Saturday, August 9, 2008

Fool Me Once...

What happens when one falls off the fitness/health wagon? Well, it usually involves a slippage in exercise and a slide into a vat of chocolate...or french fries, or both. Chocolate french fries?

During this time of slipping and sliding I usually continue to weigh myself. Having gone down this path myself a few times I've noticed something very evil happens. I don't gain weight, at least not for a few weeks. I think there are several reasons for this.

#1: For the first couple of weeks of said fall I might actually still be exercising now and again. I read somewhere that it only takes half the work to maintain fitness gains as it took to obtain them in the first place. So, if you're only doing 1/4th of what you used to do you're still maintaining something.

#2: Most of my meals are probably still relatively healthy. These first two reflect that I don't fall off the wagon in one heavy thud, right? I slowly lose my grip, slowly slide down to the edge, and my good habits slowly fall by the wayside.

#3: The metabolism remains high for a while. It's not like I lose all that good, hard-earned muscle overnight. I continue to burn through the calories at a higher rate even though my exercise might not be regular anymore.

#4: The reverse of the old muscle weighs more than fat line. As you lose muscle and gain fat your weight stays the same. Evil. Your clothes might be getting snug but the final arbiter, The Scale, tells you all is well. And since we've conditioned ourselves that The Scale Knows All, we fool ourselves into listening to it again. Like I've said many times before, the scale only tells part of the story.
What does this all mean? It means we get taken for a ride. I tell myself, "Wow, I've finally figured this out. I can eat like a regular person, exercise just a little and maintain my weight." I really fall for the lie, and hard. So hard that I carry on with my merry ways, happily eating french fries and pizza, sitting on my ass watching Jeopardy after work, all the while thinking I've finally mastered weight maintenance. And then...

The weight gain starts. And when it does it's usually too late. I've fallen off the wagon entirely and it's gone on down the road without me. I can't even see it anymore. And the weight gain is gradual, it's a 1/2 pound here, a pound there. I start adjusting my acceptable weight standards. This really helps with the denial, "160 is still pretty good,"... "165 isn't bad,"... "170? I guess I can live with that." Right around here is where I might stop weighing myself altogether. Bigger denial. This isn't happening, I am not gaining weight.

Does any of this sound familiar? I realized the other day how well I know this path. I realized I could write it out in steps I know it so well. And it's that trick at the beginning that really helps to let us live the denial, believe the lie we've always wanted to be true.

I am writing about this because I am facing some challenges in maintaining my healthy eating and exercising routine, but I don't think I am falling off the wagon. It's possible this is the biggest case of denial ever. So big that I'm actually blogging about it but saying it doesn't apply to me. But I don't think so. I think the difference is that I am writing about it, thinking about it, weighing myself, watching. I am not telling myself, "By George I think I've got it! I can eat pizza, sit on my couch and not gain weight!". I am facing some unique challenges right now. More to come, I promise.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this wagon falling business.

Moving on...What's on tap for this weekend? Oh wait! Before I forget. I signed up for a sprint tri. It's the same one I did back in late June, Tri for Fun. They do it three times a summer and this is the final one. It's next weekend, August 16th. I am really excited. I decided I needed something to boost morale around here. And what better way to do it than cross a finish line?

So, this weekend...Well, Miguel's out playing golf. Actually, he just called to ask if I want to join him post-golf at IHOP for breakfast. I passed :) So, when he gets home we're heading to the pool for some swimming. I really enjoy swimming. Swimming is the sport most people give as the reason they won't do a tri. I just don't get that, so I guess I'm lucky. I find swimming so easy and relaxing. I think it's the fact that my weight is supported.

After the pool we're going to watch the Carrera de San Rafael, a big bike race in downtown San Rafael. I'm excited to see the roadies flying by! And there's supposed to be a big expo nearby. Right up my bike path! Tomorrow (Sunday) I'm going into SF for One Hawaii, a Hawaiian music concert in the park. The weather should be great and I can't wait to sample some of my favorite Hawaiian foods that I am sure will be for sale. Aloha everyone!


  1. Holy moly!! You just put into words what I'm going through. I think mine started with my injury though and it's kind of snowballed into falling off the wagon. The thing is, when I reach this point, #4, I start grasping around for things to help. I think that's what lead to the elliptical purchase. I needed something to get me moving again. Kind of like your entering the sprint, except I can't race :( So, I'm right there with you whatever the reasons behind it may be. I am bound and determined to get back on that bugger this week no matter what!!!

    Have a great time at One Hawaii. Na Leo and Ernie Cruz are two of my favorites!! I like Kaukahi too. Enjoy that ono food.

  2. I love how your pictures match your writing so perfectly. I agree 100%, I've fallen into that trap MANY times - this summer in fact. I'm just now coming out of it.
    Your weekend plans sound fabulous. I wish we had more cool things going on around here.
    I now have a golf outing on the same day as my 10k - that ought to be interesting.
    Thanks for the notes, too.

