It’s tough to regain control once you’ve lost it. Especially if you have regained a significant amount of weight. When it was only 10 pounds, I knew I could handle it. When it was 20, I started to worry. When it was 60, I thought I should probably just quit.
It’s not easy to start again when you’ve gone so far off course. I think it’s especially hard on us emotionally because we feel more pressure than we did to begin with. Before we lost weight, we were always in the same place. We may have felt hopeless but at least we were used to it. We might always have been trying to lose weight but the fact that we never did at least kept things in a realm which we were familiar. But then you made progress! You lost some weight. You had some victories. And suddenly things were changing. But now you gained them back. And you feel worse off than before. Even worse than you did when you started. At least before, you only had a vision of what it might be like to lose the weight. This time you have lived it. You know what it feels like. You had finally started living your dream. Only to watch it disappear.
So where do you go from here? How do you get back control once you’ve lost it?
It’s simple. So simple in fact that we don’t believe it can work. So simple that we aren’t always willing to trust the process.
And that’s part of the problem. TRUST. We don’t have it. At least not in ourselves anymore.
We need to believe that we are capable. We need to remember once again that we aren’t weak. We have to be reminded every day that we CAN accomplish our goals. We need to feel victorious as often as possible to rebuild our confidence. And there is only one way that I know to make that happen. And it’s this:
Set super small goals and do them daily.
So small that you can’t make an excuse.
So small that it almost seems pointless.
30 Seconds at a time if necessary
I’ve been trying for a year to get my second wind. To get back to my daily workouts. I get motivated in spurts. Random days where I feel inspired. It might be 4 miles. Maybe 5 miles. But what I lack is consistency. And consistency is the key.
Success doesn’t lie in what you will do occasionally. Randomly. Or in spurts. It’s what you will do daily. That’s where true progress lies.
So I decided to take a step back. All the way back to the beginning. Back to 30 seconds at a time. And go from there.
Last week, I decided that I was going to walk a half mile outside every day for 5 days straight. I decided 5 days because I start to freak out mentally if I think I have to do something forever. Even something that small. So I decided to just do 5 days. And it worked. Every day I got out there rain or shine and walked that half mile. Not because I believed that a half mile would burn off enough calories to make me lose weight. But because I needed to rebuild confidence in myself that I could work up the mental strength to do something consistently. By the end of the week I was jogging almost half of it. For the first time, I was feeling some hope.
Now nothing else was getting accomplished. My food is still out of whack. I am not losing weight. BUT I set a goal and I accomplished it. That means I am winning the battle. It means that I’ve gotten things rolling in the right direction. Not quickly, mind you!! But forward movement is forward movement!
My goal was only to do this Monday through Friday in an effort to avoid feeling like it was forever. Since I took the weekend off from that half mile walk, it made this morning a little bit harder on me. However, I still got out there. And I was slow. There was zero jogging involved. It took me about 22 minutes to walk what I had done in 13 minutes last week.
So yes I was super slow. I was almost dragging because I had no motivation. I refused to jog one bit of it. And to be honest, I didn’t even feel like putting on my tennis shoes so I just wore flip flops (which resulted in my feet freezing because it was cold). But that is how unmotivated I felt. I could have gone further or done more physically perhaps. But instead, I stopped a lot to look at the sunrise and I took some pictures.
But guess what? I STILL WIN. I still get to check off the victory box because my goal didn’t involve anything but doing it. And I did it.
Because while it’s Monday and I had two days off with zero motivation to start again….I still went. I didn’t refuse to go. I don’t care that I was slow. I was there. Last week and now this week! So round 2 of the half mile walk is already in the books. And I’m going to continue another 5 day streak of walking that half mile rain or shine every morning this week.
The plan though must keep moving forward. That is the real secret behind it. We start super small and we add things in over time. Increasing by 30 seconds or adding a mailbox. Or adding in a goal in some other area. But the idea is to keep adding things in small increments. Increasing it to where you are moving forward but slowly enough that you don’t feel overwhelmed. This worked for me in the beginning. It will again. If it could help me then, it can help me now.
