The Slip and the Whip and the Chair

July 18, 2004

In administrative news, the notify list should now be working. Sorry for the confusion for those of you who tried it the old way. I did something wrong, and have no idea what it was, but now all is well. And now, on with the entry.

I really didn’t slack off for two weeks and gain a couple of pounds just to prove a point or set up this entry. But, you know, now that we’re here.

Yeah, this happens, too. If you’ve done this for any period of time, you know this happens. Admittedly, not to everyone — I know people who have gone a year without a day of slack, and I take my hat off to them. But I’m not like that, and I never have been. I go slack from time to time.

And the irony is that it’s a core part of my . . . whatever, my whole Cow Code of Conduct . . . that when you lose your momentum, you don’t freak out about it. You take a breath and you get going again, because honestly . . . what’s your other choice? I believe this. I could embroider this on a pillow. It’s heartfelt, and I live by it, because I’ve never achieved anything resembling perfect consistency. Sometimes I pull harder, and sometimes I just hang on. And sometimes, things slip just a little. I live with it.

But how do I feel when it happens? Oh, horrified. Angry and irritated. Tiny and embarrassed. The sense of accomplishment shrinks until I can’t even see the six sizes of jeans I’ve already thrown away, because all I can see is the M&M cookie ten minutes ago. Why did I have the M&M cookie? I wasn’t going to have the M&M cookie, and I had it, and now I don’t know what’s going on, and maybe I’m wrong about everything, and what if this all ends and I can’t do it anymore and I gain it all back and everyone looks at me with pity again?

Yeah, you know . . . it’s raw, that stuff. Not buried very deeply. Part of that is ice-up-the-spine fear, and part of it is leftover puffs of shame that can still waft off of some pretty well smothered embers. And the sickening irony — the part that’s so unfair that it can really twist me into knots — is that those are the moments when it all really can go wrong, too. I mean, it makes no sense — that’s when you’re desperate, right? That’s when your motivation is supposed to be the highest. Fear of failure should be a wonderful source of drive. And it just doesn’t work like that. It’s more like the shaky feeling feeds on itself, and I feel weak and rotten and angry, and I can’t get going. It’s not like I sink into a fourteen-foot pile of Cheetos or anything, but unfortunately, the idea that you have to sink into a fourteen-foot pile of Cheetos in order to lose ground is one of those myths, the destruction of which turns out to be a mixed blessing.

Gaining a few pounds is unbelievably easy. And the more you lose, the easier it gets. I behaved rationally the entire time. There was really no mad scarfing of anything. It’s really just a leeeettle bit of this over here, and a leeeettle bit of that over there, and all of a sudden, you realize that you are officially Not Doing Your Thing right now. And then you’re in a position of not staying on track, but getting back on track, which is oh, so much worse.

I sometimes think the hardest skill to pick up has been spotting which things are important. Whether you have a bite of something that somebody offers you is usually not important. Getting the last smidgen of chicken skin off is usually not important. In fact, saying no to a special dinner on a special night for a special occasion is usually not important. But every once in a while, I know that something is important. And after two weeks, I saw that number on the scale creeeeeping up just slightly, and it was very clear to me, for whatever reason, that this particular point was important.

Because surprisingly enough, there is this voice now, and it tends to kick in at these moments, and it says something warm and supportive that goes approximately like this: “We are not doing this, do you hear me? We have eaten five thousand grilled chicken sandwiches, and we have had the dressing on the side, and we have gotten sweaty on purpose in the middle of July, and we have said ‘No, thank you’ when everybody else got to say ‘Yes.’ We have learned to live with lowfat ice cream, and we have taken the stairs, and we have had the baked potato instead of the mashed. And if you think we are drifting back to the point where we have to do all of that again just to get back to where we are now, you have lost your M&M-cookie-impaired mind, because if I have to stand over you with a whip and a chair, as God is my witness, you are not letting this go for one more day.”

So that’s what happened. It ended, and now it’s fine. The points are counted, disaster has been averted, and I’m getting my feet under me again. I don’t want to give the impression that I think going to hell in something of a dietary handbasket for two weeks is a good idea, or something that I advise. I’m not happy about it — it’s two more weeks of pulling I have to do all over again. It’s a waste of work, not to mention a really hazardous maneuver, because once it’s two weeks, you’re swimming pretty hard just to get to shore, dry off, and get the water out of your ears.

