My weight loss journey has mood swings!

November 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

I was just thinking this week that if my weight loss “journey” came to life as a personified being—it would be a woman with raging mood swings.  I’ve noticed lately that my journey seems to have a pattern of success and defeat.  It seems almost clear to me now that after 4 or 5 weeks of progress, I am almost predestined to happen upon a week of utter destruction.

If you’ve followed me over the past month or so, you will know that I recently experienced a great run!  While I hadn’t actually lost any weight, I had stopped gaining.  I may not have seen progress on the scale but progress was happening.  For the first time in a year, I managed to build consistent exercise back into my life.  I made it through 4 solid weeks of daily exercise and according to science that is long enough to create a habit.   Research says that 21 days is how long you need to make something automatic.  4 weeks is 28 days.  And I had totally succeeded!  Exercise was no longer a chore.  I was actually starting to enjoy it.  I had settled into a routine again and I was starting to feel empowered.  I was even building back in good habits with my food.  Starting to finally get a grip again.

And then came week 5.  Like a bat out of hell.  With almost no warning, I woke up void of all inspiration.  No desire to work out.  No desire to eat right.  More than that—I was almost filled with a level of NOT caring that seemed to grow.  It wasn’t just that I couldn’t muster up the energy to keep on the routine I had established.  It was as if I had become possessed by an alternate personality who actually DID have desires—and it was to annihilate my progress.  This mood was pretty adamant that nothing I did mattered.  It wasn’t depression.  It wasn’t anxiety.  It was just pure, unadulterated apathy.  Total lack of concern.  Utter disregard for my goals.  And then came the donuts.  The chips.  And a fog laden with the crumbs of yesterday’s snack cakes and wrappers that shall remain unnamed!

What happened?? It was like I totally didn’t care! Not a lick of guilt could I even muster up.  I walked into that grocery store with not a shred of indecision in me.  I was going to eat what I wanted with a smile on my face and enjoy each bite like it was my last supper.  I didn’t even hide it.   My former sugar injected enemies would be placed in full sight on my kitchen counter for the world to see.

“That’s right!”, I declared to all who entered my lair—“I’m eating it! And SEE IF I CARE!”

The children tip toed around me most of the week.  Unsure if this personality was just a visitor or if she had come to stay.  Happy for the most part that brownies had appeared but hesitant to eat them since they could see I was on some kind of food ‘trip’–and yes I mean THAT kind of trip—-the one with sugar highs and rainbow skittles.  Marshmallow clouds and moon pies.  But soon I would come down and crash.  Returned once again to reality.  Apathy replaced with regret.  My body aching with the effects of junk food flowing through me. My pants screaming at me for relief and crying out that we were on our way back to elastic if this trend continued.

Finally my senses returned and I feel as if this spirt of rebellion has been exorcised.  But now I am left with a week or so of destruction.  About 5 pounds added to the scale.  And some progress undone.  I have to ask myself—“What happened?!”

As a woman, I could look back and make sense out of this if I had been on my period.  Hormones often take control of me during these times and make my hunger so ravenous that you’d think I’d been starved for weeks.  But that wasn’t the case.  And yet it mimics it so well, I can’t help but find comparisons.  I’ve been thinking lately that my weight loss journey on its own seems to go through cycles.  Much LIKE a woman on her period.  Forgive me for having no other comparison that makes sense.  But that’s just how it seems.  I go through 4 or 5 weeks of progress almost always followed by a week of utter abandon. As if I am destined to never be able to get past week 4 or 5 without a fall.  Without meeting the inevitable cliff.  As if week 4 or 5 is automatically programmed to cycle me through some violent mood swing that threatens to derail me.

I’ve never thought much about it  but looking back now I can see it clearly.  Every time I get on a roll, I seem to run out of steam around week 5.  Almost like clockwork.  I suppose it’s time that I start expecting it.  Instead of being surprised by this mood storm, I should start boarding up the windows and taking cover when week 5 approaches.  Preparing myself like someone would for an approaching tornado.  Building a cellar underneath my house and seeking cover when the winds approach.

What is up with Week 5?  Why is that every 5 weeks or so, I take a dive.  Its probably always been this way but I never really noticed the pattern.  A month or so of progress followed by a nasty spill.  Am I the only one? Or is this some kind of wall we hit when progress is being made?  Is it something that can be explained?  Or is this just simple mental sabotage?  Is it boredom? Is it psychological? Or is something happening physiologically around week 5 to make my body flip out and rebel?

