Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Every once in a while it happens, I actually accomplish a long-standing goal. Now and then I finish writing a book, actually follow through the arduous process of getting it published or publishing it myself. I have file folders with all my unfinished manuscripts in them, calling out to me, reminding me that time is ticking away.
It is good to have physical reminders of our goals. One physical reminder I have had of one of my goals is clothes in my closet in a smaller size--either timeless or vintage or "if-I-can-fit-into-this-again-I-don't-give-a-flying-fig-whether-it-is-still-in-style." The fact that I have hung onto those clothes has always been my way of telling myself that I would someday conquer my weight problem and once again reach a healthy weight.
I live on the Big Island of Hawaii, and though I am not proud to admit this, at my heaviest, I actually qualifed for a beauty contest they have here called "Mrs. Big." You have to weigh at least 200 pounds before you can enter. I hedged my bets by going a little over, to 206. (You never know when you're going to break a sweat and disqualify yourself.) I love living on an island where women truly do celebrate being big and beautiful. Hula dancers of all sizes compete and perform, and I love seeing graceful large women who aren't obsessing about being a size 2, who truly love themselves as they are.
But I also know that it isn't healthy physically when you are carrying extra weight and mentally when you find it hard to be content with your appearance. When I told my husband of my "achievement," that I qualified to enter the contest, he thwarted my ambitions by telling me. "It is 200 to enter but at least 300 to win." My hopes dashed, I took myself in hand and reduced to 194, a mere fraction of my former self. (Yes, 95/100ths IS a fraction.)
I will spare you all the ups and downs of my weight loss journey over the years, since I have been dieting since high school, but one thing that proved significant and has impeded my weight loss was a pregnancy where I was stricken with severe morning sickness, losing thirty pounds in the first few months and eventually needing to be fed intravenously to stay alive. I carried that baby for five-and-a-half months. Losing the baby prompted some stress eating, and food tasted really good after months of being unable to eat anything less bland than baby rice cereal or a plain baked potato. Eventually, however, I got control of the stress eating, but I continued to gain weight more easily than ever before. When I tried to explain this to my doctor and told him I could not control my weight, he said, "You mean you can't control your appetite?" That just made me mad, and I gave up trying to get him to understand. Yes, Doctor, I understand the cause and effect of eating a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts and the increasing number on the scale. I realize now that the pregnancy severely unbalanced my metabolism in my early thirties.
The struggle worsened once I was past fifty and into the grandmotherly years. My body would not let go of those important fat stores lest there should be another "famine." I decided to accept the fact that nature had decreed that women no longer of child-bearing age should be unattractive to virile males to ensure the survival of the species. I became somewhat reconciled to the fact that grandmothers should just accept that as the years go by they are going to look more like Mrs. Potato Head and less like Miss Universe, if ever they did.
Still, when I had an upcoming event or I took a look at an unflattering picture of myself, I would renew my dieting efforts, but I always stalled out at the same place, right around 180. My nine months pregnant weight when I carried my son Scott was 179. Who would have ever thought that would be a weight I was trying to get DOWN to? After successfully dieting my way to that point, I would proudly tell people "I weigh the same as before my son was born." Then I would pause for their congratulations or confused look and say, "Five minutes before." It was always good for a laugh, especially since lots of women my age could relate. At that weight I wore an extra-large or about a 14/16.
Every once in a while when my right knee popped or buckled, I wondered if I would be the next member of my extended family to have knee replacement surgery. The rehab didn't look that fun when Richard did it. Mom didn't sound like she had much fun with it, either. So I went back to the dieting. And exercise. Exercise is important. I walk. Sometimes I swim. I secretly dance along to Dancing With the Stars when nobody is looking (and with more clothes on). I will be the first to admit that I have never been consistent with any kind of exercise on my own. Sometimes I sign up for a dance class or a attend a Zumba session. Recently I signed up for water aerobics.
Last Fall our daughter Becky came to visit with her husband and two little girls. I knew she had been dieting, and she had told me about the program she was on called "Take Shape for Life" through the Medifast company. I had heard of Medifast, but my impression of it was that there was some sort of medically-regulated fasting involved. On the other hand, I imagined maybe they could put me into a medically-induced coma and feed me intravenously and wake me when I was at my desired weight, with physical therapists who would come in daily and exercise my muscles, so that I would be toned and firm as well. (I should not joke about that. Even as we speak, someone is probably already planning a clinic like this for supermodels and movie stars.)
But I could not argue with the results for Becky. This diet had worked for her. She looked great! I asked myself one question. "When cameras came out on the beach, which of us grabbed a boogie board to hide behind?" As it was, I had bought an almost knee-length swim skirt to wear over my bathing suits to hide the thunder thighs.
As Becky explained the program to me, she talked about eating six small meals a day which help to balance blood sugar. Five of the six meals are prepackaged food, medically formulated to meet nutritional needs and put your body in fat-burning mode. She said that this diet would overcome my metabolic syndrome, my body's tendency to store weight because of my starvation episode, and would get me past my sticking point.
It took me a few months to think about it and commit to it. (Specifically, the months containing Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.) By January I was ready to start. It is now May. I have lost 44 pounds and I am wearing size medium or 8/10 clothes. My skinny jeans are actually baggy on me! This eating program has not only given me consistent, steady weight loss, in spite of my intermittent excercise habits, but I have found it surprisingly easy to stick to. My cravings for sugar-laden foods have gone away. I see foods that I used to eat and remember that they taste good and were enjoyable and yet it is a mental craving, not a physical one. I have been able to dine out and make good food choices, eating my "lean and green" meal--three servings of veggies from the approved list and a serving of lean protein--from the choices most restaurants offer. I have more energy and a feeling of optimism about life in general.
When my doctor saw the results of my latest bloodwork, he just had one word to say - "Wow!" Now that I am near my goal weight, I have decided to become a diet coach and help other people the way Becky helped me. I figure that is the best way for me to make this a long-term change. I can't go back to my previous bad eating habits, and I have learned a lot about good nutrition and smart food choices along the way. I no longer trust advertisers and have learned to be smarter about food choices and reading labels. I reward myself with things other than food.
If anyone wants to know more about the program, I have a website at this address: http://healthiertomorrows.tsfl.com/ where you can learn about the company and their products and how this diet works. I'm a believer!
I now weigh 150.8, and I am just two pounds away from having a BMI in the healthy range, and at 57, I am just five pounds away from weighing what I did at 25, yes, before I had Scott. A year before.
If you knew that spending a little extra on premium gas for your car would not only help your car run better and last longer but would also head off costly repairs in the future, would you do it? I am confident that the money spent on this program will pay me back in reduced medical bills and it has already improved my quality of life.
Now I'm off to the beach, without my knee-length swim skirt.