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Posted on Jun 18, 2012 in Dear Diary, Weight Loss | 17 comments

It’s Not Easy

If you were to go Google something along the lines of “how to lose weight” or “diet tips”, I could probably already tell you the kinds of things you would find. We read them time and time again in magazines, hear them on the radio, and see them on TV. The “how” of weight loss is already ingrained in most of us at this point, the basic tenants of which being something along the lines of:

“Calories in – calories out = weight loss.”

If you dig a little deeper, you might find more specific tips that are supposed to help you shed the pounds:

“Drink a full glass of water right before every meal!”
“When at a restaurant, ask for a to-go box at the beginning of your meal, then automatically put half of your plate in the box right away.”
“Eat off of smaller sized plates.”
“Make yourself wait at least 20 minutes before going back for seconds.”

Now, I’m not saying these tips wouldn’t work for someone who were to actually employ them, but the more I think about it, the less helpful I think they actually are. They assume that all that stands between you and your goal weight is a handful of actions you have been failing to take. They come at you from the perspective of “If you do this, then you will lose weight.” They have a modicum of truth to it — if you fill up on water, you may be inclined to eat less, and if you have the willpower to restrain yourself from partaking in seconds you may consume fewer calories — but they simplify a process that is much more complex. If weight loss were really about simply following a set of rules laid out for you, surely we would all be at a healthy weight, wouldn’t we? Weight loss is about so much more than the “how”.

I’ve known how to lose weight for years. I’m pretty sure we all do. We’re not idiots, we understand the basic relationship between food, calories, and our bodies, and we know that there are certain things that we should be doing in order to change that. So why is it that despite dozens of weight loss attempts, I was never actually successful in any real way until now? I always knew what to do. I knew that I should be eating a diet that emphasized vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. I knew that I should be incorporating some sort of physical activity 3 to 5 times a week. I knew that I should stop eating when satiated before before I was stuffed, that restaurant portions are always entirely too huge, that skipping meals makes me want to eat more, and that I should never snack out of boredom.

But knowing really is only half the battle, and translating that knowledge into action is always the hardest part. Nobody will ever tell you that losing weight is easy. It’s not. Food is an integral part of our lives, not only the basis of our physical survival. It is the core of many of our social interactions. It is something that many people derive great pleasure from. It is on our televisions and in our books (hello, Hunger Games much?) and is a pervasive part of our everyday living. We are taught that food elicits comfort, that it inspires joy, nostalgia, and any number of pleasant emotions. Cooking can be therapeutic, and eating even more so. We are set up to be socially, personally, physically, mentally, and emotionally dependent on food.

So we throw around cleverly worded, pseudo-inspirational sayings that we will pin to Pinterest and put up on our refrigerators and we will tell ourselves that we just need to try again, to try harder.

“Eat to live, don’t live to eat.”
“The first cookie tastes great. Does the sixth really taste any better?”
“Eat less. Exercise more.”

And so on, and so forth. But as much as we may think that these phrases will inspire us to finally translate everything we know about weight loss and turn them into action, they still fail to get us to truly address the “why” behind our food dependency. I finally stepped back on the scale this morning after over a month-long hiatus. I was both elated and disappointed to see that I have neither gained nor lost a single pound since my last weigh-in. Elated, of course, because without a scale to keep me accountable and a LOT of traveling, I feared gaining back an additional 10 pounds. Disappointed, of course, because a small part of me was hoping that I would have been able to lose just a little bit of weight without really trying all that hard. (I know, sometimes I think crazy things. So sue me.)

It’s not easy. Losing weight isn’t easy. It’s not as hard as those who are too scared or too stubborn or too lazy to try might have you think, but it’s not easy. It’s a fight. It’s a battle. It’s a war where you sometimes you win but more often it feels like losing. And sometimes have a perfect week of eating, and you’ve still gained half a pound, and sometimes you cave and you have corn dogs for dinner and you lose two. It doesn’t always make sense. It’s frustrating, and it’s wearying, and it’s hard work. But it’s worth it.

