Sunday, February 20, 2011

Weigh-in no. 26, grief & working through the grammar of my fears

Welcome to another week and another weigh-in....

Weigh-in no. 26 (- .6 lbs)

Last week:    286.8
This week:    286.2      
Loss of          -  0.6
Total Loss     - 40.8

It seems like every time I cross a big milestone, I have a week or two afterwards where I flounder a bit, get a little cocky, take a couple steps back, and generally lose a little momentum.  This week is no different, but I think I've finally recognized it.  Now, figuring out what to do about it is another question.  Ride it out, I suppose, is the best thing to do.  Let it be what it is, lean into it, explore it and remember to be gentle with myself as this is a process and not something I will figure out overnight.

But it does make me wonder: why do I do flounder after a milestone?  The weird thing is that I see two conflicting things at work in my mind simultaneously as I reflect on it:
  1. I get overly confident.  I think I have this whole 'losing weight thing' licked.  I seem to have this whole "Step back, it's ok; I've got this" attitude going on that is really empowering in a lot of ways but serves to probably shoot myself in the foot.  Then I have a week like this and I get taken down a peg or two and am back in the real world where losing weight requires a lot of mental and physical hard work, and I'm forced to get real again.
  2. I begin to doubt, wonder if I really need to keep going and get fearful of the unknown of being successful.  There's a part of me that worries about that unknown - what life will be like, what will change, how people will treat me, and what expectations come along with being thinner that I wasn't aware of.  And so I slow down, unsure of the future and whether or not I really want to go down that path.  My need for control has always made the unknown much more scary than is, perhaps, expected or normal.

It's further proof that the majority of the work in this losing weight business is mental - not physical - which, I think, surprises most people and also is why folks don't keep the weight off sometimes.  It's why I haven't kept the weight off when I've lost in the past.  You gotta deal with those demons.  You can't just eat 1,200 calories and exercise 6 hours a day (and who's got time to do that anyway??) and expect that you've got it whipped, because you don't. 

And there's something else that I think is rarely talked about among those who are on this type of  journey that I've been thinking about recently.  We hardly ever talk about grief.

We're expected to be happy about these changes (and we get pep talks from folks to remind us to be happy) and to voice concern, feeling lost, not knowing who we are and what'll be there for us when we get there isn't given as much time or attention as I think it should.

You want to lose a significant amount of weight (I'm talking about more than 5-10 lbs)?  Great!  But anything lost that played any sort of role in your life has the potential to induce grief.  In short, loss = grief.  We all know you feel grief when you lose something/someone close to you, but you can feel grief when you lose a job, when you become a mother and lose that identity of being without a child or the experience of being pregnant, when you get married and lose the identity of being single... 

Weight loss isn't any different.  

My weight has been close to me, a constant companion my whole life.  It's a part of me.  It's defined who I've been for almost 30 years.  It has protected me.  It has been a part of almost every decision I've made.  It has traveled the world with me cramped into airplane seats and being hauled around like excess baggage, and people recognize me when it's accompanying me.

The grief comes when you realize that that person you were - the person you don't recognize in the pictures anymore - is gone (or going).  It comes when who you thought you were in that skin, in those sized jeans, ceases to exist to some extent.  It is a death (even if it's one you sought out and will be good for you)....and it's something I'm starting to recognize.  It's not terribly strong at the moment, but I know it's there and will accompany me as I continue to go through this process.  I know it will get stronger.  I know that without carrying around all this weight in the coming months has the potential to set me adrift.  I know I'm going to have to explore and figure out who I am without it.

And I've got to be honest: that's really scary.

But as the brilliant Emily Saliers of The Indigo Girls wrote: 

I begin my studies with this paper and this pencil 
and I'm working through the grammar of my fears...

- "Language or the Kiss" from Swamp Ophelia

In an effort to do that, I think it's time I post new progress photos:

        11 Aug 2010 (327 lbs)                   3 Oct 2010 (312 lbs)               20 Feb 2011 (286.2 lbs)

        11 Aug 2010 (327 lbs)                   3 Oct 2010 (312 lbs)           20 Feb 2011 (286.2 lbs)

  11 Aug 2010 (327 lbs)             3 Oct 2010 (312 lbs)           20 Feb 2011 (286.2 lbs)

 11 Aug 2010 (327 lbs)                       3 Oct 2010 (312 lbs)                           20 Feb 2011 (286.2 lbs)

And so I decide to ride it out...

