The 5 Phases of The Diet Cycle

Every time I’ve tried to lose weight in the past, I typically would follow the same pattern. I moved through the different phases of dieting sometimes over a few weeks, and sometimes over a few days, but I always moved right through them, not really knowing how to break the cycle, and make myself stick with it.

When I started losing weight this time around, I really didn’t want to shout it from the rooftops that I was trying to lose weight.img_0775-1 It was very apparent that I had put on a lot of weight in a short amount of time, and I figured that every one probably knew that I wanted to lose the weight. I had no desire to make it my plans public, I just wanted to quietly get the weight off and start feeling like myself again.

Because I wasn’t really into getting support from people in person, I turned to learning from people online, who had been successful in their own weight loss attempts. I found people on YouTube, and Instagram, that had done the thing that I wanted to do. I found people that I could relate to, and who I felt like had truly found the “lifestyle change” that I wanted to learn how to achieve. I learned so many tips and tricks, by figuring out their mindset and what helped it finally click for them this time. It also helped me to see that the things that I was going through were completely normal and typical, and helped me see, that if all of these other people, could figure out how to break the diet cycle, then I could too.

Typically, when you’re stuck in the diet cycle, I feel like there are similar phases that we all go through, over and over again. Let’s break them down, have a good laugh at ourselves, and then I’ll attempt to explain how it finally clicked for me, and how I broke the cycle.

Phase 1: Fed Up

No pun intended, but the first phase for me, was always “fed up”. These are some of my thoughts during phase 1.

“Good Lord, how did you let yourself get this big?!”

img_0782“You literally have outgrown your last pair of jeans, so I guess you’ll have to go just one pair in the next size up so you don’t suffocate.”

“You look awful.”

Such nice words and sentiments. Phase one is all about being disgusted with yourself, and being in complete disbelief that you’ve let it get this out of hand. Phase 1 is the pinching and squeezing your fat rolls in the mirror phase. It’s a real treat. Let’s just move on.

Phase 2: My Body is a Temple

Phase 2 is the action phase. Your body is your temple. You’ve had enough of treating yourself like garbage, and you’re ready to do something about it. Phase 2, might seem like the “click” phase, but for me, it was typically the get this fat off of me ASAP phase. Nothing was off limits for me, when I had reached this point. Whatever fad diet, or pill, or weight loss product was the latest thing when I reached this phase, that was the thing for me! Oh, I had resolve! I had determination! I’m pretty sure I would’ve swallowed a tape worm if I could’ve been promised instant, lasting results. Every time I was in this phase, I would think, “This is it!” I would be on top of my game…for a while. But ultimately, I would always find myself in Phase 3.

Phase 3: Well This Kinda Sucks

After seeing results for a while, and losing 20-30 pounds, inevitabely I would hit a wall. Usually this meant something came up. A dinner, or a birthday party would throw me off balance. Or I would just plain old get bored with whatever gimmick I was trying. It wasn’t as fun or exciting as it was in the beginning, and the honeymoon phase was officially over.

Phase 4: Who Cares?

Joy! A different kind of fed up. This time though, it’s fed up with dieting. Phase 4 is the, “Screw it!” phase. Typical thoughts of mine in phase 4 are as follows:

“This is stupid, I have too many other things to worry about.”

“I don’t have time for this.”img_0777

“I’m just meant to be overweight.”

“This is going to take too long, and it’s not worth the stress.”

Phase 4 would always seem liberating for a while…until I always found my way to phase 5.

Phase 5: Oh Yea, I Still Do Care

I tried to tell myself that I really didn’t care, that I was above caring about being thin, and that I loved myself regardless. The truth was, I did love myself just fine, but I hated being overweight. It didn’t matter how much I told myself that I didn’t care, the truth was, I was physically exhausted by how much extra weight I was carrying around everyday. I was in my twenties still, and I wanted to be able to sort of act like it. As it was, I just wanted to sit around, eat, and sleep as much as possible. I would always come back to realizing that I did care, and then the cycle would start all over again, as I would get mad at myself for letting more time go by without fixing my weight issue. I was back to phase 1, and frantically searching for the next big thing, that would make the fat magically melt off my body.

