Uphill struggles

If I’m going to write when things are going well, I should also write when things are challenging.

I’ll get straight to the point. In 2019 my weight went up, not down. I’m not feeling like I want to publish exactly how much I weigh right now, but it’s a significant increase over where I was. I’m nowhere near as heavy as I was when I first started losing weight in 2017, but it’s still not good. I know I’m not a special little snowflake to lose weight, only to gain some of it back again. But after I lost so much, and kept it off for more than a year, I hoped that wouldn’t be me this time.

The feeling of dropping clothing sizes during my initial weight loss was incredible, to the point where I’d find myself smiling like an idiot in dressing rooms. 😂 The feeling when putting on a pair of trousers that you once shrunk out of is… not.

Why did it happen? Overeating. It’s that simple, but oof that’s a hard word to write! It’d be easy to blame this setback on my broken hand from last summer, and that certainly didn’t help, but that’s not the real cause. It’s overeating. It’s embarrassing and depressing, but simple.

While my hand healed, I was doing less exercise, but not that much less, and my level of fitness is still quite high. I ran a half-marathon in September, and as soon as I was able to after my hand healed, I was back at the gym every day. I haven’t lost the love of exercise that I found, and the gym is the most positive part of my life. Weight gain has set me back though, my running pace is much slower than it was, and everything harder than it used to be.

So, even though my weight had been slowly sneaking up in the first part of the year, things started going properly wrong in September. I was feeling depressed about the rate at which my hand was recovering, and the way that it has healed means that I’m no longer able to do some kinds of exercise that I enjoyed. I lost some motivation because of that, my mental state suffered, and my overeating got worse. It’s a predictable spiral. Every time I ruined a day with food, I pushed back my plan to make a fresh start. Maybe I’d have a good couple of days, but then I’d fail again. Failure leads to feeling bad about yourself, and in my case, that led to more overeating. Just as losing weight can cause a virtuous circle, gaining it back causes a vicious one.

It’s shocking how quickly things went downhill in the last quarter of the year too. I stopped stepping on the scales, and it’s like my body saw an opportunity to grow. I’m back in the habit of weighing myself every day again now. In reality, not stepping on the scales gave me the excuse and opportunity to make more bad decisions.

So the last few months have been tough. Feeling depressed about what was happening made me withdraw, and I’ve ended up stressed, irritable and unhappy. I’ve also had massive amounts of self-doubt caused by my failure and self-doubt leaks into everything, including work, and personal relationships. I’ve occasionally spoken to people about my weight gain, but mostly avoid the real conversation as I’m embarrassed about it. I’ve also been finding social media hard, which is challenging because some of it is necessary for me to be able to do my job. The reasons for this are longer and more complicated than I can get into here, but low self-esteem rarely affects just one area of your life.

Even worse, the fact I had lost so much weight, and how obvious it was caused it to become quite a public thing. I embraced it too! I talked openly about it, wrote about it, and even spoke at a couple of conferences on the subject. Let me tell you… it doesn’t feel great to take a step backwards after that.

Before you think that everything is doom and gloom in this post, there is a little good news. My diabetes is still in remission. I had a blood test just a couple of weeks ago, and my HbA1c was still down at 32m/m (5.1%). I’m very happy with that number, but I’m also under no illusions that if I remain the weight I am now, it’ll rise again, and I can’t let that happen.

It’s tempting to keep quiet about this, but I don’t think that’s the right thing to do. Everything I’ve learned about weight loss has taught me that honesty with myself is critical, and this is part of that. But I also hope that talking publicly about this setback might help someone else. I remember reading about success stories before I lost weight and it’s tempting to see those stories as complete pictures. Mine wasn’t (even though I hoped it would be) and I know there are thousands of other situations exactly like this. It’s just not that simple, and I think it’s probably a good thing if people occasionally read something that doesn’t feel like it could be a script for an infomercial. 😂

The other good news and the thing that’s given me the strength to write these words is that I do feel like I’ve turned a corner since Christmas. I’m down ~5kg from where I was, and I feel like I might be back on track.

I did it before, and I can do it again. Wish me luck.

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