My 100 Pound Weight Loss Journey How I'm Doing It!
How I've Lost 70 Pounds & Still Losing!
The trouble with "dieting," I believe, starts with the very word itself - the first 3 letters spell "DIE!" No wonder we don't want to go there! After a lifetime of eating failures, crazy diets and a mountain range of weight ups and downs, I was really frustrated. When I became diabetic with reactive hypoglycemia, it became even more complicated. Now eating the wrong thing or not eating enough could make me very sick! I ended up on insulin shots and carrying snacks for the hypoglycemia attacks. I tried the dietitian's recommendations and that ended me up on a blood sugar rollercoaster. Time to STOP, get some peace in my life, and hopefully be healthier... but how?
Getting healthier! My A1C test was 5.6!! That's pretty darned perfect!
My Goal & Progress So Far
I want to lose 100 pounds all together. I'm a brittle diabetic with reactive hypoglycemia, I have had high blood pressure for years, but it's gone now. I've undergone two hip and two knee replacements. The less weight I have to carry on my now 5'2" frame, the better I will feel. I was 5'4.5" before I had four back surgeries!
At the time of this writing, May 2014, I have about 40 pounds to go. When I started I was a 2X pushing 3X and wore size 22 jeans. Now I fit into size 16 jeans just fine. I have no idea how long it will take me to lose the rest of the weight, but you're sure welcome to come along! I'm not perfect and I mess up a lot. When I started losing weight, I was on my own in southeast Missouri after my husband got transferred back to Omaha. I had to stay behind and sell the house. It is harder to stick to my eating plan now that I've been back up here for four years, but I have been able to stick to most of my "rules!" And nobody is ever 100% perfect, are they? I have always figured if I stay on my plan 90% of the time, I'll be okay. And so far that's held true.
I've gone through a lot of medical suffering. So I do have trouble with "pity party" eating now and then. Fortunately those are not every day! And tomorrow is always a new day. So I've learned to forgive myself my errors and start fresh the next day. By doing that, I've managed to maintain my weight loss for many months at a time. Every now and then I'll get determined and go "die-hard" on my plan, and lose a few more pounds... then maintain them. But in all reality, I'm facing by writing this that I've basically had no progress in a long time. That makes me cranky!
It may be a slow process but I am finally realizing that I will get there eventually! And no matter what, I will be better off than if I had not worked on it! When I think of how much weight I could have gained if I'd kept going at the rate I was... and I shudder.
A New Before & After...
The Way I'm Eating Now
After another weekend of blood sugar rollercoastering, and getting way too close to the cliff a number of times with the hypoglycemia, I decided enough was enough... I made an appointment with an endocrinologist (diabetes specialist) for a full work-up. We chatted a lot about my eating habits and how I could find a way of eating that I could truly live with forever. Oddly, he didn't freak out when I said I didn't want to eat during the day. That was a first! He told me it would be great if I could work in a protein shake or something else I could drink in the mornings, and maybe again in the afternoon. Drinking shakes doesn't set off an eating urge in me, so that was good. I'm doing that. I found a shake called EAS Carb Control and it tastes pretty decent. When I checked Glucerna shakes, I found they have almost 5 times as many carbs as the EAS shakes!
I told him about the Extend Nutrition snacks I'd been eating, and he totally approved. They are unique in that they have slow-release carbs and promise to maintain your blood sugar at a safe level for up to 9 hours. Since my biggest fear was going too low in the night and not waking up, this absolutely worked for me. I make sure I'm at a good blood sugar level at bedtime, eat one of the snacks, and I'm good for the night. Problem solved.
Now... on my own, I wanted to find some different foods that would work for me. I was interested always that NutriSystem bases their program on the glycemic Index. So I did a bit of research and came up with a Glycemic Index list of foods online. The higher the food's number, the worse it will raise your blood sugar. The lower the number, the better. I am really wishing now that nutrition labeling required listing this number on packages! But... they don't. You're on your own.
I can tell you one thing - eating according to the Glycemic Index is WORKING!! For the first time in many months my scales are moving DOWN! So far I've lost 11 pounds. Not a ton, but something significant! I'm thrilled.
What I'm Eating... On Amazon! - I'd Eat These Just For Fun!
