It has been a hard-fought past 12 months. I battled depression and crippling job stress and reverted to all my negative eating behaviours along the way. It was only when I got my new job that I was able to muster the determination to say: "It stops here. I can't change the past 12 months, but I can change the next 12".
And I did. I went back to first principles of what I know worked for me - - tracking my food and pushing my workouts. Along the way I got back in touch with this whole lifestyle change that I was supposed to be doing (rather than merely losing weight). That has been perhaps the most profound thing I have discovered in this journey - - it really is all about the lifestyle, stupid. There ain't no such thing as a quick fix, and negative habits will always generate negative consequences.
The results have been just what I had hoped - - and more, and less.
The weight is coming off again, and this morning after my workout I weighed in at 189.8 pounds, a number on the scale I have not seen for about a year. I have also noticed that as I continue along this path (and as I get older) the weight takes more work to lose. I used to see relatively consistent losses every month. Now I am seeing punctuated equilibrium: I stay relatively the same for a week or so, then have one week of surprisingly easy losses, then "girl time" adds 4 pounds of gratuitous bloating, then I spend 2 weeks trying to get back to where I was before nature's awesome majesty took my hormones on a ride. Over the past few months I have seen this pattern repeated over and over again, and I am slowly starting to change my mindset from disappointment if a given week is not lower on the scale to focusing on the longer window of a month. So although the individual days or weeks (depending on the week) may see frustratingly little weight loss, overall the months are still showing losses, and I am still moving in the right direction.
On an even more positive side, the Nerd and I are slowly starting to transition into more of a maintenance mode rather than a hard core weight loss mode. I say this not because we do not have weight to lose - - we do - - but because we are starting to make adjustments to make our lifestyle more sustainable in the long term.
For me that means a step change reduction in calories from an average of 1,600 - 1,800 calories per day to trying to keep under my 1,430 calories per day objective (!) without having to eat back all of my exercise calories. I usually come in somewhere between 1,400 and 1,600 calories a day, and even the difference of 200 calories (on average) per day has had profound results.
Staying under my calorie target organically has allowed me to do things like take additional rest days, or to use long walks as exercise rather than brutally exhausting elliptical workouts, while still losing weight. I have a more normal life, and that is kind of nice. As I age I also find it a bit tougher to maintain the intensity of the workout schedule that I used to - - after almost 3 years that kind of work takes its toll on a body. Mine, in particular.
All of this is in aid of changing me into a person who eats sensibly more often than I do not, and who works out to feel good rather than because she has to. Don't get me wrong, I still use workouts as a way to enable a good day of food when I know I am going out, but I am trying to focus more on the every day consumption levels as well. It certainly seems to be working for now.
It is more difficult in many ways than simply jumping on the elliptical, because I have to be so diligent about what is going into my mouth every day, all day. But in aggregate this approach seems to be working, and even the bake sale day of a thousand rice krispie squares and gingerbread men (omnomnom) did not set me back for long.
I know I am prone to wild mood swings about my weight loss journey, and I am always more optimistic when the weight is coming off easily as it has been this week rather than those weeks when I am doing exactly the same things and the scale is not moving at all, or worse, moves only upwards.
However I have noticed over the last few months as I have been starting to discover my body's new rhythms that I am more relaxed about the tough weeks because I am more confident that the good weeks will come. I am gradually becoming more disciplined in my routine, and I am able to be more zen about my progress as a result.
Not that I am zen, exactly, I am only zen-er than previously. But I will take it, just as I take this new (revisited) milestone of breaking into the 180s. I have worked hard for this, and I am feeling good.