Addicted to the weight loss high?

I have to admit I don’t have experience in repeatedly losing weight because most of my previous attempts were either ill-advised or inconsistent enough that it never worked.  But I am terrified by the statistics of weight re-gain, especially with stories about yo yo dieting and hearing personal stories of “losing weight again”.  In fact one of the common reasons I hear people needing to lose weight is that they “used to be fit and just let themselves go” or “fell off the wagon” (I hate that saying but it works)…  and a new thought popped into my head.  I am sure the reasons for weight re-gain have a lot do with dieting in ways that are not sustainable (crash dieting if you will) or not having established an exercise routine to build up that muscle (which allows you to eat more food, if only slightly) or yada yada yada.

But I also wonder, if in SOME cases, we’ve become addicted to the weight loss high??
If you’ve ever lost weight, there is a rush, a high, from watching the scale go down or your jeans get looser and looser.  There is a rush in watching your body change – seeing muscles you’ve never seen, being able to see your feet, being able to bend over to tie your shoe AND breathe at the same time, the first time you sit in a theater seat and are actually comfortable, the first time you notice the shape of your face without the other layers or the shape of your knee cap (or notice that you have one!).  All these things are cool and exciting…   And in my own experience there is let down when it’s all done (click that link – I wrote it about almost 3 yrs ago when I was going thru the let down myself).  There is no patting yourself on the back because your efforts led to 1.5 pound loss this week – the effort is still required, you just don’t get a high from the outward results celebration.

And I’d bet that’s why it’s so hard to continue – effort without obvious reward.   But any  subsequent relapse leads to another opportunity for the high as you lose those pounds again.  Of course no one would do this consciously, but your body responds to addiction in mysterious ways ;)

I’m not saying the addiction is all bad – if it helps you commit to healthy changes, that’s awesome, but you have to realize there is an endpoint; you can’t continually lose weight forever ;)   What’s the solution? hmmm that’s a tough one but it MIGHT be getting addicted to something else to replace that “I lost another 2 pounds” high.  For me personally that’s where performance/strength/what can my body do type goals came in handy.  It gives my effort purpose, gives me the excitement to replace the excitement of losing x pounds this week.  For instance, I just hit a personal record (PR) for a leg exercise.  It took months of effort to achieve (which got me to the gym every week, sneaky sneaky) and it gives me the spark to chase my next goal (or “high”, for the addiction metaphor).  Neat side note – if you clicked on that performance link I talk about my PR that day, which was 6 plates on the leg press… the PR I just referred to that I hit a few days ago was 8 plates! see – progress!  And I took an identical picture haha

The food effort is the tricky one – the food iis gonna make or break your maintenance success (just like it was the deciding factor in the weight LOSS)… and you don’t get much of a high from “being good” this week when there is no weight loss involved.  For me, I try to tie my food to my exercise goals.  For instance if I gain too much weight the leg exercises are going to be tougher to handle, the pullup I can do will probably go away since I won’t be able to lift the additional weight, pushups are going to be harder – AND the junk food is gonna plummet my energy.  The big one for me is any additional fat is going to hide the muscles I work REALLY hard for!    Just gotta remind myself of all those things when I choose my foods :)

Today I am chasing the “what can my body do?” high.  Last week I tried running bleachers – ya I realize that’s nothing terribly newsworthy or fabulous, but it is new to me, and in my mind it’s what “athletes” do, so it feels pretty cool to be out there doing it ;)   And to be honest, for some reason I am still surprised when I tryu stuff like that and don’t die, so that’s pretty cool too haha.   So I am off to try it again today!


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