I don’t like the ‘P’ word. Not one little bit. I refuse to think about it most of the time because I’m now convinced it’s just a state of mind and that like anything in life it can be overcome with enough effort and perseverance.
The ‘P’ word in question is of course ‘Plateau‘.
This (from the perspective of a man who has struggled with weight all his life) was the point at which mythical forces aligned in your body during the process of weight loss and like an internal Gandalf stood on the edge of a dramatic precipice and shouted ‘No further. You shall not pass!’
In the past I felt I had evidence of this phenomenon and that I’d personally encountered it on more than one occasion.
It wasn’t fiction. Far from it. It was fact.
However – in reality (as with most things) there’s more going on with a belief in something like this than initially meets the eye.
If I’m brutally honest with myself the points where I ‘plateaued‘ in the past were the points where I lost my way, where I slipped into old habits and when I became comfortable.
Underlying all of these (if they aren’t already bad enough) was something I’d never truly admitted to myself back then. Although I think that I knew this on some level or another I couldn’t face up to it. This was that the fundamental beliefs and values that I held all my life had remained unchanged.
This of course didn’t apply just to food.
It applied to many things – and one by one, in order to make genuine progress (that I aim to be permanent) I’ve had to admit the truth about all of them to myself.
- When I tried to give up smoking for the longest time I still thought I could smoke occasionally – and that having an occasional cigar wouldn’t hurt on special occasions. Lies – even one is too many. If you’re addicted you’re addicted and there’s no such thing as ‘a little bit of cancer’.
- There was nothing wrong with my drinking. Drinking to get obliterated was just fine if I felt like it, and if I did so in the privacy of my own home it was perfectly OK. I didn’t need to drink – I did it because I enjoyed it and because I deserved it after a hard day at work. Lies. I drank to stop myself feeling pain or emotion and I also drank because I was addicted to the physical sensation it produced. I felt less when I was drunk and that enabled me to not face up to most things in life.
- My eating habits were ok – I just needed to eat ‘a little less’ of all the things I already ate – after all everyone else ate them – they were just ‘naturally thin’ or had ‘faster metabolisms’. All I needed to do was loose the weight somehow and then I could start eating normally again. Lies. I ate like a pig. Anyone eating 8500 calories a day is not eating normally. No-one is naturally thin. They simply do more and eat less. Anything else is a self deluding fantasy people such as me used to torture themselves with and as an excuse for their behaviour. I’ll never be able to eat like that again and I wouldn’t want to if I could.
- I was in touch with my feelings and I had no problems dealing with emotions or talking about them. My smoking, drinking and eating was completely unrelated to anything ‘below the surface’ – they were just things I enjoyed – and there was no inner conflict to resolve. Lies. I had been papering over the cracks with cigarettes, food and alcohol for so long that I genuinely couldn’t see myself hiding pain or sadness any more. It happened so fluidly and without conscious thought that it was gone before I could register that it had ever existed. In reality I only dealt with emotions through a process of detachment and use of logical analysis after the fact.
I know now that the ‘plateau’ wasn’t ‘a thing’ – it was a collection of issues layered on top of issues, smothered in more issues and topped with further issues.
I was continually doomed to failure with diets because I failed to make the true, lifelong changes in both mind and body that were required not only for continued short term success, but also for lasting lifelong results.
Instead, for most of my life, I took the path of least resistance to avoid conflict of any kind and refused to deal with one problem after another until the consequences of this physical and mental inaction became so toxic to my health that my choices finally boiled down to life or death.
This is a rather dramatic way of saying I don’t believe in plateaus any more – because for the first time in a long time I can stand back and see them for what they were.
They were just me – in denial.
For a number of reasons unrelated to food (more to follow on that subject in another blog probably) I suspect that I’m heading for a maintain on the scales come Saturday. After last week’s unexpected gain I want to be sure that if I have a ‘bad’ result two weeks in a row that somewhere deep down in my psyche I’m not going to slip into this pattern of thinking again.
The truth is though that the more I type and the more I explore my feelings on this topic I know I’m not going to.
But why am I even thinking about all this?
Someone helped me recently, probably more than they realise.
They have enabled me (through patient and careful support) to gradually see myself in a new light. This has had a huge part to play in enabling me both figuratively and literally to look at myself and appreciate my worth in ways that I’d stopped doing long ago.
It’s an ongoing and gradual process for me – but this individual just reminded me that there aren’t really any plateaus. There are just obstacles.
You can choose to be honest and open with yourself about what they are and any pain that they represent before you clamber over them, or you can use them as an excuse to go no further and as something to hide behind.
There are lots of things that could get me down related to my life – but I realised something this evening that I don’t think I’d appreciated the true depth of before.
My attitudes -which for so many years I believed were formed by logical analysis – were often predicated on similar lies to the ones above.
Lately I’m surprising myself regularly by making the absolute opposite choices about almost everything in life compared to the ones I used to make.
Yet the world around me hasn’t changed dramatically.
The people in it haven’t changed.
Places remain the same.
The fundamental shift is in me – and whilst it began with a mental choice in January last year the continued ripping up of my long held rule books isn’t really a mental process it’s a physical one.
I’m fitter, and I’m healthier. I’m more vital and energetic. I’m happier, I generally sleep well. I don’t feel pain every moment of every day in my back or legs. I don’t have a constant dull hangover. My ankles aren’t swollen and my calves don’t feel tight and itchy. I can breathe quietly and deeply without sounding out of breath. I sweat less. I smell better. My skin has a healthy colour. I have better eyesight. The whites of my eyes aren’t continually bloodshot. I’m more alert and I think quicker.
Physically the list goes on and on.
It’s this that’s driving the differences my decision making process – and it was this list of problems (and many more besides) which – without me knowing it drove every other judgement in my past life for years.
So there it is internet.
Sometimes even if you’re struggling to make headway you have to step back and see the obstacle for what it is.
It’s an opportunity to overcome something and reach your goal.