I have gained all kinds of weight since this summer. I was in a groove there for a while — riding my bike, taking classes at a neighborhood gym, running every now and then — but once the days started getting shorter and the weather turned grey and wet my entire routine fell apart. Add in that months-long eat-whatever-the-hell-I-want-as-if-there-are-no-consequences binge I went on (were there freshly baked cookies every single day in December? I believe there were), and let’s just say most of my clothes are currently gathering dust in the side of the closet while I wear the same pair of once-billowing jeans and yoga pants day in and day out, because nothing else fits.

God, I hate typing that. Every time I find myself in a really good place with diet and fitness, I have this sneaking suspicion that the REAL me is lurking just out of view. The real me doesn’t choose vegetables or cardio, she flops on the couch while mainlining pints of ice cream. I can keep her at bay for a while, but she always comes trundling back in, hitching at her pants because argh, muffin top.

Or maybe the real me is the fit and energetic one, and the lazy Haagen-Dazs addict is someone else entirely. Who knows, right? Geneen Roth would probably have some things to say about my stupid binary food/fitness habits and how it would probably help me in the long run to have some sense of moderation, but, well, the point is, I got tired of feeling increasingly uncomfortable in my own skin. Also, I don’t want to buy a new wardrobe.

So I’ve climbed back on the regular-exercise and sane-eating wagon again, and boy, it all sure feels familiar. I’ve done it a thousand times, it seems. Hell, I’ve written about it so many times I could probably just copy/paste the same entry every 18 months or so.

The worst part — I mean, the absolute most ridiculous, crazymaking, idiotic part of this endless cycle — is that after a couple weeks, I already feel a thousand times better. More clear, more positive, less frustrated, less languid. The creeping depression I attributed to January/February doldrums in the Pacific Northwest is gone. Mostly ditto to the flailing sense of career insecurity and second-guessing. I’m happier, goddammit. It’s the exact same revelation I’ve had over and over and over.


48 Responses to “Infinite loop”

  1. Katie on February 13th, 2013 5:11 pm

    You’re not the only one having that revelation (repeatedly). I’ve been eating well and exercising regularly (almost daily) for almost 4 weeks now, and I feel amazing. I want to kick myself for not doing it all the time … for not remembering how good it feels. But, right now I will bask in it.

    Oh, and I was just told I need to give up dairy and wheat — doctor’s orders — so that will help keep me on the right path longer than just being left to my own devices.

  2. Shannon on February 13th, 2013 6:04 pm

    you just reached in my brain and took out what I was thinking…cycling over and over except insert East Coast for West Coast and salty snacks vs. fresh baked goods….

  3. Donna on February 13th, 2013 6:09 pm

    I wonder if this is the same way people who have to take meds for bipolar disorders etc feel? They know they will feel better when they take the meds, but somehow, they just don’t?
    I’ve always wondered about that….why they go off their meds.
    Also, glad you are feeling better!

  4. Jess on February 13th, 2013 6:47 pm

    Love this post. I do the same thing and its always good to know we aren’t alone!

    Donna, I think it’s similar (speaking as someone who is bi-polar). I will take my meds religiously for a long time and then I “forget” that I NEED them in order to maintain. I think, “oh, I’ve been doing so well that I must be better. I can handle this without medication.” So I go off them. And I’m usually “ok” for a couple months until it spirals out if control and I feel like there is no hope and I know medication is the answer but I know it will take time for it to kick in and get back to normal so it almost seems pointless to start again. It’s easier to wallow in misery. Then I finally decide to go back on them (or someone convinces me to) and after a while I think, “wow, why was I fighting it? I feel so much better this way.” It’s been this lather, rinse & repeat cycle for the last 20 years. Finally at 33 I’m a little better at staying on.

  5. Emily on February 13th, 2013 6:53 pm

    Big ditto here. Amazing how much happier I am when I am eating better and exercising regularly but that is HARD!! Luckily it is Lent now, aka my annual 40 day cleanse…no candy, sweets or fried foods!

