The anatomy of a backslide

y intersectionThis feels like a crucial moment.  Right now.  I feel as if I’ve reached a crossroads.

For the last 16 months I have experienced a spiritual and physical transformation.  From January 2012 through June 2013 I lost 80 pounds.  By paying closer attention to what I ate, and dramatically increasing my exercise, I transformed my body.  I went from size 44 pants to having some 38 pants feel big.  My XXXL t-shirts now look like garbage bags on me.  My doctor stopped my cholesterol medicine.  My blood pressure has gone down.  According to this chart, my resting heart-rate is “Excellent.”  As I have undergone this physical transformation, I have also experienced a spiritual renewal.  My writing, preaching, and prayer life improved.  I found new energy, focus, and drive.  I discovered my mission statement to Love God, Live Well, and Do Good.

My work at church blossomed with new relationships, avenues of ministry, and a vision to create a new participatory worship experience.  My blogging life expanded with the launching of the Pulpit Fiction podcast.  I was invited to speak at the Lion and Lamb Festival, and I felt a need to open a FP Shop.

As I got my personal discipline in order, it felt as if all the other pieces were falling into place as well.  People started asking me if I was going to change the name of this blog.  I kept the name for various reasons.  I never considered that one reason might have been the unconscious fear that this was all temporary.

The world of weight loss and fitness is littered with stories of people losing weight, transforming their bodies, saving their very lives, only to backslide. Many people have shared stories with me about their own adventures in yo-yo weight loss.  I promised myself that it would not happen to me.   Last summer I had an extended plateau.  This was expected.  After losing about 30 pounds in three months, I spent the summer months gaining 2 pounds.  When school started in the fall, I rededicated myself to working out and tracking my calories, and I promptly lost another 40.  When I reached my first goal weight of 260, I kept going.  At the end of the school year, I dipped under 250.

Then the backslide started. This is how it happened:

The school year ended, disrupting my routine.  During the school year, my workout time was built into my day.  I dropped my daughter off at school, I went to the gym, then I went to work.  Four days a week I had a built in date with the gym.  I ran three days a week for nine months. As I approached my first 10-mile race at the end of May, I was running about 15 miles a week.

Annual Conference and Vacation Bible School.  In addition to the lack of routine, I had two major events disrupt my whole schedule.  These two week-long events in June took up an inordinate amount of my time.  I could have gotten to the gym before sessions.  I could have gone for runs after VBS.  I didn’t.  Instead I spent two weeks active, but with virtually no cardio vascular exercise.

I stopped tracking.  Lose It! is a great tool for counting calories, but it is a pain.  My weight loss started almost immediately after using it.  Last summer I stopped using it for awhile, and stopped losing weight almost immediately.

I didn’t gain weight.  After two weeks of not working out and not using Lose It, and amazing thing happened.  I actually dropped a couple of pounds.

At the Railroad Days 5K, I placed second in my age group with a time of 26:28.

At the Railroad Days 5K, I placed second in my age group with a time of 26:28.

I ran fast.  Since June 1, I’ve run four times.  One of those runs was a 5K that I finished in 26:28, my personal best.  I also won a prize for my age group in that race, a first for me.  I ran another 5K on the treadmill this week in about 26:30.  It turns out that my fitness level is at a place that it could sustain a short break.

The Fourth of July.  Two cookouts.  Lots of bratwurst, chips, baked beans, creamy cole slaw, chips, cookies, pop, beer, and chips.  Did I mention that I ate a lot of chips in the last week?

The combination of events created in me a sense of complacency.  After almost a year and a half of changing habits, it took about four weeks for me to slip.  This morning I found that I have gained 10 pounds in the last two weeks.  What’s worse than the weight is how I feel.  For the first time in months, I feel fat.  I feel tired.  I feel like making bad choices.  I feel like staying home is easier than going for a run.  I feel like getting a quarter-pounder is better than making myself a grilled chicken salad.  I put off getting up early to get to the gym.  I put off tracking my food, and working hard to stay under budget.  I put off working on refocusing the mission of this blog.  I put off planning a new way to experience worship.  I put off trying to change the world and settled for less.  It has only been a couple of weeks, but it ends today.

I share this because I’ve been told I inspire people.  I am constantly humbled when people say that to me.  Today I offer not inspiration, but a warning.  Backsliding happens.  It happens slowly, sometimes imperceptibly.  It happens when we get busy, or when routine gets disrupted.  It happens even when we’re feeling fine, and all outwards signs indicate everything is going well.

Right now I’m struggling.  I’m tired.  I’m a little worried.  Yet I never thought this would be easy.  I’m not ready to give up now.  I’m not going back to the person I was, for I have been made new by the power of the Holy Spirit.  I’m confessing my weakness, and I’m praying for guidance and endurance.  I believe God can still use me despite my recent backslide.  God’s still working on me.  God and I have new goals and a new plan.  Today, right now, I have a new chance to love God, live well, and do good.

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Filed under Fitness, Personal Reflection

14 responses to “The anatomy of a backslide

  1. MaryLynne

    You can do it, Rob. Overeaters Anonymous is what has helped me keep it off for 20 years.

  2. The Rev. Cori Olson

    Thank you. I gained back all of my weight and I remember the moment you’re at now and I did not decide. I know what happens. I’m getting ready to start again. May God bless you as you make that commitment again to God, to yourself, to your family and to your church.
    I want to add one thing though, not to be discouraging, but to be faithful. You are loved no matter if you succeed or not. You are valuable no matter what you weigh.

