Over this last weekend, I was left unsupervised for the first time since my surgery. Lor was attending a family reunion, so I was left to my own devices for four whole days. I cooked for myself, I wrote, and I played video games. Three days out of four I went to the gym, and I even did some work around the house.
Oh, and I gained 1.5 pounds.
The Shoe On The Other Foot
I must admit that I find it ironically amusing that I am now in the position I find so many other bariatric patients in: “Help! I’ve gained weight and I don’t know why!”
It is a common refrain at support groups and on message boards – something has gone wrong, please tell me how to fix it. Usually, though, there is another component to the plea for help. Something along the lines of “Oh, and don’t tell me anything I don’t want to hear while telling me how to correct this problem. Kthanksbye.”
I, of course, have a pretty good idea what happened to my diet. Hours normally filled with activity were, instead, taken over by sitting immobile in front of a monitor. I probably didn’t push myself as hard as I should have at the gym. I logged meals at the end of the day and discovered that, instead of a single snack during the course of a day, I had 2 or 3. (And this is why logging WHILE EATING is important.) These things all add up. In my case, they added up to a pound and a half.
Many times, though, we as patients don’t want to hear what we have done wrong. We want to know how to fix the problem immediately. A “make it didn’t happen” pill, maybe. The last thing a person wants to hear is “Don’t do what you just did.”
The Danger of Symptomology
We have an unfortunate tendency, in our culture, to focus on symptoms instead of root problems. Your head hurts? Take a pain med. Are you tired? Have some caffeine. Not sleeping well? Drink some Nyquil.
At no time do we stop to consider root causes. Maybe stress is causing headaches. Poor diet may be contributing to your lack of energy. An irregular schedule might be the cause of your sleep problems. But correcting each of those root causes requires work: a commitment of time and energy, usually over a period of days or weeks. And who has time for that? Just gimme something for the symptom, thanks.
I, myself, came very close to that exact “solution” after my unexpected weight gain. After I stepped off the scale I determined I would immediately go on a 3-day protein shake diet, to “reset” myself.
In other words, I wanted to be all better in three days.
Fortunately, I put some extra thought into it. An all protein shake diet is not a good long-term solution. A good long-term solution is to buckle down on gym work, continue to reduce carbs, and pay closer attention to what I am putting in my mouth. The symptom of weight loss is not the problem. The relaxation of dietary and exercise compliance is.
The Benefit of Judgement
See, mostly what I was lacking was accountability. I would love to say “Don’t judge me! I am human and I make mistakes!”
But, what I really needed was someone to smack the cookie out of my hand. (OK, in my case it was almonds, not a cookie. But you get the idea.)
If you are engaging in behavior that makes you want to say “Don’t judge me!”, you probably need to judge that behavior. Find yourself some accountability. Write things down. Tell someone your goals. Make a plan and stick to it.
Or, you know, be embarrassed that apparently you couldn’t be safely left unsupervised for a long weekend.
The choice is yours!
Two Steps Up And One Step Back,