I have basically hit my goal weight.
I say 'basically', because now I'm in maintenance mode, and it is proving to have its challenges. I know, logically, that I don't hit that miracle number and just stay there. Everyone's weight fluctuates up and down a few pounds here and there. What I wasn't expecting was the mental game this would provoke in me.
With time, the cravings went away and the obsession to drink shriveled up and died. I received medallions for each milestone: 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, one year. It was motivating, having a little parade for myself as I hit each one.
A little over one year sober, new challenges arose. People got used to the sober me. It no longer seemed like such a big deal that I made it another month ... it became my new normal. The feelings showed up, in droves. It was no longer simply about not drinking, it was about learning to live a sober life.
I hit my goal weight a couple of weeks ago. Since then, it has been a challenge to get used to the new normal, to stay on track even though the scale numbers weren't dropping every week. It was easy to stay motivated when every week more weight would come off, and I was fitting into smaller and smaller jeans. I was so focused on getting here, that I didn't think enough about what it would be like when I arrived. Even the word 'arrive' trips me up, because it isn't a destination, it's a journey. Logically, I know this. But keeping my focus for the past couple of weeks has been really hard.
I finally talked to a good friend of mine, who is also in recovery, about how I was feeling. Through tears I told her how much I was struggling. She listened sympathetically, and then said, "Honey. You're afraid."
It hit me, immediately, that she was right. I am afraid. Afraid that somehow this new me isn't real, that I won't be able to maintain my weight now that the immediate rewards of losing weight are gone. I've even had nightmares about this - like the dreams I'd have when I was newly sober that I drank, called "drunk dreams" - I have been plagued by dreams that I wake up and I'm back at my former weight.
I know, logically, that this fear isn't based on anything real. But getting my brain to realize this is another matter. In response to the constant fear I was feeling, my brain went into overdrive, went directly to control. I started over-thinking every bit of food I ate, counting calories like Scrooge counted pennies.
Control is a classic response to fear. When we feel like things are spiraling away from us, we focus our energies on the things we think we can control. In my case, it was constant calorie counting - something I didn't do much at all for months. I ate well, exercised, did the next right thing, and the weight came off. My fear that somehow the weight loss won't stay unless I try harder, do more, led to the obsessive thoughts. The obsessive thoughts led to cravings. It owned me.
I've been here before, in sobriety, and I know what I'm supposed to do. I'm supposed to surrender my will.
I know if I do this, my body will be the size it's supposed to be. I can't be trusted to know what it is, either.
I talked to my Jenny Craig consultant about all this, and she understood immediately. "Don't weigh yourself at home, EVER," she said. "Come here once a week and we'll walk through it together." The goal, she went on to explain, is to anesthetize myself to focusing on the number, to begin to trust the process. "Maintenance is really hard," she said. "It takes a while to realize that by eating well and exercising, you'll be fine. It's no more complicated than that."
Just like sobriety: trust the process, let go, do the next right thing and get the hell out of the way.