  3. I've been in denial since May. I've told myself that since I'm training for a triathlon and working out 5 times a week, I can eat ANYTHING I want. That just sounds so wonderful!

    I've completely accepted this theory. I even stopped weighing myself because the scale wasn't going any lower. Stupid scale, you lie.

  4. yikes, heavy is the heart today? I think the big thing is having a consistent routine so it's second nature behaviour. For example, a firefighter walking thru the mall and givng someone CPR is a second nature response because they are so well trained to instinctively react that way.

    Our hope is that our consistent behavior of healthy living will be instinctive, in the midst of lifes battles, like a tough work week, or a divorce, etc. And the best way to develop that behavior is to continue practicing perfectly, until you don't even notice it anymore...not that I'm an expert by any means. I just think that's my hope. =)

    I will say that putting it out there, out loud, has to be a good sign though! You know, maybe taking on someone to mentor would be good for you. Teaching solidifies what you already know...

  5. Have fun with your sprint tri next weekend.

    I think you described the weight trap pretty well. I also think that writing about it means you're trying to outsmart the trap this time. good for you.

  6. We all fall of and get back on - I have been this way my whole life. It is funny how 1/2 lb here and a 1/2 lb there may not seem like a lot but when you add those up WOW. I love your explosion picture as I have imploded on a number of occasions. The best way to get out of it is just to take the first step usually something triggers it like I go to put on my skinny jeans and they are tight that usually kicks me into getting back on track. Or if there is a big event coming up and I need to put on that little black dress like I will have to in 7 weeks. Got to go just realized the clock is ticking - off to the gym....
    Great Post!!! Keep up the good work you are doing great - one day at a time.

  7. Perfect description of what has happened to me many times in the past.

    It is always a drag when it happens, but never really a surprise when I gain weight after not being as diligent about stuff I have to do.

    Sometimes, honestly, I get a little resentful of having to do the stuff I do: weigh/measure; count points; exercise more than the average bear.

    Sometimes I don't mind doing all those things.

    I've been having a hard time "remembering" to journal.

    I'm sure there are legitimate reasons (I'm preoccupied with the cat, work and my event next week). Some are not legit: I DON'T WANT TO today....I DON'T FEEL like KEEPING IN MY POINTS RANGE today...

    I'm trying to just be gentle with myself; write it all down without judging and just know I'll get it back together.

    Have fun with the sprint! You'll be awesome!

  8. Hey Michelle,

    sounds like you've got your head around this wagon deal...especially admitting out loud the fat turning to muscle bit. I've always pretended that wasn't happening (even though I secretly knew it was)

    Let me tell you..

    A woman who signs up for a triathlon in one weeks time is no where near the point of having her wagon trot down the street without her.

    Sometimes when life throws a curveball and your treading water its a success just to maintain- in weight terms but also maintain good entering triathlons!

    You continue to be an inspiration!
    I hope everything works out!

  9. It describes perfectly what I was thinking about today. Do not feel like you are the only one. At least you are aware and addressing it.

  10. You're in my head I swear. Great post. I'm off the rails right now.

  11. michelle, you have just described the battle every dieter goes through in amazing detail.

    while i can preach to my friends about how their small dip into falling off the wagon is not so bad and that every meal is the chance to get back on track, i never hear those words come out of my mouth when i am the one back-sliding. or i hear them but don't listen. it is true though.

    we didn't gain all our weight over night, so we aren't going to lose it that way... just take one day at a time.

    and have a great time at the tri next weekend!

  12. Hey Michelle,
    I don't know you...only the you I know through your blog (and that's not for very long now), but it seems to me that you are VERY FAR AWAY from the person you were when you first started this journey...but that you are going through a little slump. You KNOW that you can't sit on your couch and eat pizza and watch Jeopardy every day after work, and not gain weight. So that means, you're not lying to yourself...again, a slump is not the abyss.

    I like that you registered for the sprint-tri...the old you would have NEVER done that...

    It'll be OK. It's a slump. Be kind to yourself and you'll come out of it.

  13. Your post sounds like an article I would write. After years of dieting, losing and re-losing weight, I believe we all fall off the wagon every now and then. It is a way we learn to eat the way we should. It is us as individuals that need to find what our accountability level is and go from there. I was told once you never see a "thin" person over eat more than a meal or snack every now and then. It is because they might overeat that one day, but they know the next day to cut back and get right back with their healthy eating.
    You are doing great, look fantastic and after your post you mentioned the events you are signing up for. Tecnically you are NOT falling off the wagon. You have developed good habits and at leat are maintaing them during this time.

  14. Your words are all too familiar. I think that admitting it, writing it or saying it makes it more difficult to continue falling off the wagon. Reaching out to all of those supports that helped you along the way can only make it easier to get back on track.

    I don't know you either except through your blog, yet your weight loss journey is what connects you to so many people.

    I know that the scale will be up a pound or so for me this week, but I have to keep moving forward. It will go down next week.

