Skinny Daily Post


On Sundays I often run a 9 mile route through the hills and valleys of San Francisco. There’s a spot at the end of mile 8, after I’ve crested the highest hill and I’m running downwards, where I have tripped up –literally and figuratively– several times. Once I fell hard enough to tear my sweats. Another time I hit a curb wrong and twisted my ankle. And today I nearly ran through a red light into an oncoming car.

I think what happens at that point in the run is that I begin to feel so strong and powerful, I begin to sense that I’m closing in on the finish, and I have a sort of euphoric ‘wow I’ve done it again’ feeling, that I temporarily lose a little of my cautionary sense. Temporary insanity, if you will.

On Friday, I went to get my official weight and was amazed and delighted to see that I had reached my lowest point in 18 months, almost a half pound UNDER my personal goal. But Friday was also my last day at my old job, and I was going through a lot of emotions that day. In addition, there have been a few things simmering on the home front that I’ve been working through that have felt rather stressful.

As a result, I overate on Friday, and on Saturday it was a virtual free-for-all. Twice during the weekend I ate so much that I felt a little ill, but I wanted to keep on going. As a result, when I hopped on the scale for a little reality check today, the number wasn’t pretty.

I think these two scenarios have a lot in common. For one thing, there is a sense of accomplishment and strength that I get when I’ve reached a goal which is so powerful that it can blind me a little. For another thing, they demonstrate that sometimes we can keep stumbling (literally) over the same blocks, even when we think we’ve ‘changed for good.’

My favorite definition of insanity is ‘repeating the same experiment over and over but expecting different results.’ And in fact, this is apparently what’s been going on. I know from the past that I’m most likely to trip after I’ve peaked the highest hill.

For my running route, I’m going to have to consider changing the particular segment where I keep losing it. Perhaps adding a little unfamiliar territory will keep me awake.

As for my goal weight and eating habits, I’m not so sure. I know that despite my good intentions and my desire to ‘be cured’ that I’ll always have to be careful around food and emotions.

In the meantime, I’m going to do what I always do at mile 8. I’m going to pick myself up, dust myself off, scan carefully in both directions, and keep going.

9 thoughts on “Temporary Insanity

  1. Mercury says:

    Hey J, I just moved to San Francisco from New York, and I am amazed at how many runners I see… running on concrete. That is SO terrible for your knees. Do you have a special place to run, or do you pound away on the sidewalks?


  2. Andrea says:

    Jonathan, it amazes me how time and again you can bring clarity and insight into subjects that hit us so directly. You perfectly described what I’ve been going through the last two months. I hit mile 8 at the beginning of the year, and since then it seems I’ve been running around in circles, trying to get myself back on track. I haven’t fallen too far behind, but I haven’t gone forward, either.
    And to be honest, it actually made me feel a little better about myself to know I’m not the only one who stumbles and falls. At least we keep getting back up, brush ourselves off, and try our hardest to finish the run.
    This post was JUST what I needed this morning. Thank you so much!

  3. stretchy says:

    I like your definition of insanity… Our lives are full of repeat experiments… maybe we are just hoping there will be some new outcome each time we do it again. If donuts made us thinner and more healthy, we’d probably lose our taste for them pretty fast, and seek out something fattening or “forbidden”.

    I read that in order for little kids to accept a new food, it has to be introduced TEN times, and didn’t you say once that you have to tell somebody something MANY times before they actually HEAR /GET what you said ? well, maybe we need to try the same lousy experiment until we get what it means to cheat ourselves, rather than our diet? I don;t know…

  4. Greta says:

    I think your story shows how hard maintenance is. When we are above goal weight and trying to get down we have the goal firmly in mind. When we get to goal we have “arrived” and as a result our “goal” is less clear. We see the goal weight on the scale and say to ourselves “party time”. When I attend a weight loss group and get weighed in it frequently causes me to want to go out and overeat. I feel that the inspirational lecture I have just heard should keep me on track but instead when I see the progress on the scale and I know I will not be weighed officially for another week I want to have “a party in my mouth”. Odd, isn’t it?

