Thursday, September 8, 2011

I Don't Have What It Takes

I am reluctantly coming to the conclusion that I do not have what it takes to get where I thought I would like to be in terms of weight loss and fitness levels.

Before you and I both have a hissy fit, hear me out.

One of the ways to get to a goal is to gain knowledge about how to get there.  I have gained lots of nutrition knowledge over the years due to my time as a Weight Watchers leader (before points, when the plan was based on the food pyramid), and also due to my thyroid issues.  If the best self defense is offense, I’m your candidate.  Because these situations made me go out like a hunting dog to find out anything and everything I could about nutrition both to be a good example (when I was a WW leader) and to have the power that knowledge brings.

As for exercise, my knowledge comes from experience.  The term “adult onset athlete” describes me well.  The most athletics I ever did growing up was cheerleading and back when I did it, it was not quite the sport it is today.  In the 1980s I dabbled a bit in some aerobics classes but truly, they were not something I loved or even did regularly.  It took a 60 pound weight gain from quitting smoking to get me to do anything at all on a regular basis.  By then I was in my thirties and miserable.  Between my damaged lungs and the pounds of fat, about all I could do, at first, was walk on a regular basis.  Once a few pounds came off, I discovered step aerobics and bought the VCR tapes and step so I could do that at home.  But still, only a few times a week – most certainly not everyday.  In the early 2000’s my doctor started noticing a trend towards hypertension and I had gained a bit weight back – maybe 10 pounds.  He encouraged me to add running intervals to my semi-regular walking to see if I could lose the weight and stave off medications.  It took most of 2002 but by 2003 I was calling myself a runner, and began to enjoying ‘racing’ even though I still had to start taking a pill for that hypertension (Helen, some things are just genetic…) In any case, I loved running and suddenly I was one of “those” people who exercised most days of the week.

Then in 2005 I gained 40 pounds while training for a half marathon.  It was the thyroid.  Ever since then, my doctor has been working with me non-stop to try and figure out what I need to do to get the weight back off.  While I have weighed less than I do now, I never have been able to get back to pre-diagnosis weight.  It really is miserable because between the extra weight affecting my running and feeling like I’ve been on a diet for 6 years, I often go through times when I just want to completely quit and be fat and lazy.

But I digress.  Lately, I have tried several things to see what the heck I need to do (see ‘miserable,’ above) and have been completely unsuccessful at figuring out anything.  I reached the point where statistics were saying I should have lost 6 pounds in the last few weeks only to see a gain of 2.  Explaining my stats to Shelley (that is not a joke, I made her look at them), I yelled, “I am going on a liquid diet.  I am so sick of this sh*t!”  Shelley of course ignored me at first then threatened me if I tried anything so drastic.

My next step was to start looking at other people whom I see as successful at their weight and fitness.  While I get lots of inspiration from fellow weight loss bloggers there’s nothing quite like actually seeing in reality (vs. virtuality) what folks are doing.  And this is where I’ve reached the point of knowing that I do not have what it takes.

These people – of all different ages so don’t think I’m looking solely at those who are much younger than me – just live differently – specifically in one area.

The food varies from person to person – vegetarians, junkatarians like Mr. Helen, calorie counters and lifetime WW members.  While this does prove to me that we all need to find our own path – that there’s no one right way – I haven’t been able to see what I could do differently than I’m doing now.

Where they differ from me?  They exercise multiple times; every single day – rarely take a rest day. Or they exercise for hours at time, which is something I do only if I’m in half or full marathon training.  Which I haven’t been.  As an example (and this is just one example of what I’ve seen over and over again), one individual exercised THREE times on a recent day:  1 hour aerobics class in morning; 5 mile run pushing her forty pound 3 year old in a jogging stroller at noon, then 1 ½ hours of Muay Thai and conditioning training in the evening. Even Mr. Helen, who does not have a sedentary job, additionally exercises for 2-3 hours at a time 5-6 days a week.

I am not willing to do that as there are other things in life I want to experience and that much exercise takes up more time than I'm willing to give up.  (See Debby, I told you I'm not an athlete.) This in turn seems to mean I won’t get where I want to either weight or fitness wise.  Very sobering thought and obviously I need to rethink it all.  I’m just like a computer that needs a reboot and I’m not happy about it at all.


  1. You kind of sound like I did when I first started my diet - resistant to (extra) exercise (although I was resistant to ANY exercise). I went kicking and screaming into everything (I REFUSED to even walk for exercise), but eventually grew to like most of it. I think you may be in an exercise rut; I also think you might want to add in something different on the nights you don't go to MT, like going for a walk for 20 minutes (I know, I wanna slap myself for suggesting that)(just because I hated when people told me to do that)(but it would be good for you in a couple of ways).

    I absolutely hear you on being sick and tired of focusing on a damn diet for so long. It gets old.

