I feel like every couple of months I've been writing that I'm in a rut and just doing more or less the same thing over and over again to get out of it.
I have more or less gained back 2/3 of the weight that I lost in 2017 and maintained through 2018.
The weight loss itself isn't the issue, I know how to do it, I mean I've actually done it, but I never really tackled the reason I gained weight in the first place, which I guess looking back was a bit silly, but hindsight is 20/20 and all that.
I've been doing a lot of inward reflection and research on emotional/binge eating and the mental side of weight loss using various books and podcasts, unfortunately what I've found is that although there is a lot of good information out there, there's also some terrible unsubstantiated information, sometimes from the same sources, so I've picked out the useful stuff and ignored some of the rest.
You might remember my recent post on Binge Eating I'd added a picture of what my cycle looks like and reflecting on that there are 3 parts to that cycle I can control:
How I respond to external stressors and emotional situations.
How I treat myself in a situation where I slip up.
How I manage my food/exercise as part of my lifestyle.
Responding to External Factors
I've added some tools to my arsenal in this battle including:
Writing a gratitude diary
I've started writing one thing that I'm grateful/thankful for every day, some days this is harder to write than others, but even on a bad day there are lessons to learn, so picking out a positive on those days has helped me channel more positive emotions.
Writing a journal
In addition to the gratitude diary, I've also been jotting down one or two words that describe my feelings on a particular day and a general jist of what has gone on during the day. I don't tend to talk about my feelings a whole lot (an ex-boyfriend once called me an emotional robot haha) so it helps to get it out of my head and onto paper rather than bottling it all up inside.
I have been using the Calm app since around this time last year, initially I was using it to help combat my insomnia, I found the Sleep Stories and the Deep Sleep meditations very useful. Now I'm trying to incorporate meditation into other areas of my life, dealing with personal or work stress/anger, which has been great for my overall stress.
Again, yoga is something I had already started incorporating for practical reasons, it was a big help in my recovery from my previous back injury, but I was looking at it from a purely physical point of view. After doing the PoleDance Therapy class I realised it's actually very therapeutic mentally too, perhaps because I'd only done it on my own rather than in a group setting before. This has also contributed in reducing my general life stresses.
Being Kinder to Myself
This is perhaps the hardest part of the cycle to break, we are often our own worst critics and it's the part I still struggle with the most. Whilst I'm improving my response to external stresses, sometimes, if I am really overwhelmed I still reach for the fridge as a comfort, I'm trying very hard not to get into the habit of berating myself or feeling disappointed if it happens, because this inevitably sends me back into the cycle. So what I'm trying to do is:
Use my diary
As a place to be totally honest about what I am feeling, but to also reflect on the positives of the day. I always come back to a motivational quote I came across a couple of years ago:
"The rule of 5 - If it won't matter in 5 years time, don't spend more than 5 minutes upset by it" , so my diary has now become my way of venting, better out than in, as they say.
Talk about things that bother me
I think in the last year or two I've find it easier to talk to my friends more when I have stuff on my mind, I have a fantastic bunch of friends, many of whom have their own stuff to deal with and I was always very cautious of piling my own stuff onto them, but realised recently that most of the time I can come up with the solutions to my problems myself but bouncing ideas off someone else can help to see things from a different perspective.
Focus on the positive
Yes I've regained 2/3 of the weight I'd lost, but there are still positives:
My body composition has changed for the better, I look far better at the weight I am now, than I did when I was this weight 2 1/2 years ago.
I am stronger - I row competitively and weight lift more than I could ever before.
I am fitter - I can jog further than I ever could, my resting heart rate is good.
I am more knowledgeable - I've learned so much over the last couple of year as regards fitness, nutrition and wellbeing.
I set myself daily, weekly and monthly non-scale goals which I think is important.
Managing Food & Exercise
I feel like the biggest challenge in the last year or two with my diet (noun not verb) has been that I've struggled to find a balance where my exercise or hormone induced appetite is satiated without overeating. My cardio activities have increased probably 10-fold since I started tackling my weight in 2016, with my new interest in currach rowing, hiking/walking more, cycling, etc.
In Dec 2016 I was taking taxis or driving to work because of the pain from back and I was doing a 15 min stretching video and a 10 min low impact cardio video a couple of times per week, so it wasn't too hard to maintain a 500-750 calorie deficit daily for months at a time.
Fast forward to 2019, I've regained some of the weight and I am ravenous a lot of the time particularly when actively training for rowing events. I've always made a point of eating back my exercise calories when using MFP's NEAT method, but sometimes even that hasn't helped.
I've experimented with calorie-cycling - eating more on workout days, using TDEE method, Intermittent Fasting, changing my macros, reducing cardio, changing up workout routine, etc. As yet nothing has worked for me in the long term.
So, I am continuing to learn and try new things to find that balance. I am currently trying something after listening to a very insightful podcast by James Smith where by I manage my calorie intake based on my menstrual cycle. I do tend to find that if I forget to have a few maintenance days with extra carbs around a week before my period and during ovulation, my appetite sends my diet into chaos.
For the next 2 cycles, I am trialing eating at a higher deficit days 1-14 of my cycle when my appetite is not as bad and a small deficit/maintenance days 15-28. I started this around Day 23 of my current cycle and so far, so good, although I've actually found I am naturally ending up in a higher deficit than planned as I've more energy from eating more, so I'll be curious to see how I get on with the higher deficit from next week.
I've also started using my spreadsheet for tracking weight, calorie intake
So like the title says I'll keep changing things up until I find what works for my newer lifestyle and keep tackling the binge-eating in a positive way.