You know the scene: It’s bleary o’clock in the morning. You’re standing over the scale yet again, exchanging glares with the same blasted number as yesterday. Another day of pain and sacrifice in the books, and it feels like you’ve gotten nowhere.
I know this feeling well, because I have lived it for four solid months.
Four months of waking up and know what the number was going to be before I even made the attempt. It is only in the last few days, after an extraordinary amount of effort and several drastic changes, that I’ve managed to once again begin my downward trek.
Yet, I think that I (and all of us) have mistaken The Plateau for the purgatory of our weight loss journey instead of recognizing it for the tremendous achievement that it is.
You see, every single pound that you lose is lost while fighting against your body.
Reports and studies have both proven beyond a doubt what dieters have long-since suspected: Your body treats weight loss as horrific trauma which it must protect you from at all costs by doing everything it can to hang on to fat cells and regain the lost weight.
You’re bailing out the leaky boat of your body-weight as fast as you can, but your body is just as frantically trying to slop the water back in!
Plateauing at a steady weight, or failing to regain lost weight, is actually a situation which shows dedication and tenacity. I am the perfect example of what it means when you don’t manage to keep your body under control after extreme weight loss.
This is my third, and final, attempt at weight loss. I’ve gone from 300 lbs down to 175, back up to 300, lost down to 230, and put it all back on to be 300 lbs once more. Each and every time I’ve managed to take the weight off and improve my health, any slip put me right back where I was. Which made me seek out the things which comforted me. Which was food. Which… well, you get the idea.
I’m back down to 253.8 lbs as of this morning, and it is my hope that my last chance to get my weight under control has finally drilled into me the necessary habits to make the pounds stay off.
For four months now, I’ve been able to wake up with the certainty that while I might creep up a bit (I’ve been down to 249.8 this year) it’s also not going to balloon out of control. It wasn’t comforting, that surety, but it should’ve been.
I think it’s important that I challenge myself, and all of you struggling to lose weight with me, that we change our outlooks on those periods of stability.
So, next time that you wake up in the morning after a day spent sticking to your weight loss goals, and step on the scale only to see a familiar number, you should feel proud.
Such a small fraction of individuals who attempt a diet will succeed long term. I’m proof of that!
So why on Earth do we bemoan the lack of backwards progress as a bad thing?
Don’t make my mistake when this happens. Find the joy and the pride in your stable new weight that I couldn’t until my time on the plateau was over.
Even if your plateau weight is as low as you can get, the fact that you’re willing to put in the work to keep what you’ve lost off is something to be proud of.
The Unsheathed Quill