So I have to increase somewhere. I had originally thought that I would try to tweak my half mile by turning it into a jog. I’ve since decided not to do that. Right after I made the goal I immediately felt burdened by it. As if I wouldn’t be able to accomplish it. I don’t need goals like that!! I need to feel victory not defeat. When we are off track and already feeling depressed the last thing we need to do is set goals we are going to fail at so we can beat ourselves up and feel worse. That feeling let me know that wasn’t the goal for me this week. It may be in the future but not right now.
If I WANT to jog it, I can. But that will be my choice. If I want to do additional exercise in the day (like my Leslie Sansone walking videos) then I can. But all of that is by choice. The only “mandatory” thing in my mind is the half mile walk. Just like in the beginning when my only mandatory exercise was 30 seconds. By doing this, I have such a small task to accomplish that I can’t lose. And no matter what I do the rest of the day, I have already won if I checked off the victory box for that half mile walk. Whatever else I might do in the realm of exercise is in my mind now extra. It’s me going above and beyond! That resets the day into a more hopeful mindset with less pressure. So this week I am just going to continue with that half mile in the morning. Nothing will be added. I believe that just working on consistency daily is where I need to be with that goal.
I am, however, adding a second challenge. And this will be in the area of food. For me, food is the biggest issue. Losing weight is probably 85% what you are eating. You can’t out exercise a bad food day regardless. That is why I now view exercise as something I’m doing mostly for mental strength than anything else. But food—that is my biggest struggle. Getting back control in the area of food isn’t easy.
I can tell you what works for me though. I can tell you the exact plan that allowed me to stop obsessing over food and lose 240 pounds. I wrote a lengthy post about it here. And it totally works. The simple version is that I drink Atkins shakes because they are low carb and very low sugar. I drink them every 2-3 hours rotating coffee/tea and water in there as well. I do it on a fairly strict schedule in an effort to remove the guesswork, planning and thinking that often comes with questions like “Am I hungry?”. The answer to that (for me) will almost always be YES. Not because I am always hungry but because I often think that I am always hungry.
Sugar is evil for me. It really is and I’ve been hooked back on it for a long time. Why do we go back to things we know are bad for us? Ask that to any person who has experienced a lifelong battle with overeating. I believe that this is a chronic condition for me. It can’t be treated like a curable “disease” that can just go away. I don’t say that to sound hopeless. I just say it because for me it’s true. I have a mind that goes for food. I just do. It goes into “remission” if I follow what works for me though. It may rear its ugly head on occasion but not daily when I follow what works. The problem is that I often don’t. And here we are. 60 pounds heavier and knee deep in sugar again. And when you feel hopeless, you don’t need complicated.
What works for me in the area of food is this:
I rotate them about every hour. Switching to hot tea from coffee after the first 2 or 3 cups.
In the morning I usually spend about an hour and a half working on a cup of coffee. Then I move onto a full bottle of water. After that, I grab an Atkins shake. Usually that first round of “Coffee, Water, Shake” takes me about 3-4 hours to get in. It could be less time or more depending. If I do this rotation throughout the day I might get in about 3-4 shakes by around 5 pm. In the beginning of my weight loss journey, I was doing full liquids for awhile and this helped me completely detox off of sugar and even lose a desire for food in a lot of ways. It totally broke the hold food had on me. At other times, I will just do the liquids during the day and then eat a low carb dinner in the evening.
Only last month, I had success with this and wrote about it here. I even had lost 10 pounds. But something happened and I went right back again. Gained the 10 pounds back and here we are. Regardless of THAT, it still works. The problem is once again—consistency. I did it for a week but I couldn’t maintain it. So I am going to try to go back to that super simple plan of making small changes. So small that I won’t say NO to it. And for this week my 5 day streak involves that.
