Monday, August 31, 2009

The Expectations I Really Struggle With

By Michelle Butler

Last week, the extremely enthusiastic, very chatty, 100-pound, perky, blonde body pump (weight lifting) instructor called out halfway through the class, “Yell if body pump has changed your life!” My first thought was, “You’ve got to be kidding me,” but it was quickly followed by, “Well, I have gone down a size since I started taking this class.” I didn’t think that was the dramatic impact she was looking for and kept my mouth shut. A few people halfheartedly shouted when she pressed to get some kind of response. She then said, “I lost 85 pounds in three years because of body pump.”

The two women in front of me turned to face each other and said, “Whoa, 85 pounds!” The part I fixated on was the three years. She didn’t say she lost 85 pounds in 6 months, 1 year or even 2 years. It took her 3 years. And, that was the lesson I really needed that night. This journey, this lifestyle change, this really changing yourself physically and internally takes a long time, and I struggle with my desire for it to happen overnight or at least a lot quicker than it is taking.

The standard answer for what equals a healthy rate of weight loss per week is 1 to 2 pounds after the first 3 weeks. I’m not even averaging a pound a week. I’ve never lost weight fast, and this attempt is no exception. Since January 6, 2009, my biggest weight loss has been 4.4 pounds in one week, and my biggest weekly gain was 3.4 pounds. Yes, this is a big struggle for me, and I do have weeks when I gain weight. 12 of the 32 times I’ve weighed in at Weight Watchers this year, I’ve gained weight. I definitely go up and down week by week, but I need to remind myself that overall I’m consistently losing weight.

In my past attempts at getting skinny, I would have let my frustration with the slow pace of my weight loss convince me to think it’s impossible and quit. The only reason I haven’t done that this time is I promised myself in early January that I would give myself a whole year to lose weight. No matter what I would keep trying until the end of 2009 – also sometimes referred to as the year of me or the year of amazing change. Lately, I’ve also realized that I really need to accept that this journey to becoming and staying a healthy writer is going to take a long time. In fact, it will never end. I truly believe accepting that will make this less of a struggle for me.

What expectations do you really struggle with? Do you have any recommendations on how to accept this is a lifestyle change that will have setbacks as well as forward progress?

Deadline was kicking me yesterday, so I didn't post. So here's the info for yesterday and today (Saturday and Sunday).


Calorie intake: 1,069.125

Exercise: None

Steps: 4,225


Calorie intake: 1,242.125

Exercise: None

Steps: 4,379

The good news is that I finally finished and turned in my book today (Yay!), so I can really start focusing on some other things like making sure I get my 10,000 steps each day, dedicating the time to exercise, and providing some more thoughtful posts here.

Let's all have a great week!


Anonymous said...

Michelle, you are SO right! Whether we're writing a novel a page at a time or trying to whittle down the inches around our waistlines, sometimes the progress is so small, it doesn't seem worth the effort. I think that's why so many of us give up when months go by and we haven't achieved our goals yet. I am sticking with your first post about setting a long-term goal, instead of setting a measurement goal which may take me a loooong time to achieve.

Great post!

Michelle on August 31, 2009 at 10:18 AM said...

Thanks, Laura! Setting long-term "time" goals have been more effective for me than measurement goals. I produce more under them, but I also don't have to battle feelings of failure as much. At the WRW retreat, the touchy-feely session by Carla Neggers talked about it and referenced the book A Writer's Time. It was helpful.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) on August 31, 2009 at 2:13 PM said...

A good reminder that this isn't something accomplished overnight. I think when we get discouraged that it's important to step back and realize that we didn't gain the wait overnight, so it's unrealistic to think we'll lose it overnight. And it's key, I believe, to think of the changes we're making as positive, something to be excited about, not as punishment or negative in any way. I think that's why the counting calories has worked better for me than anything. I feel deprived and punished if I go on any diet where I absolutely can't have something I enjoy eating. Being able to still eat it as long as it fits in the daily calorie plan really helps keep those negative feelings away.

Michelle on August 31, 2009 at 3:30 PM said...

Good points, Trish. Another thing I do to fight the feelings of deprivation that can come from a diet is to focus on the positive results of a lifestyle change: exercise and the good feelings it produce, more energy, better sleep, aesthetics and smaller clothing (which never has been a strong enough motivation for me all by itself), better attitude, etc.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) on August 31, 2009 at 9:01 PM said...

The smaller clothing is a big motivator for me. I was about to buy another pair of pants today in the size down from where I've been for a long time. Felt so good to go shopping and feel good afterward instead of depressed.

Michelle on August 31, 2009 at 9:31 PM said...

For some reason in the past, the threat/possibility of having to buy clothes in a bigger size has been a stronger motivator for me - to at least exert whatever effort I needed to prevent myself from getting big enough that the biggest sizes I had would no longer cut it. Now that I'm a size or two smaller than I was in January, I'm completely full of determination not to go back to those larger sizes - as well as trying to keep getting smaller.

Theresa Ragan on September 1, 2009 at 11:59 AM said...

Yay, Trish! Keep up the good work. So many people quit too soon after not seeing results. Losing weight is TOUGH and losing it fast is nearly impossible. For years I worked out six days a week. I biked nearly 20 miles a week too but I didn't lose one pound. Nobody could believe it. Finally I stopped worrying about it so much and the weight miraculously started coming off. The no bread and no sugar didn't hurt either! :)

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