These drizzles snacks by Extend are the BEST. Imagine a thing, like a rice cake, generously drizzled with the most delish chocolate... that's true happiness! They come in other flavors too like caramal. Yum!
I've Discovered The Glycemic Index!
And I'm Still Learning...
It always intrigued me that Nutrisystem bases their program on the glycemic index. I decided to look into it. I'm still learning, but right now I'm eating only carbs on the lower end of the index.
I have been overweight for my entire adult life! The charts say for my height I should weigh 110-139 pounds. The last time I remember being 110 pounds was in second grade. I was a mashed potato & gravy girl. I was an only kid, a perfectionist, and loved to get lost in books... and eat! My "thing" in life was piano. I was classically trained for 13 years. At 19, I got married to my current husband. Whole new adventures of eating out, learning to cook, and the joys of snacking with somebody else took me all over the scales. In 1986 after my second child was born, I hit my lowest adult size ever... 164 pounds. If only I had kept it off... but no.
Life went on - I raised my kids and built my career. In 1998 I became disabled after three failed back surgeries and being diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis, which gave me double vision and lots of other fun stuff. In 2002 I had a total hysterectomy and found out I had a clotting disorder after I had my first DVT (blood clot) in my leg. In 2005 I had my gallbladder out then was diagnosed with type II Diabetes. In October 2008 I had my first joint replacement, my left knee, which had been destroyed by severe degenerative arthritis. In September 2009 I had a stroke from the clotting disorder which cost me half the sight in my right eye. (Can you say, "big time food pity party?") In October 2009, I hit 239 pounds on my 50th birthday and freaked OUT. For me, the number 240 was poison. I simply could not bear the idea that the next time I hit the scales, I knew it would read over 250. Something had to GIVE.
After coming down with a stomach bug, I tried some of the beef vegetable soup I had just made. It worked, and I accidentally discovered after a few days that I was losing weight! It also brought my blood sugar totally under control. After I got well, I decided to keep eating that way and made a new batch of a more substantial steak and veggie stew. I no longer had hypoglycemic attacks. I was never craving anything because I could have whatever I really wanted. Weeks turned into months and I never quit because there was no reason to. I loved the stew so much that I never got tired of it.
This worked for me. It might work for you. I know my way of eating is unconventional and is probably not for most people. But it works for me, and I'm sharing my story in case there is someone like me out there who needs help.
My Rollercoaster of Photos - A Whole Lot Of Ups & DownsClick thumbnail to view full-size
My Top 10 Live-it Laws
It's not a "diet," it's a "Live-It!" Some are unbreakable for me, others more flexible... but always a general goal
1, Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.
2. They will still sell "it" next week if I really want it (whatever bad thing I'm looking at in the grocery checkout line)
3. When I get that little "full" signal, STOP. Fork down, pour water in plate if necessary, whatever it takes... but stop.
4. Weigh frequently, but not daily. Too much fluctuation can make you crazy!
5. One plate. No matter what.
6. If you really, really want it, must have it, will "die" without it - EAT it. Asap. If it's still bugging you, eat it again the next day and the next... until you kill it. Just follow your other eating rules while you do - no eating standing up, must be on a plate, must use a fork, whatever... and only one serving.
7. Use the "to go" box religiously when eating out. You don't have to eat it all right then. And if you forget about it later, that's ok too.
8. Every time you lose a size in clothing, buy a new "incentive" item to fit into in another 10 pounds or so. You deserve to look good NOW, not when you get to your goal weight!
9. "Don't blow it on a day-old doughnut." A quote from a weight loss trainer long ago, worth repeating. If you're going to eat something "sinful," get the good stuff, don't eat crap.
10. "You become what you think about." I've said that for so many years I can't remember if it's my own saying or one I heard somewhere! But whatever it is, it's true. Obsess a little. Think about your weight loss. Take pictures of yourself along the way to remember and see how far you've come. Write a journal. Make a blog. Write a little webpage and share it... or not. But take time to dwell on your progress a little!
2012 PhotosClick thumbnail to view full-size
How I Lost Most Of My Weight
What I Ate When At Home...
