I stared at the number on the scale.
“Surely not! Perhaps my eyes haven’t adjusted to the light yet …”
I blinked hard, as if by sheer will I could change my weight. “No. That’s the same number. The same number I’ve been looking at for the past month. Ugh!”
Stepping off the scale, I sighed in discouragement. “I am so over this weight-loss stall!”
“Come on, Paige! Choose gratitude,” I chided myself. “Staying the same weight may not be ideal, but it is a thousand times better than gaining pounds. So much more preferable to watching the numbers on the scale move in the wrong direction…”
But it’s awfully hard to be grateful for anything at 5 o’clock in the morning …
If there is such a thing as being a weight-loss turtle, then I am a weight-loss sloth!
Perhaps you can relate to this feeling. After all, for those of us with PCOS, our bodies gain weight easily and lose weight at a frustrating slow pace.
The research is solid. Women with PCOS need to eat diets that are rich in nutrition, and packed with a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. However, we should avoid sugar, gluten, and dairy. These foods will further damage our fragile bodies, causing spikes in insulin, weight gain, inflammation, and increased hormonal imbalances.
Give up bread and pasta? Pass on the cheese? No more sweet treats? I wasn’t sure I could tolerate a diet like that. I toyed with the idea, but never really gave it my full effort.
Then a year ago I was diagnosed with pseudo-tumor cerebri, which is simple a fake tumor in my brain that causes headaches and blurred vision. Fake in this case is definitely preferable to having the real deal, but when I found out it was yet another thing wrong with my body due to having PCOS … well, I just got angry.
PCOS was slowly stealing my life away. I was tired of it. Enough was enough. I was ready to give PCOS a big kick in the rear.
So I made a hard decision and gave up gluten and sugar. Two months after that, I removed all grains from my diet. Between late-July and early December 2015, thirty pounds of fat melted off my body. It was exciting to see evidence of my new dietary changes working, and I was highly motivated by the quick success of my new eating plan.
But then, suddenly, all that wonderful weight-loss came to a screeching halt.
“I must be indulging more this holiday season than I realized,” I thought. “Once the new year starts, things will even out and I’ll start to lose weight again.”
Only that’s not what happened.
Despite my diligence to eating healthy, my weight-loss stall still hadn’t broken by Valentine’s Day. So at my husband’s encouragement, I joined a gym and started working out with personal trainers and meeting monthly with a nutritionist. Considering I was going from being something of a couch potato to working out hard 3-4 times weekly, I expected the weight to start flying off me.
Can you believe it didn’t?
I stewed and fretted over my continued weight-loss stall, but all along I knew the next step I needed to be willing to take. Research shows clearly that dairy is not a friend to women with PCOS. It causes spikes in insulin, inflammation throughout the body, and is a known hormone disrupter. I’ve got enough hormone disruptions as it is. I surely don’t need to voluntarily ingest another one! So, in spite of my love for cheese, a month ago I gave up dairy. Even though it was hard for me to make another drastic dietary change, I had positive hopes about my decision. “Surely, giving up yogurt and that dash of half-and-half in my morning cup of coffee will kick this weight-loss thing into high gear once again,” I thought.
But would you believe that it hasn’t?
Nearly six months after my weight loss initially stalled out, I’m only down four more pounds. What gives? I’m doing all the right things (and then some!), with diligence and consistency. Yet, I remain stuck. The numbers on my scale refuse to move.
“What’s the point of choosing to eat healthy? Why do I keep going over to the gym for those 6:30 am fitness classes? All this hard work … and nothing’s changing!” These days the battle is as much with the thoughts in my head, as it is with my hormonally-wrecked body.
Several days ago, I pouted through my morning prayer time, angry that I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted to see. I complained and whined to my husband about how unfair PCOS was, and how all of my efforts had gotten me nowhere. Jon listened to me, and then softly said, “Paige, this is not about you. You may not being seeing the results you want or even any results at all … but I can see them. Besides, slow changes are forever changes. Keep on keeping on. Eventually you are going to see the benefits too.”