Breaking the Cycle

So what happened different this time? I still felt like I had those same feelings of being totally over my body. I was tired of the body that I had to lug around all the time. I think gradually, this time, somewhere in between the “Fed Up” phase, and the “My Is a Temple” phase, there was a different feeling that came up. This time, I was tired of wasting my money and time on things that would never last. I was like a wild horse, that had finally been broken.img_3312 I was the toddler in the grocery store, that after throwing a temper tantrum and trying every known form of manipulation, finally gives in, and does the easier thing of doing what they’ve been told from older, wiser people all along. I stopped worrying about what was quickest, or easiest. I decided I would try good old diet and exercise. I had always been told that was the key, but like the toddler in the grocery store, thought I could find a better, quicker way.

This time, I knew myself a little better, because of all of my failed diet attempts before. I knew that I wasn’t going to come home and cook every night. So I bypassed that issue with meal prep. I knew that I can’t for the life of me resist steak fajitas and queso dip for the rest of my life. So I decided to build mental sanity meals into my week, so that I didn’t feel like I had blown my “diet”, if I wanted to have a date night or special meal out on the weekends. I knew that if I didn’t work out first thing in the morning, I would get busy doing other things and be too tired to go later. This time, my plan wasn’t all or nothing. It wasn’t “never miss a Monday”, “no days off”. I didn’t feel the need to rush it, because my deadline wasn’t a certain date, or event. My deadline was, however long it takes.img_3294 I was determined that this was the last time I ever wanted to have to lose this weight. I didn’t want to keep having to lose the same 20 or 30 pounds, over and over again until my seventies. I wanted to make sure, that I quit trying to do it by whatever means necessary, and to do it the right way this time, because I wanted to make it stick.

To my surprise, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I took patience, and still takes practice to say, “No thank you,” when there’s free food in the break room at work. But I can tell you now, that I’m so glad I decided to figure this out. I’m so glad that I started paying attention to the way I react to stress, and the ways I could make weight loss work into my lifestyle, and to eventually create a new lifestyle.

I hope you can see yourself in me. I hope that you can relate to the way that I was stuck in the diet cycle for years and years. I feel like anyone who has ever dieted, knows those phases like the back of their hand. I also hope you realize, that I am just one of many people who’s figured out how to break the cycle, I hope you realize that if it’s possible for me, it’s possible for you.

 

 

Confessions of a Crash Dieter

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Let us pray. Dear Lord, be with me. Guide my fingers, as they dance swiftly across my keyboard, while I attempt to explain my severe distaste for everything related to fad diets, gimmicks, or “magic pills”. Please help me to share my experiences…the money lost and the extra pounds gained, in such a way as to minimize the offense that may be taken from said advice. Help me to use this platform, small as it may be, to save my dear friends some time and heartache by owning up to the truly idiotic things I have done to lose weight. Amen.

Where to Begin?

Like a lot of first time moms, my introduction to the woes of yo-yo dieting, began after the birth of my first son. I had tried to diet in the past, with decent success, by making small changes here and there. img_0770Nothing drastic. But I feel like there’s a mental shift that tends to happen regarding weight loss after the birth of a child. I think it probably stems from always being told as women, that your body will never be the same after having children. The horror. Choosing to become a mom, can truly be a terrifying prospect when it comes to body image. It’s a total crap shoot. While you may be one of the rare diamonds in the rough who never develops the first stretch mark and leaves the hospital in your pre-pregnancy jeans…you really have no idea what might happen to your body when you become a mom. From everything you’ve been told, you’re destined to live out your days, marred with stretch marks, widened hips, sagging skin, stubborn body fat, and let’s not even get started on what the actual act of childbirth may do to your body. Yikes.