I suppose that what I aim for is just to spot the important point earlier every time. Undoubtedly, there were stopping points — points where I could have let that voice get a word in — earlier in the game. Probably after a day. Undoubtedly after a week. Listen better next time, that’s all. Hey — when this used to happen, it would be, like, three months before I hauled my ass out of trouble.

It’s strange, and maybe even foolish, but in the long run, when I’m thinking rationally, I don’t worry about myself a whole lot anymore in this regard. That voice is too obnoxious. It’s my inner pain in the ass, you know? It’s that feeling of really . . . wanting something a lot, which is what you eventually learn to use as the the whip and the chair.

So I just keep going. By the way, I’m happy to say that at least the M&M cookies were really good.

26 Responses to “The Slip and the Whip and the Chair”

  1. holly Says:

    well put. usually my “slips” aren’t of monumental proportions, but they make me gain just the same. and every time, it’s just as hard counting those calories and really working for it once again. welcome back.

  2. ladymisstree Says:

    Oh man, I’ve been here so many times before… there was that 4 week break I took from WW where I was CONVINCED I had put on the equivalent of a small child and nothing could convince me to go back.

    I finally got back on the wagon with my tail between my legs and found I’d put on half a pound.


    But once you’ve drawn that line in the sand, it’s only forwards.

    “M&M-cookie-impaired mind” Snarf. How I’ve missed you and your writing. ;>

  3. sara Says:

    Wow. We are so on the same wavelength. It’s kind of scary, actually.

    I put on a few pounds over the last couple of weeks. Couple a trip to Chicago (where we went to my very favorite pizza place) with stress at work (leading to a relapse into the uncontrollable binges that I used to have in order to cope with stress) and, BAM!, 6 pounds were put back on. I’m proud to say that they’re gone now, but it’s such a pain to have to go back and lose that 6 pounds that I’d already lost. Sigh. At least they’re gone again.

    Oh, and I’m glad the cookies were good. I always feel a little less guilty about falling when the cookies are really good. πŸ™‚

  4. Kim Says:

    Thank you. I need to learn to listen to my voice more b/c this is so true:

    “And then you’re in a position of not staying on track, but getting back on track, which is oh, so much worse.”

  5. Kimmy Says:

    Oh man. This is all so true it hurts. I’ve been on and off WW so many times, and all because I failed to listen to that voice when it spoke up. I think the biggest change for me this time around is that I was listening, and will continue to liste, when it speaks up. It’s really great to hear that I’m not alone in this, and that Those Who Have Gone Before suffer along with me.

  6. hawkins Says:

    I’ve been slipping (and I know the guy at the other end of my rope is behind this, but man oh man, it sure does feel like weakness), and you just inspired me to get back in and start pulling. I’m not even that far along in my journey–but God, it’s so much harder when you’re working for something and there aren’t even any visible results yet. For lunch? Big salad, tiny bit of dressing. Able to wear knit skirt without a long jacket to cover my hips yet? Why, no.
    There really ought to be an automatic five-pound drop for having decided to get back on track.

  7. mary Says:

    Wow…this is so incredibly timely. I’m just coming off a week and a half long slump of not eating very well, and now I have to talk to my nutritionist in two days and explain to her why I didn’t log any of my food for the past two weeks and why I was eating all kinds of crap. Yeah, I’m not perfect. But now I’m ready to get back on the wagon.

  8. shell Says:

    This is so, so true, and once again true for more than just the specifics of WW or watching your diet or whatever. Going to the gym, meditating every day, trying to get to bed at a reasonable hour when I can (I’m a midwife, so my sleep schedule is constantly in flux), all of that–I’ve come to realize that it’s all about inertia, for positive or negative–if you’re in a good groove, it’s so much easier to stay there, but if you get out of it and into a bad groove, it is *so* hard to get back to where you were.

    You continue to totally rock.

  9. Lane Says:

    I just got back to the gym after a three-week road trip. It felt so good. I actually felt a little shaky again, which I hadn’t really since I’d started. But the scale said I’d gained five pounds. Now, I’ve rationalized this, but will someone tell me if I’m wrong? It’s three days before my period and I’d just eaten lunch. Usually I weigh myself before breakfast. Does this account for it? Sorry for rambling, just not very sure. There’s no reason for the gain. I ate normally.

