I’ve got — how to put it — a complicated relationship with my weight.
I fully and wholeheartedly believe in “beauty at any size,” “down with diets,” all that stuff — but frankly, growing up fat, it is hard to not internalize negative messages about your body, even if you don’t globalize them (i.e., I can still look at other fat people and think they’re gorgeous, but I can never apply that thinking to me or my body). And it’s harder still when you know that your weight is a major factor in most of your health concerns (and I know — for me — it is, because when I lost weight (see below) nearly all these issues went away).
Complicating matters is, several years ago, before Bear came along, I actually lost a pretty significant amount of weight (70 lbs., to be precise). I went from 205 lbs. to 135 lbs., and went from getting winded brushing my teeth to running 4.5 miles a day, from being totally stagnant to completing 5ks. I also drove myself crazy calorie counting, and drained most of the enjoyment out of food. And then, of course, after I got pregnant with Bear, I put on a ton of weight, and with the overall lifestyle shift that came with motherhood, just kept right on gaining through his baby and toddlerhood.
I keep intending to lose the weight again, but I’ve gotten myself into a mire of feeling overwhelmed, defeated, and honestly, kind of hopeless about the prospect. I really don’t want to calorie count again because it’s awful for my obsessive tendencies, but great for my need for structure. I don’t want to consider every backslide a failure, because I know that all forward movement is progress, but my all-or-nothing thinking makes it very difficult not to just say “screw it” every time I screw up.
It’s hard. And what makes it worse is that there is an odd comfort in sinking into the mire, exacerbated by my need for routine and my executive dysfunction. Initiation of a new habit is hard for anyone for a number of reason; for me, going to the gym feels like a burden because (aside from the neurodivergence) it necessitates giving up a chunk of my free time after work and on my days off to leave the house and do something that feels an awful lot like a chore (even if it’s a chore I ostensibly want to do). After being “on” all day, every day for a week in a high-intensity program, I just want to… not have to do anything. God! Is that too much to ask for? I am drained, physically and mentally (and often emotionally) and just want to be left alone.
But left alone, I sleep too late, eat junk, and have no energy. And that makes the work-week all the more draining come Monday morning, and the cycle repeats.
So, okay; what if I don’t sleep in and pig out? There are so many other things I could be doing! My house is a trainwreck — I’m not even sure if it’s again or still, that’s how bad this whole situation is, do you understand that??
And so the cycle repeats. And I continue to make poor choices, and feel bad about said choices, and then, subsequently, make the same damn mistakes again.
I have spent years beating myself up over all of this. Only very recently did I sort of start putting two-and-two together and thinking about my weight loss struggles in terms of my ADHD.
You know what no one ever told me? That obese people are five to ten times more likely to have ADHD. There is, apparently, a “known” link between weight issues and ADHD. And it makes sense, if you think about it. Not only are out executive functions impaired — things like impulsivity and planning — but out brains are also sensory-seeking, and comfort eating is a huge dopamine rush (not to mention that — at least for me — I can go a whole day forgetting to eat if I’m busy and then friggin gorging, or feel endlessly restless all day and find no outlet save eating).
That doesn’t take the whole onus of responsibility off my shoulders, but what the hell? Why did I not know this? Why do we not talk about this?? There is literally a laundry list of reasons why my weight is such a struggle for me. Now I’m sure this isn’t true of ever person with ADHD — every person’s genetic makeup is different, and their environments vary — but it might be worth considering if you are both neurodivergent and obese.
So, like… what can I do? I can’t go back to calorie counting, that was torturous because I need to both be hyper-precise (all-or-nothing) and lack the ability to track to that level of precision without wearing myself down to the bone.
Well, general consensus seems to be I’m on the right track — meal planning, having a schedule for shopping, keeping unhealthy snacks out of the house. And of course standard stuff like drinking enough water. The gym part is still tricky because of the above mentioned reasons, but I’m off-loading that onto my husband — he starting to drop me at the gym after work directly, all my gym stuff in tow, because once I’m there, I’m golden! It’s the making-myself-get-there that’s the issue. One thing that I don’t generally do — but maybe should start — is meal prepping in bulk, so that when I have an off day, I have something on standby and don’t just order a pizza or heat up a plate of microwave chicken nuggets and fries (hey, I keep snacking junk out of the house, but I do still have a four-year-old, and he has an oh-so-refined palate).
So I have to keep moving. And it’s still a struggle. But at least I know there’s a reason behind my struggle, and at least I know I’m on the right path towards a solution.
Another thing called out in the articles I read — and wooo boy, is it true for me — is that ADHDers are self-defeated by their own expectations. As in, if I don’t see instant results, I get frustrated and give up. So I know I need to be in this for the long haul. Would any one be interested if I blogged occasionally/semi-regularly about my weight, and maybe my journey to lose weight/become healthier? Please let me know! (Just please note, I don’t believe in extreme/trendy/detox diet culture. It will just be my trials and tribulations in becoming more active and having a more balanced and nutritious diet).