120 Pounds Later…..

120 Pounds Later…..

Caitlin Cantor, LCSW, MSW

Lessons I’ve learned:

As some of you know, I lost 120 pounds and have maintained my weight for over five years. According to statistics, that means I’m now less likely to gain the weight back (before the five year point, they say 90% of those who lose a significant amount of weight will gain it back). To lose the weight, I did not use a program, have any surgery or access any help. I figured things out for myself.  Then, using my personal experience and extensive training in psychotherapy, I eventually designed therapeutic interventions to help other people struggling with weight concerns. I believe therapy for weight loss and weight maintenance is the missing piece of the puzzle; it should be combined with nutritionists and doctors to increase the likelihood of long term success.

Here are a few things I’ve learned that may help you in your process:

1. Eliminate choices. I do best when I don’t give myself choices. I don’t make a plan or a menu, but I know in my mind what I’m going to eat every day. I eat those things until I get tired of them, and then I switch to the next things that serve the purpose. For me, the purpose is to fuel my mind and body so that I can do what matters. I find something that satisfies me in the way I need it to, and stick with it until I find myself wanting something else. When I say, “satisfies me the way I need it to”, I mean that I have different needs at different times during the day. In the morning, for example, I like to eat something that satisfies my sweet tooth. For a while, every morning on my way to my office, I’d stop at the coffee shop nearby and get something that satisfied that need, but not something that would cause me to gain weight.  I go by calorie intake, so I balance that out throughout each day. I’d go to my office, eat it, and get busy with my life. When I found myself diverting from that routine, I found a new one. I started having cinnamon oatmeal and coffee at home because I got a new coffee maker that I love. Basically, I find something that meets my needs (which requires that I know what my needs are), and eating it becomes part of my new routine. I don’t think about food; there is nothing to think about. When I have a million options for all the different foods and places I can go to get them, food becomes too important. That mentality leads me to begin getting into unhealthy habits.

2. New habits that will work for you don’t develop over night. There is a process we go through to get into unhealthy habits, and we must go through another process to get back out of them and into new healthy behaviors. It takes time to figure out what new habits will work for us as unique individuals (we can read advice all day, but in the end, we have to find out for ourselves what will work; that takes time).  Weight and eating issues are not black and white, and we cannot expect to be back to healthy ways over night. Not long ago I found myself creeping above the ten pound range that I exist in comfortably. I was eating less healthfully and gaining weight. I tried to wake up each day and be back on track, but it wasn’t working. I wasn’t taking the time to go through the process; to slowly figure out what was going on with me and to then move back into healthy habits. While going through the process, I did not lose weight and that bothered me. But once I got from point A to point B, the weight came off. I learned that it takes patience and trust in myself. Most importantly, it takes perseverance. In the past I would have gotten stuck in the frustration of trying to wake up each day and be back to the old me who had my weight under control. I now know that it doesn’t work that way, and this will always be a process that I have to move with, not against. I learned to let go of the frustration and beating myself up because being mean to myself will never lead to success. If I put on a few extra pounds, it’s not the end of the world. It’s information that it’s time to make some changes and get on a new path.

3. Give yourself credit. Be sure to focus on any changes you make each day, even if you don’t stick to all of your goals. Weight loss and weight maintenance largely aren’t about goals; they are about a process. The goal of being healthy and at a comfortable weight will always be there for me. However, the process will always be changing and requiring me to keep up with it. It is the process that requires my attention and energy, not concern about the number on the scale (though I admit it is difficult not to be concerned with that). So, when times get tough and I’ve gotten off track, the process of getting back on track includes doing small things differently and giving myself credit for them. It involves letting what I wish I had done differently go, rather than being harsh with myself. For example, going into Starbucks and getting my usual iced coffee but skipping the chocolate cake pop that I’d gotten into the habit of eating is a small change that matters. For a while (as in a couple of years), that cake pop or other small sweet treat wasn’t a problem. But when I began putting on weight, I had to adjust. I might not make any other changes for the day; I might eat a lot or eat unhealthfully. Nonetheless, that’s a change that mattered. As I piled on these slight changes, they became life changes, and I eventually got back on track. For me, getting “back on track” means for the long term. It’s unreasonable to expect yourself to be a different person overnight. That sets us up for failure. We must be patient with ourselves, trust ourselves, and never give up on ourselves.

The information contained on Caitlin’s Couch, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and any other material thereon, is for entertainment and informational purposes only. It is not intended to (and does not), provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to the reader or to any other individual.  The sole purpose of Caitlin’s Couch is to promote discussion, dialogue and awareness of various topics relating to lifestyle and mental health. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment, and before undertaking a new health care regimen.  Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on Caitlin’s Couch.

Comments

  1. love the disclaimer, it does take necessary accurate knowledge of what we need, glad you found a formula you can live with long term and it is working for you.

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