rebooting weight loss: realigning with your goal after a detour

I’m sure none of you have ever wanted to lose weight. In that case, lucky you are. Though weight loss or management is the same as any goal, so you might still find something useful below regarding rebooting your Goal Progression System (GPS) after a detour. I’ve been on this journey of weight loss at significant points of my life, such as changing my degree part way through my college career and both before and after babies. Each time I’ve approached weight loss in a slightly different way. However, this time I’ve been using slow living techniques incorporating awareness, focus and playfulness, while leveraging the accountability of Weight Watchers. I’m still on the weight loss journey but for me it’s a long term journey of healthy weight management essential to learning success techniques to navigate the ever changing road of life and health. Recently I found myself stopping  a self destructive behavior before it potentially ended my current journey of weight loss and sent me on a detour for an undetermined length of time.

Thus far, I’ve found the accountability built into Weight Watchers as the most effective system of keeping my GPS programmed with my intended destination of weight loss. Although I’m not aligned with their promotion of low-fat or branded processed food snacks, I’ve found the motivation at meetings invaluable. This time around on my Weight Watchers journey, I happen to stumble on an especially talented meeting leader named Lanette. She has a way of motivating you using tried and true goal achievement techniques, and her encouragement to stick with it despite any set backs is relentless.

Just last week I did something I would not have normally done in the past…I attended my weekly Weight Watchers meeting knowing I gained weight. As a result I was facing a scale that would scream out an over three pound increase. Ugh!!! This was on the heels of celebrating a 30 pound loss.

How does one get from such success to such a lack of control?!? For me, I’ve identified a pattern with myself that I’m working on reprogramming. It seems to reveal itself with self-destructive behavior after I celebrate some victory for myself. Its mission is to seek and destroy the accomplishment I’ve just made. It’s happened many, many times in other avenues than weight loss.

The self-destructive pattern slowly emerged following the week of my 30 pound loss celebration. I made it my first post-30 lb loss meeting, but if I hadn’t worn my lightest outfit possible, the scale would have shown an increase. It was following my 10 year anniversary though, so I ‘justified’ it. However, this was just the beginning of that sneaky old self trying to take away my victorious, goal achieving self that had been progressing with my GPS just fine, so far.

So then we had our Weight Watchers meeting that stressed we not our two year old, toddler self take over. Our toddler self, in terms of weight, wants something and wants it now, which in science is called hedonic hunger – eating for the just pleasure and taste of food, and not for metabolic hunger. In the meeting, I nodded in agreement with everyone else about how important it was to keep my inner two year old from taking over. Somehow though in that moment I could feel the voice of toddler rebellion ready to take over. I had an old friend visiting who I hadn’t seen in over five years. I thought I could handle her visit while maintaining control even though I had relaxed my weight loss efforts following my anniversary. I had managed to enjoy the drive-in the day before with my pre-measured tortilla chips and cheese sauce…so I thought I might be headed in the right direction.

Boy was I wrong. Following that meeting, my two year old self was going to show me who was in charge, at least for the moment. Perhaps it was the past history with my friend of enjoying a beer or two (we are old college friends) or my desire to show off my culinary prowess, but between our history and my current relaxed state, it was the perfect recipe for a complete and total crash off the Weight Watchers and weight loss wagon.

It seems as though one can justify anything to oneself. After you don’t track one meal, it’s even easier to ignore the guilt and not track the next or the next or the next. Tracking is an essential part of Weight Watchers. It allows you to stay honest with yourself about what is really going in your mouth. However at the time, I felt I just didn’t want to have to think about it, because it was SO hard to keep track ALL the time. I wanted a break. Funnily enough this was mentioned at the week’s meeting as well. Relishing my deserved ‘break’ I justified a lot of things during my friend’s visit. However it didn’t stop there. Even following her departure my debauchery continued for the week. No counting of meals or snacks, and lots of them!!! There might have even been a drink or two as well. In the moment, I knew what I was doing and there would be repercussions, eventually. However, I wasn’t stepping on the scale at home that week, which makes it seem not real. After all, how bad could it really be?

Fast forward to one hour before my Weight Watchers meeting time, after that once so seemingly glorious week of gluttony. I always weigh myself at home prior to meetings. How else is one to know how to dress that day? If it’s a not great week, I find the lightest clothes I have, other wise it’s pretty much open season on the closet, except for the super heavy jeans. Then reality sets in…The scale does not lie, but don’t you wish it did sometimes? I was facing the consequences of my two year old self ruling my life for a week and it wasn’t pretty. I had to accept that over three pounds had somehow appeared in my body, and it certainly wasn’t breakfast, because who eats before a meeting anyway?

