Quality of Life and Gaining Weight

Everyone who has dieted more than once knows that it’s very likely you’ll regain the weight at some point in future. (Whether you’re willing to acknowledge the fact is another matter entirely.)

There are many reasons why that happens, one of them being that you never learned to eat better while you were losing weight. But even if your diet is better now than before you started dieting, that doesn’t guarantee you won’t gain weight at some point.

I’m not just trying to be a kill-joy. I am thinking about my own life and marvelling at my repeated life patterns.  My pattern is so obvious and has repeated so often it would be stupid to ignore it.

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Here it is.

I started comforting myself with chips and chocolate and gained  weight when I was undergoing a hard time in my teens  (I was being bullied in junior high school and got very depressed at one point).  After I got to senior high school, my life slowly improved and I gradually lost my extra weight. I found friends and started new hobbies. My life wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough.

Fast forward twenty years and there’s the pattern again.

Three years ago, in spring 2009, I already had a good start at improving my diet and was close to my goal weight.  Then, boom, I fell head-first into an episode of clinical depression. At the same time, I started suffering from runner’s knee pain and couldn’t exercise. (I also had my last period that year). When I weighed myself 2.5 years later (in August 2011),  I had gained more than 22 pounds.

For me, poor quality of life and gaining weight go hand in hand. My self-care goes down and my weight goes up. Surprisingly, body weight is not an isolated phenomenon that is unaffected by what goes on in person’s life. 🙂

Trying to make changes in your diet and lifestyle when your resources are depleted by some crisis is an exercise in futility. Your limited energy would be better used at improving your life, not tinkering with your weight issues.

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Personally, it means I’ll try to put more emphasis on improving the quality of my life than “tinkering with my body issues”.  (That doesn’t mean I won’t expect to lose weight or wait to improve my relationship with food and eating. I do.) What comes to body weight, the way I eat right now seems to work pretty well for me, and barring big crises, I’m probably going to reach my goal size (measured by my goal jeans) sooner or later.

I still think that gaining weight at some point is more than likely, unless I improve on other areas of my life.

Question: Do gaining weight and the quality of your life go hand in hand in your life? (Not everyone gains weight when they suffer from some crises – some people actually lose their appetite…)

Comments

  1. Absolutely Satu – though I don’t know which influences the other. Do I have a better quality of life cos I’ve lost weight and feel more confident; or do I lose weight because I’m happier, more contented and not as dependent on food for comfort. Argh!

    You’re right though about the weight gain. It was one of the things I took away from the ‘If not dieting’ book – some statistics about those who regain the weight.

    My problem is like you said – SOMETHING goes wrong and then I usually just quit completely (eat badly, stop exercising etc). I’m hoping that I’m changing that by continuing my exercise NOW while my food intake is not great. Perhaps I can try to break the cycle (guess I can only try).

    Deb

    • Satu says:

      Hi Deb!

      I have the same issue: every time SOMETHING goes wrong (and something always goes wrong) I quit eating well and stop exercising – at least for some time. Then I get back on the wagon again.

      That is usually only a problem weight-wise if that happens too often. I had a really hard time last winter when I started having migraines every week. Migraines and weight control go poorly together. I’m glad I found a medication that works.

  2. I think, for me, it’s the quality of my *inner* life that makes the most difference, not so much my outer life, if that makes sense. And I think that’s what you mean. At my highest weight, my inner quality of life sucked, although on the outside (marriage, job, friends, etc.) it was great. So which comes first (as Deb asked)? And more importantly, can we always been “improving” or will it always be a matter of ups and downs? I think it’s the latter and the key is to catch ourselves more quickly when we’re “down” (and I don’t mean weight :-).

    And this is why it’s SO important to do the inner work…to understand and accept ourselves the best we can! It’s more powerful than any diet!

    For some reason, this popped into my head: there is no way to happiness, happiness is the way.

    • Satu says:

      It does make sense. I think that I need to work on both the outer and inner aspect of my life, and I need to learn to accpet some things I’ve never really learned to accept (and which are a chronic source of stress in my life),

      I avoided using the word happiness in my post, because it’s so portentious…

  3. Lori says:

    My gains come more from getting tired of watching what I eat all.the.time. I rebel inwardly and go ahead and eat more. Of course, those tend to be real trigger foods for me like M&Ms and things I don’t normally have.

  4. Satu says:

    That I can understand. 🙂 I’ve made it a rule for myself that I can eat what I want when I go visit my parents etc. Luckily that doesn’t happen too often, or I would be a 200-lb blob…

  5. Aimee says:

    I have also experienced a similar pattern throughout my life with weight. I have been successful at losing weight here and there. My clothing would fit better, people would notice and compliment me, I would feel more confident about myself and then one day I would blow it. Instead of moving past the bad choices I would continue to eat badly and not exercise. The weight would come back quickly and usually greater than before. I know now that my struggles and inability to succeed were due to the fact that I was essentially dieting rather than changing my lifestyle permanently. I was not addressing the emotional eating issue. I also hadn’t made fitness a regular part of my life instead it was sporadic.

    I can definitely point to times in my life that were stressful and I turned to food for comfort and solace. However, the end result only left me feeling worse. I was guilt-ridden and angry. I also tried to blame other forces. It’s only been recently that I finally owned up to my responsibility with my weight. I am working on ending emotional eating. I have moved beyond dieting and I am truly creating a new lifestyle.

    We will lose the weight eventually Satu and hopefully we will replace it with good eating habits, healthy body image and a love for fitness.

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