Losing weight can be extremely frustrating. Sometimes the frustration is about not eating (or drinking) what everyone else does, but the frustration that can be more destructive to long-term goals is what’s felt when, despite doing everything right, the scales move in the wrong direction.
When this happens, there are two choices for how an individual deals with their frustration: the first is to throw hands in the air, shed a tear, and give up. The second is to objectively look for reasons why this result occurred.
During the week, a woman in her early 40s and five weeks into her program with consistent losses had her scheduled visit.
Prior to weighing in, she had explained what a difficult week she’d had: the gear box in her car needed replacing, the newly-acquired horse was taking up a lot of time (while also providing a lot of enjoyment), her 9 year old daughter was entering a very busy time of year, work and study commitments were taking their toll, and her appetite had diminished dramatically. All this is quite normal, but worries about money made for a very stressful week.
Her usual response to stress was to flake out on the sofa while watching TV and eating a tub of ice-cream or bingeing on chocolate in an attempt to drown her misery. She explained that she didn’t need this ‘comfort’ food, and was coping very nicely without it.
What was really interesting, though, was that her mind still wanted to revert to comfort behaviours, but her body rejected the idea.
She had boundless energy, the taste of sweet was physically less appealing, and she simply felt that she was coping better than she had in a long time. Bear in mind that this was only 5 weeks into her program.
Then came time to step onto the scales. Her weight had gone up by 800g. Sure, that’s not a huge increase, but she really thought she would have lost again.
She acknowledged that in the past, this result would have been devastating, but instead she sat down and started looking for reasons and, perhaps surprisingly, the improvements she’d noticed.
- Stress was making her lose her appetite, so she felt that her body may have been holding onto everything it could in fear of starving.
- She thought her irregular period may have been due.
- Less desire for sweet foods – and a level of disappointment because she really loves sweet, but her body and taste buds just weren’t interested.
- Better sleep – as a long-term insomniac, her sleep was sound and she was waking up before her alarm. This was, of course, earlier than she was used to and she still wants a sleep-in on the weekend, but she knows this is an excellent outcome.
- More energy – no mare flaking out on the sofa every night. Her body was utilising energy much better than previously.
- Changed appetite – she felt the need to eat less than previously, and was having some trouble adjusting to not needing to eat every two hours. Reassurance was helping her understand that eating nutrient-dense foods was helping her to feel fuller for longer.
- Weight loss – maybe not this week, but her overall loss means that she’d noticed changes to her face shape and no bulging around her bra strap, and her pants were getting very loose. Other people were also starting to notice.
- Bright, clear, healthy-looking eyes – her coach noticed this.
- Better endurance – her body was coping with the demands of her day much better than previously, and this included an increase in the amount of exercise she was doing.
Ultimately, her response was objective and her ability to evaluate her situation, rather than falling into an emotional heap, was a great indicator of the success that will come her way. She’s aware that the rise in weight is just a glitch in a longer journey, not a sign that it’s time to abandon hope.