These are the questions I ask myself this Monday when I face a new week.   The aftermath of my crazy madness that week 5 brought.  I don’t know what causes these mind flips.  I just know they happen.  And I should come to expect them.  Today, I felt defeated but a shred of hope had returned.  I was once again pinged on my phone by the news that Allen had walked his dog 0.03 miles.  It took them roughly 7 minutes according to the notification.  Yes..that’s right….I reminded myself.  It doesn’t take much to get going in the right direction.  I pulled up my Leslie Sansone Walking to the Hits DVD and determined to walk at least as far as Allen’s dog!  I ended up doing 2 miles.  It seems some energy and motivation has returned.  I am feeling more like myself.  No more of that weird Stephen King like mist from the movies where it causes you to act like you’re crazy.  Buying Food Lion out of all their snack cakes and shooting sideway glances at the clerk in case they tried to judge you for a cart filled with nothing but junk! Nope–the mist is gone.  Back to my right mind and hoping the next 4 weeks can undo some of the damage.

But I’m putting crazy town on the calendar for the next week 5.  I’m going to arm myself this time.  Ready to rumble when the mist returns!  And in the meantime, I’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other.  Giving my crazy to God and asking Him for wisdom when it returns!  The power to cast out Brownies and call down fire upon Cheetos!

May the force be with us!

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Angie November 17, 2014 at 2:46 pm

I so understand what you mean about the 5 week period! Mine lasts a little longer (went almost 3 months with few setbacks) but when it comes it seems to last a lot longer too. I had lost 40 lbs. in the span of about 6 months, was feeling great, working out like crazy and didn’t even really miss all the junk. I thought the worst was behind me and that the “old” me had vanished. Then one morning I woke up and just like a light switch all motivation was gone and the urge to eat anything and everything in sight was back. That was 2 months ago and I have now gained back 25 lbs. not to mention the fact that I injured my back at work and now have a very difficult time moving without pain. I’m depressed, and I feel like all hope is lost. This just sucks!

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Barb November 17, 2014 at 3:25 pm

So I’m not the only crazy one! LOL! At least you can make it 4 weeks because I can’t even make it a week before the switch is flipped and I’m back into sugar hell. I’ve been in this cycle for over a year and it has totally wore me down. I’ve tried intuitive eating because I want to be at peace with food but constantly living on junk never gets old. It’s my drug of choice. There are days I just wish I didn’t have to eat. Sorry I’m no help.

I was doing great with exercise. Walking outside everyday. Today there is 5″ of snow on the ground. I guess I better figure out something I enjoy doing inside.

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Jo November 17, 2014 at 4:02 pm

The good news is that you are back on plan today. I have been cheating a little this week so when I read your post today it helped knowing I wasn’t alone. I just keep thinking if I give in now I will start thinking “well it will be Thanksgiving next week and then only a few more weeks to Christmas, I will be careful and start again on New Year’s day”. I could do some severe damage if I allow myself to start eating garbage and not exercising until January!!! This is how the madness starts. So today I will do my best and I hope you will too. I will say a prayer for your success.

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Mrs. Abella November 17, 2014 at 4:04 pm

I wonder if the cycle you’re seeing has anything to do with the hormones we tend to have going on monthly or so? Also with the weather changes, going into the deep dark winter, that tends to mess with us too.

Either way, you have found that you have a problem at week 5. Now, when you edge into your 5th week, you can take measures to combat it, instead of giving in! You have tools and resources to help yourself, and you have your children to encourage you (and us who read and comment) along the way. You can do it!!

My own journey has been going on for 2 months and almost 2 weeks. There’s been lots of ups and downs, but exercise has made a huge difference. When I started this, I couldn’t walk 2 blocks without huffing and puffing. Now, I can go 3 miles with the Leslie Sansone videos without pausing them. The high from exercise is stronger than the high from chocolate, and I’m addicted! 🙂 Eating is pretty consistent, some days better than others, but right back on track if I go off the side.

You can do it! You’ve been at it a while, you can do it! Keep up the good work you’ve done and keep on going!
Mrs. Abella recently posted..Weight Loss Challenge Week 11–Back to Business!My Profile

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Margaret November 17, 2014 at 4:56 pm

I have a theory that it isn’t a return of the negative, but an absence of the positive. Ok, that doesn’t make sense, let me try again. (Coffee refill.)

I read a study somewhere about how long it takes for the brain to adjust to a new environment (in this case, going to prison on Riker’s Island) The answer was around 28 days. Ditto when how long does it take the brain to adjust to becoming paralyzed (about 28 days.) To winning the lottery? Ditto. Good or bad, the brain adjusts to its environment/circumstances and then stops having to continuously register it. It takes a short cut and scans for changes after about a month.

So, I wonder if the first month – while your brain is adjusting – it feels exciting and you get neurological feedback. Once a routine has become “uninteresting” and the brain can just scan, you miss those messages of attention the brain makes when it is in a new place.

