I realized that bits and pieces of my story are all over the place, on this blog, on my facebook page, on fatsecret, in my head… but I’ve never written a summary of the whole story. So I’m going to do that now, up to today including how I lost the weight and how I have kept it off. I will try to keep it brief. I plan to include a much more detailed account when I write my book.
Starting Point, 287 lb, size 22/24
At the end of 2008, I accepted a job transfer from Massachusetts to Phoenix, Arizona. I had wanted to lose weight for a long time and I had tried unsuccessfully many times, losing 10-20 lb and gaining it back. I even lost over 100 lb when I was 20 but had gained that all back as well. I was at my all time high weight, close to 300 lb.
I thought, if I’m going to live somewhere that hot, I am really going to need to lose this weight. But I was done with unsustainable diets. I made up my mind that I would lose the weight and never gain it back, no matter how long that took. I think I finally realized that the only way to do that was to change my lifestyle permanently. Old habits = old body. Something finally clicked.
The first thing I did was join a gym. I was most frustrated with the state of my cardiovascular health. I had always been a walker- living in Philadelphia for 8 years without a car, I walked everywhere. But my career had put me at a desk in front of a computer screen, living in the suburbs and forced to drive instead of walk. I had put on quite a few extra pounds in the few years preceding and was very out of shape. I knew that exercise was going to be important.
I hated going to the gym. I was always out of breath no matter what I did. I felt out of place and uncomfortable as one of the largest people I saw around me. But I stuck it out and committed to going to the gym at least 4 days a week. I didn’t do much but the elliptical and some of the weight lifting machines.
Weight didn’t start magically falling off just from working out, unfortunately. I knew I had to do something about my diet. In January 2009, I found a website called MyFatSecret.com where you could track calories. I decided to give it a try. Counting calories was all brand new to me. I had never thought much about nutrition. I learned quickly that I had been eating much more than I thought. I learned that my idea of portion sizes had been way off. It was no longer a mystery to me why I was obese. I started to really see that my choices had given me the body I had and that it would be my choices that would change me. As soon as I started counting calories, I started losing weight. I didn’t change what I was eating very much, but I did start eating breakfast. My main concern was eating less calories than I burned. I lost about 60 lb that way.
During that time, I kept to myself. I wasn’t blogging or participating in any online weight loss forums. But after the first year and losing 60 lb, I started to feel like I had something to share and I started this blog.
Adjusting Along the Way, 220 lb, size 16
The tricky thing about weight loss is that you have to keep changing what you’re doing along the way. This can be very frustrating at first, and I know it caused me to have more than a few temper tantrums. As you lose weight, you burn less calories overall. As you exercise, you have to push yourself harder and harder to get the same heart rate rise. You have to keep doing better. Doing the same thing over and over and over again doesn’t work.
I had a few plateaus along the way. Each time I would get upset that what I was doing stopped working and each time I fought my way out of it by changing what I was doing. I tried new exercises- classes, weight lifting, running. You name it, I tried it. My default answer became “Yes, I will try it” instead on “Um, no thanks, I don’t think so.
I also really started changing my diet after about a year into it. I watched Food Inc and decided to go back to being vegetarian. I read In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan and took it to heart. I started really paying attention to the contents of my food instead of just the nutritional information. It was at this point that something really clicked with me. Once I started eating all whole real foods, everything became easier. I had that feeling of “I got this.” and I knew I could make it to any goal I set for myself.
Finding My Goal Weight, 165 lb size 8/10
My initial goal weight was 180 lb. That sounded reasonable to me. In the beginning, I thought how wonderful it would be to be a size 14! To be a size that could shop somewhere other than Lane Bryant or The Avenue. I never wanted to be skinny, I just wanted to lose the excess weight. I reached 180 lb in August 2010. It took me 20 months to lose 107 lb. I felt pretty happy with myself at that point and I took a few months off from trying to lose weight.
This was the first time I practiced maintenance. All I did was stop counting calories. I kept eating what I had been eating and I kept exercising just as I had been, but I relaxed what I was eating just a tiny bit. I stopped losing weight and I didn’t gain it either.
After awhile, I felt like I would like to try to lose a little more. I decided to take it 5 lb at a time and see how it went. I decided that if the weight came off easily, I would keep going. If it became a big struggle, I would stop. I made it to 165 lb in about 6 months and decided I felt good about that weight and I called it quits.
Post-Weight Loss to Today
This is me now. I have maintained my weight with some minor adjustments for 1 year. Sometimes I can’t believe how far I’ve come and how different everything is now. I love exercise! I look forward to it all day long. And it makes sense to me – of course I hated exercise when I started. I was so out of shape, everything was really difficult. Now I very frequently impress myself with my ability to do things I could never do before like running long distances or lifting heavy weights.
I wear a size 8 or 10. I never dreamed I would. I have so many options when I go clothes shopping, it’s a little overwhelming. When I go to the doctor, they don’t even question my weight. It is a non-issue. This is such a relief. I feel like people finally see me for me instead of just seeing that I was heavy. It’s sad the way the world judges those who are overweight. I feel like I am finally free of that stigma. I feel very happy with myself when I look in the mirror.
I’m not perfect. I wouldn’t be caught dead in a bikini. But that’s okay. I’ve lost 12o lb and I am 34 years old. I cannot expect my body to be perfect after all I’ve put it through in my life. A lot of this journey was about self-acceptance for me and breaking away from the expectations placed on women to look a certain way. Forget that. I will decide what is right for me and nobody else. I have so much confidence in myself now and I feel that it is truly up to me to take care of my body the way I see fit. I don’t do this for anybody else or to fit into any type of mold, I do it for my health and so that I can live my own life as fully as possible.
I have so many things I love to do now that weren’t part of my life before. I love physical activities and I absolutely adore cooking. I shop in a much different way and I love food even more than I did when I was heavy. But I love food that makes me Feel Good and Look Good as well as Taste Good.
I weigh myself daily. It’s my moment to check in with myself before getting on with the day. Yes I am eating right. Yes I am exercising. Yes I am engaged with my body. No, I am not going back where I was before. Old habits = old body. I love my new body, and my new habits have become engrained in my life. It’s not a struggle for me anymore, it’s a joy.