My Response to Emily: A Spark to a Flame, Find Your Kindling For Weight Loss Success

Hello friends! I’ve been remiss in posting here. While I have been posting regular video updates to my channel on YouTube, I haven’t always been linking those here. I am a bad, bad blogger. I guess I’ll make up for it today by posting a blog the length of a short novel, so sit down and get comfortable!

The last couple weeks have been a swirl of transition with me starting back to work. Things have been going… ehhhh, okayyyy I guess?

Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic. Going back to work after being off for well-over a year is no walk in the park. Starting any new job is mentally exhausting (which of course leads to physical exhaustion as well), so I’ve been struggling with feeling really tired in a way I haven’t in a very, very long time. But it’s a GOOD tired. It’s not depression tiredness, or slug tiredness; it’s a tired sensation that has heaps of satisfaction underneath. And mornings are invigorating for me in a way they haven’t been in so, so long. I’m looking forward to going in to work every day. How crazy is that?

So despite my genuine efforts to be a superstar and knock balancing my new job with my healthy lifestyle outta the park on the first swing, I’ve still felt like I “haven’t been doing enough” in terms of activity by not formally hitting the gym three times a week. The fact that I was weighing myself every day and seeing the scale go up did not help mental matters. But I was bringing all my food, tracking it, walking around the office as much as possible to get my Fitbit steps in, trying to drink as much water as I could reasonably do while wearing Spanx (pro tip: spanx plus hydration doesn’t work – plus spanx cause me severe constipation, who knew?!?), and taking 15-minute walking breaks each day after lunch. All this while trying to absorb a lot of new information and process… I’ve been totally kicking ass! And yet, feeling funky about my weight.

And then I ended up hurting my foot and putting myself out of commission (and work) for 4 days last Friday night. **CHARLIE BROWN AAAAAAUGH** So yeah, last Friday I planned to go to the gym after work. Packed my gym bag and was all set to go, but mid-day I realized I had left my sports bra at home. Um. These knockers REQUIRE sports bras for anything jumpy I do at the gym, so, harrumph. But I was still DEAD SET on getting some activity in. So I decided to walk the campus at work (they have these 2, 3, and 5-mile fitness paths available) and get a 2 mile walk in.

But I took a shortcut and didn’t change my sneakers. BAD IDEA. The sneakers I wore to work didn’t have my orthotic inserts (also a BAD IDEA), so by the time I was finished with a 2.5 mile walk, my proverbial dogs were barking. Got home, took my shoes off and put my feet up for a couple hours, but when I got up to go to bed I COULDN’T WALK. My right foot was totally out of commission. Couldn’t bear any weight on it and hopped on my left leg into bed hoping overnight rest would fix it. Nope.

Long story short: trip to urgent care revealed a bone spur near my Achilles tendon’s insertion point on the heel, but they couldn’t help me. I spent all day Sunday on the couch. It wasn’t until yesterday afternoon that I could actually put my heel on the floor and put any pressure on it. By the time my appointment with a podiatrist rolled around, I was about 75% recovered. (Yay!)

But this hiccup took a toll, just like the job did. But this toll has been higher. See, what happens when I get sick? Well, my eating goes to hell. It started on Saturday with a trip to Five Guys for burgers. And then Sunday I ate a giant burrito. And then yesterday I finished that burrito and had pizza and a giant chocolate chip cookie for dinner. And I started thinking about going to get a dozen donuts for myself this morning. Feeling mighty binge-y at the moment. Classic Julie. Get sick? EAT ALL THE FOOD.

This is where I’ll transition to talking about my friend, Emily. You may know her. She’s kinda awesome. I woke up this morning and before I had even wiped the sleep from my eyes, I was reading her latest post. If you haven’t seen it, click here and read it now. And make sure to watch the embedded video, too. The rest of this post can wait.

Okay, didya read it? Cool! We can move forward!

I was so inspired by her post that as I was reading it I got up out of bed and started heading towards my laptop. I was so flooded with feelings that I was compelled to respond. And thus here I am. I know that in this blog I choose to celebrate my successes a lot. That’s part of why I’m successful, I think, is that I don’t let the small victories pass without bragging them up all over the place. It makes me feel good, helps me stay motivated, and keeps me on what is generally a very rocky path.

The part of Emily’s post that I really wanted to respond to was this:

“I’m still not in a place where I 100% believe that I will lose the weight and build a solid recovery from Binge Eating Disorder. Frankly, I don’t know if that confidence will ever come. I wish I could be one of those people who has a grand “AH HA!” moment, where the heavens open up and I’m suddenly struck with a never-before-felt sense of purpose and motivation.

I am just not one of those people.”

This has been me for so, so long. So many previous efforts, I felt this at my core. Sure, you get yourself whipped up into some willpower frenzy, feel like you can take on the world for a bit, then the reality of a slow process hits you in the face pretty quickly, and you lose that motivation. That’s being human. Why is it different this time?

When I started this process I was in a dark, dark place. I had been out of work, had fallen into another massive depression spell, and was working through it. My eating was off-the-charts bad. And I was feeling the physical effects of the weight on my body in ways I hadn’t previously. When taking my daily walk from the bed to the couch, I’d feel my heart pound and would actually feel winded at the end of it! I despised myself. I felt suicidal. I felt that I had screwed my life up so much it might just be better to end it.