  10. Lora Says:

    glad to see you’re back! i’ve been checking this site a few times a week to see if there was anything new in the ‘fight against weight loss’ and it brightened my morning a little bit to see your post. i’ve been on ww for a month now and have lost 8.8 lbs but every day is a continually struggle to not fall off the wagon. now, if only i enjoyed exercise…any suggestions on how to get over that hurdle?

  11. Amber B Says:

    I say eat the cookie and count the points. It’s better to feed your body what it is craving than to try to satisify the cookie urge with a 2 point bar, then a pound of carrots, then a Skinny Cow dessert, and then eating the cookie anyway.

    Thanks for writing again, you are very inspiring and witty!

  12. Zeb Says:

    Ive missed your writting.Your dead on.Thank you for giving us all the feeling that someone els DOES understand!

  13. MIchelle Says:

    Came on over from zoot’s page. I love your entry! …”jsut keep going…” a mottos I live by in so many areas. I used to date a guy who wrote children’s songs and my favorite was…”Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start walking and count to ten.” I mean really what else can any of us do.? πŸ™‚

  14. kismet Says:

    I ate 35 points worth of pizza last night. It felt really good. Today the wagon, and I will get my ass to dance class tonight. There’s nothing else I can do about it. So, I know how you feel.

  15. sarah Says:

    bondage dieting…rock on.
    welcome back, i missed your posts.

  16. Malora Says:

    I’m in a slippage right now. I gained a pound, and it is very difficult to get back on track. Probably because it’s easier to slip back into old habits than to return to the new, healthy ones. That, and ice cream is yummy.

    For Lane (the poster who gained five pounds after a road trip): it’s possible to gain a couple pounds before your period, and your weight can fluctuate throughout the day. I do weekly averages: weigh yourself every day (or at least every day you remember), and then figure out what your average weight was for the week. You’ll see a much smoother decline and the day-to-day fluctuations won’t drive you crazy.

  17. Christy Says:

    It’s so bizarre everyone is having such a tough time lately. I don’t feel so alone! I love your writing..keep it up! πŸ™‚

  18. Steffy Says:

    What Christ said is so true–everyone seems to be having a hard time right now…but I didn’t realize it until I visited this site. Yay! Solidary combined with unwanted, unwarranted (well, sort of) weight gain can be incredibly defeating. Thank you for your honesty and also for having the motivation to get back on track! It was just what I needed. I’m going to call my husband and tell him to throw away those brownies I made on a whim yesterday afternoon…

  19. steffy Says:

    Woops, I accidentally attributed Christy’s comment (above) to Christ. (I’m sure the Bible has something to say about how we eat & treat our bodies, but that wasn’t what I was referring to!) Just wanted to clarify. πŸ™‚

  20. Jay Says:

    Oh my gawd…thank you! You don’t know how much I identify with this post right now.

  21. Jennifer Martinson Says:

    Your articles are the BEST things I have ever read. I am definately marking these with a bookmark to come back to and read whenever I need a major kick in the butt. You really should consider writing a book or something.


  22. mamacin Says:

    Another “right on target” message. Sometimes when I’m reading your thoughts I’m hearing myself. I border on obnoxious sometimes when discussing this whole WW thing with people. If I’m going to be obsessed with something it sure isn’t going to be WW!

    Having a stick of celery when you WANT an M&M cookie is jut NOT going to cut it. And that M&M cookie is NOT going to be the downfall of any of us. What will be our downfall is thinking that we can spend the rest of our life without M&M cookies! It’s just not going to happen…at least nor for ME! As long as we can pick ourselves up after we stumble, we’ll be fine.

    So glad that you’re back and doing well!

  23. Junkie Says:

    Just now finding the site, and I had to let you know how amazing you are. You have quite a gift for putting things into perspective…a perspective that I know that I personally need.

  24. Rinaldo Says:

    All so very true. The most harmful voice is the little one that says, “Well, now we’ve stumbled, so we’ve lost the path and nothing matters. Might as well not care about anything.” Nope, you just start plugging away. I like what your voice says much better. Brava.

  25. Lee Ann Says:

    Wow, that was just what I needed to hear. I got back on the wagon nearly 3 weeks ago and I believe a little “cheating” is the only way I can accomplish my goals. I think I am a perfectionist by nature but when things can’t be perfect, then I have a tendency to give up. When I allow myself to have cookies with my husband or bagels with my kids I am learning not to be a slave to calorie (or carb) counting. Thank you again, I will visit your site again!

  26. mediaman Says:

    You just stopped me from having that cookie that would of put into a bad tailspin. Thanks!

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