“What benefits?” I grumbled as I headed out the door for my early morning workout.
Two minutes later, I pulled up at the gym, where I went in for my monthly assessment with the dietician. As I stepped up on the scale for her, I said, “Just warning you, there isn’t any change. I already weighed this morning, and the scale is still not moving.”
Dawn laughed and said, “That’s not exactly true! You are down a pound from last month’s weigh-in.”
“A pound! I’ve given up dairy for the past month and all I lost was one freaking pound!”
“Paige … girl … you have got to get over this. You and I both know that the scale is going to move very slowly for you. But I want you to think about what other successes you are seeing in your life. Where else are you noticing little victories?”
It’s been said the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Thanks to the media, I’m much more familiar with the final leg of impressive journeys than I am with the beginnings or middle steps of such quests for success.
The mountain climber raises his arms above his head as he takes the final step to stand at the top of Mount Everest. I admire his courage from my living room sofa. But exactly how brutal was that climb to the top? Was this the first attempt to reach the summit, or have there been other tries?
The newly crowned Miss America takes her runway walk, waving through her tears of happiness. I am completely in awe of her poise and grace. Yet how many hours of practice went into learning her talent? What sort of intense preparation did she go through in order to emerge as the winner?
The national anthem plays as the Olympic gold medal is hung around the athlete’s neck. Goosebumps cover my arms, as I watch with national pride. Yet it never crosses my mind just how many years of early morning practices this one medal represents. Nor do I consider how many sports injuries he endured or the numerous competitions which ended in defeat.
You see, victory is a lot more than just that final moment of success. It’s a journey, filled with ups and downs … sometimes more downs than ups. One moment alone in time doesn’t make the victory. Rather, it’s lots of little moments over a long period of time that lead to ultimate success.
Eleven months ago, I started on a health journey, unlike any other I’ve even tried before. I’ve been determined and dedicated in a way that I’ve never been in my past. And while that’s a good thing, I’ve recently been guilty of judging my personal success based on a single result. A number on the scale.
For the past six months I’ve had a mini goal of reaching a particular goal weight. In December, I was just seven pounds away. As of this morning I’m still not there. I’ve got three more pounds to go. I’m diligently eating healthy foods, exercising, taking supplements, getting good rest. And the frustrating part is that in spite of my diligence to stick to the plan, it is taking forever for me to get to where I want to be.
But the fact that I’m not seeing the victory on my bathroom scale doesn’t mean I’m a failure. You see, I’m still in the game. I’m still moving in the right direction. I haven’t given up in defeat. I’ve just got to do what Dawn and my husband both suggested … look for all the other little ways I’m winning.
So today, I’m celebrating some really important non-scale victories I have experienced during last eleven months. The list that follows isn’t exhaustive by any means, but these are some of the many ways I know I am doing my body good.
- I am currently wearing the smallest size I’ve ever worn as an adult.
- I bought a swimsuit and I actually plan to wear it this summer.
- I don’t mind having my picture taken nearly as much these days.
- I discovered I actually like to exercise … and I’m getting the muscles to prove it!
- My most recent blood work and lab tests came back with phenomenal results.
- I am completely off anxiety medications.
- I am having regular 31-32 day cycles. (This is the ultimate definition of PCOS success.)
These are not just benefits of eating healthy and exercising. These are MY hard-won victories. These are MY successes along the journey to a healthier me.
Sure, the scale may not move like I’ve hoped and prayed, and I struggle with feeling as though I am not achieving my goals. What a bunch of hooey! That’s a lie straight from you know where. Not true at all.
The truth is that there’s far more to me and to my story than just a number on the scale.
And it would do me good to remember that.
I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. ~2 Timothy 4:7
Celebrate with me. Please share your recent life victories (big & small) below.