So you throw caution to the wind! YOLO! You’re a mom! You trudge through the first few months of motherhood, sleep deprived, but falling in love with this new little human. Eventually, you clean the crust from your eyes, brave the bright lights of the bathroom mirror, and it’s time to assess the damage. For me, stretch marks and extra pounds were my proof of pregnancy. However, It turns out I was a slow adjuster. I was in pure survival mode for a long time, and it wasn’t until after Levi’s first birthday, that I decided it was time to tackle the “mom bod”.

I was 204 pounds when I gave birth to Levi, and by the time I was finally ready to do something about the baby weight, I was up to 215. I started out pretty conservatively, joining Weight Watchers with my mom. I have heard so many great things about Weight Watchers…it’s actually a lot like flexible dieting! I know many people have had great success with their program, but at this point in my life, it was working too slowly for me. I was 23 years old, and I didn’t have time for slow and steady. Impatience got the best of me, and after a few short weeks, I had enough.

That Escalated Quickly

So after my short stent with Weight Watchers, I did probably one of the stupidest diets I’ve ever done in my life. You talk about a quick fix recipe for disaster. Enter the HCG diet. img_1056Human Chorionic Gonadotropin Hormone. If you’re unfamiliar, that would be the pregnancy hormone…the same hormone that your placenta produces, and is what makes that pregnancy test turn positive. My brilliant idea, was to lose my baby weight by injecting my thigh daily, with pregnancy hormone for a month. A true stroke of genius.

Not only did I inject my thigh daily with HCG, I paid $250 to do so, and followed the diet plan that went along with the program. The diet plan was extremely restrictive. Like 500 calories per day restrictive. I lost 30 pounds in a month, all of which I gained back in the next couple of months after I stopped the injections. Who would’ve predicted that injecting yourself with expensive pregnancy hormone was not a sustainable diet strategy?

On to the Next One

After that disaster, I can seriously remember googling how to qualify for the Lap Band. I know, I know…hilarious. It turns out I wasn’t quite ready for that yet. I would’ve needed to gain another 50 pounds or so to be in the BMI range to qualify, and honestly for a brief moment I considered living it up for a few months…plumping myself up, like a fatted calf preparing for the slaughter. I thought I could gain just enough weight for what I felt would be the “easy way out”. That’s how naive I was, I thought having surgery and permanently altering my anatomy was the easiest option, not realizing that even surgery requires diet modification to be effective long-term. Oy. I quickly realized how irrational I was being, and briefly tried out a diet pill called Alli.img_1055 Any diet pill that states on the bottle that it may cause “oily stools” is probably not the greatest option long-term. I decided my next course of action would be Phentermine. It was way cheaper than the HCG, and it also gave you energy!

So I dragged my rear to a weight loss clinic, and started running. I continued taking the medication for 6 months, losing an average of 10 pounds a month. It definitely suppressed my appetite, but it also gave me horrible dry mouth, acne, and thinning hair. I quickly figured out that I could still lose weight eating Taco Bell and junk food…I just ate less of it. I got down to 150 pounds, but I was still 49% body fat according to the BodPod. It turns out, that when you lose weight that quickly, your body isn’t just losing body fat. It’s also losing water weight, and because I was doing only cardio and not eating enough protein, I was also losing lean muscle mass. That’s where the term “skinny fat” comes from. Just because someone is within a healthy BMI range, it doesn’t mean their body looks “toned”. They can be 125 pounds, but because they have very little muscle mass, they still feel like they look flabby.  img_1057In order to “tone”, you just need to change your body composition, meaning gaining lean muscle mass, and losing actual body fat. After taking Phentermine, I got to just within the normal BMI range for my height, but I still felt like I hadn’t really reshaped my body, and I figured out it was time to shift my focus to losing actual body fat. I also knew that I couldn’t continue taking the Phentermine forever and it was getting too expensive to keep buying it every month.

