#23: My Goal is to Achieve my Goal
Nearly immediately after realizing that I was eating for comfort a few weeks ago, I was changed my habits. (It’s not always that easy.) Each time I reached for a snack, I stopped to ask myself if I was eating because I was hungry or uncomfortable. The larger issue is that the damage was already done—I gained 4 lbs. There were days in the last few weeks I woke up and hated myself, and other days I justified the weight by telling myself that my body is holding more water. It’s incredibly difficult for me to admit to the world that I gained weight, but it’s important for me to admit that it happened and find a way to fix it rather than make an excuse like I did in the past. It’s impossible that this weight is water weight because the scale was never that high before whether I had eaten 1,500 or 3,000 calories the day before.
I’ve been in the process of fixing the weight gain for a few weeks now. Each day is a fight, but during the week is manageable. I have a routine for breakfast and lunch. Going into the office prevents me from having extra snacks during the day. I have much more trouble on the weekend—for two weekends in a row I made the mistake of eating whatever I wanted on a Saturday or Sunday night. When my appetite was small over the summer, I could do that without a problem. But my appetite isn’t small now. There was one Sunday night that I downed an entire package of Oreos (2,000 calories) and yogurt dipped pretzels (1,340 calories) in under 30 minutes, among other things. I didn’t realize what I was doing, I just remember feeling like I could eat forever. The worst part is that I knew exactly what I was going to do at the grocery store beforehand, but I refused to comprehend the consequences.
After I make a mistake, I often get this intense feeling of motivation to get better. It’s like I want someone to offer me another box of Oreos in that moment so that I can say no. It’s great that I’m motivated (because there’s plenty of times I’m not), but in the moments or days after eating so much, there’s nothing I can do in the short term to make progress other than be patient. In these moments, I want to achieve the goal as quickly as I can, but it’s not possible. In the past, I told myself to bottle up the feeling and save It for a time when I need it, but I’ve learned that this isn’t effective. Inevitably, there comes a time when I’m feeling good about myself again and my motivation tapers. I start to think that I can get away with letting go for a few hours or buying that treat from the store.
But I’m learning. Achieving any goal, especially losing weight, requires time and patience more than anything. The best thing that I can do for myself in the moment after a (major) slip up is wait for the next day, and the next and the next. I’m no longer satisfied with a goal as simple as losing the weight that I gained, because I already failed at that a few times. My overarching goal is still to lose the weight, but my more important goal is not to give up. My new goal is to prove to myself that I can achieve the goal of losing weight. It’s like a fail-safe. If I wake up one day and convince myself that I don’t need to lose the weight, that’s fine. I need to achieve the goal of proving to myself I’m capable of sticking to this goal, and therefore can’t quit. More than anything, this is a personal growth strategy, and it should work for all goals.
Despite being in Portland this weekend, I managed to stick to my plan better than other weekends. I wasn’t perfect. There may have been a lapse in judgement when my friends and I went to Safeway after a few pitchers of margaritas… But at least I only ate 5 cookies instead of 10 this time. Today is Monday again, and I’m re-motivated. I once listened to a podcast that said that people use the start of a week, month, year, etc., to give themselves a new beginning to accomplish a goal, or reinstate after falling off the wagon. I admit that I made a mistake eating those pumpkin cookies, but the important part is that I didn’t destroy a week’s worth of progress like I did in weekends past, and today is Monday again, so I have the chance to tighten up and move forward one day at a time.
The hardest part about sticking to my plan now is going out to eat or drink with friends. I want to enjoy myself by ordering what I want, but I don’t want to mess up my plan. I find it even more difficult to guess what I’m eating when I go out. Restaurants almost never have nutrition facts, and there’s plenty of research showing people are notoriously bad at estimating calories. I was lucky not to have to worry about this on Nutrisystem during quarantine. It’s not realistic to avoid going out to eat, because then I’d miss out on time I should spend with friends (and come across as psychotic.) I really don’t have a solution to this, and it frustrates me to no end thinking about it.