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I Still Suck at This

I don't know about you, although I am not afraid of being mugged my a chocolate cake with vanilla icing (is this profiling), this effing food thing is tough. I does not care how fit you are, or what you do; when you consume more calories than you burn, you gain weight.

This should be easy - easy after 5 years. It's not.

Most of you know that since I first logged onto MFP I became a marathoner. I have run 7 of them. The real deal, the 26.2 mile kind! I have run about 70 races and did a 60 mile charity run across Massachusetts, and a 28 mile run across RI. I do love running, but it is not a weight loss program.

You cannot outrun a bad diet.

Marathons are a lot different than shorter distance races. You need to have lots of rest before and lots of recovery time after. With a 3 week taper leading up to the race and a week or two of recovery, you don't get a lot of exercise.

The problem is that it is hard to cut down on your food intake.
Well it is for me. I need to be in a highly controlled environment. That means nothing that I should consider an occasional treat can be in walking distance. I can't have left over birthday cake, chips, dips, and other types of snack foods close by.

I just can't do it!

I have to divide up portions meat, fish and poultry when I get home from the grocery store. It's SO easy to toss the second turkey burger in when I get home from work and I am hungry. If there is more than one in a package, I will eat them all.

The good news is that when I run, I am a lot less hungry.

I have not been running as much as I used to. I have been traveling and spending a lot more time commuting. I have gained weight - AGAIN! Did I say I need a controlled environment? I made lots of good food choices. I mean soft boiled eggs and caviar is good, right? I skipped desserts, sweet drinks and I only ate potatoes once. I drank as much water as you can when you don't know where the next bathroom is.

What I didn't do was control portions.

One of the things I know about failing is that we give ourselves permission to do it. We make excuses. "It's only once", "it's vacation", "it's OK to start over tomorrow", "it's just a stressful time" and the hits keep on coming. In 5years on MFP I have seen HUNDREDS of people come and go -maybe thousands in fact!

Overeating is an enemy of mine.

The fact still remains that 55% of those who lose weight will not keep it all off, 20% will return to their previous weight and 20% or so will gain even more weight than they lost. That leaves 5% to win the championship and make a true lifestyle change.

I want to be one of them.
How about you?

Thanks for the votes and comments! 

145 votes + -


EchoFiveNiner wrote 65 months ago:
Great post on what it takes to make things happen. A few comments on what you've written:

I'm getting feedback that cardio is not the way to go for fat loss. You burn the calories during that workout, and that's it. From what I'm hearing, the key is putting on muscle. Your experiences and thoughts on this would be helpful.
dsjohndrow wrote 65 months ago:
Muscle burns calories and fat does not. So, best to have more muscle. Cardio can build muscle if you have previously sedentary. With a rigorous running schedule, weight lifting is not always easy to find time for. I do body weight exercise a couple of days a week.
dsjohndrow wrote 65 months ago:
Anonymous wrote 65 months ago:
Sadly I am in the second 20% group. Through MFP and religious gym visit I lost 43 pounds and then I got cocky, switched from gym to only running and injuries set in and I rode my way back to my start weight, plus (fortunately) one pound additional. I never ever though that I would end back up at start. Much wiser now. I still run, but spend half my time in the gym. Weights and cross training. I follow Whole 30 for eating which has drastically improved my relationship with food. The first step of tackling a problem is being able to identify it. You are on the right track. Good luck with your continued success. The struggle is real and it is never over.
Anonymous wrote 65 months ago:
Not sure why it tagged me as anonymous. This is Wendytc
Laura80111 wrote 65 months ago:
Once again you tell it like it is and you know us all too well. I've come and gone, lost and gained and returned to start again the difference this hubby and I are doing it together and have decided this is our life style change. Something we can do for the rest of our lives. Right now I'm in a maintenance phase. I've maintained since October when we went on vacation then the holidays. I only have a few (6 to be exact) pounds left to chase off and I guess I'm waiting for true Spring to get here so that I can get in my long bike rides everyday. Just don't have the motivation to do it on the indoor bike so until April or do I will be striving to maintain and glad that I've finally found a way to do that since I've always gained in the past. Thank you once again for a great read and inspiration.
swat1948 wrote 65 months ago:
Absolutely true. I have gained 20 pounds the last 3 months because I just quit logging food and exercise has been sporadic. Of course I tell myself it's because I have had 3 colds, a very stressful family situation and various other excuses and though they're all valid, still not an excuse to eat like a pig. Thanks for the wake up call.
chr1sjohnson wrote 65 months ago:
Me too - absolutely. It's tough and I can't get over how easy it is to fall back into the bad eating trap when you've been doing well for months!! It happens just like you said - having a treat, going on vacation, tough time at work. One day turns into two, a week, a month and boom! Before you know it your pants are too tight, you're tired all the time, and you feel crappy. I went 10 months doing so well, running, racing, eating right, and then I got sick on the weekend of my first half and I couldn't run it. I got really discouraged because I trained so hard and even though I did a few 10k's afterwards it really tripped me up. I had some family problems which were really high stress, then it was the holidays, then I went on a holiday. I got back home and knew I had to step on that scale and I had gained 22 pounds in a 2.5 month period! I couldn't believe it! It had taken so long to lose them and they were back. I gave myself a talk and I got back on the wagon. Now I plan and I'm watching for those sneaky excuses and I'm putting a plan in place for what to do. Will it work? I don't know but I feel better knowing that I have something in place for when it happens.
LilacLion wrote 65 months ago:
Bravo for beginning to log your food. It's important.
hopekristal wrote 65 months ago:
Wowsa. Your article hit home. I'm currently on this struggle bus as well. I started my healthy journey in 2012. It included following meal plans and running. Then running was a weight loss tool for me but now it's not. Running led to biking that lead to a few triathlons and then crossfit. I was always training for the 'next thing' but my husband and I are transitioning into a new stage of our life and I'm taking a break from events. Along with injuries preventing me from doing the serious workouts that caused sweat to drip from my nose, I've turned to the comforts of food. Since November I put on 19#. NINETEEN!! My clothes started fitting tighter and it was enough to slap me into acknowledging what was happening. While I don't have any events on my agenda, it dawned on me the whole reason I started was to BE HEALTHY and that meant still using my body athletically and watching what went into it. I am currently doing the 21 day sugar detox because I was realizing the amount of it I was consuming. In 7 days I have gone from 174.2 to 166.2. While my clothes don't feel different (YET) I am grateful for my eyes being opened to what was happening right before them before the mirror told me I had to start over.

It never gets easier but we do pick up clues along the way that makes it manageable. I'm grateful for every single one. I hope your journey continues in the direction of acknowledgement, grace, humility and success. Happy travels friend.
marlown wrote 65 months ago:
Spot on! You can't outwalk, outrun, outlift bad eating. The struggle is real. Never give up attitude helps, but we just have to DO IT. The work of control, that is. Thanks so much for your insights and sharing your experiences. I am still struggling with the same 15-20 lbs I gained back almost 3 years ago. And the older I get, the more perfectly I need to behave, when it comes to food. I am mad about it, but just mad enough to keep fighting to reach my goals. TY!
bertadee812 wrote 65 months ago:
I can really relate to everything you've written. Sad to report that I am in the 20% who lose, regain, and repeat. In my lifetime I've lost and gained hundreds of pounds. Each time I lose I vow not to let myself "get up there" again. Here I am, at my second highest weight struggling to get back to healthy. It just gets harder as we age too.

It's a mind game as much as anything, and I'm trying really hard to be honest with myself, and to learn what triggers me and how I "give myself permission" to do what I know derails me!