After I stopped taking the diet pills, I actually kept the weight off for a while and started working on my body composition. It wasn’t until life stress and the comfortable flow of a new relationship came into my life that I began packing the weight back on. And then I absolutely PACKED it on. I had been starving my body for months, and it was having no more of that abuse! I gained weight so rapidly, that I swear it’s what caused me to need to have my gallbladder removed. My gallbladder was done trying to keep up with weight gain and food intake, so it just stopped functioning all together. I had it removed, and then got pregnant 2 months later! Looking back now, I can see that I have really put more poor body through the ringer!

So Here’s My Issue

Besides the fact that all of these “weight loss aids” cost a ton of money, none of them teach anything about nutrition or weight maintenance. Because let’s be honest, if they did, you wouldn’t need them anymore. My problem with diet pills, teas, wraps, etc…is that mentally they can really warp your perception of what a healthy lifestyle is, and make you feel like you’re always going to need some superfluous thing, to make you to be successful. Even if these products work, and you lose weight, it’s just not realistic to think that you’re going to use any product or pill for the rest of your life, and then what do you do? I know for me, for a long time, I felt like the only way I would be successful with weight loss, is if I took Phentermine again. If I couldn’t afford to do that, there was no point in trying at all, and I went completely in the other direction.

This time around, when I began losing weight, I was determined to not depend on ANY product, person, or thing, to make me lose the weight. I wanted to look back on my success and be able to say, without a doubt, that nothing had assisted my weight loss except for my body, the food I was eating, and the exercise I was doing. Because that is truly sustainable weight loss. If every supplement company, pharmacy, or diet book in the world suddenly disappeared…I knew how to eat to continue my weight loss, because I had removed all other variables except for my nutrition and my workout routine.img_0948

Now when I hear of a new miracle product or amazing new diet, I’m extremely skeptical. I’m a total conspiracy theorist when it comes to fad diets or weight loss aids. There’s always the same questions that run through my head:

  1. Will someone stand to make a profit if I become mentally or physically dependent on this product? If any company truly created a product that worked, they would quickly go out of business. They would fix everyone’s weight issues, and then no one would need their product. Their company depends on my mental dependence on their product…because physically I know, I don’t need it.
  2. Will this product help me lose weight without diet modification? Scientifically I can tell you the answer is no. No product can cause you to lose weight without diet modification. Surgery can’t even do that. However, diet modification can make you lose weight without the product, and you don’t have to spend any extra money!

Quietly Tip-Toeing Off The Soap Box

I truly hope that by sharing my mistakes with weight loss and crash diets, that I can save you some time and money. I think so many times, we can fall into the trap of thinking that we need some external thing to assist us with weight loss. We get impatient. We feel like we’re too old, we’ve broken our metabolism with motherhood, we’re too mentally weak, or any other reason we can think of. img_0751I hope that by sharing my weight loss journey with you, that you can see that it’s totally possible to do this. I’ve said it multiple times, and I’ll continue saying it…I’m no one special. I don’t have a super fast metabolism. I’m not naturally skinny. I don’t enjoy “healthy foods”. I wasn’t an athlete in high school. I’m a busy working mom, with stretch marks, and spider veins. I never found a miracle product, pill, or tea. I just figured out how to eat a more balanced diet, in a caloric deficit, and I figured out how to make my own body work with me. Although the term “Flexible Dieting” may be trendy right now…bodybuilders have been manipulating their nutrition for decades to transform their bodies. It’s nothing new.

I never thought I would want to share my weight loss experience publicly, but I’m becoming increasingly more passionate about it, because I truly feel like anyone can do what I’ve been able to do. Anyone can feel the sense of accomplishment that comes from completely transforming your body naturally with food, and the pride that you feel, knowing that you didn’t try to cheat the system this time. So instead of investing in a product that claims to be the next break through, invest in your knowledge about nutrition, and invest your money on good food that helps you reach your goals.

“And that’s all I have to say about that.”- Forrest Gump