  5. Nancy says:

    I found this site while surfing quite a while ago and am amazed at the wisdom I find here. Thank you for opening your life and sharing parts of your journey. I have been reading the archives and have gotten so much from you, Juju and Jane. Although I have yet to commit to a plan long enough to produce steady results, I want you to know that each entry I read helps to clear yet another cobweb from my mind. And even though I am hesitant to make another committment (because there have been so many failures)I am moving and gathering my strength to take the whole weight loss thing on again. After 24 years of obesity, and numerous starts and stops, how does one begin again? How do I even begin to take myself seriously? I feel the potential within me to lose weight and keep it off through a life-long committment to health–it’s right there bubbling just under the surface, but I honestly don’t know where to start and what to promise myself. See, I don’t want to break any more promises that I’ve made to myself. I am so weary of doing that. Any suggestions would be helpful and much appreciated.


  6. Josie says:

    Oh my goodness. I too have experienced this same confidence whenever I reach a weight loss goal and despite knowing better, I reward myself…with food. Crazy, isn’t it? In fact,I just chronicled this in my own blog today- (You don’t have to post that last part, I’m not trying to sneak a plug in here). You have an amazing way of always being able to tap into what so many of us are feeling, thank you for that! PS- You even motivated me to get those frozen bags of veggies from Costco! 😉

  7. Deirdre says:

    After 24 years of obesity, and numerous starts and stops, how does one begin again? How do I even begin to take myself seriously? I feel the potential within me to lose weight and keep it off through a life-long committment to healthits right there bubbling just under the surface, but I honestly dont know where to start and what to promise myself. See, I dont want to break any more promises that Ive made to myself. I am so weary of doing that. Any suggestions would be helpful and much appreciated.

    What has worked for me (so far) is making small, concrete goals. Later, I added more goals. I started with walking the dogs every day. After a while, I added going to the gym three days a week. Eventually, I added more walking on the days I don’t go to the gym. I started eating whole grains instead of refined ones whenever possible. I made sure I ate fruits and/or vegetables at every meal. I started making open faced sandwiches. These are not big things, but they add up. I recognized that birthdays and holidays happen and I indulge, but go back to eating properly the next day. The weight has not come off quickly, and I’m okay with that. I’ve got a lifestyle I can live with long term. Start with something simple; like giving up soda. See how that goes. Then add something else. On the right hand side of this screen, under references, click on Just remember that it won’t happen overnight and don’t get discouraged.

  8. Allyson says:

    This post is timely for me too. I was starting to feel a little cocky over my success and excercise routine and allowing myself more treats. I am up a couple of pounds but am comfortable with a 5 lb range. Unfortunately, I injured my knee over the weekend and have to readjust everything for a lower (hopefully temporary) activity level. Jonathan – I just want to remind you to stay off the scale until at least Friday don’t be concerned about fluctuations within the week. 🙂

  9. london slimmer says:

    I couldn’t agree more with Deirdre’s comments. Everyone is different, but what works for me and helps me to stay motivated at maintenance (where I am now) was coming up with a diet which I would be happy with long-term, not just whilst I was trying to lose weight. For me, personally, this meant not dieting on too few calories a day (I went for 1,600 – but a different number/approach might work better for you) and getting into good habits like working out 3 times a week, walking and dancing (which I LOVE). It also meant planning for occasional splurges and special-occasion meals, at which I eat whatever I like, and thinking in terms of meals, not days – i.e. if I ‘break’ my diet by overeating, I get back on track at the very next meal, or snack and have the same number of calories I normally would. The other key for me has been to continue calorie counting, weighing and measuring, despite the fact that I’ve been on maintenance for a couple of years now and eat around 1,950 cals per day. It’s a little anal and boring – but it does get easier as you quickly become a human calorie-calculator. After an initial period of regaining after I had that euphoric goal weight craziness, I’ve kept my weight stable for 2 years now, but actually it’s been much harder than the dieting part.

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