The Sadness of Misplaced Optimism

After realizing that I probably had pants that would fit in my locker, I walked down to the basement and went through the bin. I found several pair of Size-36 jeans and pants (most of which still have the tags on them) in the bin. You might have thought that my first reaction was ‘Cool! I have all of these clothes for my next big drop!’ While I eventually came to think that, my initial reaction was sadness. I thought back to where I was when I bought those pants and realized that I was doing so well, certain I was on track and was never going to stop losing weight. I was so certain, in fact, that I proactively bought hundreds of dollars worth of pants. I was at my lowest weight in at least 20 years and saw no reason why I would not keep losing weight, so I was ready for that next drop in pants size. And then it all went to hell. All of the work I did over the course of a year… every inch of progress that I made was lost. It did not disappear overnight, of course… it doesn’t work like that. It started with a cookie and a shot of tequila. After that, it was fried chicken… but only a piece or two. In the meantime, I stopped jogging because I started golfing, and exercise is exercise, right? What difference does it make if I am riding the cart instead of walking?

It took me fifteen months to gain back what had taken me fourteen months to lose.

I am not yet where I was on the day that I started my slide of regression in 2020. I have about 30 lbs. left until I am there. It is easy for me to say that ‘It won’t happen again.’ How often have I said, ‘This will be the last time I ever have to lose all of this weight!’? I have said it so many times… it is a mantra that I swear by, reminding myself how important it is for me to stay on track, and then to never lose focus? I am sure every alcoholic said the same thing, right up until that first drink. It is possible that this time will be different, but how can I be sure? Is there any way that I can guarantee it? It will require eternal vigilance and mindfulness… and it will require me to never fall off the wagon.

I spoke with Leslie about this, and she told me that I have to focus on how well I have been doing. She is astounded by my progress and is truly proud of the progress I have made. She really has been a wonderful support since I started. When I went on this journey in 2017, I was alone and had nobody supporting me… but I also did not have anyone distracting me. In 2019-20, I started the program while in a relationship, and within a few weeks of starting I moved in with her. That was a disaster, but I eventually moved out and was able to be very successful on the program. This is the first time that I have had a supportive partner since the beginning, and hopefully that will never end. In the end, while that may be helpful, there is only one person responsible for my weight management… me.

Leslie is right. I need to be proud of the progress I have made, encouraged that I am going to succeed in losing all of the weight I want to lose, and optimistic that I have to motivation and willpower to stay slim once I have lost it… long term. It is easy on the way down to think like that. When the numbers on the scale have been down fifteen of the last sixteen days, and I have not deviated from the program in that time, optimism is much easier than three days into a slide, when the program is too hard, or when I succumb to temptation… or even when I have gone a few days without seeing any downward movement on the scale.

I have learned that in this life there will be positive days and there will be harder ones. I like to think that I am a positive person, but at the same time, it is easy to compare us to goldfish… when we are happy, it is like we have always been happy, but when we are down, well… you understand the analogy. Today I am thrilled by the progress that I have made, and I am energized to continue. I am not at all tempted to go out and eat. Okay, I wouldn’t mind cooking up something that I have in the house, but I am not doing that. I will be rewarded when I get to Dallas, and I can eat a little… under the watchful and supportive eye of my wife. How will I feel three months from now? Will I finally be able to remove the tags from the Size-36 pants? Will I be all excited and optimistic and buy the next size down, and will they sit for years in a bin because I failed again? I cannot think like that… but it is so hard not to.

Like any addict, I can only live one day at a time, trying to stay on track for that day. Yes, I would like to lose X number of pounds between now and Y date… but beyond following the program, I cannot do much more. I have to stay optimistic, and I cannot let things trigger me and get me down… or worse, pull me off my positive track. I can be sad for a few minutes… I can even spend an hour talking about it and then writing a thousand words on it… and then I have to refocus and stay on track. As Leslie said, there is nothing that I can do that will change the past. I just have to learn from my mistakes and try to succeed for the present… and for the future.

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