  3. I know that when I eat the wrong kinds of foods, my energy level goes down and complacency sets in, but as long as I am eating salads and proteins, my energy level stays elevated, and I get more done. Backslides will happen, but as long as we get back on track, we’re ok! Keep it up, you’re doing great!

  4. You are an inspiration to me on so many levels I couldn’t even begin to explain in a blog comment. But posts like this are part of why. Stuff happens and we backslide in our goals. But the only way to get past them is pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and know that today is a new day bursting with potential. You can do this. And thanks for sharing your journey with us.

  5. Nina

    The fact that you are acknowledging it and doing something to stop it is amazing. I’m so proud of you…not because you’ve lost 80 pounds (tho I am), but because you get up every time you fall and strive to be better, even though you are already awesome. You rule buddy, and I love you!

  6. Thanks for sharing your story, for reminding us that a temporary slip doesn’t have to be permanent. I will pray that God will wake you early and restore your motivation to get up and at ’em. You rock!

  7. How courageous of you to admit some backsliding. Anyone that brave is surely able to get back on track and you surely will. You are one of my heroes.
    Bless you, Deanne

  8. joan m

    will be praying for you to get back on your healthy living.. I know it isn’t easy. But with God’s help you can do it. Love you MOM

  9. I think the “backslide” isn’t necessarily about the chips. It’s the shame you’re putting on yourself and the guilt you’re allowing yourself to feel. Negative breeds negative, I know this very well – I’ve had many backslides in my young due to too many unwelcome incidences. The more I shame myself, the more I slide. This philosophy is why I follow you – in your faith it seems you believe God is all about encouragement, hopefulness, love and pride. I think we all need to endeavor to the type of Godliness in order to live well, love God, and do good. I feel the need to use the overused, but more applicable in this case than most: practice what you preach! You’re worth it!

  10. Cat R

    Maintenance is the hardest part once you get where you are and years of caving to your indulgences IS at the root of your dilemma. First of all… tell yourself, going back to the old ‘comfort’ habits… are Not an option! (period)… Know that you are ‘getting up’… throwing away that junk food, that’s not even food.’ btw… double your water intake and add some new spices or flavors to your ‘New person’ eating habits. Stretch more… Psych yourself out and put MAINTENANCE at the top of your priorities… just under God. Know your commitment is cement, unbending, you may feel sick, weak, depressed, sore, achy, sorry for yourself so much you want to give yourself a break, but you KNOW it’s a trick… DO NOT CAVE. it will be soooo easy to slip down that slippery slope, but you WON’T. Don’t feel like doing the right thing today? GET UP AND DO IT ANYWAY… argue with yourself all the way to the sink to wash that lettuce… shut up and eat it… get some fresh air to relax in, find a new route to walk or bike… double your exercise (whether you actually do or not, is not as important as ramping up your INTENTION to do so)… boredom is a commitment killer… You’ve GOT THIS AND GOD’S GOT your back. Go! Now… that said, if you can’t get yourself there… and you do cave… stuff yourself to feel good because things are stressful in life (that’s where I am right now – lost 70 lbs a couple yrs ago, couldn’t hack it when family crisis and stress marched into my life, I gained it all back plus 20) and this SUCKS. BEING FAT IS HORRIBLE, WHEN YOU REALLY JUST WANT TO BE AVERAGE SIZED. People can’t help it, when you are obese, you get less attention and often less respect. It’s a barrier to being affective at delivering the gifts of the Spirit you want to share with others. A STRONG VESSEL MAKES A WORTHY PLACE FOR THE HOLY SPIRIT TO DWELL. Don’t give Satan a laugh due to your weakness. Not today. Not like I did… I totally caved, I’m feeling punished and overpowered by my weakness. I need inspiration. Your experience inspires me and I need to listen to my own preaching!!! It’s hard for me right now where I am… I”m back where I was and worse… YOU DON’T HAVE TO COME BACK HERE!!! STAY THE LINE… OWN IT! 1 Corinthians 9:27 – But I keep under my body, and bring [it] into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (Now I’m printing this out to put on my refrigerator) Peace and Love brother… in Jesus’ name… Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

  11. jabez7540

    I had my first heart attack when I was 40. Pain started shooting down my left arm. I instantly prayed, ‘Lord, change my attiutde about eating and exercise. To be concise, I lost 65 pousnds and thanks to God alone, it has stayed off. I hope to be 80 this month. I watch my diet and get what ever exercise my back, hip and right leg allow. God did not promise a pain free existence. I can see my future—a nursing home. lol

    95% of people who try to stop anything, backslide as you call it. God is the only reason I have kept the weight off and am alive.

    I wish you well. Losing weight and getting in shape does open up many other opportunities to serve Christ.


  12. What an amazing transformation. It inspires me to want to do some exercise and lose weight as well. Please, please, please do not give up and stay at it. I came across this post by accident as it was recommended to me on wordpress and I am glad it was. I wish you all the best and look forward to reading in future updates about how you are on back on track again. You can do it!
    Also, Jabez7540, congratulations on making the changes in your life when you did and sticking with it. You are also an inspiration.
    Love and blessings to you all,

  13. Brenda

    From a fellow backslider – I feel your pain. We should do better shouldn’t we? May God bless you richly as your honesty has blessed me already. I am lifting up a prayer tonight for every fellow backslider (of every sort). Praise God that our unworthiness is met with God’s Grace!

  14. Pingback: So, what do you do when you fall short of a goal? | The Fat Pastor

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