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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By Lori Nickel, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (TNS)

MILWAUKEE — I don’t know what is wrong with me, but I have hit a wall I can’t climb over or run around.

I am in this netherworld right now, amid fighting for my health and fitness, battling my sugar addiction and getting in my exercise _ and just accepting that I’m always going to tip the scale in a direction I don’t like.

I swing on that pendulum pretty regularly, but I almost always try to pick myself up, dust myself off and fight for another day.

Right now I’m stuck. Doldrums. Neither here nor there.

I recently completed a 12-week weight loss program at my gym where I actually gained weight. I am a little worried that the next time I go back, the trainers will pull my membership card and tell me to go to Planet Fitness.

My struggles are even more frustrating because I write this health and fitness column, for crying out loud, and when I set up my interviews, I have to warn people in advance to not expect someone skinny when they meet me.

I even have my lines rehearsed: “I like working out _ as much as I like chocolate.”

And: “I lost 40 pounds with Weight Watchers. And I kept 30 of them off.”

Here’s the deal: Three years ago I joined a weight loss program at my gym, added a lot more strength training to my existing cardio routine, dropped two pants sizes and got to a weight that was good for my height and age, even if I didn’t appreciate that at the time since I thought I still had more to lose.

It was not my first dive into our culture of weight loss.

Ever since it’s been a battle to hold my ground, especially in the winters, when I always gain around 5-10 pounds. Last summer I dropped them in training for the Spartan Sprint. This summer they’re still here.

Instead of going to the gym five or six times a week, I go three. Instead of going for a six-mile jog, I take a three-mile walk.

My MP3 player and my Fitbit One died in the same week, and so did all the motivation I had to resist the naughties at the Wisconsin State Fair and the brownies at the PGA Championship. MyFitnessPal has unfriended me.

If you think 5 or 10 pounds isn’t something to freak out about, just ask anyone who has ever lost significant amounts of weight. They know that 5 can turn to 10 on one long vacation and 10 can turn to 15 by the Super Bowl.

So I start each day at my closet; one side has the skinny clothes, the other side has the baggy ones. These twins fight every day.

I’m mostly burned out from tracking what I eat in my food journals. Dieters know how important this accountability is _ “If you bite it, you write it” _ but my food diaries feel like another form of punishment, not an educational tool.

And now my failings and imperfections have turned me in to a head case. So, when I skip a day at the gym, I feel guilty, not rested. When I eat something unhealthy, I feel guilty, not treated. It leaves me stuck in the middle, not winning, not fighting, nothing.

You can imagine what a treat I am to be around to my family and closest circle of friends. One of them even wondered if we had anything to talk about other than food and working out.

I’ve always wondered if there’s an obsessive compulsive nature about dieting, but right now the line for me is blurred between self-awareness and self-absorption.

These are unchartered waters for me. I am active. I have made monumental lifestyle changes that I still practice. I am trying to do the right things.

But in some ways, I am tired. I am weary. And I am taking a break. I wrote this sitting on the couch with a big bowl of chips, watching the Jim Gaffigan Show (I think we’re related).

What that means, exactly? I don’t know. The elite athletes I cover all have their own ways to fight off a slump. But what about the rest of us?

From the expert

“Everybody deals with this,” said Corey Paszkiewicz, the owner and head trainer at CrossFit Oak Creek. He’s a weightlifter, bodybuilder and credentialed personal trainer. “I struggle with this all the time, too. Here are a couple of things I do:

“One. Write down your goals. They have to be written down in order for it to work. If they are not written down, then they really do not exist.

“Two. I am a big believer in setting big goals. Often times people do not set goals big enough. They set small goals, reach it and then have nothing else to look forward to or train for. Set goals that seem slightly out of reach. Even if you fall short you will still be further ahead than you would be if you set a smaller goal.

“Three. Make them realistic. This is not to be confused with setting goals out of reach. What I mean by realistic is setting something that you can physically commit to that would be realistic. For example, an unrealistic goal is to lose 50 pounds in 30 days. While it could be possible for someone who has a few hundred pounds to lose, it is not realistic for most people. Another example of an unrealistic goal would be to start a workout program of training six to seven days a week when you have never worked out before. Be realistic.

“Four. Also set small frequent goals, for each day, week, month, and then in three months, six months and a year. Setting the smaller goals help stay on track and you can celebrate the ‘wins’ each day and week. With the end in mind, that will help people stay on track.

“Five. When those do not work and you are still in a slump, I re-write-down my goals and re-evaluate them. I ask myself if what I am doing will move me closer or further away from my goals. If it is going to move me further away from my goals, I do not do that.

“Six. Find a coach and a mentor. At CrossFit Oak Creek we have a great support system where we help and teach people to be accountable. Every successful person has a coach and mentor. All professional athletes train and work out with other people as well. It’s all about the accountability. You can only get so far by yourself and most people are not self-motivated. Even though I am very self motivated and knowledgeable in fitness, I have made most of my gains and successes working in groups and finding accountability partners. I network with other professionals and surround myself with others that are more successful. It holds me to a higher standard and helps me push myself and stay on track.”

(c)2015 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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