Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Mistress of Weight Loss

In Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers, he discusses the "10,000 hour rule", which is the simple concept that in order to master something, you must practice it for (surprise!) 10,000 hours.

Following this definition, I am a most definitely a goddamn master at losing weight.

I guarantee you that in my twenty five years on this planet I have spent at least 10,000 hours (which equates to approximately 417 full days, or 833 waking days, if I'm alert a measly 12 hours a day) thinking about weight loss. Reading about weight loss. Writing about weight loss. Working out, talking about working out, imagining working out, avoiding working out, lying about working out. Counting calories, points, grams, ounces, pounds, inches, bites, licks, tastes. Obsessing. Staring at myself in the mirror, windows, shadows, puddles. Thinking about my thighs, stomach, arms, fingers. The width of my hips, the expanse of my ass, the dimples in my flesh. Hating my own skin, scratching at it with fingers and thoughts. In my darkest hours, scouring the Internet for thinspo or tips on how to starve myself or make myself sick. Considering I started trying to lose weight when I was probably twelve, if not earlier than that, yeah...I'd say I hit 10,000 hours a looong time ago.

When I buckle down and just do it, as Nike would say, I am indeed the Mistress of Weight Loss. Last year I was down 50 pounds in six months, which is pretty impressive I would say. Back at the beginning of this year, January 2nd, I was 168.4, and last week's tracked weight (let's forget this week's downslide) puts me at a loss of 24.6 pounds this year. That's pretty good too, no?

Both of my therapists have asked me if I think I need or want to see a nutritionist, and I quite honestly said no. Because I know what to do. I know what I should eat, how much of it, things that grow and grains and good fats and protein, waterwaterwater, blahdiddlyblah. Some people don't have that kind of knowledge when they start out losing weight, and they're building from the ground up. Some have basic understanding, but need more guidance when it comes to balancing the food groups and making the best decisions for their body. Some people used to know everything they need to know, but need a refresher course.

Me? I have two best friends, one who is a dietitian and one who is one of the most naturally healthy people I know, and a mother who is robotically programmed to be fit and live a structured life, and I have a voracious appetite for reading every word on the Internet for whatever topic currently interests me at the time.

I know what to do be healthy.

When I buckle down, when I have the motivation and the drive and the grit and the mental stability, I am a master at losing weight.

No, of course, I don't know everything there is to know. I'm no dietitian, I eat too many Lean Cuisines and processed junk, I don't get my daily recommended servings every day and I don't always exercise. But I understand the concepts, and I know, I know how to get the pounds off. When I focus. When I'm committed.

So why am I not always committed?

Maybe, just maybe, one reason is because I know it can be too easy for me, because I know when it clicks I'm the cockiest bitch in the world, so I don't fear it enough. This past week when I've been off track, I've said to myself, "But it's okay, 'cause you can easily get back on the path when you need to."

That's not always true though, is it?

Everyone says losing weight is hard, and it is. I don't deny that at all, this entire blog is proof positive that losing weight is immensely difficult. But for me, it's all the mental aspects that make it so. When it comes right down to it, the science of it, the actual practicalities---eat this, do that, sweat, moderation, balance? I get it.

Easy peasy.

The hard is inside, not out.

What I've mastered is the things I can control, the tangibles. I like to think of myself as laid-back, and in many ways I am, but in others I'm actually quite the control freak and when it comes to weight loss I love having total authority over myself. Give me a structure like Weight Watchers, and when I am mentally balanced and not holding a ticket to the Crazy Train, I can work within it to find success. When I manage my choices and decisions, make lists and schedules and micromanage my routine, I feel empowered. I am not confused, I am not drifting, I am centered. 

But I can't manage my emotions, my thoughts, my impulses. When those are out of control, I am totally lost, and I have to try. And I'm no good at trying.

This is because I have no practice. I have not spent 10,000 hours controlling my self, my being, my emotions and behaviors. I've spent pretty much the majority of my life living at the mercy of my whims, swayed by my moods, up or down or every which way depending on the wind. I have no coping skills for how to stay the course when I'm feeling overwhelmed or stressed or sad or alone.

So that's what I need to work on. I've mastered the basics of it, the how and the way, and I know what I need to do to live a happy and a healthy life. What I need to learn now, what I need to practice and master is living that life even when it's hard, even when the darkness pulls me in another direction. I'm on my way there and I've already started logging my hours.

I'll be my own mistress soon.

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