Friday, March 24, 2006

My Weight-Loss Story

I spent most of 2004 thinking about what was going to happen in 2005:

1) I would turn 50 in November.

2) I wanted to lose 60 pounds in all, although my motto was "50 by 50."

After doing a LOT of reading about diets...and watching Ang and Matt be successful with Weight Watchers...and reading some more, I realized several things:

1) Calories matter; you can disguise them as "points," but at the end of the day it's how much fuel you've put in your body.

2) I could go on a weight-loss diet of a year or so (which I figured it would take me) but I really needed to change my diet for life.

3) I read a quote that really helped, and I'm sorry I don't know the attribution: "You have to want to be thin more than you want to eat." I realized that most of us eat for entertainment...and that's what makes us fat. We need to eat to live (here's another cliche, but a true one) not live to eat.

4) I just didn't want to be a fat person.

5) To quote Madagascar, you've "got to move it, move it!"

So, my 49th birthday passed, and the diet didn't start. But one day in January 2005, when I got on the scale and weighed 208 pounds, I knew the beginning was at hand.

Luckily, my workplace started a health/walking initiative, and that meant I could take a walk break at work everyday, with friends, in addition to the walking and other exercise I did later.

I bought a pedometer and started logging the miles. We had joined our new Y, and I went as often as possible, walking the track and using the weight machines.

Diet-wise, I cut down portions (for example, realizing little things count, I quit buying the big size French vanilla cappuchino in the machine at work, and switched to the small size), made better choices--more salads, less fried stuff, drinking less calories, always eating something for breakfast, making sure I got some protein, some (healthy) carbs, not eating after 7 p.m.

The longer I ate that way...the more success I had. As pounds dropped off, and it was slow, people started asking about it, and wanted to know "what diet I was on." I just told them, my own! Although later, I called it the "walk and starve" diet, although that bothers people, prob because of the anorexic overtones. But, this is the truth: It's amazing how little food a person really needs to eat. And if you choose high calorie can't eat much of it and still lose weight.

And walking...I just couldn't walk enough. Sometimes three and four times a day. An average day was 5 miles...a good day 7... and an excellent day, 10 or more. My biggest mileage day was about 22, in Florida, on vacation at Busch Gardens. But I've had a couple 20 mile days at home too.

On Saturday, March 4, I weighed 150 pounds. I want to lose 5 more.

Some observations:

Not everything about losing weight at age 50 is good. Sagging happens. My tummy (I have rediscovered my waist!) is kind of like a baby shar-pei...I have developed a waddle that I may either 1) have surgically repaired or 2) have tattooed red and give in to my inner turkey. My arms have a droopiness that is rather depressing, especially considering all the weights I've lifted. And, I don't think one ever recovers from cellulite.

I just don't eat as much as most people any more, and they notice it, especially at parties or buffets. I try to have white space all around my food! I also try some tricks, like leaving things that aren't really good; eating only the filling of a piece of pie; filling up a bunch of my plate with veggies (plain ones, not smoothered in butter or sauce of some kind); not drinking many calories; learning to eat just half a dozen or less of M&M (it can be done!).

The other day I was getting something to eat in the hospital cafeteria. I had gotten a cup of soup; a small muffin; then I wanted half a tuna sandwich. I was going to treat myself with a small cappuchino from the machine. When I asked for half a sandwich, they looked at me funny; after fixing it and handing it to me, they ( the two women working the deli section) said, "You don't eat much do you?" And I replied, well, I've lost about 60 pounds in the past year; I don't eat much!

Can you believe I would get tired of hearing I look good? I'm sorry to report I do. I guess because, to me, I look normal--I was thin most of my life, and I've just gotten back to that. So I want people just to accept it's how I look--I want to quit talking about it, I guess, and just be it. There's probably some strange psychological thing going on there...but it's too much trouble to analyze myself about it.

It's expensive to lose weight, even when you don't have to buy all South Beach diet food, or Slim Fast stuff, or organic stuff. Because, after you realize how little you can eat, you also realize that stuff needs to be good stuff, and fresh fruits and veggie and really good, lean meat adds to the budget. Luckily, with just two of us at home most of the time, it's not as bad as if the kids were still young. But even more than buying healthy food I like (Oh, if they would only build a Trader Joe's in Ft. Wayne!), I have had to buy a lot of clothes!

Oh, you've heard the cliche of so many husbands: If you lose weight, I'll buy you all new clothes. I have lived that for the last year. I started around March last year, before we went on spring break the first week of April. I shopped there too. I try to buy cheap--places like Ross's or Beall's Outlet in Florida; Marshall's, Burlington Coat Factory, and TJ Maxx here in Indiana; also, end of the season sales are fashion-savers. I've gone from a size 16/18 to wearing size 8 in some things--I also have some junior size 9 and 11--and size 10 in other things. Is there anything more fun than buying junior sizes again! I don't think so! I've had good luck on the markdown rack at Kohl's in that area, although I have pretty much given up on the misses sizes at Kohl's everything just looks so middleaged! I have recently remembered, with spring around the corner, that I am going to need all new shorts. Darn.

When I hear on the news of the problems of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, joint problems, GERD, etc., etc., I just want to holler: Save us all money! Everyone, lose weight and be cured! Because I have found that I had the beginnings of many bad things, but losing weight is a miraculous cure. For example,borderline high blood pressure: gone. Also, daily heartburn, perhaps the beginning of GERD: after losing 5 pounds, better, after 10 pounds, totally gone! Back,, excellent...all my blood tests so normal my doctor couldn't believe it. It's really kind of sad, I guess!

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