    Vent anytime. I wish I had a magic wand to fix your thyroid. Big, big hugs to you, my BIF.

  2. I agree with you that it doesn't matter what you do, count calories, WW, etc., it is still calories in/calories out; calories burned.

    I know for me if I eat great and don't exercise I stay the same, if I eat like shit and exercise, I stay the same - its only when I put the two together that I see the weight start to drop - but it is harder now that I am in my 40's, and I need to set the wine glass down! :D

    Hang in there Helen, you'll find your way!

  3. This weight loss "game" is a bummer, no matter if you get all of your weight off or if you're still fighting the last few (or many, in my case) pounds. I say that because it's never over, no matter what, and I think we get tired. Nevertheless, I have learned the hard way that I can't keep weight off unless I do some exercise. But Biz is right, in her eating/exercise explanation. It's a tough, tiring combination, but keep the faith. You'll get there!

  4. I think I see what your saying...YOu already! excercise for an hour or so a day and that is isn't how you want to spend your life. IN the gym. I am and have always been an advocate for doing what you know you WILL DO. I have never seen a morbidly obese person eat moderately, exercise moderately and be morbidly obese. Maybe you won't ever reach swimsuit model...but you can be healthy and happy. And that is what counts. what's best for you.

  5. Lurker here: I have a different view on exercise. I think it's mentally useful for people who really enjoy it. It gets them away from the fridge and gives them another number of focus on beating when the scale settles out.

    But in a very real sense ... if you are having to go to extra effort to burn off calories, that means that you are still taking in too many. You are still looking for ways to burn off an excess amount. That's what exercise is in many ways, unless you actually like it, upon which point eating/spending too many calories so you can exercise is like spending money on a hobby.

    Unless it's something you enjoy doing for its own sake, exercise is at its heart just a way to burn off an excess intake. Skip two slices of bread, skip the stairmaster, and call it a day.

  6. This is weird. I've been thinking about a post I wanted to write the last few days. The title is going to be "why I'll never be skinny" or "why I'll never reach goal".

    I also recently decided (in the last few days) that I just don't have what it takes to lose another 50 pounds. Just like you, spending hours a day exercising doesn't appeal to me. I can do one hour most days, but it isn't enough.

    I'm also not into major food deprivation to the point where I can lose a lot of weight.

    I don't have your thyroid problem, but I do have age working against me, and I think that's a big fat negative to losing weight (no pun intended :).

    In a way, it's a sad thought that I'll never fit into those size 6 jeans I still have hanging in the back of my closet. I think it's just a reality I have to accept.

    I'm not totally given up though. I still intend to try to lose another 30 pounds, but that magical number of 135 on the scale just isn't going to happen.

    Guess I'll never get my youth back, but I intend on making the best of my old age. :)

  7. Helen, you know I've also got an underactive thyroid, so I have LOTS of empathy. And you know that lately I've been experimenting with primal living, which not only focuses on fewer carbs and more protein and fat, but also stresses that aerobic activity every day is unhealthy and can actually contribute to weight gain. Take from it what you may, but read this: - specifically where Mark talks about how carbs > insulin > thyroid & immune problems. It really made me sit up and wonder if this is what is contributing to my own struggle (apart from my own actions of shooting myself in the foot, of course). I'm starting the 30-day Primal Blueprint Challenge on Monday, if you want to play along and need some added motivation.

    If you haven't tried it yet, why not give it a shot? Just from my half-assed attempts I already feel better - I posted about it today, in fact. You might be discouraged now and not want to try *anything* else, but what have you got to lose? Whichever way forward, I'm pretty sure you're not going to give up, girl, oh no, not you!

    Hugs & good luck!

  8. Dieting does get old. And it gets frustrating. *And* it gets annoying when you (the Royal You) see bloggers that just up and do it and lose weight while you still meander around the same few pounds.

    Maybe you do need to do another 180 to shake things up. Just for a bit.

  9. Boy do I get where you're coming from!!! About 8 years ago I gave up completely. Then I wrote out everything that bothered me about diets and came up with 90 separate items. That's when I started to make real progress--when I gave up on any and every program somebody else cooked up. Right now, I'm in a love/hate (mostly hate) relationship with weight watchers, but I'm doing this MY way. That means real pizza--at least 5 slices, movie popcorn, vacations and all the rest of it, an awful lot of the time. Yes, I'd progress faster if I actually followed the ww program perfectly, but who wants to live like that? The real work of weight loss is 95% psychological and it's MUCH harder than any diet. Try Overeater's anonymous if you haven't already and come visit my blog anytime. Best Wishes!

