Roadblocks to Weight Loss

“I have been thinking about the idea of excuses for some time now. They are like menacing demons that creep into our lives without us knowing. They are roadblocks, white lies to ourselves, a reason to set the bar lower, and self-justification for achieving less than our full potential.”

Lorii Myers, No Excuses, The Fit Mind-Fit Body Strategy Book

It’s time! The time has come! It’s time to get real. Gettin’ Real with Jessica. No, that’s awful – I’m not calling it that. Let’s just call it honesty and move on.

I talked in my last post about my weight loss history and about how my pattern is to all-or-nothing, lose a bunch of weight fast for one event, then gain it all back (and sometimes then-some) only to repeat the process over and over again. This may not be the case for you, or for anyone else, but this is mine.

The obvious solution? Make real, lasting changes to my entire lifestyle. Make better choices in food and activity, make healthier dinners, go on walks, exercise. So why don’t I do it? Because it’s freaking terrifying! I love when “fit girls” go “It’s a lifestyle change, not a diet,” because that sounds scary af. Who wants to change the entire way they are living life cold turkey? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

Another thing I’m scared of? Hiking. (Please stop laughing.) I get up to the foot of whatever darned thing I’m hiking up and stare up at that stinking summit and just groan. “How am I supposed to get up there? This is a huge task!” I think. The few times I have gone hiking, I’ve had these thoughts and it is only when I stop looking up at the summit that I can just think about one step at a time and only about halfway through do I start to think that I can actually reach the top.

Dog Mountain – Montana 2013

Perhaps this is one and the same fear. I stare at the summit – the summit here being “a Jessica who is free of her anxiety habits (biting nails, chewing cheeks, excessive worrying, OCD habits, spiraling), a Jessica who is at a healthy weight, who exercises regularly, makes amazing healthy dishes, never emotionally eats, gets to enjoy back dimples and maybe a little abs. “That is an insane amount of ground to cover, how on earth am I supposed to do that?”

And my health blueprint says “All or nothing! Jump in with both feet or it’s not worth doing! Do it for three weeks until that big thing coming up so you’ll be able to wear that dress you like!” If we’re going with the hiking analogy, I tell myself I can jump from the bottom to the top in one go and that’s the only way that it’ll be worth it. This analogy is starting to fall apart though, so I am going to let it go.

So instead of doing what I normally do, let’s start by identifying the roadblocks that always get in the way, and maybe by the end of identifying them, I’ll have a few simple steps I can start with. Now, which things stop me from having better health and mental habits?

  • Time
  • Money
  • Emotional Eating (Eating for Comfort)
  • “Eating Events”
  • Motivation

Time

This is the excuse I believe we are all familiar with. Our busy schedules, trips, events, and daily lives can all take away that precious time we need. This is not a topic I feel I should or need to preach on, because my daily schedule is not busy enough to have a good excuse here. I don’t have children to cart about, and my husband and I have regular office jobs. We do little else but work and go home, and the occasional weekend get-together or D&D sesh.

However, I can identify a special time when “Time” itself gets in the way, and it’s holidays. Whenever I am out of town or have family or friends by, I find it hard to stick to things I want to. Who wants to work out when they could hang out with their best friend? Or wants to have a salad when you need to show your family the place with the amazing nachos you’ve been talking about?

Here is a crossroads for me, and for all of us. We have three options.

  • Abandon all healthy habits with family/friends. Eat dessert first, eat as much as you like because events are the only time you can let go.
  • Ease off the gas on holidays and with family/friends. Enjoy the time you have, but in moderation. You can have a piece of cake, but don’t have the second.
  • Stay strict at all times. Be the guy who brings pretend dressing to Thanksgiving or better yet, the guy who sips a protein smoothie at Christmas dinner. (You can see I’m not fond of this option)

I think pure abandon is probably not the best route, but it is the route I am most familiar with (and is the reason I’ve gotten sick at Christmas, twice!). I need to make practical steps towards ordering the smaller ice cream, getting water, and moderation at holidays and with family, but not using it as an excuse. I can also feel free to avoid hour-long workouts when I am on vacation, but it’s not a bad idea to go on an afternoon walk with some family.

