Pretty sad during my weight loss journey (advice would be helpful)

Hey all-I could really use some advice and I apologize in advance for the length.

Since late August of 2018, I've been on a weight loss/maintenance journey that began after I realized I'd put on about 100 pounds since high school-though I'd tried at various points to shed some weight here and there in the years since, it wasn't until August of 2018 when I started riding my bike again after years off that I started seeing some good results that continued well into the new year. By this point, I'd made a few changes to my diet, but not a ton-it's safe to say I was still trying to figure all of this out.

Last spring I continued to drop weight and started hitting various goals I'd set for myself, all the while continuing to be more conscious of what I was putting into my body-yet, I wasn't doing anything amazingly drastic like starving myself or anything along those lines. During this time and over the summer I even went on a few trips, where my weight did go up a few pounds but this was understandable when you consider the eating out I was doing and whatnot. Plus, I did always make time to hit a hotel gym or, if possible, bring my bike on the road.

This past September I decided to try something I'd heard a lot about-intermittent fasting. I took to it rather quickly, though it was admittedly difficult having to work it into and around my family's eating schedules. Yet, I was able to adjust, doing the 16:8 method (and, every once in a while, 12:12 if my schedule called for it). I did see some results over the next few months and did hit an all-time low in terms of weight loss right before Thanksgiving, but the holidays ended up being fairly devastating to the ol' waistline, not an uncommon story.

However, it was around this time that I started to become extremely fixated on food, and at one point had a nervous breakdown in front of my wife over my fear that the rest of my life would be spent worrying about my food intake if I wanted to remain healthy and no longer overweight-I was doing this for my family as much as myself, and not only had I seen a noticeable difference in my appearance but a number of ailments I'd acquired from years of weight gain had now vanished as well.

I was worried I was developing an eating disorder, and was similarly worried when a few instances saw me gain a tremendous amount of weight-a few weekends ago, for instance, I went on a short weekend getaway with my wife where we were only gone for two-and-a-half days and I ended up putting on nearly twenty pounds. I know it's water weight, and as it was a vacation I'll admit to indulging, but I did also make some time to workout-that seems like a super high amount to gain and it scares me.

Additionally, I feel like IF has awakened some sort of a binge eating disorder-I've always had a massive appetite, and at 6'7" I feel like I need more fuel than most to feel satiated, but on a number of instances over the past few months I'll break my fast and start raiding the kitchen for anything I can find-another common tale.

I don't know what to do-I'm in the midst of a fast right now and am trying to make an effort to reach that all-time low number again, which I believe to be possible but am legitimately scared that my metabolism has been permanently damaged by years of bad eating or that I may have some kidney disorder that's causing me to retain so much water as of late, or something else dreadful. I do enjoy working out, and I do drink more water than I ever have before, and I do try to stick to healthy eating habits but I worry that the moment I drift away from those whether it's via a cheat day or vacation that I'll do some major damage again. I know countless others have the same issues as me, but since this is the first time I've ever experienced it, I'd love some advice.

I wonder if IF is really for me-I was having good results before I started with IF, in addition to never having to worry as much about eating on vacation like I do now, and I'm debating either changing my IF schedule or ceasing it altogether once I hit that low number again. I know metabolism slows with age, which for someone who used to be both tall as well as skinny with a previously high metabolism has been a bit hard to accept. However, I've been able to make certain changes to somewhat compensate for that slowdown, yet it can be difficult. Facing a lifetime of limiting my caloric intake is a hard pill to swallow, especially after seeing such results and improved health overall. I wish I had enough time to work out more, that might help-whenever I get a good sweat on I always see some good results. I just feel like I'll forever be chasing that goal for the rest of my days. Again, I know this sort of journey can be a life-long thing, but as of right now it's all I think about, having become all-consuming and pretty sad.

This has been a long, rambly post, and I apologize, but as you can see I'm depressed.


  • ElizabethKalmbach
    ElizabethKalmbach Posts: 1,416 Member
    Honestly, it sounds like your deficit is too steep and has become unsustainable. Try actually counting the calories you take in with IF over a week or two and figure out what your deficit is. Figure out what your maintenance calories should be, and work out a sustainable number of calories to eat for weight loss relative to the amount of weight you have left to lose.

    You should probably *also* see your doctor on general principal and describe your concerns. The urge to eat like crazy and water retention may be linked to a vitamin deficiency or hormone imbalance with a relatively simple yet necessary solution. I know I had lots of messed up appetite signalling from low iron and low B12 (one had extra appetite and one had NO appetite) and a ton of water retention every time my thyroid meds aren't right.
  • cheryldumais
    cheryldumais Posts: 1,932 Member
    First of all you have not damaged your metabolism. Speaking with a doctor about your struggle is something you might want to consider. IF worked for me about the way it worked for you. I thought about food all day and felt like I was always starving. For me the best route has been to keep my carbs on the low side and protein on the high side. Eating alot of refined carbs or high starch items seem to set me off on a binge cycle. You might want to try lowering your white carbs (bread, potato, rice, sugar) and eating more lean protein and high fibre veggies. That has really helped me get a handle on my overeating. Good luck
  • janejellyroll
    janejellyroll Posts: 25,878 Member
    What is your deficit?

    When my deficit was too high, I noticed mood swings (especially around food or the thought of it) and an extreme fixation on food. It also became much harder to control myself. I'm not saying that is what is going on with you for sure, but a lot of what you're describing sounds very familiar from the period before I began eating enough.
  • Strudders67
    Strudders67 Posts: 959 Member
    I'm also going to agree with all the comments above.