(I'm one of those "food personalities" who gets started eating and doesn't easily stop. If I started eating at 10 AM, I'd eat all day long. It's very easy for me to NOT eat, because I really never get hungry during the day. SO... I just start later and no problem.) If you're like me, you get it and usually eat on this schedule too. If you're NOT like me, this will seem crazy. So for you, add breakfast and lunch of sensible low-cal whole foods like cereal, salad, etc. It won't hurt you a bit.
No food all day until I get hungry about 4 pm or later. Then...
- As much as I want of a variation of my "Magical Steak & Veggie Stew." Usually a big bowl.
- 2-3 handfuls of oyster crackers with a tablespoon of "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" - I dip each oyster cracker in the butter and eat them one at a time. Takes forever. Gives me crunching and happy mouth.
- For dessert later (I MUST have dessert most days) - a coffee cup of real ice cream OR a real candy bar OR a couple of Tootsie Pops, etc. I particularly enjoy frozen Milky Way bars so that's a frequent flyer.
- If I was hungry at bedtime I ate a coffee cup of instant oatmeal or a bowl of healthy cereal of some kind.
*The steak & veggie stew is my own special creation. The recipe is designed to make a large quantty and freeze in smaller containers. It makes about a 2-3 week supply. It is soooo good for you and absolutely delicious. The recipe is available elsewhere on this page.
POLL - How Do YOU Eat? - See How You Compare To Others!
What's Your Eating Style?
What I Drink...
And What I Don't
- I drink coffee, way too much coffee, with 1/2 & 1/2. It keeps my blood sugar 100% level all day long. I don't recommend drinking this amount of coffee to anyone but I'm being honest and hey, it's how I roll.
- Two big bottles of water flavored with Crystal Light or another brand of no- or low-calorie beverage mix.
- In the winter I love instant apple cider, and I use the sugar free variety.
- Hot tea, with Splenda
What I do NOT drink is alcohol (can't, because of meds), anything with sugar, or milk (I get enough dairy with my 1/2 & 1/2).
The one exception is my passion for milkshakes. Occasionally I crave one, and I have it.
Satisfying The Urge To Crunch & Bread Love
The method behind the madness...
When I thought about how I was going to eat, I realized that my cravings came after the stuff I had already eaten. I believe our bodies give us cravings for a reason, and I think it's a good idea to honor them within reason. So I thought about what I crave. The number 1 item is bread. Bread of any kind. I simply have bread love. I also love crunching. I think my jaws have to crunch a certain numer of times before my brain kicks in its "full" signal. I discovered that the tiny oyster cracker, when dipped in I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, just somehow made me happy! It takes forever to eat three handfuls. You get a limited amount of carbs, you get the crunch, the surface salty-happy thing... and if you get tired of crunching you can also throw them in your soup! Think about it though... you are retraining yourself from eating snacks by the handful to eating them one tiny cracker at a time, dipping it in butter. You are consuming far fewer calories but you are still high up on the happiness factor.
If oyster crackers aren't your thing, find something that IS to supply your carbs for the day. Pretzels? Tiny cocktail slices of rye bread? Figure it out, and work it in. And if you don't need or want the margarine, ditch it. It serves no magical purpose other than to make me happy. Maybe you'd rather have peanut butter:)
What About Eating Out?
It's a yummy world out there!
I enjoy eating out, and we do so quite a bit. My rules are very simple when I eat out. I look for whatever sounds the best, and eat it. I like to eat dinner salads with grilled meat on them a lot. Whatever I get, I quit when I'm full and take the rest home in a doggie box. I don't order things that are really bread-intense as a rule. I don't normally order dessert as a rule but if I really, really want something... I do it.
My one downfall is places that have endless bread baskets, baskets of chips, etc. So... I just don't opt to go to those places more than a couple times a year, for special treats.
My Success Tricks
It's Ala Carte - Pick What You Like!
A few of these I have to credit to my old Weight Watchers leader back in the 90's (yes, I'm that old:) The first three, for sure.
- Never eat standing up
- Use an eating utensil
- Use a plate, bowl, whatever
- I love antique dishes, so I went shopping for special bowls in the size I want for cereal, etc.
- Pay attention to your food, not the TV, computer, whatever... focus on the food going into your mouth.
- Measure yourself at the start of your new eating habits! You'll be so glad you did later when you have cause to celebrate!
