A few days ago, I stepped on the scale again after way too many months. I knew it was going to be “bad.” My clothes weren’t fitting right. My new clothes weren’t fitting at all, but I had to rip the bandaid and survey the damage. Yup. It was official. I had regained about 20lbs of the initial 40lbs I lost. It was time to make a change.
As I pondered how I was going to right this ship, the only thing that kept popping in my mind was it was time to re-center myself. Get my mind back to that place where I had could much more easily avoid carbs. However, first I wanted to understand how I got here — again! I realized I have done several posts on “starting over.” Feel free to go back and read them here, here and here. What’s different with this restart? I think the difference is, it’s not a restart. It’s part of the process and recognizing that is so powerful. I have not failed. It’s just part of the journey. Instead, I call it re-centering – getting myself back to that place where the journey becomes less difficult. Being the data nerd that I am, I wanted to see what this journey has looked like over time and see if there are any patterns I can find that will help me plan my re-centering. I created this infographic to show my ups, downs and life events during this so-far 2-year journey.
How often have you heard “it’s a journey, not a destination?” Have you really thought about that? Of course it’s a journey. Everything’s a journey. It’s a lifelong journey with no final destination – especially if you are someone who struggles with losing weight despite eating healthy. Life gets in the way along these journeys. Things happen that make it more difficult to make the right choices. Eating low-carb is simple if you have constant access to the ability to cook and eat real foods. If, however, you do something like start a graduate program while working full-time and breaking your (dominant) wrist along the way, it’s harder and harder to do the right thing. But, more importantly, the reality is, this journey will never end. It is a lifelong journey because I will always struggle with weight as long as the vast majority of the foods (especially processed foods) are chock-full of carbohydrates – the enemy of my body.
I am also not shy about my successes or failures, but I think about the failures and dwell on them and make myself crazy. Recently, my family was in town to celebrate my graduation from my Master’s program. We did all kinds of touristy things including visiting the North End in Boston and having cannolis at Mike’s Pastry. Mine was pistachio. It was delicious. I posted a pic on my Facebook page and here it is here as well.
Now, I’m sure some of my friends looked at that and thought, “Well, if you wouldn’t eat stuff like that you’d lose the weight!” or “Poor thing. She’s fallen off the wagon again.” Ahh, t’wer it so simple! I rarely indulge in what I call the “high octane” treats (the real stuff with real sugar), but I have learned I’d rather have the occasional “high octane” treat than all the fake keto desserts in the world. Those fake keto desserts give me the exact same cravings for carbs and sugar as the cannoli so what is the point?
The people who think something like a cannoli would throw me off track, probably eat “healthy” cereal every morning and think if I only did that, I’d be fine. Well, looking at what Men’s Health calls the healthiest cereals and taking the first one in the list, Alpen No Sugar Added Muesli (sounds absolutely delicious by the way), I see that it has 43g of carbs PER SERVING. (FYI, Little Debbie Zebra Cakes – one of my former vices – has about the same amount of carbs). If you ate this every morning, you’d be having about 300g of carbs a week JUST at breakfast. By way of reference, when I am being “bad” I generally have about 70g carbs a day (I strive for 20g of carbs per day). That means I have, on a “bad” week, about 500g of carbs. That 300g of carbs in that so-called healthy cereal would put me at about 800g of carbs a week (and I can’t lose weight – in fact I gain weight – on 70g of carbs a day). I say 800g of carbs because I generally do not eat breakfast or have no carbs at breakfast so that would be on top of my normal carb intake. So, “healthy” is not absolute. That cereal might be awesome for non-carb-intolerant people, but it is pure evil for those of us who cannot live on the Standard American Diet of massive amounts of carbs (to make things remotely palatable because our idiot government thinks low-fat is “healthy” – read more about the myth of “low-fat” and health from The Johns Hopkins Patient Guide to Diabetes). For that reason, I no longer have cereal. I simply cannot. It’s way too high in carbs. That cannoli? It was probably about 50g of carbs – total. If I have one cannoli a week (which I would never do), that would bring my weekly carb total to about 550g vs 800g if I ate the so-called “healthy” cereal every day. You get the point. So, I am good with my choices. As an aside, do not EVEN try to say, “but the cereal has no sugar in it and is by definition better.” For me, having that cereal every day would be the equivalent of having a cannoli every day. Carbs are carbs to my system. Carbs (including but not limited to sugar) are evil for me because they increase cravings for more carbs.
Which brings me back to re-centering. At the core of re-centering is reexamining goals. I wrote down my goals and I noticed several of these goals began with a negative – “Never do this” or “Don’t do that.” And I looked closer. The only reason those were on my goals list was because they were past derailers or past failures. I knew if I did those things, I would fail. And I realized, those goals were really anti-goals – something far more powerful than a not-yet-achieved goal. You have been there. You know what happens if you “attain” that anti-goal.
Goals are things you aspire to that you have not yet achieved. Anti-goals are artifacts of trying to reach your goals that ultimately become derailers. They are the things we do not want to repeat. While goals are worthy and motivating — anti-goals will keep you grounded and aware. When you “achieve” an anti-goal, it should be a signal to take a moment – reflect, reassess and most importantly, re-center before you get too far off track of your goals.
So, when you are writing your goals, look for those anti-goals and put them in a different column. Keep in mind when you hit one of those anti-goals something is up and you should pay attention. It’s time to re-center. Here are my goals and anti-goals on my weight loss journey.
The anti-goals are just as important, probably even more important, than the goals themselves because you have been there. You know what will happen if you “reach” those goals. Embrace them. And know that life events will always get in the way. To stay dedicated to your aspirational goals, find ways to halt the slides and simply maintain status quo to the best of your ability until you have the wherewithal to re-center and continue on your journey. Looking back at my weight loss graphic above, I have to say I am pretty darn proud of myself for more or less maintaining during the two years I was in graduate school. It only took a turn for the worse at the end when stress levels and work load exploded.
I am now re-centering. I have graduated from my program. I have time again. I know what I need to do (purge the bad stuff from my body – conquer the cravings). To this end I am doing the Diet Doctor 2-Week Keto Challenge. I like the recipes. I am in the right mental state and have the time to dedicate to this. I have no doubt I will lose the weight I gained (and hopefully an additional 20lbs), but I also have no doubt things will happen and I will gain some of it back. With my anti-goals clearly laid out, I am determined to never get back to my highest weight – the weight I was when I started this journey in April 2017. That is my über anti-goal!
How are you doing? What are your goals and anti-goals?
One final thought. I do not need your “helpful” advice. I have seriously studied my body and how foods affect it and I know exactly what I need to do to lose weight. I don’t need you to tell me to “exercise more” or do this or that. So please, keep it to yourself. In this blog, I never ever say this is the one and only way to lose weight. I never tell people, “You should be eating fewer carbs.” I wait for them to ask – which they almost always do – and then I will tell my story and help them on the same journey. The fact of the matter is, we did not have the level of obesity in this country until the government adopted (mandated) the low-fat diet. In order to make low-fat food palatable, they added sugar – tons and tons of sugar. Don’t listen to me. Listen to Harvard nutritionists! That coupled with the rise of genetically modified wheat, those of us with carb-intolerance (a very real thing) were doomed. So keep your armchair advice to yourself. I appreciate the sentiment, but it is not welcome. If this sounds harsh, then maybe I touched a nerve?