Then comes the defining moment, that was a bigger victory for me than celebrating my 30 pound loss. I faced the great internal pre-meeting debate, to go or not to go, that is the question. However, this time was different than most. I decided I was going to the meeting despite my three pound gain. It was a REALLY, REALLY hard decision. I’m not sure exactly what pushed me to go that day. Perhaps it was hearing Lanette, my meeting leader’s voice, saying, ‘don’t miss a meeting’! But who wants to face a defeat? In the scheme of things, I realize it is only a small defeat. In the moment though, it feels like you just want to walk off that field of the weight loss game and never look back.

The meeting came and went, and I wasn’t feeling great; it was the key to the beginning of me bouncing back. There was still this very active part of me that was telling me, “Well, you’ve already gained some weight back, does a little bit more really matter?” Even more challenging, was that we ended up at McDonald’s later that day. I was fighting the indulgent part of me, but then at least I looked up the points value of my options. I debated and debated. I managed to skip the fries, and won that battle, but the war was still at hand. The key to this victory was that I thought about points and re-opened my tracker. I hadn’t done that for a week! I’ll admit to not actually tracking it at that point, but it was the first step. It seems to me success comes with accounting my actions through food tracking, and then to others by weight tracking at the Weight Watchers meeting.

Then came another challenge later that day. We were in downtown Walnut Creek and my friend had told me about this delicious cookie and ice cream shop called, CREAM – Cookies Rule Everything Around Me – a well-deserved name. Well, of course it was time for a treat with the family! I don’t know what it was about this day. McDonald’s and treats do not happen often in my family, but I think part of me wanted to give myself an opportunity to show that me that no matter when I fall off track from trying to accomplish my goals, I can get back on track whenever I wish. In the past, I’d usually waited much, much, much longer than a few pounds, try like 70 pounds, before I bounced back. So that moment I refrained from having a treat at CREAM, though I did account for a couple of  bites from my family’s treats. It was worth the points! Another small victory, but the war was still waging inside.

I was home alone that night with the kids. After they had gone to bed, I had been left to my own devices. I’m one to enjoy a beer, glass of wine or cocktail or all of the above in quiet moments like these. However, I’ve learned that a drink is usually a trigger for another which leads to poor food choices. I was really struggling and could feel the two parts of me trying to gain control. So I did the only thing I could do to stay on track…A momentary distraction for myself was the key. I told myself just to give myself some space from jumping into a hasty decision, I’m just going to put the dishes away, then I’m just going to clean the counter, which was followed one-by-one by other kitchen chores until the kitchen was cleaned and the desire had almost but disappeared.

I woke up in the morning with a feeling of victory. The current war had been won. The scale moved down. I felt a true sense of accomplishment. It’s times like these that make me realize a few things. Any movement towards a goal is a decision, and it’s my decision no matter what part of me showed up that day. It’s OK if we let the two year old out on occasion. It is bound to happen at some point. We just need to have the awareness and follow through to put her down for a nap after she’s had her fun. We must determine what will soothe our two year old self to sleep when the time comes. For me, it was dragging her to the Weight Watchers meeting, returning to a habit that works (tracking), momentary distractions during cravings combined with a gentle reminder, that it’s my choice and I can do this. Then after we realize when our two year old self fell asleep, we can get ‘our house back in order’ and enjoy the peace and quiet.

Secondly, accomplishing a big goal doesn’t take one great act performed at one moment in time. It’s about realizing the tiny actions we need to take each day. That’s the only way we’ll ever get there, and why keeping track of the tiny actions that move us toward our goal are so critical. For many the lack of small, daily actions is why the weight stays on, the book never gets written, or the business doesn’t get started. If we can just summon the energy at some point in the day to push beyond the excuses, fatigue and old habits and take the small steps, each and every day, those steps magically turn into the keys that unlock the gates of success.

Lastly, it’s about the quantity of our goal oriented actions over the majority of time. We are not meant to be perfect. We are meant to learn from experiences. If we accept that the two year old will come out to play once and a while, and we are neither good nor bad as a result, it makes it easier to return to our accountable, goal-fulfilling selves.

Weight management is the same as any other goal. It is a choice we can all achieve. If we just reassure ourselves that it’s not the day, week, months or years that we chose to ignore our goal, but it’s about the purposeful choices we make in the moment and can repeat over time more often than not that matters and leads us to our eventual,  inevitable success feeling delicious, inside + out throughout the journey!

In summary:

Distract yourself when old habits return. Force yourself to take a break from the old habit, even if it’s as simple as doing the dishes. It’s about learning how to return to your goal achieving habits by rebooting, not abandoning your Goal Progression System (GPS).

Baby steps accomplish goals. Determine what is the smallest action you can take each day that relates to your goal. Create a visual cue to remind you of the action, then do it!

Make the baby steps happen most of the time. The more we practice something, the better we get.



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