  6. Josey on February 13th, 2013 7:14 pm

    You are SO not alone in this. I suddenly packed on 10# in the past 2 months – when I was already 10# over my happy weight. I relished in eating and drinking what I wanted…and then I regret it SO HARD…and get so mad that I did it to myself again… and again…

    Sigh – bad on the wagon.

  7. Alice on February 13th, 2013 7:48 pm

    Same, seriously. But I’m pulling for you. So is Shaun, obv.

  8. Molly on February 13th, 2013 8:01 pm

    I could copy and paste this too.

    So glad you posted this today as I’m sitting here feeling especially pudgy, am in the middle of an acne breakout and just ate half an almond cake. I just rejoined the gym last week ……

  9. melanie on February 13th, 2013 8:07 pm

    I’m still trying to lose the last 2 1/2 lbs gained over xmas (it was 5) and being mad at myself for not getting serious enough. I am still exercising regularly, but not daily and I don’t know if I’ll ever be that girl.. but last year I lost 33 lbs and while honestly my doctor would say another 33lbs would be nice I know I’d feel like a new woman even if I lost 15 more. MUST stop maintaining/gaining and losing same 2-3 lbs over and over again and get serious!

  10. Heather on February 13th, 2013 8:10 pm

    Cheers. Instead of baked goods insert good cheese & booze.

    Good luck and may your third pair of pants fit soon (g-d knows I’m ready to put on my 3rd pair).

  11. Ellie on February 13th, 2013 8:15 pm

    Same, same. I “lost my baby weight” only to have regained it all. Winter blows. Toddlers blow – the whining while jogging…it’s all so uninspiring. And ice cream is so good. I went from set on running a half marathon in October to congratulating myself for running two miles this morning (and buying by first control top granny panties). Tomorrow is another day, right?

  12. Katie on February 13th, 2013 9:00 pm

    I am in the same boat! Just getting my rear on the bike trainer every night is hard, but I’m determined to be down the 5 pounds I have gained since October. And I can’t wait until its not icy as heck so I can go back outside to walk!

  13. LB on February 13th, 2013 9:58 pm

    I tell myself that it doesn’t matter if I fall off the wagon as long as I always climb back go again. Although I was thinking the other day that it’s hard to consider myself a runner when I haven’t gone for a run in ohhh, a month? Eventually I get sick of myself and snap back into the habbit. I seem to have the same all or nothing type relationship with exercise. I would prefer a more moderate, balanced consistent routine instead of this feast or famine bullshit but it is what it is…..tomorrow I’ll get back on that wagon.

  14. Laura on February 13th, 2013 9:58 pm

    word. I’m glad I’m not the only one.

    I say this all the time re: everything in my adult life–I’m pretty sure I could learn from my mistakes if I could remember my mistakes. This especially applies to making healthy choices. I think I have amnesia.

  15. sooboo on February 14th, 2013 12:08 am

    It’s always a little tougher to stick with it during the winter. Not only is it dark earlier, sick more often and we are more covered up. I’m trying to get us back on track in our house but it’s hard because we’ve been sick off and on for a month. The new rule is, if you have no fever you have to at least walk every day for 20 minutes and I’ve started going to the farmer’s market and cooking real meals again.

  16. AlisonC on February 14th, 2013 4:24 am

    Oh yes!
    I am not really religious but I am using the excuse of Lent to cut out chocolate and crisps (chips) and putting more focus into my exercise. Like you I know I will feel better but it is so hard when it is cold and dark and no-one can see the extra pounds under all those clothes!

    Good luck

  17. NancyB on February 14th, 2013 5:29 am

    It doesn’t get any clearer the older you get! 52-3/4 and still riding that roller coaster. 4:45am comes to early even when going to bed at 10pm. Did well at start of year and then “something” derails it and I’m back where I started – cranky, lazy and eating anything and everything bad in sight.
    I think it’s my “all or nothing” mindset.
    Thanks for reminding me I WILL feel better so in a short period of time – because I do!

