Food is the enemy…sorta

Food is the enemy. Food is what makes you fat. Unfortunately, it’s also what keeps you alive, so it really puts you in a bind. You have to eat something, but what and how much is a constant problem or struggle or gamble or whatever you want to call it.

Food that tastes good is definitely not what you should be eating. And even food that tastes bland or just ok, you’re probably eating too much of. So eat less of tasteless food. That is the hallmark of a diet that will work.

When I’ve been in the process of losing a lot of weight, there is always the inevitable slowdown that turns into the dreaded plateau. No matter how many people tell you that losing weight is all a matter of a mathematical calculation of taking in fewer calories than you burn, plateaus are always there to remind you it’s a lot more than that.

In general, that calculus may be true, but sometimes your body just doesn’t give a crap about how much less you’re feeding it. It decides to do things to stop losing weight. You see, it doesn’t really like losing weight.

It will do things to make it almost impossible for you to eat less, and if that doesn’t work it will slow certain body processes down to make sure you stop burning so many calories to defend the lovely fat it has left.

Sometimes it works the other way and will stop you from gaining weight. Usually that perk is short term, but going the other way, the losing weight direction, can take weeks and months. And once you’re in the plateau, it’s so hard to get back to losing, because all those hard fought battles with food and diet and not being rewarded by a lower number on the scale makes you lose your resolve. And sometimes will to live! (Maybe that’s just me, but I doubt it.)

If I sound angry, it’s because I am. For a long time while I was in the first experience of major weight loss, I felt the daily struggle between my mind and my body. I would do everything to shut my brain up about wanting to eat cookies and every good thing and beat it metaphorically into submission, but often to no avail. The next day the scale would say the same number or a pound or two higher.

Your body and your brain really don’t want you losing any of that precious fat, and they will do things to sabotage you. They will make you extra hungry, the worst and most difficult obstacle. They will even do things like change your body temperature and processes like digestion and breathing and all the little things your body does that you don’t often consider, and there you have the infamous slow metabolism. Those are things you can do nothing about.

You’re imprisoned by a creature (a.k.a. your body) that just doesn’t care how you look in jeans. The irony is that being lighter definitely makes your body happier. You have more energy and less pain in your joints and everywhere really. Therefore, your body and your mind should be your biggest cheerleaders, but come a Saturday night when you go to a party and have to face down alcohol, potato chips, cheese and crackers, and cookies, you’re definitely on your own. When you start reaching for all of it and can’t stop at just one, your brain and body are nowhere to be found to help you out. Sometimes you just fail and eat everything in sight even though you know you’ll regret it the next day.

So while one part of your mind that deals with your depression and frustration over being fat suffers, the part that regulates your body is giving it the middle finger and saying ‘I will do whatever the hell I want to do! Just try and stop me!’

And you can’t stop it.

So you have to keep trying. Every day you have to try. People think I’m obsessive, but it’s how I have to be if I don’t want to regain all my weight. I don’t know another way. I’ve never seen anyone be successful that doesn’t think about what they’re eating and how they shouldn’t be eating this or that. And I mean think about it a lot.

Be prepared for this. It’s draining psychologically. It’s frustrating and discouraging to think I can never eat potato chips or French fries again without gaining a little weight. But that’s the truth. I can’t. I’m not alone in this, but I am in the minority of people who are ready to accept the harsh truth of it.

People throw out those phrases, “I’m watching what I eat,” or “I’m watching my weight,” like it’s no big deal. If you’re really, literally watching that, it is something. It’s painful for me to know that going to bed somewhat hungry will help my weight goals. I know from experience that fasting helps a lot, but I can only do it in spurts. There’s just no denying the pain that is involved in weight loss.

For me, there’s also a lot of self-loathing. That’s pretty evident by now for anyone who reads my blog. I also know that obsessing about having too much food is an egregious #firstworldproblem. Over the past year, one million people fled into Uganda from South Sudan due to war and starvation, and there’s no end in sight. And that’s just one place in the world. So while so many suffer from lack of food, we in the U.S. suffer because of too much and too much of the wrong food.

I know all of that, but I’m still going to try to eat less every day. I’m still going to try to lose weight. I’m still going to obsess about all of it. Maybe it seems the height of solipsism, but maybe it’s just what I have to do to try to feel better about myself.

I know feeling shitty about myself has never helped anyone, so I’m going to keep trying not to feel shitty. It’s hard, and sometimes it’s stupid, but to me, it’s worth it.

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