The thin horizon of a plan is almost clear.
My friends and I have had a tough time,
bruising our brains, hard up against change
all the old dogs and the magician 

Now I see we're in the boat in two by twos;
only the heart that we have for a tool we could use.
And the very close quarters are hard to get used to;
love weighs the hull down with its weight.

But the wood is tired and the wood is old;
and we'll make it fine if the weather holds.
But if the weather holds
will we have missed the point?
That's were I need to go

No way construction of this tricky plan
was built by other than a greater hand,
With a love that passes all our understanding
watching closely over the journey.
Yeah, but what it takes to cross the great divide
seems more than all the courage I can muster up inside.
But we get to have some answers when we reach the other side;
the prize is always worth the rocky ride.

But the wood is tired and the wood is old;
and we'll make it fine if the weather holds.
But if the weather holds
then we'll have missed the point.
That's where I need to go

Sometimes I ask to sneak a closer look,
skip to the final chapter of the book.
And maybe steer us clear from some of the pain that it took
to get us where we are this far.
But the question drowns in its futility,
and even I have got to laugh at me,
'Cause no one gets to miss the storm of what will be;
just holding on for the ride.

The wood is tired the wood is old;
and we'll make it fine if the weather holds.
But if the weather holds 
Then we'll have missed the point
that's where I need to go.

- "The Wood Song" from Swamp Ophelia by The Indigo Girls
written by Emily Saliers

The ride will get rockier and my fears will continue.  They'll change and evolve as I do.  But I am being watched over by love that passes all understanding as I continue along this journey.  It'll be ok.  And the lessons learned along the way will be invaluable.


    1. Dearest Jayme, this is the most honest piece of work I have read in a long time. Exposing yourself, your fears and hopes is so brave and I commend you for the journey. I love you very much and walk with you where I can. x

    2. Fantastic post Jayme...I have also reached the "cocky" place...ahh and noticed plenty of self sabotage going on. I have interrupted the rhythm of my weight loss and what you write resonates so strongly. Thank you for your wonderfully insightful post x

    3. Thank you for this. I know the things you have mentioned are directly related to my fears and the reasons I have NOT been able to lose weight for the past few years.

      I am afraid of what looking and feeling better will mean. I'm afraid of the expectations that will be on me when I can't use my illness and the weight gain that came with it as an excuse. I've always been terribly insecure about living up to what is, and what I perceive is, expected of me. When I'm fat and tired all the time my depression lingers and I can wrap my self in the familiar. If I lose weight and get fit I might be expected to do things I'm afraid I'll fail at.

      It's a vicious circle I need to break because though I'm wrapping my self in the familiar I am far, far from happy.

      So, thanks for sharing this and I hope that I can overcome this fear and get healthy :)


    4. I SO relate to this post...just remembering it will all be okay is SO important..thanks for the reminder.

    5. I totally feel you on this. The fear of the unknown is completely scary and definitely not something I personally considered before starting. The grieving, the emotional work - these are the biggest struggles for me - I'd say even more difficult to deal with than binge eating. You're making terrific progress, and not only physically - the more work you do on the emotional stuff now, the better. [I'm thinking about organizing some sort of challenge for April that would deal with this, because I know I'm struggling and the camaraderie of challenges helps me with keeping focused and hearing others' thoughts on the subject at hand.]

    6. Thanks for your honesty in this post Jayme. It's so comforting to know that I am not the only one who goes through these things.

      I feel grief, too, but for two different parts of me. See, back in 2004 or so I was down to 185 pounds and felt really good. I grieve her. I grieve her confidence, her guts, her freedom. I don't know for sure why I let all this weight creep back on.

      Now that I am committing again to getting back there, I do also grieve the current 265+ pound me. I am afraid of who I will be thinner. I know that a major motivator for me is parenthood, but I also wonder if I will lose myself when I become a mother. I too have carried around all of this weight for so long that I am just not sure how the world will work when I lose it again.

      But I know I have to find out. I am getting older, running out of time. I know it'll be better at 199 pounds or 150 pounds. I have to trust that I am strong enough to get there and stay there.

    7. wow, thanks everyone for your responses. it's humbling to hear your stories and the issues you've raised.

      we do not walk alone.

    8. This is soooooo true for me as well (as you know). I can look back and see how when I was doing really good with weight loss efforts before, I ended up faltering not because I was weak... it was because I became overconfident. The whole "I got this" attitude took over and I ended up sliding right back into other habits that also made me feel good - namely eating. So glad I'm not alone.