- Take pictures of yourself in a full length mirror whenever you have on an outfit that you feel good in.
- Make treats a part of your plan, not an accidental deviation (cheat). Build stuff you love right in.
My Progress Log
05/03/14. I'm down 8 pounds so far after 3 weeks of very low carb eating. I had regained 18 pounds, OMG!! My 10 pound safe zone kind of grew... and grew. And so did I. I was back to the blood sugar hypoglycemia roller coaster again and finally had enough of it. I feel a little more in control now and haven't had chocolate in almost a week. (my nemesis).
Oh lookie, I'm back! Is that a good sign? You BETCHA! Very happy to report that I'm "tied" with my previous low of 172. But it's weird - I'm a different 172 than I was last Fall. How's that? It's hard to explain... things are just fitting differently than they were then. It's like I weigh the same but I'm smaller now. New pic when I break into new ground. (That's anything below 169 as an adult).
08/05/2012 - I see I haven't been here in awhile! That's never a good sign... Through winter '11 and spring/summer 2012, I managed to regain about 10 pounds. I was "misbehaving" a lot and paid for it with my health. More on that elsewhere here. Right now I am ok and back on the eating plan, although it's a completely new one approved by my endocrinologist. It took some work to figure out, but so far I've been doing it for about 7 weeks and it's working well. I have lost the weight I regained already and have probably lost a little bit more, but I'm not weighing right now.
10/30/11 - Well, took care of that 9 pounds... it was from swelling in my leg. Took it off in about 3-4 days once they fixed the problem. Whew - that really scared me! Now I'm at 172 and ticked off that I'm not lower! Here I am modeling a crochet vest I designed and just finished.
10/17/11 - Hip replacement surgery finally happened a week ago today. I weighed myself yesterday and was UP 9 pounds! Very discouraging... but my nurse said today it's all the swelling I'm having and she asked if I'd lost more weight. So who knows.... anyway I'm just not into eating right now. I'm making sure I eat at least something every day, but it's not at the top of my list. What I need to do is have somebody bring up a container of my soup from the freezer downstairs! Hmmm... what a novel idea!
9/22/11 - Well, the good news is, when I was hospitalized for the THIRD time in 10 days this past Monday, they weighed me and i was down to 171!! If it had said 169 I probably would've had a heart attack right there, of excitement! I have bought a few more size L items, and a stretchy shirt in a Medium (because it wasn't available in a large). It fit. Sure would like to see that 169 by my birthday, coming up in a couple weeks... totally do-able, right? Two pounds? This picture was taken ill, but I love the dress - it's a t-shirt maxi by Norma Kamali (Walmart clearance, again) in a size L. LOVE it. Never wore anything so comfy!
9/13/11 - Had two really BAD days last week. Diabetic bad. Pancake breakfast at a diner bad. And forgot my insulin. By the time I got home, barely awake, I was already up to 303 (blood sugar) and nearly asleep. Couple hours later I crashed down below 60. I felt so awful all day long, pretty much ruined my whole day. It was a good reminder of why I do NOT eat that way anymore. However, jumped back on the horse and I think I have lost a few more pounds... going to weigh this morning later. Film at 11.
9/4/11 - Still working hard! Yesterday I was back down to 173, so I guess I shouldn't complain about "just" 4 pounds in a week. My old WW leader used to hand out sticks of butter so we could visualize what 1/4 pound looked like. So I guess I lost 16 sticks of butter, LOL. My real hope is that I can get below 170 before surgery (a week from today!!) and then with the post-surgery weight loss I usually have, I may be in a whole NEW 10 pound playground... OMG that would be 159. Never seen that as an adult! To help motivate myself (and because there was a wicked clearance sale!) I picked up a few new tops in size Large, and they arrived Saturday. Fun!!
8-27-11 Last week I had FOUR major hypoglycemic episodes where my blood sugar got below 50. Scary!! I had eaten very badly each time. Enough already girl! I had a little talk with myself. The stew came out of the freezer. I just woke up to day 4 of eating back on my plan and I already feel better! I'm hoping for day 5. Hey it's no secret - I knew I was in trouble. I got weighed at the doctor's this week and I was on the high side of my 10 pound playground, 177. It was time for action! I think I will wait to weigh for awhile. I know I'm losing right now and if I find out I'm back at the low side of my playground, I may get lazy. I want to see 168!!! So I'll keep going a few days, then I may find myself in a new playground!
