I hit a milestone today that I’m rather happy with — finally. My weight today was under 370; 368.5 in fact.
That’s still a lot, way too freaking much, but to put it in perspective, my weight was stable between 375 and 379 from early 2005 until late 2007, I wasn’t getting it off, but I’d finally stopped the gains. Then as 2008 started, dad got sick, went into the hospital, and then in June he died and we had the burial and wake, and then there was the lawyer stuff and helping mom get back on her feet and get the estate settled, and all of the stress and crap that goes with that.
I’ve literally lost count of how many trips to SoCal I took in 2008, but it included about 27 days in hotels, 12,000 miles on the Subaru just going up and down I-5 and highway 101.
To make life even more fun, in November while out birding and trying to get some walking in, I stepped in a gopher hole and twisted my knee, badly. I rehabbed it, but it didn’t get better, so I finally went to an Orthoped, who told me something I already knew (torn meniscus) and something I didn’t: arthritis. What I was hoping was an easy scope job moved quickly into “inoperable, we are trying to delay knee replacement as long as possible”. This was made even more fun when, because I was compensating for the knee, my achilles tendon froze and I ended up with a nasty case of tendonitis, which my doctor told me would probably take a year to fully rehab (so far, he’s been right on; sigh). So for most of the time dealing with mom and dad, I was doing it one-legged. it’s the right leg, so you can imagine the fun of 6 hours in the car with your foot on the pedal (thank god for cruise control).
So a good chunk of 2008 involved running around LA during the day, running around the laptop at night (I did in fact have a job, after all, and they were very supportive and cooperative, but stuff had to get done) with the knee AND ankle in ice wraps trying to get the cramping and swelling down so I could spend the next day running around dealing with mom and dad and all that other fun stuff — because it all had to be done, and nobody else was going to do it.
Did I mention I’m a stress eater? And that life in 2008 was a bit stressful? So I ballooned; the highest weight I documented was 394 in September, about the time we finished up with the lawyers and estate. I think my final high weight was higher, but all weighing myself did was piss me off and add to the stress, so I stopped.
2008 couldn’t disappear fast enough for me, as you might imagine. Not a demo reel year. I did finally decide I was sick and tired of being what I was; and having added another 20 pounds just reinforced to me I had to stop making my weight a “one of these days” priority. The only way to solve the weight was to solve the stress equation and retrain my habits. I got a big boost moving to Palm here — not that it’s a stress free environment, but the reduced commute makes life a lot more tolerable, and the stress here isn’t so nasty to me because I enjoy my work and co-workers so much.
Mostly, though, my stress reduction program involved finding the stress I was piling on myself — artificial deadlines and things that really didn’t need to worry about, whether it was blogging, setting up my photography business, redesigning the blog, etc, etc. Lots ofÂ “deadlines” that only meant something to me, and — in reality — nobody would die if I ignored them.
It’s very easy — trust me — to get into the mindset of “I really need to get this weight off — and I will, as soon as I finish painting the bathroom!” I finally stopped kidding myself that (a) someone else would magically make the stress go away, that it was up to me to figure out how to make it go away, or manage it. So I did, and put as much on hold as I could — I still am, actually — and stopped spending the evenings multitasking doing things like watching TV while working on stuff, and I stopped worrying about setting up the photo blogging or the image store, and in fact I started turning off the computer and instead I just watched TV (instead of sort of watching while doing something useful), or I read, or I started using the Xbox more.
Over time, my attitude started improving and I started moving past the negatives that piled up in 2008; Over time, I started relaxing and thinking more positively about things — and the weight started coming off. I was able to focus on stopping the stress-driven snacking, and I started seeing the weight drop. It took me from September until late April to get ten pounds off, and then it finally clicked, and I’ve dropped another ten in the last three weeks.
That weight loss meant 3 inches off the waist so far. If you want to try to imagine what it’s like being this heavy, go find a bowling ball and strap it against your belly button. Then reach down and put on your shoes. Or reach forward and grab something off the table.
Still plenty of work to do. I have up to ten more of those bowling balls to do away with. It’s one of those things where you don’t look too hard at the long-term goal, because it can be so intimidating — but the next ten pounds? If I can lose another 20 pounds, I’ll weigh less than at any time in this century. That’s a good next goal. Ultimately, I need to get somewhere south of 300, and then we can figure out what a goal weight might be.
This isn’t about dieting; it’s about habits and triggers and responses. My response to stress was to chew. My focus the last few months has been to rewire that response. There’s lots of good research that it takes weeks to rewire a habit to the point where you can override the habit, and it takes a good six months until the habit is actually changed. That CLICK happened about three weeks ago, and since then, the weight’s been dropping — over ten pounds in the last month.
It doesn’t mean the urge to grab a snack is gone; instead, it’s merely something I can recognize and dismiss. The habit is changed, and now it’s about reinforcing that change and making the new habits feel more natural. The period where I have to consciously push myself to behave is gone, now, it feels natural, which means I can start adding things into life again and start looking at moving some of the projects forward.
I think you’ll start seeing more blogging again, and I’ll start working on moving the blog and photo projects again, and we’ll see how it goes.
Of course, I just got a copy of Fable II for the Xbox….