I think it’s the same thing when the newness has worn off a new car or the end of the “honeymoon phase” at a new job, it doesn’t mean the car/job isn’t still good. it’s just not neurologically interesting.
Margaret recently posted..What quadrant is Saturn?My Profile

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Anneli November 17, 2014 at 6:28 pm

When weight watchers figures out how to deal with stuff like this, I’ll come running back. I’ll be interested to know what you’ll do to defeat the next onslaught. I TOTALLY get not caring. Here’s some random thinking out loud….would it help to pair a binge with some other kind of unrelated positive behavior? Sure you eat a stack of moon pies, but you also write 6 chapters of your novel? Would the interest in the positive behavior help short circuit the negative? Or would it backfire–“I NEED a moon pie to finish the chapter”? Would money work? What extravagent thing have you always wanted–a trip to Hawaii? A Ferrari? When you think about going to the store to fuel your binge–how much is that actually going to cost you? Can you take that money and put it in the bank? IDK–might not be powerful enough. Good LUCK!! Just think—once you figure this out, you can market it and be a millionaire at last!
Anneli recently posted..HappyMy Profile

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Lori November 17, 2014 at 9:14 pm

I am so glad you discovered that pattern and can now prepare yourself. Denial is what has kept many of us too heavy for too long.
Lori
Lori recently posted..And Now a Word about ExerciseMy Profile

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Karin November 17, 2014 at 9:58 pm

I have issues once a month and I know its brought on by a hormonal shift. I try hard to be prepared and I also prep my husband (who gets the roughest part). Those are dietary issues. I have a general malaise that hits at 3 months where I don’t want to eat my same old boring meals, I don’t want to exercise, I just want to wrap up in a warm heated blanket and eat some chips while I read a book. I can usually get through the monthly bump. It’s the 3 month bump that has consistently been derailing me. Good Luck!

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tb November 18, 2014 at 1:04 am

i also fall off my diet regularly too. usually about once a week. you seem to be doing really well compared to me. you last five weeks. Wow!! i just end up getting hungry and i feel deprived. so i cheat a little. fortunately it hasn’t messed up my weight loss too much at this point, but i am not losing quickly. slowly in fact. oh well, better to lose something slowly than not at all.

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Cindy November 18, 2014 at 7:38 pm

Hi Holly – I read an interesting book by Charles Duhigg called, “The Power of Habit”, why we do what we do in life and business. I found it very insightful and if I am willing to put in the work, I think it will help me develop new habits. You’ve helped me in so many ways, sometimes I think you’re in my head!, and I wanted to send something your way that you may (or may not) find helpful! Cindy

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LHA November 19, 2014 at 2:49 am

For a long time I would sabotage myself by having a bad day or two each week. It usually happened right after I weighed. I was either celebrating a loss or mourning a gain I think. I would talk to myself over and over about how I could be losing more weight each week if I would just stop, but it was hard! I solved it partly by only weighing once a month. Of course there were other triggers for apathy and going astray and I am still working on some of those.

The comment about taking the money you spend on junk food and doing something fun with it might work. Could you plan a fun outing (not food related) or a little shopping trip each time you are approaching week 5. Anything to change up the schedule and give you a little lift would help. I find when I am busy doing something fun I am less likely to overeat. Good luck finding your solution. I know you will!!

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Iva November 20, 2014 at 7:37 pm

Personally, for me, I don’t think I’ll ever have this weight thing “kicked”. I know that sounds like a defeated person; but I’m not. I just know that I have continued to lose weight and then regain it (with “friends” as I say)! It’s not that I can’t lose the weight, I can. It’s not that I can’t change my attitude toward food, I can. It’s not that I can’t exercise, I just won’t. I think it’s just me and my makeup – me from when I was born to now. I’ve had things that have influenced my attitude towards food, comfort, fear, worthiness – you name it, we have all been influenced by someone or some thing. I’m not saying others are to blame at all. I am saying that the feelings I experience comes from inside me.

I have now lost 38 pounds AGAIN with Weight Watchers. The first time I lost 70#’s, the second time, I think I lost 50#’s, the third time, about 30#’s and now after losing 38#, I have at least 50# to go. It’s always been the pattern with me, lose and gain it back. It has made me feel awful. Always a failure, never good enough, whatever.

I have begun to look at losing differently though. I see it as an ongoing journey, a life time of watching what I eat, where I eat, how I eat and why I eat. I also believe, for me, I need the encouragement of my weekly WW meetings. I have in the past, quit going when I lost my weight and that didn’t work, so I am trying not to miss a meeting. It keeps me focused and it’s a great class full of REAL people. Is it going to keep me from putting back on the weight. No. Only I can do that. So, every day I get up and I have 200 food choices to make for the day. Every day, I choose what I will eat, when I will eat and why I will eat. At the end of the day, it was a choice.

So, lately, I have been making great choices and for that, I am proud, very proud. Do I have the answers – No. I just deal with it sometimes a minute, sometimes an hour or whatever it takes to remember that food is fuel for our bodies. No more, no less. Do I have this weight thing licked – not hardly. BUT, I will keep on trying because it’s something I want to do. It’s possible that I will gain again and will have to lose again. BUT, today, it’s good and I choose to focus on that!

WE all have a choice. Choose life and choose to be happy!

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