There, Jessica, not so hard to take one step up that huge mountain!

Money

*shudder* I have so much money anxiety. I’ll probably get to talking more about it at a later date, but I think just the one anecdote may get the idea across:

Leaving college, my wonderful grandparents sent me some graduation money that I used to deposit on a rental and furnish said-house. After doing all of that, I had some money left over and decided to get an Xbox so I would be able to play with my then-boyfriend. As I left Wal-Mart with the box under my arm, I had a panic attack in the car. I hyperventilated and would have returned it immediately had my boyfriend not started driving me away.

And so, you see, money and I are not usually friends. Particularly ~ spending money ~ and I are not friends.

Last year, I followed a diet plan with FitGirls and budgeting extra money for the expensive healthy meals they wanted had helped a bit, but only for the month that I did it and not for a long-term solution.

A couple of things have already begun to help me: following healthy blogs and other ladies on Instagram for one! They have great recipes that look not only easy to make, but like they are delicious. I also found ALDI, a grocery store which sells overstock goods, as well as off-brand foods (which are just as good), and cheap produce! *ahem* Let me repeat myself. “CHEAP PRODUCE.” The same grocery products I bought at a Wal-Mart when I lived in small town Kansas are 40-80% cheaper at ALDI now that I live in the Kansas City area.

I feel like money is one of those easy arguments, but at-home workouts have always been an option, and especially now, during and after the Stay-At-Home order, I think that is becoming more and more apparent. I do wonder how our gyms around the nation will be affected by this realization.

Emotional Eating

This is so big a topic (especially for me), I believe I will be writing a post about this over the weekend. Stay tuned!

“Eating Events”

By this, I mean dates! Hanging out! Galas, banquets, and events literally built around the food we will eat! I can’t say no to you, crab puff. Nor you, buffet. Nor you, ice cream date.

My husband and I bond over food. We love to eat together and to go to restaurants. Local places, chains, sit-downs, drive-thrus, you name it.

One solution I’m implementing? Our date is now a walk and cooking together. Chop these veggies, I’ll make the pasta. I’d love to Pokemon Go again and do that for a whole Saturday afternoon. Let’s find festivals of food, where we’ll have to walk around in the sun to enjoy the tastes. Let’s try new things and not just new foods!

March 2018, Gun Range in Wichita

Motivation

“I’ll give you something to cry about!” Anyone else hear that one growing up?

You want motivation? I’ll give you motivation.

Working out increases your metabolism, improves your mood, helps to prevent all kinds of health problems like diabetes, poor circulation, poor immune systems, etc.

Having better nutrition helps your skin, your energy levels, your longevity, etc.

Taking better care of your mental health… is self-explanatory.

But all of this is head knowledge that I am sure you and I already have. Motivation comes from within – from wanting to be better.

And I want to be better. I’m done being worse, or being okay. I’m ready to be better. This, my motivation, will drive the rest of those roadblocks out of the way with time. Even if I stumble or fall back, there’s always tomorrow.

Here, by the way, is the summit of the first mountain I really hiked:

February 2013, Dog Mountain Summit, Montana

And here is that same summit again, in the Fall:

October 2013, Dog Mountain Summit, Montana

Thanks for reading!

Weight Loss History

We all have a history. Sometimes it’s our childhood, our 20’s, a weirdly obsessive ex… sometimes it’s our weight loss.

Man, oh man, do me and my weight loss have a history. In high school I barely had to think about it. I was more concerned with the drama my family was always having or with ignoring it by focusing on the drama my friends were having. It was easier to think on things like the boy I liked at the time or on my friend’s most recent fight with another friend than to dwell on anything else.

I knew I wasn’t a stick figure, but I knew I wasn’t fat, so I ignored my weight and ate what I wanted. I did my Senior Pictures in the December snow of 2012 and then headed off for my year-long missionary program.

Three months in Montana with my missionary group was a blast, of course. I went to Bible classes, made close friends with the other 11 members of my class and prepared to start the six-month middle leg of the journey in Costa Rica. I ate and ate and ate at every meal. By the time I returned I felt overweight for the first time.

