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Overcoming pitfalls on the journey

Written by Amber Bignell

Published on Aug 23rd, 2016

The road to success doesn’t always go up

Guest blogger: Jasmine Alisa McArthur

Sometimes, life slams you like a hurricane. Schedules and obligations fly every which way. You just keep going and going and going trying to keep up with everything. You're sure you’re forgetting or neglecting something, no matter how hard you try to keep up with it all, and you just can’t wait to get home and CRASH!

That was my life this last week.

This past weekend Eli graduated with Honors from Brigham Young University with a bachelors degree in Physics-Astronomy. Nearly all of Eli’s immediate family came to support him in this huge accomplishment.

Festivities began Thursday with a formal luncheon hosted by the Honors program, where Eli received his medallion. The food was divine. The first course was a delectable salad. Wanting to fill up on the healthy salad, I ate a second small plate that was served at an empty seat. The main course followed... a cut of pork served over a bed of couscous and a side of summer squash. I had a couple of bites of couscous, but gave the rest to my husband. (It wasn’t a huge loss… The couscous was poorly seasoned.) Then came dessert... A luscious looking chocolate layered cake with a berry sauce… A formidable temptation. I scooted my cake to the far side of the table, out of reach (but never out of sight!) and told Eli that he could help himself. I felt so proud of myself for saying NO to dessert! I really, really love dessert. Chocolate makes life so colorful and blissful. Life would be dull and depressing without desserts. So that chocolate cake… That was a BIG DEAL.

Friday morning Eli received his diploma. Ceremonies were followed by another luncheon, this time hosted by the Physics department. This luncheon was buffet-style, with many tempting options piled on multiple tables spanning an entire room. It was food heaven. Once again though, I held firm. I filled my plate with a large salad and a side of fruit, then grabbed a half-scoop of mashed potatoes and beef gravy, a broccoli salad, and a bowl of cottage cheese topped with a pineapple ring. 

Obviously, my eyes were MUCH bigger than my stomach (as always). I finished my salad, the watermelon and the strawberries. I ate half of the broccoli salad and all of the mashed potatoes and gravy. I put the small plate of veggies in a plastic bag and saved it for later (what a good snack!). I didn’t even touch the cottage cheese. (Why did I even grab that? I hate cottage cheese… The pineapple and cherry just looked too cute.) 

Once again… I 100% avoided the dessert table! So many temptations… Banana cream pie, cheesecake mousse, chocolate mousse, chocolate-covered almonds, chocolate chip cookies… I said NO to everything! Man though… That banana cream pie looked so good.

Saturday the whole family gathered at the Provo Recreation Center to celebrate Eli’s birthday. There were sandwiches and bagels and cream cheese… But I ate veggies and cheese sticks and fruit. And of course… We had cake and ice cream. Once again… I did not have my own serving! (Confession time: For the first time that weekend, I caved and had a single bite of cake and ice cream from my sister’s plate. But it was just one bite, and then I said I was satisfied, I had at least tried Eli’s birthday cake. I probably shouldn’t have had that bite though…)

Now bear in mind, Thursday morning I weighed 235.4 lbs. By Sunday morning, I weighed 236.6 lbs. For sure. No mistakes. No technical errors. I stepped on my scale twice, just to make sure it wouldn’t change its mind and go down a bit. It stayed at 236.6. How had I gained weight? I had tried so hard, made so many good choices, sacrificed on so many glorious opportunities to eat so much chocolate… And I still gained weight! Ugh! I was frustrated.

But no, it doesn’t stop there. On Monday, Eli wanted to get his free birthday burger at Red Robins. By the way, Red Robins serves a mouth-watering Luau burger with a steaming surgery-sweet slab of pineapple and scrumptious BBQ Hawaiian sauce. It is one of my favorite burgers ever. But I prevailed. I ordered grilled chicken with salad. And, I felt so proud of myself for making smart menu choices. Before bmiSMART, I would never have dreamed of walking into Red Robin and ordering anything besides my pineapple burger.

PS: I didn’t even finish the entire chicken. I ate one breast and saved the second for lunch the next day.

The rest of the week flew by in a scurry of classes, smoothies, salads, plums, cheese-cubes-on-the-run, workouts, morning jogs, and coming home past 10pm exhausted and sore and collapsing in bed.

But guess what? I was still gaining weight!

How. Was. This. Happening. 

By Thursday I weighed 237 lbs. I was eating well, jogging in the morning, I worked out with my personal trainer on Tuesday, and I was walking more than ever. But still. I was not losing. I was gaining. I felt so discouraged. 

Tuesday, I had my weekly weigh-in for the bmiSMART Real Women Real Results weight-loss contest. Embarrassed that I had gained weight from the previous week, I didn't want to weigh-in. I was sure I was the only one in the contest going up instead of down. Others in the bmiSMART Facebook group, which usually felt like such a support and source of motivation and inspiration, now felt like a source of guilt and disappointment. How could I admit I had been gaining weight. It was hard to feel positive about my journey when others in the group were losing 5 lbs a week on I-REMOVE. 

Thursday afternoon I was able to talk to my nutritionist. She helped me so much to understand that women’s bodies are different, we all adjust to nutritional changes at a different pace, and I shouldn’t discount the many personal victories I had achieved this past week by avoiding all those treats and making wise food choices. She told me to hang in there, and not to give up. I was so glad to hear those words. Really, sometimes all you need is for someone else to tell you that you’re doing good and to keep on going.

Later that day, I saw a motivational poster that really spoke to me and how I had been feeling that week. I couldn’t find it online, so I drew it up myself:

Friday, I decided not to weigh myself. I wanted to have a positive day, and I knew that the scale could start me off on the wrong emotional track. I went on my usual morning jog at 7am, had an egg burrito in a wheat tortilla for breakfast, went to two morning classes, had an Epic meat bar and carrot sticks for a lunch-on-the-go, worked out, had a large salad and a chicken breast for dinner, finished the night with more classes, and finally came home and crashed around 10:30pm. 

I felt a lot better Friday. I had no clue what I weighed, but I tried not to think about it too much. I pushed myself during my morning jog and during my workout. I ate as well as I could, considering my busy schedule. I drank all 120 oz of my recommended water intake. I enjoyed my classes, enjoyed the warm weather, and enjoyed the time I spent with Eli that evening. My spirits were up and I felt confident — for the first time that week — about my weight loss progress. And I had no clue if I had made any progress at all!

Saturday morning, I was too curious and had to check the scale. And guess what? I weighed 233 lbs! You can imagine the elation I felt seeing those digits flashing back at me. Finally, progress!

So if you’re having a tough week, don’t give up. Tough weeks happen. Just keep going. Keep drinking lots of water. Keep eating healthy and well. Keep taking your bmiSMART. Take a break from the scale. Progress will happen. Progress isn’t a straight uphill path; sometimes it takes an unexpected turn. The important thing is to never give up. As Dory would say, “Just keep swimming!”