  18. books on February 14th, 2013 6:32 am

    Every two years. Like clockwork. I work really hard to lose 15 or so lbs, then I slack off and slow creep starts again until I’m back where I started. Maddening. I’m currently at the end of that two year streak and back to working out 6 days a week and eating poached chicken and steamed veggies. When what I’d really like is a grilled cheese, or maybe a burger and fries and also some cookies. Oh and to sit on the couch instead of working out getting all sweaty and showering for the second time every day. You are not alone.

  19. Redbecca on February 14th, 2013 6:34 am

    Print out and frame that last paragraph and post it on the fridge, the bathroom mirror and anywhere else you need to remind yourself!

  20. Lizerati on February 14th, 2013 7:37 am

    It’s taken me 35 years to realize that exercising makes me feel SO much better. I feel both awesome and like an idiot! Don’t beat yourself up too hard over this. If you were perfect all the time, you’d be so boring! (as would anyone)
    As Batman’s father would say: “Why do we fall down? So we can pick ourselves up again”. Now go fight crime from your secret lair!

  21. April on February 14th, 2013 7:40 am

    I’m back on the wagon as well. It seems like I can keep that fat girl inside me happy for a while, but she seems to come out now and again.

    The thing that is different from now and 10 years ago is I know what to do to fix it, thanks to weight watchers. I may let that fat girl out but I won’t let her get up to 250 lbs again. Sorry sister, nothing tastes that good.

  22. ememby on February 14th, 2013 7:45 am

    Ditto, ditto, ditto. Last night I had to psych myself up to hop on the elliptical, dreading it every minute, then doing it and feeling all peppy and fabulous afterwards. Why can’t I remember that feeling from one day to the next? And why can’t I stop wanting all the good food and eating it like there will never be more. There needs to be a pill for that, because I would gladly take it.

  23. Robin on February 14th, 2013 7:49 am

    The other day I was wondering why we don’t automatically crave food that’s GOOD for us. WTF, biology? Why’s it always gotta be a slog?

    But what you described is SO HUMAN, and I daresay it applies to everything, not just diet & weight issues… I have recurring/chronic neck spasm pain that I can manage & even prevent by doing some simple PT exercises and yoga, but for some reason I’d rather put it off & then whine and careen for two weeks when the pain inevitably returns.

  24. Nimble on February 14th, 2013 8:04 am

    Another opportunity to start again! I say this to myself, grimacing, and laughing at my assumption that all problems, once fixed, should stay fixed!
    Good on you for getting moving again.

    Sometimes I find that tiny bites of exercise are enough to shift me into motion. I will just do these five pushups and then I’ll see how I feel.

  25. Alison on February 14th, 2013 8:25 am

    I could have written this same thing word for word. I’m currently in my “fat” stage and keeping trying to pep-talk myself back into working out and eating right. Last summer I wore a bikini, right now I am wearing the same 2 pairs of pants (aside from my sweats). It’s gross. The worst part is that now I have to start all over again. I love the quote “If you are tired of starting over, stop quitting.” If only my pie-hole would get the message.

  26. Angella on February 14th, 2013 8:35 am

    I believe this is the real you, because she keeps coming back and kicking the Haagen-Dazs to the curb. xo

  27. Ashley on February 14th, 2013 9:28 am

    I agree…this must be the real you because she refuses to not be heard! Keep going. thanks for the reminder to read Geneen Roth AGAIN. It’s time for me to own some pants that have a button on them.