Very motivating post!
kendallvon wrote 65 months ago:
You're definitely not alone. Overeating for me is a constant companion. I've been doing this for 7 1/2 years, so you'd think I'd have it under control. Hell, sometimes it fools me into thinking it's under control. Then my guard slips, and the nasty little bastard roars back to life, and convinces me that a whole bag of pork rinds isn't *that* bad. (This, btw, was yesterday's lie).
dmoses wrote 65 months ago:
OH PLEASE, can I join you!? I lost about 40 lbs and have kept most of it off for 7 years (and counting). BUT IT'S SO DAMN HARD!!! I will always battle with food, with my binging. I just don't know how to do it...
rccsinger wrote 65 months ago:
I reached goal in July and maintained until the holidays. . .I gave myself "permission" to indulge and now I am still struggling to lose the few pounds I gained. . .Old habits never die. . .we put them on life support and revive them as soon as we are stressed, tired, bored. . .you name it!
49Elle wrote 65 months ago:
We all know your right!
This journey we are on is for the rest of our lives.. it is the treadmill of time if we want permanent changes.
I think food became a hobby as much as a necessity... sampling different recipes, baking - hey the house smells wonderful and the cake with a coffee ... oh yum!
So we don't have the freedom to eat what we choose as much as we like because our marvelous bodies make sure we have enough for when there is a shortfall ... in our modern lives this doesn't happen so self control is the key and this is very hard to be disciplined with not only what we elect to eat but the portion size.
But aren't we the fortunate ones to have the option to choose, to not be reliant on the seasons and in the main to be able to afford to buy great healthy food... we all need to stay positive and be thankful.
57Terris wrote 65 months ago:
I absolutely agree that portion control is key. I have a horrible time eating enough. I'm hypothyroid and have listened to the cruel comments my whole life about keeping my mouth shut and to stop eating. I remember my mother passing out from not eating and I've done the same at least twice. Freaked my kid out big time!
We learn bad information, we skew it with emotions and serve it up as truth. MFP helps keep me on track with getting enough calories and nutrition. I've lost 11 lbs. so far, about .2 a day.
I practice strict portion control and force myself to eat it all even when emotion makes me gag on it. The days I don't eat at least 1,000 calories, I gain weight. It's vicious.
You all have encouraged me, knowing the struggle is real for you as well.
I think I'm up to about 30 days of logging my food and exercise. It has been a big help. I was more surprised at the exercise trends, or break in trends.
I look at it as a balance: logging in, eating fresh, less processed food, exercising, keeping a positive attitude and surrounding myself with people that are working this struggle and showing at least a little progress.
It all adds up, thanks for being positive.
lucymartz wrote 65 months ago:
Starting on this life changing journey. Wish me luck! Highest weight I have ever been in my life. I do sit at a desk all day. I don't exercise and I had a bad knee injury last year that I'm not fully recovered from. I know excuse #1. I feel I have to do this if not I will die. I appreciate all of your tips.
SaintGiff wrote 65 months ago:
Read the titled. Believed you. And therefore did not read the blog.
Shannonpurple wrote 65 months ago:
WOW sounds like I wrote this, at least I know I am not the only one, Although I would never run in RI unless I was trying to escape the state. Also if you have not run a trail marathon try it they are way more awesome than road races. Also if ever attacked by a cake just throw it my way and I will handle it for you!
JohnDavid1969 wrote 65 months ago:
I have to second (and third) some of the other commenters here:

Weight training, weight training, and oh yeah, weight training.

I'm currently entering the sport of triathlon after completely changing my activity levels and health habits over the course of the last four or five years, but I've realized that all the training in the world isn't going to be enough for me unless I can also hang on to as much lean muscle as possible (I'm over 40). And yes, as endurance athletes we're told that any 'extra' weight (whether from excess fat, "unnecessary" muscle, or last night's carb-loading pasta binge) is bad for racing, for me I know that being strong (not necessarily bulked up like the Buff Dudes on Youtube, but strong) is worth the few extra pounds that muscle adds - it's useful, it's somewhat more metabolically active, and it looks and feels better too. 15 pounds of muscle=more powerful body. 15 pounds of excess fat, not so much.
brentbox wrote 65 months ago:
Fuzzy math...

The fact still remains that 55% of those who lose weight will not keep it all off, 20% will return to their previous weight and 20% or so will gain even more weight than they lost. That leaves 5% to win the championship and make a true lifestyle change.
norakenty823 wrote 65 months ago:
I feel your pain - portion control is so hard for me! I was shocked when I started counting calories at how much I was eating. I made changes, but I would start to get panicked when I felt hungry and knew I could only eat a small portion. A big positive step for me was to stop counting calories in fruits and vegetables. Yes, they're still calories, BUT no one ever got obese from too many fruits and veggies! They have so much water and fiber and vitamins and minerals that help your liver and skin, and if you "over eat" kale you're not going to gain weight. This mindset change, where I let myself have "unlimited" rainbow fruits & veggies, helped me feel less panicked when I was hungry, and my weight has stayed consistent!
EricBLivingston wrote 65 months ago:
If I don't weigh and measure everything I eat, I gain weight, no matter what exercise I do and what foods I choose (which are usually very good ones). I'll easily and happily eat WAY more "organic ultimate health food" than I can get away with, calorie-wise.