I am going to commit to doing ONE ROUND of the liquids for 5 days straight. For me, one round means
8-9 am Coffee
9-10 am Water
10-11 am Shake
That is only 3 hours of my day where I am committing to follow a strict food plan. Now that does not mean I am telling myself to go crazy and head for Wendy’s right after that. I am still going to continue to do what I have been doing all along . Trying to stay in control and mostly succeeding but not always. However, for the first 3 hours of the morning I will adhere to my strict schedule. Those 3 hours I WILL succeed. Whatever happens the rest of the day— happens. If I screw up, I screw up. But it won’t take away from my victory. Those 3 hours in control over my food daily over the next 5 days will build hope in my heart. It will show me that not only can I make myself get up and go walking a half mile every single day for 5 days straight—I can regain control over my food for at least 3 hours every day too!! Just like with my other goal, if I choose to continue drinking shakes the rest of the day I totally can. But not because it is MANDATORY. Only if it’s my choice. And if I don’t do that then it’s ok too. I will still have accomplished my goal.
I find so much of getting back on track to be a battle in my mind over being FORCED to do something I feel that I either don’t want to do or that I am incapable of doing. I always feel so much pressure on me when I try a “diet”. Originally I had planned to set the food goal as doing the liquid shakes until 5 pm as I have done before. But I immediately felt burdened again. Right away I knew–that’s not the goal for this week!!
You know how they say go big or go home. Well I say the opposite.
Go SMALL. And when that feels overwhelming—GO EVEN SMALLER
So I knocked it down to 3 hours and that felt do-able. That felt like a challenge I could accomplish. Because I am tired of the pressure. I am tired of being told I have to do everything perfectly day in and day out to feel successful. I have found that it is better to make super small goals so I have a better chance at experiencing victory instead of defeat. As time goes on, I choose to do more. Not from pressure but by choice. And by that time, I have gained confidence and even a DESIRE to do more. And that’s the difference. We always are more successful when we are doing something we truly want to do and not something we feel forced to do.
So my 5 Day Super Simple Victory Plan?
Walk a half mile every day this week
One Round of Liquids from 8-11 Am every day this week
That is all I have to do to be successful this week. THAT IS IT. And while some people might say that isn’t enough to matter–I happen to have the advantage now of knowing that YES IT DOES. Because I did it already once before. This is exactly how I lost weight in the first place.
Not with any of the other methods I had tried in the past. Not with any hardcore exercise program or radical diet. But by making super small goals that I knew I could achieve. Maybe not easy but DO-ABLE. And I made sure to celebrate each 30 second victory like I had just run a Triathlon. Because who gets to say when we get to celebrate?? WE DO! And changing our life no matter how slowly we do it IS cause for celebration
This girl was in hopeless confusion on how to ever dig herself out…..
And by setting SUPER SMALL goals 30 seconds at a time, I was able to accomplish something I never thought I would be able to.
That is the reason my brother had a medal made for me when I lost 200 pounds that says “200 Pounds lost 30 seconds at a time”
And you know what I need to do?? Pull that medal back out and wear it around my neck on that half mile walk!! Because WHY NOT? I know small steps work. I know THEY WILL WORK. We must believe and have faith in the process. We must rebuild our confidence that we can do it. And we must be patient with ourselves along the way.
It doesn’t matter how small the goal just so long as you pick one and go for it.
And since it’s my life, I get to decide what that goal will be. I get to set the standards. I don’t have to let anyone else tell me what I have to do to be considered successful. This is a very important aspect of the journey because anyone who has ever struggled with obesity knows that EVERYONE has an opinion. And I do mean everyone. You almost become used to being told what to do. And you often feel you have to listen because after all…you can’t even trust yourself not to eat everything in the refrigerator so why should YOU have a choice?
But you do. You have a voice. You have a choice. And no matter how much you weigh, that freedom should never be taken away.
I was most successful when I stopped letting other people tell me how to lose weight. When I stopped allowing other people to tell me what was acceptable or good enough. This is what works for ME. And I will not feel guilty about it being small. I know small things turn into big things. I know what I need to do to build confidence and motivation in myself to keep going. I give myself permission to do what works for me. And I’m going to start doing it once again!
Once upon a time, I had a Victory List. My original one is HERE
I decided to make another one for this week with my goals. I am displaying them proudly on my fridge!
What are your plans for the week?