  28. Melissa on February 14th, 2013 9:56 am

    I was actually hoping you’d blog about exercise again. After seeing your tweets about the Insanity test I was hoping (still hoping) you might sort of blog your progress with that. What I really need is an infomercial of @Sundry and her results with Insanity – that would convince me to buy it :)

  29. Sian on February 14th, 2013 10:41 am

    I was in the world’s longest ‘Fuck It’ eating cycle from July to January, and while I’ve toned it down somewhat, I can’t get it under control. I’m just trying to focus on exercise and moving my body, and hope that the eating changes will happen as I go.

    Thank you as ever for reminding me I’m not alone.

  30. Tosha on February 14th, 2013 10:48 am

    Remember the Slinky!!

    I heard this lovely piece of wisdom once when I was complaining about having THE SAME DAMN CONVERSATION/FIGHT again and again and again and again with my husband. My lovely mother told me to look at it like a Slinky. It seems like we’re just travelling in the same stupid circle, but in reality the circle keeps going up and up and up.

    So cut yourself some slack, celebrate that you put the brakes on earlier this year than last, and know that you are moving upward (even if it feels like an infinite loop!)

  31. Krissa on February 14th, 2013 11:07 am

    I was recently reading an interesting post about how “winter weight” is, in a lot of ways, OK. It’s COLD, man, and there’s less to do. This is not to excuse excessive eating, but it’s not the end of the world when you get a little fluffier in the long, cold, winter. It made a lot of sense to me; I am also prone to the conveyor belt of cookies ending directly in my stomach, but I’m slowly getting better at giving myself a break, too – as easy as it is for me to fall off the wagon, I just as easily climb back on. My ongoing quest for better health is not actually sidelined by these foibles, not entirely, and I do much better with it all if I just cut myself some slack and then move on.

    You’ll get back on the bike, back to the gym, back to active life. Maybe next winter you’ll find something you love that’s active and indoors, who knows.

  32. dorrie on February 14th, 2013 12:10 pm

    Uh, yeah, I know. I started running again, some more, for the millionth time, and I am suddenly in a much better place. Like, DUH, every other time it happens. It’s just when I am in that bad, dark place, I know in my head that exercise will help me feel better but I just can’t get there. You so are not alone with this one, it’s the ciiiircle of liiiiffffeeee

  33. Erin@MommyontheSpot on February 14th, 2013 2:09 pm

    I feel the same way! I was doing so well, and then after Christmas, my routine fell apart. It doesn’t help that there is Valentine’s Day chocolate and Girl Scout Cookies lurking in the cupboard.

  34. Jennifer on February 14th, 2013 2:10 pm

    I’ll tellya I’ve been eating your “kick your butt” salad for the past 6 years. I never get tired of it. Keep the ingredients for that around and keep filling up on high-fiber stuff (YAY BEANS!!!) and you’ll be kicking your butt in no time.

  35. June on February 14th, 2013 2:46 pm

    Try Martha Beck’s book, “4-Day Win.” I read it for the first time in January, see if your library has it. Successful weight loss and maintenance is NOT about discipline and willpower, it’s about setting up your brain and life to deal successfully with stressors that you would normally combat with an ice cream. I think she calls them nonnutritive comfort measures or something like that. I’ve been following her suggestions for 4 weeks or so and have lost 5 lbs w/o dieting or increasing my physical activity (I walk a few miles a day). Overall, it’s been a very low- to non-stress way to lose weight. So far, anyway, it’s only been about a month.

  36. Jessica on February 14th, 2013 7:28 pm

    Krikey I adore you. I’m in the midst of trying to get it all back under control but my job is going to do me in. And I have to remember that sugar cookies don’t medicate for that – sweating does. And looking for a new job.

  37. Corinne on February 15th, 2013 7:51 am

    As ememby said, “Why can’t I remember that feeling from one day to the next?” I wonder that every time. It’s like a wet bar of soap.

    Also fuck you Thin Mints. Wait I don’t mean it! Come back, baby, I really love you.