  10. I hear ya Helen, loud and clear. No thyroid problems here, but the age thing is doing me in. I still try to be content, and I really am happy with my "numbers" at the doctors. So I have to think about that stuff, and not my fat rolls, when I choose yet another healthy meal. Who said that? Oh, Christine, above. Yes, I think focusing on being happy and healthy is the best thing to do. xxoo

  11. I feel for you Helen. I guess it's about priorities too. Do you WANT to excercise so much in order to reach a number on the scale, or can you live with a few extra lbs and enjoy the non exercise time. Tough call isn't it?? sigh. If you come up with any answers, let us know, I think we all benefit from your wisdom! Have a great Thurs.

  12. I can relate to this both personally and what I saw with clients.
    At what cost to reach the numbers or even looks we want and is life too short and precious and so much else to do to get there?
    it is such a uniquely personal decision.



  13. It's like you said: you have to find your own path. What works for one, doesn't for the other so I'm not going to tell you what to do but I believe you will find your way. I get it how frustrating this must be for you because weight loss goes very slowly with me and that's frustrating sometimes too.

    I probably will say something now that's going to offend people but if you workout 3 times a day for 6 to 7 days a week: do you even have a personal life? I don't think you do and I don't think it's healthy to exercise this much.
    What I'm doing now myself is a lot and I would love to just run 3 to 4 times a week and be at goal weight but truth is I need to do more at this time to lose weight. I'm prepared to do that now but don't think I will do that the rest of my life.

    Hang in there Helen, you'll get there and I appreciate your honesty in this.

  14. I think you do have what it takes Helen it's just that darn thyroid issue that stands in your way. You already eat better and exercise more than most people do. I admire you for your running, healthy balance with eating foods you enjoy and all the exercise you do!

    I'm never going to be one of those people who exercises multiple times a day, I don't "love" exercise like some people do.

    I don't have thyroid issues but I have found that with getting older (52 yrs young) that the weight goes on much quicker than it use to and it takes a great deal more effort to get it off.I have a lot less "wiggle" room when it comes to how much I eat on a given day without gaining weight.

    Then there are the genetic issues that come into play and are giving me grief right now! Watch for a post about that soon on my blog. I'm still digesting all the info my doctor gave me at my recent physical and trying to figure out how to tweak my lifestyle yet again to maintain the good health I have come to enjoy.

    I also need that "reboot" you are talking about and I am just putting it off!

  15. I can relate so much to this post. The nutritional learning, reading up on weight loss. Reading all those books, some of which I sent to you. I found inspiration in other success stories. It reminds me of going to the psychiatrist, which I have done for years (since mid 90s) and talking and talking and talking and talking about what happened as a child or what happened last week or what I used to do that got me exactly where I am today. And in a way I discovered (for myself) the pointlessness of all the talking, thinking, learning when what I needed to be doing was doing. Act as if or fake it till you make it. All the talking, reading and learning is more of a roadblock to success for a dieter.You have to grab the bull(shit) by the horns which is what I finally did for myself by having surgery. And anyone near our age MUST exercise so much if they want to keep weight off. And when you are ready come work in the forest with me. That kind of work/exercise will burn most of that excess! (I'm sorry you are feeling so frustrated. I feel your frustration and suffering. I really do.)

  16. I have an exact post on file... ready to hit "send"
    I have lowered my expectations to just walking through the door at CrossFit. Too low? Maybe - maybe not.
    Maybe it's enough that we show up.
    Maybe it's enough that we try.
    Maybe we won't set the world on fire.
    So what?
    Maybe we'll be healthier and a little better off....
    Regardless of our age, weight, and level of fitness!

    Maybe we'll be happier - just finding something we love and
    that our bodies can handle - maybe even every now and then,
    we "bring it!" Or - it always feels a little like a chore.
    The whole diet and fitness thing. *sigh*

    Maybe we find a place to really fit in:
    where like-minded people clamor over us
    and really want to partner up with us!

    I know what mine is - and will be!
    I hope you find your gentle answers -
    And not a moment too soon!
    Keep up your chin - it only gets better!

  17. I think that if you are happy with your weight, then you will be so much happier overall. It shouldn't be a chore for six years. You certainly have done everything. Not exercising for 3 hours a day seems reasonable. I just worry that you will be unhappy and feel like you're quitting. You've really come a long way baby!

    You've inspired so many people- you can count their weight loss as yours!

  18. There's a lot I can relate with in your post here. Tomorrow a.m. it's blood test time again in the continuing sage of trying to get my thyroid meds right.

    I love Carla's comment:

    "At what cost to reach the numbers or even looks we want and is life too short and precious and so much else to do to get there?"

    So wise.

  19. I fully understand what you're thinking. I've lost and gained a whole lot of weight over the years, up down up down up up down. Repeat. I do get sick of it. I still carry on because losing weight is one of my 'main interests in life'. Yeah. I'm not sure whether that is sad or not. Anyway, have a read of this post, it's from a fat acceptance website, and probably explains what you are going through.

  20. I'm with Anne on this one. I do think it's about what feels good, what we can fit in, what we want our lives to be. I know for me it's about health and I do have that as it sounds you do.