    Enter your stats to MFP, if you haven't already, select to maintain and then eat that number of calories (plus 50-75% of any exercise calories) for a couple of weeks. Eat with your family or when it suits you best, which probably means forgetting about IF from what you've said. Play around with whether you feel fuller after eating more carbs and less protein & fat vs eating more protein and less carbs & fat etc. It seems most people on this forum tend to find that more protein and less carbs keeps them more satiated, but not everyone is the same.

    After a couple of weeks, reset MFP to lose at a sensible weight loss rate (not necessarily the highest/fastest possible) and eat those calories (plus a percentage of your deliberate exercise calories), with more emphasis on foods that fit your calorie goals and also make you feel fuller for longer. Selecting a slower weight loss rate gives you more calories to play with.

    Like many on here, I'm eating pretty much what I ate before - I just eat less of it. I still eat cakes, biscuits and crisps, just not so many in one day. I still drink wine when I go out, but not usually a whole bottle's worth. I do try to plan snacks and wine in advance, track it and tailor around it. I also find that having to log something makes me think about whether I really want / need it. However, if I still go ahead and then find I'm short of calories, I spend longer in the gym!

    Please do remind yourself about those ailments that have gone away too. Do you want them back? Or are you happier without them? Hopefully a diet break and being able to eat at more normal times will settle your mind.

    I'm sure others will respond, but it would be helpful to know what you weigh now, how tall you are, your age and the magic low number that you're trying to get back to.
  • PAV8888
    PAV8888 Posts: 10,515 Member
    Time to stop the deficits for a few weeks and to eat at maintenance (full diet break).

    Absolutely with what you're describing as binging propensities or symptoms, I believe that most IF schedules would feed into a restrict binge mindset. (I guess a 12:12 centered around sleep might not; though I am not sure whether most IF proponents would consider it IF.)

    you're sort of encountering the same thing I did before I found MFP, after I had successfully lost a little bit of weight by engaging in dieting behavior I was thinking of as long term unsustainable.

    In my case this led to the decision to try to lose weight and engage in behaviour I was thinking I could sustain over the long term.

    and your case it really does look like you need to refrain like somebody mentioned above: truly eating at maintenance just means that you're eating at the level of food you need to maintain a healthy weight.

    It should not feel like punishment to be doing that.

    You may want to look into the idea of being able to eat anything at any point of time. Just not everything at unlimited qualities all the time.

    20 lb in 2 and 1/2 days is pretty substantial. Well I'm sure there's many people in this world for whom such a substantial amount of water retention is normal, until I was sure that it's normal for me I would probably go visit a doctor and try to figure out what caused it...
  • kshama2001
    kshama2001 Posts: 25,584 Member
    If 1982 in your screen name refers to your birth year, you're 38 - it's definitely not your age. Even if you were much older, it's still unlikely to be directly your age, but more being less active and having lost muscle since you were younger.
    I wish I had enough time to work out more, that might help-whenever I get a good sweat on I always see some good results.

    I've seen very few people who didn't actually have the time to work out, and of those, I question their quality of life.
    NovusDies wrote: »
    I almost always gain 20 pounds of water while on vacation. It sucks but for me it is normal. You should see a doctor though and rule out anything more serious.

    I would suggest that you take a 2 week deficit break (aka diet break). Eat your maintenance calories and take a mental and physical rest from losing. This will allow your body to bring your hormone levels back to normal. The other thing that weight loss can dampen is serotonin which, if you don't know, is your "happy" chemical. Since it is winter this may be creating a bit of seasonal affective disorder in you. 2 weeks at maintenance should restore that as well. I am an expert in any of this though so please keep that in mind.

    While it's not true for everyone, exercise certainly gives me "happy" chemicals - another reason to find the time. Exercise has found to be as or more effective than prescription anti-depressants for mild to moderate depression. (I've struggled with depression my whole life and do take Wellbutrin late fall - early spring, but for me regular exercise is indeed more effective.)

    Make sure you eat to fuel your workouts.

    If you do take the two week diet break, think carefully when you choose your weekly weight loss goal when you resume. Under eating can definitely trigger over eating.

  • ReenieHJ
    ReenieHJ Posts: 9,396 Member
    edited March 2020
    Great advice and input!! I wish you much luck into overcoming your depression and getting back to your healthier feelings/way of living. I've often wondered if IF would work better for me but know that realistically it wouldn't. I can certainly see myself consumed with food thoughts if I knew I couldn't eat and that is very counter-productive. As someone else suggested(after you take a bit of a diet break to readjust your body/mind) try some other methods that might prove to be easier for you. What worked before just might not be the right thing for you now! No harm in doing something different.

    I need to have something to eat every 2-3 hours or I feel shaky and start obsessing about it. I can handle going that long not eating as long as I know I can have a mini-meal in such a short time. I try to make 90% of what I do eat, a healthy choice. And check out the volume eaters threads. I eat a LOT of veggies to help fill me up.

    Good luck!!!! And yes, if this is bothering you enough to share it with us here, talk to a professional that you trust, and can actually understand, see what they can offer you. If you have a dr. who'd merely say 'eat a carrot' then find someone else. I did have a PCP who suggested I snack on carrots instead of brownies. Oh wow, never would've thought of that angle!! :/

    BTW, I've had 2 binge days out of the past week but have not weighed myself until I "feel" like I'm closer to where I was before. Off days/weeks WILL happen but I know in order for me to not return to where I was, which was up to 100 lbs. more, I need to stay on the relatively straight and narrow most of the time.