I reached out for help. I always do, thank goodness. I sought counseling for my depression, and slowly, like it usually does, the depression started to lift. I started to care about myself, the teeniest, tiniest of bits. And when I crawl out of my depression funk, one of the first things I start thinking about it losing weight. It’s like a self-defeating cycle.

I knew I had food issues that I needed to work on. I didn’t know how to approach my desires to lose weight, so of course, TO THE INTERNET! I found blogs to follow, I looked up nutritional counseling, found a practice nearby that seemed like it was what I needed, and met a fabulously-positive counselor who made me feel supported and normal and human in a way I hadn’t felt in a long, long time. And then I did the thing that ended up changing everything for me: I called my insurance to find out how to extend my available time with her, and learned what services were available to me. This is how I found 20/20 Lifestyles, which, for me, was the structure I needed to really start on this journey for reals.

Here’s the thing: while there is a place of hope that needs to happen at some point on your weight loss journey (usually at the start), this hope needs to be supported sufficiently and strengthened by success.

That hope is not enough to carry us. We need supportive structures around us that keep that hope alive. Because wanting it isn’t enough. I’ve been that person who’s been wanting to lose weight, knows I NEED to lose weight for my health, but I didn’t feel that hope deep down for very long. Maybe for a week or two, but never long enough to sustain the necessary efforts. This has gone on since I was a teenager. And this is what got me up to being so overweight.

That “A Ha!” moment Emily mentioned doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It usually starts with a small spark. Maybe there’s a little fuel to keep it flaming for a second or two. But without a sustained supply of oxygen, it will not keep burning. We get those sparks dozens of times, maybe hundreds of times. But so rarely do we have that sustainable resource of support to keep us going.

Part of the 20/20 Lifestyles program were weekly support group meetings with other women on the program. That group started with about ten women, and ended with merely three of us. The fact is one solution isn’t the kindling for us all. We all have individual needs in that regard. What works for someone else isn’t gonna work for me, and vice versa. For some food tracking may be the thing that works for them. For others, they may need a hearty rewards system. Still others may need intense years of therapy to keep them going. And some, like me, may need ALL of those things and more!

The other part of Emily’s post I wanted to address was that overwhelming feeling of having so much weight to lose. When you’re looking at needing to lose over 100 lbs to get down to a reasonable weight, and losing 1 or 2 lbs a week is your average (or less), it can feel too monumental a task. The hope helps at this stage.

But as you start knocking pounds off, two things happen:

1) You start realizing you CAN do it. That spark starts to become your persona. You’re not just hopeful that you can do it, you ARE doing it; and,

2) The changes you’ve effected start to work in your favor. Your eating patterns are different, and habits are formed that make it considerably easier to resist temptation. Activity becomes part of your life and missing out on it becomes something you actually MISS when denied the opportunity. And as you get smaller/fitter/whatever there’s a strength that comes that makes you feel empowered to do more, to strive for more. Confidences are gained that you never thought possible. That doesn’t happen at the END of the rainbow, that can hit at any point along your journey! Thank goodness!

These two changes, these evolutions that occur are vital, as well. Because, life. Illness happens, injury happens, funky times happen. I’m going through it right now. Last night I was plotting the route to Top Pot Doughnuts and planning which dozen I would select. This morning I’m thinking about the leftover pizza in my fridge. I WILL ALWAYS HAVE THESE URGES, AND SOMETIMES I WILL GIVE IN TO THESE URGES AND BINGE.

But you know what? That doesn’t mean I’m going to fail. That’s not something I felt at the beginning, I can 100% tell you that. But I feel it at my core now. I am not sick with feeling of failure while planning on eating pizza. I know that I’m going through something (injury + TOM hormones = binge), but that I’ve gone through something before and come out of it. This is what self-compassion is for me, and it’s vital to this process of transformation.

At the end of this, all I can really advise is: find your kindling wherever you can, and fan those flames, friends! I know we can win at this!

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Video Update: Mood Disturbance, Crazy Feet, and #wycwyc

In this installment, I share commentary about a recent run-in with my bipolar mood disorder, chat about my recent visit to a podiatrist (my feet are hilarious, y’all!), and mention the #wycwyc community chat on Twitter!

TL;DW:

  • After last week’s high, I definitely had a slumped mood earlier in the week, but was able to nip it in the bud and am back to feeling good!
  • just kidding

    4D xray of my left foot!

    In other news, my feet are riddled with bone spurs (especially on top – looks like a velociraptor!) SEE SIDE IMAGE —>

  • Caffeine is good for you (in small, well-timed doses).
  • Lastly, I am clearly not among the Twitter-elite but that didn’t stop me from taking part in the #wycwyc (What You Can, When You Can) community Twitter Chat this morning, like a total dork. See all my blabber here!

Links to some additional mentions:
Quad Lock Mounting System – the iPhone mount system I’ll be using in my car and on my bike
Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea – currently in the tie position for my fave tea

UPDATE: I’ve included an x-ray image here. Check out my awesome claw weapon in the making!