Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Why do dieters gain the weight back?

Five years ago this month, I finally reached my goal weight after years of struggling. I'd lost 80 pounds all told.

Yesterday I weighed myself and saw I'd gained 50 of those eighty pounds back. 

Those of us with weight problems have heard it before - unless you make a real, healthy change to your lifestyle, you're not going to keep the weight off. That is what I did, by the way - the diet I chose to follow was healthy, long-term, involved no medication, pre-packaged foods, meal replacements or other gimmicks, and addressed my food addiction issues. In over 30 years of weight loss struggles, it's the only one I've ever had consistent success with, which is why I started it again yesterday.

The problem, of course, is not the diet. It's me.

 I looked good fifty pounds ago. I felt even better - stronger, clearer-headed, better-rested, better. My family and friends were thrilled with me, except the ones who were jealous, and they were the ones I didn't mind annoying. :-) So, once I got there, why didn't I stay?

Well, there are a million things that set my backslide in motion, but what it comes down to, I th, is that compulsive eating is an addiction like smoking and alcoholism, and addictions generally don't just disappear, like a cold or flu. They're more like - oh, I don't know, arthritis, maybe? Lurking under the surface, ready to strike when you least expect it. That's why alcoholics who give up drinking call themselves recovering alcoholics - they know they're still susceptible to relapse, and so have to take steps to manage their addiction.

For me, overeating produces a kind of comfortable high, a high that takes the rough edges off life and puts problems at a distance - temporarily, of course, and there's the catch: the problems come back worse than ever; only I'm not in a fit state to deal with them because my head is fuzzy, and I'm ruining your health into the bargain. My rational mind knows this, but there's a part of me that craves that temporary fix, and so, if I'm not careful (and by careful I mean vigilant), I fall back into the patterns of behavior my weird brain has learned to use to cope with things in the past.

Sometimes I wish I was a smoker or an alcoholic instead of a COE -  they can swear off the cigarettes or the booze forever, but I still have to eat. Eating is not socially taboo. And a smoker or an alcoholic looks normal not long after giving up the behaviors, even if they're still suffering inside. No matter how well I resist, it will take me a long time to lose 50 pounds.

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