From skwigg's journal:
There's been a lot of talk lately about size and weight, being uncomfortable where you are, wanting to get back to where you were. How do you do that? Should you do that? I was thinking about my current size and how and when I've been here.
I started here, before I'd ever dieted. (Oh, the irony.) I felt uneasy then, like I should definitely do something about it. I starved off 15-20 pounds in an extremely disordered way.
The second time I was here was on my way back up after the worst of the eating disorder. It was horrible. I felt completely out of control, ashamed, devastated, huge. There was a lot of crying and vows to "fix it."
That desperate, negative mindset and subsequent years of yo-yo dieting resulted in gaining twenty-plus pounds beyond where I'd started. Good grief.
The third time I visited my current size and weight was during a time of epic life stress. It was after backing away from my blog and before starting happy eaters. I had never experienced that level of stress before. I couldn't eat, couldn't sleep, felt like I was having a panic attack 24/7, waves of nausea, a total inability to relax or enjoy anything...except work. Work felt normal and safe, a good distraction, but as soon as I was alone with my thoughts again, chaos. Needless to say, THAT wasn't sustainable. Once things were more normal, my weight climbed again. There was a lot of relieved "whew" eating when the crisis was over.
Fourth time, I'd discovered happy eating. I very gradually lost weight, like a half pound to one pound per month over a year and a half. I was in a great place but, heavily influenced by the book Naturally Thin, I got carried away. I kept making portions smaller, meals cleaner, and treats fewer and further between. I started losing weight more quickly, like a pound a week instead of a half pound a month. I was back at my pre-diet size quite quickly, but I really felt restrained, like I was living on a diet again and having to think about my food all the time. Screw that. I let my weight come back up 7-8 pounds and my quality of life greatly improved. I stayed there for a few years.
This time, the book Intuitive Eating, and especially the IE Workbook, reminded me of how I used to eat when I totally trusted myself. I forgot all of my "helpful" nutrition guidelines and flexible templates, quit weighing myself, loved my food, lived my life, and ate what I wanted when I was hungry. Many months of that and I was surprised to find myself back at my pre-diet size and weight again, only this time it feels very natural and comfortable. I don't have to think about it or do anything special to maintain it.
Sometimes I wish I'd left well enough alone, like if I'd never gone on that first diet I'd have stayed in a good food/body place without all the drama and strife. It's made me who I am though. I have a powerful appreciation for mindfulness, self-care, kindness, and gratitude. I'm happier now having struggled and stressed than I would be if I'd never gone through the messy stuff. So there's that. I feel like I have perspective and coping skills that I wouldn't have learned otherwise.
If you still feel like you're in the depth of the struggle, know that it gets better. It's not pointless or hopeless. You haven't failed. You're just learning what does and doesn't work for you. Don't keep repeating the behaviors and mindsets that haven't worked. They won't suddenly become fun and effective. Prioritize feeling good. I love what Georgie says about having a goal life, not a goal weight. My food and weight issues improved dramatically when I quit focusing so intently on food and weight and started to look at how I could be happier or take better care of myself.
From skwigg's journal:
I love, "I never am nor will be anything other than chock-full of water and carbs and food."
So much yes! The restriction and depletion game was traumatic and counterproductive. You're right that not only can we feel very different at the exact same weight depending on how we got there, but we can also look quite different and be a different size depending on how we got there. That manipulation of sodium, carbs, and water is presented as being normal and effective for fat loss. It's so not normal or effective!
If you think about it, that's what crash diets, clean eating, and cleanses have in common with binge eating and cheat days. They all cause big water and scale fluctuations without addressing the real issues. If the issue is that you hope to lose fat and feel better, depleting yourself of sodium, carbs, and water doesn't produce that. It tends to produce headaches, exhaustion, and binge eating.
With my own weight history, when I was doing clean eating, carb depletion nonsense, I was making the scale go up and down in seemingly dramatic fashion but the body fat was untouched or climbing, so my shape didn't change much. Actual fat loss required enjoying myself enough to be consistent for a long time. So, bread and chocolate. :-)