Why I Fail at Fitness

I, like many of you, woke up January 1st believing my time to lose the flab had arrived. I meant it, too. I started walking, cutting back on seconds, sweets and booze, and even mustered the courage to do a weekly weigh-in and tape measurement of my inches.

It was going so good, until it wasn’t. After small losses at the scales, week three rolled around and I was on a plateau. No inches lost, no pounds dropped. And what did this self-proclaimed fat girl do with her dismay? I ate it. Then I slept with it. My emotional boost came in the form of grilled hot Italian sausages on soft white buns, old-fashioned glazed donuts, and the ultimate in feel-good food: homemade fried chicken and waffles with real maple syrup and extra butter. To help aid my digestion, I curled up in my soft bed under a down-feather quilt with the remote control on my side. I limited my walking, and then stopped altogether. All the while, I kept telling myself, “You’re good, Bryanne. No worries. This won’t impact you.”

I tried to give myself an intervention by signing up for two workout classes, twice a week at my college, worth credit hours, meaning I couldn’t cheat. Then I read the syllabus: “Must not miss more than five classes.”

Here’s how I read that sentence: “You can miss five whole classes!” I’m at week 6 now and I’ve missed 3 work-out sessions. It reminds of an internet Bill Gates quote floating around that I’m not sure he actually said, but I like: “I always find a lazy person to do a difficult job, because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.” I think he was talking about me.

Since January 1st, I’ve lost a total of fourteen pounds and dropped a whopping 10.25 inches. Sounds great, right? I guess I should mention that since January 1st, I’ve also regained eight pounds and added back 5.5 inches. I believe what I have accomplished is the definition of yoyo-dieting. Apparently my gravitational potential energy (sorry for getting all science-y on you) didn’t have enough “tug” to keep my fitness momentum going.

Here’s an anecdote: Six or so years ago, we bought a Wii Fit to help me get in shape. I was all for it in the beginning, until I gained a few pounds and the robotic female voice asked me why. The option “because I like food and detest sweating, dummy” was not available. The avatar that represented me on the screen swelled around the midsection. I was humiliated. I avoided the Wii for a week, and then when I returned, the voice scolded me. Somehow, the Wii Fit Pad, required for the program to work, broke. We still haven’t found the time to replace it…

Here is why I think I keep failing at fitness: I don’t take myself seriously. I don’t value the years of medical research that tell me excess weight, especially the weight around my midsection, is dangerous to my health. While I learned years ago to give up McDonalds (don’t mess with my Taco Bell, though) and to stop adding sugar to my coffee, the idea that my weight and my lack of fitness could impact my longevity doesn’t reach the motherboard. In some strange, alternate universe, my fitness mentality is like a raging hormonal teenager who thinks, “I’m invincible.”
If there is an answer to my fitness dilemma, it has to be deeper than eat healthy and exercise. It has to attack the faulty wiring inside my brain that convinces me another frosted donut isn’t as dangerous as drugs, or that it’s okay to rest in bed when I’ve got nothing else to do.
Did you ever see the movie, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind?” I did. I loved it. Emotionally wrought lovers chose to have their memories of one another erased, completely eradicated, so that they could go on living without longing for the other anymore. Popcorn in hand, crying over that movie, I wished I could lobotomize the part of my brain that turns to saturated fats and fluffy pillows. If I never knew how much I enjoyed self-indulgence, maybe I could find my inner fitness darling, the one who would make that robotic Wii drill-instructor proud of my accomplishments.

Then my epicurean, hedonistic brain starts buzzing and I think of how delicious slow braised, fatty cuts of meat taste, and the burning ache in my calves when I’m on the elliptical trainer, and how my idea of heaven is laying naked on a soft, white bed, while twenty muscled-male hands work out every kink my body has ever had. Pleasure vs. Pain. “Ouch” loses every time.

That my friends, is why I fail at fitness. I’m wired for gratification and quite possibly suffer from an extreme allergy to any form of asceticism. It’s not a matter of fullness, or energy, or ignorance. It’s that I love how I live, even if the results aren’t as lovable.

So, what is your fitness dilemma? Have you been able to overcome a chronic case of indulgence? Help a Flickster out, or at least commiserate with me. I’ll bring the chicken.