Discomfort and Weight Loss

I was thinking about the issue and discomfort and its role in initiating and sustaining weight loss.  As many of you know, I have been basically maintaining since I got back to goal in July, 2015.  Since then I’ve mostly been within a couple of pounds of that weight.  A little over a year ago I instantly lost about 6 pounds when I had a tummy tuck, but I slowly gained after that.  Then, early this year and lost it and both back to my new post-tummy tuck baseline.  And, after that, I regained and I spent a couple of months more than 2 pounds over goal weight, so had to pay at Weight Watchers meetings.

But, right now?  I’m doing great on the weight loss front.  I’ve had a calorie deficit (per my Fitbit) every week for the last 8 weeks.  I’ve burned more calories and eaten less than I have since really getting back to goal.  I am now exercising again.  Things are going great and I am highly motivated to first get back to where I was post-tummy tuck and then to lose about 10 to 15 pounds of fat beyond that.

So, why now?  After two years of no progress, why now?  Yes, part of that time, I was recovering from surgery and it really wasn’t the right time to be losing weight.  But, there was plenty of time pre-surgery and this year that I could have lost weight.  In fact, I did lose weight the early part of this year and got back to where I was after my tummy tuck.

It occurs to me that the reason is because of discomfort — or the absence of discomfort.  When I went back to Weight Watchers in 2010, weighing over 200 pounds, I had a lot of discomfort about my weight.  I wasn’t happy about it.  I felt miserable about it.  I wasn’t where I wanted to be.  That discomfort was great enough that it propelled me to initiate weight loss.

And, I did great and lost over 40 pounds.  At that point, I wasn’t obese any more.  I was still almost 15 pounds over my goal weight, but looked way better and felt way better than before I lost that weight.  And, my discomfort lessened.  Yes, I wasn’t where I wanted to buy, but it was pretty darn good.  And, as the discomfort waned, I got sloppy.  And, it was a stressful time (we were moving).  I regained most of what I lost.

And, then the discomfort came back.  I was in the 190s and didn’t want to get back to 200.  I went back to Weight Watchers in October of 2013 and started this blog a couple of months later.  And, that discomfort helped propel me all the way to getting to my goal of 146 pounds.  When I got to 146 pounds, I had chosen it because it was the top of my range.  It was the highest weight I could have at Weight Watchers for free lifetime status and it was the highest weight for a normal BMI.

But, at the time, I knew I would probably want to lose a few more pounds.  At the time, I sort of had 10 pounds or so in the back of my mind.  But, I soon knew I was going to have my loose skin removed (tummy tuck and breast lift) and wasn’t sure what I would think after that.  That search got my a little of 6 pounds of the way to the 10 pounds.  And, I didn’t have the surgery until a year after getting back to goal.  So, I could have been losing in that period.  But, I didn’t.

Why?  I think it was mostly absence of discomfort.  At 146 pounds, I didn’t have a lot of discomfort.  I looked so much better than I had before.  I felt so much better.  My health was better.  I was exercising.  Yes, there were things I still like about some parts of how my body looked.  And, more ominously, I was tested and had about a 45% body fat.  So, I knew I needed improvement in my body composition.  But, still, my body composition was better than it had been.

After the tummy tuck and breast lift, I felt even less discomfort.  A lot of what I hadn’t liked was related to the excess skin.  And, then it was gone and I loved the results.  I think that is a big part of why I regained.  Yes, I slacked on the food end.  I had some excuse for stopping exercise for a time, due to the surgery.  But, I didn’t start back when I could have.  I think that the big thing was that I wasn’t feeling enough discomfort to make the leap to really do the things to lose weight.  I was still sort of mentally comparing myself to where I started and the improvement in appearance and health were so great that there wasn’t much discomfort.

So, why am I doing so much now on the weight loss front?  Discomfort.  In the last couple of months, I realized that my memories of my pre-surgery body and even my pre-weight loss body have started to fade.  I am not comparing myself to those any more.  Now, I compare more to what I think I can have now.

I never really decided that 146 pounds was how I liked my body.  That number was in effect picked for me because it was the top healthy weight for my height.  Back when I first got to goal in 1990, my goal weight wasn’t 146 pounds.  Back then, I had never heard of BMI.  Weight Watchers top of goal range for my height then was somewhere around 135 pounds (it was higher for older people).  And, I picked 125 pounds.  Why did I pick it?

To some extent it was arbitrary.  It seemed like a nice round, thin sounding number.  But, part of it was based upon history.  I hadn’t been 125 pounds as an adult, but I had been in the 130s and 140s when I was still in school and I knew that at those weights I had wanted to lose some weight.

So, I eventually got to my 125 pound goal weight.  I remember when I was my mid-140s at the time.  There was never a point that I thought I wanted to stay at that weight.  In fact, when I got to the top of my then goal range in the 130s, I never thought I wanted to be 135 pounds or whatever.  I thought I looked pretty good at that weight, but it wasn’t where I wanted to be.  When I got to 125 pounds, I did like that weight.

So, the reality is that choosing 146 pounds as my goal weight when I went back to Weight Watchers was never about me making a choice about what weight I really liked.  In fact, when I got married after I had gotten to goal and then regained some, I weighed maybe a couple of pounds more than I weigh now.  In fact, I wore my wedding dress when we went out for our 25th wedding anniversary this year:

Looking back on it, and remembering how I looked and felt when I weighed over 200 pounds, I think I looked pretty good in my wedding picture when I weighed about 148 pounds.  And, I was thrilled to be able to wear that wedding dress 25 years later.

And, yet, I remember how I felt in that dress back when I got married.  I was wearing a heavy compression garment in order to be able to zip up the dress.  I wasn’t remotely happy then about my weight.  I was more than 20 pounds over my Weight Watchers goal weight and I didn’t like it.

And, the reality, is that I’ve now gotten to a point where I really don’t like being that weight any more.  Yes, when I was comparing myself to weighing over 200 pounds I like that picture on the left.  And, I certainly like my surgery results compared to before surgery:

But, it has been long enough now since I got to my goal and over a year since surgery that I can admit my true underlying discomfort with weighing 146 pounds.  I don’t like being 45% body fat.  I don’t like how my thighs look.  I can see the excess fat there and on my back.  I mean if I’m about 45% body fat, it has to be somewhere.  The fact is that I never would have chosen to be 146 pounds if the top of my goal range had been 135 pounds.  I picked that number simply because it was the top of the range and for no other reason.

And, it has now been long enough that I am feeling discomfort with settling for 146 pounds.  I had posted a few weeks ago about setting a new personal goal of about 125 pounds.  In reality, it my wanting to get to about 35% body fat which I think will mean losing about 20 pounds of fat.  But, wanting to get to 35% body fat isn’t a new goal for me.  I’ve wanted that since I got my body fat tested in September of 2015.  But, my discomfort with weighing in the mid-140s wasn’t high enough then to put me in full on weight loss mode.

What is different these past weeks, is not really my body fat goal.  It is my discomfort with being where I am now.  Let’s put it this way.  Right now, I feel about how I felt when I weighed in the mid-160s.  Back then, I was super happy to have moved into the overweight category and out of the obese category.  And, I thought I was looking pretty good compared to where I had started.  But, I knew I wasn’t comfortable with where I was.  I wanted to lose another 20 pounds.  And, the discomfort was great enough that it helped me to stick with my weight loss efforts.

I think that is where I am now.  I am no longer comfortable with being in the mid-140s and I think I can improve my body composition.  That discomfort is helping me to focus on my weight loss now.

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