I hope it’s worth it.

17 Comments

  1. If losing weight were soo easy we would all have the bodies that we want. Or if we just removed our taste buds…

  2. Love this post! And it’s so true–it’s not easy and does not make sense a lot of the time. Sometimes a system that worked for your previously may not work anymore and you have to carve out a new routine every single day. I think it is hard to remember too that it has to be sustainable every single day. I have the worst problem with being fine during the week and going on food benders on the weekend and totally forgetting that I am supposed to be ‘living healthy’. Honestly sometimes I think it has to be apart of every waking thought because food is involved in almost every social activity! Thanks for the awesome words Gretchen! They made me think today, on a Monday of all days!

  3. It really isn’t easy. I can agree with you completely there. It’s hard. It sucks. It’s against everything you think you want. It completely kills all the coping mechanisms you had built up over the course of your life to justify being fat. It’s like that for me, at least. Everything about it sucks. Except the part where the numbers go down on the scale. Where you fit into the size of jeans that you haven’t seen in your adult life. Oh, and the part where people actually notice, but that’s my vanity talking.

    It’s not easy, but that’s why we bloggers blog, and we friends support each other through everything, right? 🙂

  4. Love this post! I agree whole-heartedly. It is hard. So hard.

  5. Great post and I agree completely! I feel like I could write a book on how to lose weight, yet I’m still overweight!!

  6. My feeling has always been if it were as simple as eat less, exercise more we wouldn’t have the weight issue in this country that we do. You’re spot on that most of us could write a book on what you need to do to lose weight but the application of the knowledge is where it gets tricky.

    I nominated you for the “one lovely blog award”

  7. Such a true, honest blog. Thanks for your well written blog upon the subject of weight loss and health! It really isn’t easy but it makes the reward at the end of the road so much sweeter! You have already come so far in your journey.
    Celebrate your accomplishments and keep up with your fabulous hard work! Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to losing weight.
    You Go, Gretchen!!

  8. Congratulations on maintaining your weight this month. I think that is a huge accomplishment that deserves a pat on the back! I keep re-reading the last paragraph about weight loss being a war, which is how I have characterized it in the past, and keep asking myself… “a war on what?”. I don’t have an answer ha, just wanted to share what’s floating around in my head.

  9. I think Ana above has it right! It is SOOO easy to go up and SOOO difficult to claw it down. But if you have managed a maintenance level for over a month without regularly checking on yourself, that IS a reason to pat yourself on the back! Don’t sell yourself short! There are times it IS a war…and you just won a significant battle!

  10. I really appreciate your nuanced discussion. It is sadly rare to see. Most accounts concerning weight and weight loss can seem very black and white. I admire you for being able to admit moments of self doubt. Nevertheless, Keith is right maintaining for a month without checking in is a real accomplishment!! You’re doing good 😉

  11. I can feel your frustration loud and clear in this post! Losing weight is not easy. Try and get your mind focused on things other than the number..like how your fitness has improved, or how you’re cooking healthier or something. Those are the things that make all the struggle worth it.

  12. Great post. I totally agree. It’s so hard. I know exactly what to do, yet sometimes I totally fail myself. My actions kick me in the butt hard, especially on weekends. I am signing up for a weight loss challenge starting today and blogging about it in hopes it holds me accountable. (Fingers crossed.)

  13. I LOVE this post Gretchen. There certainly is no quick fix and easy answer!!!

  14. I love every word of this. It’s not easy and certainly there is not a magic formula. I’ve been losing and gaining the same 15-20 pounds since 2007 in my effort to lose 40. Bleh. But I haven’t given up all hope, I keep trying, keep setting goals, keep pushing just a little bit…hoping just like you, that it’s all worth it in the end.

  15. this is such great advice. It really is hard and each day we wake up ready to fight the “weight lose battle”. One day, I plan on winning!

  16. Every word of this resonated with me. That’s all I can say is, I’m right there with ya, girl.

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