However, six months in Costa Rica quickly changed that. I was outside and in the sun daily, drinking tons of water, eating nearly nothing but fruit and vegetables from the local farmer’s market, and playing with kids 6 out of my 7 days a week. By the time I returned from Montana, without doing anything on purpose, I was the smallest I had ever been.

October 2013 – weight not measured

I felt amazing! Everything fit beautifully, I could put on anything I wanted and feel comfortable, and I had done nothing on purpose! I headed back to live with my parents in November and stayed through January, celebrating the holidays with gusto and returned back to my normal right before college.

College brought its own set of insecurities, and while I’d love to talk more about the people and moments that brought some of that on, I feel that it may still be too fresh for the people I know and would be out of taste. Regardless, my first year of college brought my first year – ever – dieting. I did MyFitnessPal and lost 10lbs for my banquet dress, and then relaxed again, reinflating over the summer. I lost again another 10lbs before the holidays, and reinflated even more after the holidays of 2014 and following. So on the cycle continued until I began to date my now husband, Matthew.

April 2016 – photo credit to Karli Kick

We found that we were a lazy couple – we loved video games, TV shows, card games, strategy games. We loved driving around and going to eat. Every year I would start to lose some weight – a max of 15 lbs at a time – and immediately after gain it back.

When we got engaged, I was convinced that I was going to lose weight for the wedding. #sweatingforthewedding I called it, of course. I used MyFitnessPal, I joined FitGirls, I tried Advocare and Smart Coffee. I hit 150lbs in 2019, not quite what I was post-Costa Rica, but so close, and all the wedding events leading up were getting in the way of workouts and spending money on more expensive food. I also couldn’t really afford to lose any more, as my wedding dress would have need torn apart to make it any smaller.

When the wedding day came, I had regained 5lbs, going back to 155 lbs, but I felt great in my dress. Of course, I always take advantage of any time I get to post a wedding photo, so enjoy:

~ June 1, 2019 ~

Since our wedding and honeymoon, we’ve hunkered down like true newlyweds, doing all of our favorite things and eating all of our favorite things. Before we knew it, we had gained what we’re calling “the marriage-30″(+).

I can tell you that I never expected to regain all of the weight. I had hoped that with my greater loss, when I bounced back I would just go up the normal 10-15lbs, and then I could lose it again afterwards and it wouldn’t take too long once I decided to nose-to-the-grindstone. LORDY WAS I WRONG. It all came back with a vengeance.

Now I say all this (boring) history because our history is usually a good indicator of what I am calling our Body-Blueprint. Our habits and our ways of thinking typically follow a blueprint that we’ve created long ago (on purpose or not), and when we let an aspect of ourselves go on auto-pilot, we follow the blueprint to a tee. This also applies to money and the way we spend, but here I found it helpful to really examine the way I handle my body – and to see the way my weight loss journey has twisted and turned.

My habits are:

  • Find a special event to lose weight for. (Banquets, Dances, Summer, Wedding, Vacation, Birthday, etc.)
  • Lose the weight as intensely as I can in an all-or-nothing attitude. (Calorie restrictions, 6 days a week exercise, etc.)
  • Immediately jump into my “life back to normal” afterwards. (Little to no exercise, eating what I want when I want)
  • Ignore the damage I’m doing until all my progress is gone. (“5 lbs is easy to lose” “I can do this this weekend and I’ll diet next week”)
  • Feel terrible about it.

Clearly, my problem is not losing weight, but in making it unsustainable and then having no plan to keep it all off. I’m tired of fitting into my favorite clothes for one trip or event! I want to fit in them for the rest of my life! It’s time for me to dig deep, and find some lasting strategies.

Check out my Instagram for some “before” pictures. I am going to be putting on the clothes I want to keep for the rest of my life and use them as my signposts for success as the months go on.

What do you find to be your biggest roadblock in your blueprint? What in your blueprint needs a red line markup? Thanks for reading and let me know what strategies you find helpful.