    I am in no position to offer advice just thanks for sharing your story. You do have amazing will power and courage, sometimes we forget how far we've come. You have an entire blog to prove it.

  15. That would be so fun to see a road race. You should write about it!

    Glad you signed up for a sprint -- have a lot of fun with it. And of course writing about it too!

    You seem to have a handle on things. Whatever wagon we try to stay on it is never truly easy and sometimes are just hard.

  16. Oh I soooo know this feeling! I am struggling through it myself right now.

    It's still hard to make the connection between knowing what is going on, and then what to do to fix it! I could write a book on nutrition I know so damn much about it, but can I shut my mouth long enough not to put crap in it??? No no no - It is a constant battle with me and my love of food and all things junky....

    Denial - the best word to describe it. You aren't alone, there are plenty battling the evil that is food. We can't live without it, so somehow we have to make peace with it - and it is a day by day challenge!

    I look at your before and after pictures and am green with envy, but then I also know the hard hard wok that goes into achieveing that!!! Keep going!

  17. Keep at it girl! Your dedication and hard work efforts have been inspiring. We all have our lulls, but get back out on the bike or in the pool or better yet, enjoy your tri sprint and you'll be ready to go again.

  18. Hey lady! You're on the same wagon as me...if you fall off how will I stay on???

    I am so excited for the sprint race report. The race sounds so fun, darn this distance between us.

    Stick with it, at the end of the day you'll see, we'll both be in this wagon: together of course.

    xox from NY

  19. Love the picture!!
    Keeping on writing down all the food (including the amount) is a great help, I think.
    Best wishes to you.

  20. hang in there! it happens to all of us. you posted about it and that is a good first step. and I can tell that you dont want things to get worse and taht is also good. just take it day by day and focus on incorporating one healthy beahvior back into your daily routine and before you knwo it, its a healthy habit again. These things happen and will always happen. you just have to find a way out of these funks each time and each time you will get stronger.

  21. Wish I'd known you were gonna run another tri next week..I woulda planned to be there. Oh shoots, does this mean I have to do another mini one on my own to support you???? I sure wouldn't have done the first two miles of the Kalalau trail this weekend and killed my calves if I'd known that!

    Okay, buddy....pick One Thing you'll do every day. I'd choose exercise/training of some sort..for maybe 30 minutes, because that'll make you feel better, but that would be me. You just choose one thing you'll do until you feel like doing another thing. Even if it's passing on one food every day.

    You will not let all this hard work go to waste. You will maintain what you've earned. Or I'll be over there so fast it'll make more than your beautiful body swim....and you know I can, so just try me.

    Hope you enjoyed the race and the concert.

    Love you no matter what

  22. Don't beat yourself up over your perceived slips. Everyone is human and demanding perfection is lunacy.

    You are doing great things and it is all a process. Just keep doing the next right thing for you.

  23. Wow, this is so accurate! All the same, you make me laugh about it :) You've just nailed the steps here...isn't it funny how it's brand new and shocking every time? Ha. I think this is fat thinking on my part, too -- an instance where I completely disconnect my behaviors from their consequences (eat ice cream = gain weight, over time). Hmmm. I'm working on a post that is sort of on this topic, too...anyway, thanks for articulating it so well. Your sprint tri sounds like an awesome way to pull out of this, though I hope you don't get overtired, motivation-wise. Also, I am so curious to know what is throwing you for such a loop right now. I hope there is a time when you can share with your readers.

  24. What a well thought out post! I've fallen off the wagon so many darn times that it's ridiculous....but it does follow the pattern that you described! Now to only figure out the way to avoid it totally! tee hee hee

  25. My Darling, this is one small bump in the road. You got 50 good years left, at least. It's happened at school (remember those days?) It's happened at work. It's happened in our families and interpersonal relationships. A Bad Patch. You caught yourself. You didn't double your weight. C'mon, Girl, don't beat yourself up, just stand back up and keep Truckin'. I did the same thing, I was missing in action for a month! I am back in the saddle, armed with veggies, lean meats and my points tracker. I hung my running gear up on the hook outside my bedroom. I'm ready. You are ready, too!

  26. hells yeah I agree. I just woke up from the impact and suffering from my time running away from the wagon. But I'm back on.

    But I love the post it put into words what goes on in my head!!

    Glad you wrote this though - it will help you from falling off!

    Hope you had a blast this weekend!

    P.S. stay away from the edge.

  27. We are all a work in progress...never reaching perfection. All we can do is learn from ourselves and others...your post helps us all.

  28. This was a great post Michelle! I'm with everyone else here when I say you are DEFINITELY nowhere near falling off the wagon. You recognize the potential for falling off, you may feel a little vulnerable to it at the moment - but you also have the weapons to face it down! You've got the game all figured out, and let's face it, if this were an easy battle to win, we would not all be fighting this battle over and over again!

    Thanks for reminding us where the danger zone is, because I know I will always think of this post when I get to that moment that I know inevitably will come!

    Hang tough!


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