeling, but I guess it means something in terms of my progress.
  • I rarely binge, and never binge over 2500 calories on those rare occasions when I do. The idea of a true "binge" is psychologically out of my radar range right now.
  • I rarely stress eat, and when I do, I'm aware of it and have a method for "managing" it by choosing to set aside some calories to eat because of stress. Usually, I'll eat a banana or orange, but occasionally I'll allow a small treat (usually a serving of mini pretzels). Do I think this is bad? No. Stress eating is what all creatures do. The problem isn't eating when stressed. The problem is overeating, and I don't.
  • I hurt my back (and it hurt like hell), and ate the same way as I have been for the past year and 7 months. In the past, illness or injury provided a good reason to indulge to comfort myself for my pain. The idea that I "deserved" to indulge or that it would be okay to do so never even crossed my mind. I spent my convalescence reading, not eating. This was a huge psychological change from my past responses.
  • I've fully come to terms with and have no problems with having to eat less than others to maintain a healthy weight. All of that envy and resentment fat people feel at skinny people who stuff their maws and never pay a price? It's gone completely. What other people do and the price they pay has no relationship to what I have to do or the price I pay. It's not fair, but then again many things in life are not.
  • On the TMI front, my sex life is greatly improved as my body is not the obstacle it once was.
  • My mother gave me a huge quantity of underpants about 18 years ago (yes, that long ago) which were too small for me even then. They were brand new and I put them in a box and shoved them into the back of storage. They now fit me perfectly to "slightly big". 
One "bad" change is the return of a problem I used to have when I first lost weight (while I was still in college and several years after) and that is incredibly bad pre-period cramping accompanied with nausea, weakness, hot and cold flashes, and sweating. I'm not talking about discomfort  or localized pain, but rather a full scale hormonal assault that renders one incapable of doing pretty much anything. I assume this has returned now because my hormonal balance has changed as a result of weight loss. I used to have these horrible experiences in my early 20's and they vanished when I started to regain weight. Now, it has returned and it's unbearably awful. It's so intense at the outset that I feel like I might faint. For about 40 minutes, I feel like I'm going to die. So, as I have noted in some other posts, not all changes related to weight loss are positive.

The main change that I've realized is still necessary is that I need to consolidate my identity issues and how I spend my thinking time. I kept a toe into the weight loss world and that allowed me to be progressively dragged back in more and more. In terms of the way in which I spent my thinking time, there was a person I was before I started changing my relationship with food. That is the person I need to be again minus the overeating and weight.

I have, in some cases reluctantly, severed all of my links and feeds to anything related to weight or diet. I'm reluctant because I have to abandon some very nice people whose blogs I enjoyed immensely. I've said before that, at the end of all of this, I don't want to be the person who is involved in weight loss culture, thinks about dieting, etc. I want to just be a normal person who spends time doing creative things, learning new information, etc. and doesn't obsess on or think about body images or food. Such things should warrant only sufficient attention as is required to maintain my health and not one bit more.

Clearly, I cannot be mentally unengaged in such things as long as I do things which mentally engage me in them. My mind spins on a topic too much (as is its nature) to keep my thoughts about such matters discrete and contained. The only way to break this is to cut the cord completely. Aside from the occasional update here to track my changes (again, I do this for me mostly), I have no plans to talk about weight unless it is an incidental thing on a blog which is devoted to broader topics that just so happens to discuss weight loss. I want to encounter the topic naturally (like in a New York Times article or on the PLoS blogs), not by specifically seeking it out.

My purposeful involvement in the weight loss world must end if I do not want to risk becoming one of those one-dimensional people who live only to service their bodies and to tell other people how to do the same. It is perhaps a specific weakness of mine that I can't moderate my approach, but I think that this is what needs to be done in order to continue along the path toward being "normal" that I am so happy to be treading. It isn't enough to lose the weight and eat healthily. I also do not want to be obsessive or preoccupied, and this is how that must be done in my particular case.

The end game is less about dropping the last 53 lbs. than it is about this continued mental change. If I reach the end of this without being pulled back into the culture and having lost the weight, I'll have considered this particular game finished and truly won.

For the record, my weight as of today is 203 lbs. and I started at 380.