However, once I start measuring and weighing/tracking my food, I predictably lose weight. It's really that easy. Weigh/measure = lose, no measurement = Gain.

Seems I'll just have to continue weighing and measuring forever!
Adc7225 wrote 65 months ago:
Singing to the choir!! I have definitely seen some bad choices in food intake and some pounds creeping on. But this time I know what to do and since I am bound by me wardrobe I will address it sooner rather than later. Learning how to cook single portions or pack away the leftovers before you even eat really helps.
ILoveGingerNut wrote 65 months ago:
I have been bigger, I have been smaller. Only two kg from my lowest weight though. Not exercising at the mo and my diet is pretty crap. Never done weight training in my life.
crashmandi wrote 65 months ago:
"I want to be one of them" What an amazing mantra. I think I'm going to use that more!
tremayne_lawson wrote 65 months ago:
I plan on being in the 5% mark - having lost over 30 kilos in the last 18 months and managed to keep it off and continuing my health and fitness journey. It really is a lifestyle and not a diet (that has helped me with my mindset big time) - never beat up on yourself as tomorrow is a brand new day. Try not to compare yourself to others or their journey as its yours and yours alone. Good luck and don't let the mind beat your body! T
kevingrapes wrote 65 months ago:
I like your post and I'm basically the same; your stats is awful though ;). The two 20% figures lie withing the 55%, leaving 45% who keep it off, not 5%.
newhighnewlow wrote 65 months ago:
your post is me today. I ran Houston on Jan 15 and by the time my body was ready to run again... 4 weeks later...

I had gained 10 pounds and gotten a minute per mile slower. I also felt like, having "succeeded" in the marathon (a Boston Qualifying pace of 3:03:07), I deserved a break from tracking... which I am having a LOT of trouble getting back into...

not to mention I'm no longer running 60+ miles per week... and trying to do some more muscle focused workouts for awhile before I ramp up into another training cycle...

And I may or may not have eaten an entire package of oreos in a single sitting the other day... because they were available and I "needed to get rid of them so they wouldn't tempt me."

socajam wrote 65 months ago:
Thanks for such an enlightening article. You hit the nail on the head.

For me I eat very healthy, but biggest problem is I love food and portion control, If I could get those two under control, I would be at my goal weight for life.

Like you, I keep things that I know I am unable to say no to, out of the house, it is too risky for me. I lost 24 lbs on MFP three years ago, got too comfortable and now I am back at the same weight. What I realized is that this is a lifestyle where I have to watch my portion control and exercise every day for the rest of my life (even if its just walking daily). I have started walking last week, things are going well, but the scale have not moved. I am one of those people who lose inches before any movement on the scale shows.

I definitely would like to lose 40 lbs this year and work even harder to leave the 40lbs off my body for good.
solieco1 wrote 65 months ago:
I completely agree. I train for and race half ironman triathlons (70.3 miles). People look at you when you're overweight like you have 2 heads and there is no way with all the training. The truth is it takes a lot of calories and good nutrition to train for endurance sports. It is also really easy to overeat and actually gain weight during heavy training.

Calories are king and there's no getting around it.
ellakulik3665 wrote 65 months ago:
Although I am older and not training for anything but staying alive, I want to thank all of the people above in this blog who mentioned the importance of tracking. It is hard to weigh and measure every bite that goes in your mouth, but it is essential and I don't want to get lazy about it. Thank you for the reminder.
PamelaSween wrote 65 months ago:
Haha I relate to this article so much, when I'm by myself my diet is fine because I refuse to bring sweets and what not into the house, but if I stay with my boyfriend or visit my parents for a few days theres constantly chocolates and biscuits around that i just cant say no to!!
walesvsireland wrote 65 months ago:
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