  38. Elizabeth on February 15th, 2013 9:58 am

    I love this post and I’m wondering if there wasn’t some sort of cosmic eating-force this winter. Seems like it was a harder season than normal. I would love if you would re-post the “Shrink your Butt” salad recipe. I was again. I was looking for it as part of my eating re-set.

  39. Kristin on February 15th, 2013 1:24 pm

    Well, Gah, it feels good to at least hear that other people are having the same problem, but I can NOT find the motivation to do anything about it. Ugh. My brain can come up with ANY excuse to eat like crap and not exercise, despite the fact that I weigh more now than I did when I was pregnant.

  40. Joy on February 15th, 2013 2:47 pm

    What’s true for me is that nothing makes me feel better about myself as when I’m exercising regularly. Years ago I suffered from terrible anxiety and felt SO, SO weak emotionally. To combat that, I started exercising regularly, and now that I feel strong physically, I’m also feeling stronger emotionally.

    My head (and body) come up with a million excuses to not exercise, but then I remember that I WANT THIS. I WANT to feel great about myself so therefore I get my butt out there and do something, whether it be yoga or running or strength training or a Jillian Michaels DVD. Even a little bit of exercise makes me feel better.

  41. Lisa on February 15th, 2013 4:03 pm

    There’s definitely a built in sisterhood of on again off again good eating/exercise habits and then falling off the wagon and then getting back on again. I feel ya.

    I’ve been exercising regularly for almost a year now, and yet I still need to lose that last 10 pounds- so hard to eat clean all the time.

    However, I just got braces this week at the ripe old age of 37-almost-38 and OMG I can’t eat anything. Especially not delicious pizza and bread, my two big overindulgences. Best. Weight loss plan. Ever. Ugh. Of course, I could substitute ice cream for pizza…

    Hang in there, sister, keep on fighting the good fight!

  42. jodie on February 15th, 2013 8:31 pm

    Sigh. I worry this’ll be me soon. I kicked ass last year with working out (seriously the laziest person in the world here), and using MyFitnessPal and lost 20 lbs. I was down to my 23 yr old weight! And now I’m 36 weeks pg….I can’t waaaait to work out like that again but I wonder…will I really do it? Blah. Rambling, but yeah, I get it.

  43. Erin on February 16th, 2013 8:39 am

    My weight after 3 years of dieting and exercise? Right where I started. I lose and gain the same 10-15 pounds every year. I last 3 days every time I start to eat well (back to Day 1 again!!) but I’m doing okay on the exercise, so I guess there’s that.

    Still nothing thwarts weight loss success like exercise and overeating. It makes me absolutely hate food, so I decide fasting for the rest of my life and then break down and ravenously gorge on thin mints. Damn devil cookies.

    It is so tiring to drag all this awesome with me everywhere I go. Here’s to getting back on track and staying there!

  44. Debi on February 16th, 2013 8:11 pm

    You have just put words to my turmoil of the past week. I have been buttoning my jeans with a hair tie for three days, so pissed at myself for getting out of the groove, for getting fat. So, thank you, THANK YOU! it really helps to know I am not alone. I can get back up and start exercising and eating better and it will get better. I will feel better. Thanks for posting.

  45. tanya on February 19th, 2013 1:33 pm

    You’re great. There’s a yoga quote, I think from the Bhagavad Gita, that says “On this path no effort is wasted.” All the work you’ve done and will do has positive effects. You don’t “undo” it, you just do something and then something else. Every moment is new, and a starting point.

  46. Willikat on February 19th, 2013 9:56 pm

    Dude, right? You would think evolution would wire our brains to love exercise, since it does all these good things for mind & body. and yet, we ALL have this revelation over and over and it’s so annoying! If only I didn’t have to talk myself into working put every single damn time…

  47. Sally on February 25th, 2013 9:11 am

    Check this out this book: Intuitive Eating. http://www.intuitiveeating.org/

    It may help you put an end to the ups and down of weight – at least it did for me.

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