I put the title of this post in quotes because it’s something I said six months ago. To more than one person.
Something I said after I’d been dieting and exercising daily for three months, had lost 25 pounds and simultaneously hated life possibly more than I ever have. Including the semester in college during which I simultaneously failed Economics and Accounting.
I actually titled a post "I hate everything and everyone" and began writing about how awful life was without lots of carbs and unlimited chocolate.
I never published that post because I didn’t want anyone to worry about me. Like, about my mental health. And by “anyone,” I mean those of you who’ve been reading here for nine years as well as those of you who know me in real life and know me to generally be a glass-half-empty person – but not a glass-shattered-all-over-the-floor GLASS EVERYWHERE OH GOD GLASS EVERYWHERE person.
Which is kind of where I was six months ago. And it all has to do with the fact that I gave up tasty food.
Anyway, rest assured that things are better. I’m still struggling a little because I’m still eating more healthily than I used to and I only eat dessert once a week. But dessert once a week is better than dessert never. So in general I’m more balanced.
See? That call to 911 isn’t necessary.
But I haven’t written much lately and I’ve received several emails from readers who’ve noticed on Instagram that I’ve lost some weight, and you’ve asked what I’m doing and how it’s going. So I decided to give you the backstory.
Here it is.
Last April I decided it was time to get healthy. Then I waited a month to start, because that’s how I roll. I downloaded the Couch to 5K app, opened the LoseIt app for the first time in two years, and I asked my GP to refer me to a weight-management clinic downtown. I wanted to see a nutritionist and I wanted to talk to a behaviorist – to see if I could figure out the REASONS behind my unhealthy eating habits.
Sample questions: Why does a “veggie plate” to me consist of mac and cheese, creamed corn, white rice, squash casserole and a yeast roll? (BECAUSE YELLOW FOOD ROCKS.) Why do I consider a “serving” of Reese’s Cups to be six? (BECAUSE TWO IS RIDICULOUS.) Why does my body not consider a meal complete without dessert? (BECAUSE NORMAL.)
Keep in mind, I’ve lost and gained back the same 40 pounds probably 15 times over the last 25 years. I have proven time and time again that I can lose it – but I can’t keep it off. I always go back to eating the same way I did before, and the weight comes back. That’s why I wanted to find out what makes my brain and body work differently from the people who seem to be able to CHOOSE AN APPLE FOR THE LOVE.
Well, I lost 18 pounds over the first six weeks or so, visiting the clinic three times. They weren’t doing anything for me other than checking my bloodwork and weighing me each time. I was eating regular food – just a lot less of it – and exercising every day, and I tracked it all in my apps. Just like I’d done a hundred times before. And it worked, just like before. But my mood, OH MY MOOD. It was dark.
Jake asked me, “Mommy, how much wonger are you going to be DOING this?”
Amelia said, “Mommy, eating healthy food makes you say ANGWY words.”
I had a short temper. And I snapped at the kids a lot more often. THEY NOTICED, you might say.
At around 8 weeks I told the nutritionist how I was feeling and she said, “Oh, I completely understand. You know, you should keep some small squares of dark chocolate at home. They’re great for taking the edge off when you want something sweet.”
Outwardly I remained calm as I replied, “Yeah, dark chocolate squares really aren’t gonna cut it. But thanks.”
I waited for the behaviorist to come in the room a few minutes later. Just steaming.
She came in, congratulated me on my (at that point) 20-pound weight loss, and I said flatly, “Thanks.”
Her: “You should be so proud of yourself! That’s great!”
Me: “I know. It’s fine. I’m sure for most people the weight loss would be reward enough, but all I can think about are the Reese’s Cups I can’t eat, the ice cream I’m going without, the chips and guacamole I’m skipping every time we eat Mexican, and the chicken fingers and yeast rolls I want to eat, like, RIGHT NOW.”
Her: “I think we need to find some things we can substitute –“
Me: “NO. It’s not about substitution. It’s about the fact that my quality of life is AWFUL. I still do everything else I used to do that I liked, but I hate everything. EVERYTHING. I still watch TV, I still see my friends, I still read books and listen to podcasts, and I still see the occasional movie, but none of it makes me happy. NONE OF IT. Because when I watch TV I don’t snack on chips or have another piece of cake. When I see my friends, I get a grilled chicken salad dressed with my tears instead of Ranch. When I read books and listen to podcasts, I’m not popping Rolos or peanut M&Ms. When I go to the movies, I’m not mixing mouthfuls of popcorn with half a handful of regular M&Ms.”
“I don’t know how many different ways I can say it: Dieting and exercising makes me Hate. My. Life.”
Her: [long pause] “I’m really sorry this is so hard on you. Do you ever feel like you want to harm yourself or others?”
Me: “When the nutritionist told me I should keep squares of dark chocolate in the house so I could eat them when I need to take the edge off, I wanted to wring her little size-4 neck and kick her in the face. But in general do I want to hurt anyone? No. Not myself or my children. Ever.”
Her: [even longer pause] “Okaaay, how would you feel if I offered to refer you to a psychiatrist to explore some of this? I think we may be getting a little out of my depth here.”
Me: “That would be great. I think I probably need a pill.”
You know what happened next? She never gave me the referral.
And that was the last time I went to the clinic.
I decided since I was handling it on my own anyway, I’d just keep doing it on my own, and if the unhappiness didn’t go away, I’d have my GP refer me to a psychiatrist.
The clinic has never, to this day, called me to ask why I haven’t come back or how I’m doing.
(And, I might add, it’s a darn good thing I HAVEN’T harmed myself or others, because THAT would have been a REAL doozy for them to explain away.)
(BUT I’M NOT BITTER.)
Fast forward to the end of 2016 and I’m able to report that by the end of last year, I lost a total of 46 pounds.
I never take pictures of myself alone – especially full-length pictures – so I had to crop everyone else out of a group picture to make this comparison shot. Ha! But here I am in November 2015 vs. about a month ago:
For the past month or so I’ve just been maintaining, but I’d like to lose some more weight. I just needed a mental break, because I totally committed to it last year (if you couldn’t tell), and it really took a toll on me. Combined with the fact that I started a new job about six weeks into the lifestyle change – or the “HFL” as my friend Honor and I call it (Healthy F’ing Lifestyle™) – I needed a month to six weeks to kind of reset.
I haven’t gone back to my old habits, but I’ve allowed myself popcorn with M&Ms once at the movies, dessert once or twice a week, Ranch dressing on EVERY salad I’ve ordered … and I haven’t felt guilty about a single bit of it.
So, that’s the deal. No gimmicks. Walking or jogging five to six days a week, 1,100-1,300 calories a day, for seven months. Forty-six pounds.
Total, abject misery with a pretty big payoff.
Happy to answer questions.