Steak & Veggie Stew
The secret to my success!
I grew up on my mama's homemade vegetable beef soup. It would make me so happy to come home from school to a house that smelled some kind of wonderful! I took mom's homemade soup as a starting point and created a wonderful, heartier stew that completely satisfies me. I could eat it every single day and never get tired of it!
The usual disclaimers: I am not a medical professional and you should not undertake any eating program without the support of your physician.
Anybody Else Having A Hard Time With The Goodies?
All those delectable ho-ho treats I baked... I Was WEARING them!!
I'll never lie to you. I am having one heck of a time right now. I'm on my third 24-hour period of zero sugar and very low carbs, and fighting it hard. I'd call it days, but it started at night... so idk. This holiday season I BAKED. It's Martha Stewart's fault, dammit. I saw these adorable Avon cookie cutters that were in this set. When you baked and stacked them, they were an adorable 3D Christmas tree! I HAD to make it. Well, the first time round I didn't have quite enough dough to make the whole set, so I had a baby tree. I made sure I had enough the next time! I had a 12" tall by 10" diameter (at the base) beautiful Christmas tree and I was so proud! So I ate a bit of it every day to celebrate... right along with the seemingly endless supply of wrapped chocolates my husband and I kept filling up the candy jar with. Oh my gosh we are both diabetics! What were we thinking!!
OK, self-recrimination aside, all this feasting culminated for me in one giant complicated hypoglycemia attack from hell on a Monday night. I won't mince words... I got so low I got that Jell-O feeling I've only had twice, both times with blood sugar in the 20's. Yes that's blood sugar, not age! Yeah. Well, the problem was I went to check my blood sugar and oh no, my meter was broken! Dead, dead, dead. OK. I drank my requisite half a Coke and waited. Wasn't happening. I still felt awful. I asked my husband to borrow his meter - dead battery. Oh, this was bad. i guarantee you that after one incredibly frightening night with many ups and downs, and zero sleep, I had new strips for my backup meter the next day! And I resolved to KNOCK IT OFF.
There's nothing wrong with a diabetic having a little candy. But one who also has hypoglycemia, two kinds of it no less, has to be very careful about how and when she eats it. I screwed up, plain and simple. Scared the heck out of myself and my husband. And probably got way too close to the edge. And sadly, even this experience wouldn't be the last time.
2-1/2 days into eating correctly, I was feeling so much better. The first day was a plain blur. I felt like there was sludge running through my veins, but I ate correctly. The next day was much better and I was stronger, but I fought the urge to eat. I felt like I might've lost a couple of the six pounds I'd regained. But no weighing... not yet. Have to behave awhile first! In the photo... here I was at Christmas brunch. I was still behaving pretty well at that point! It was after Christmas that I went nuts! I gave one of the little sugar cookie trees away Monday. The next day I poured water on what was left of the big tree. I was DONE. At least for the time being...
Life Is Short... - Eat ONE Dessert First! (And write it down)
Remember those church dinners on Sunday afternoon, or those family reunion picnic dinners? I grew up with both, and I can still remember every one of my favorite dishes. Aunt Norma's southern fried chicken, Aunt Barb's green rice casserole, my mom's and Aunt Norma's pies... and so much more. Desserts are about happy times, about celebrations... in today's tough times, sometimes it's enough just to celebrate that it's Sunday! Yesterday was such a day for me. My cabinets desperately in need of restocking, it was a "clean out the freezer" dinner day. I found four bananas. I decided to make my fruit spice bread. Then I noticed I had cream cheese with which to whip up some frosting. Just the smell of that bread and the sweet icing brought back memories of church suppers long ago. Somebody always brought banana bread with frosting! A couple of days before, I had baked the cake shown here. It has this killer frosting that I invented and call my "Truffle Frosting."
I'm smart enough to know that I am never, ever going to outgrow my love of dessert, if I make it to 100! So I may as well make my favorite creations every now and then, eat a small portion, and be happy! The key to it is accountability. I can't have three pieces a day and succeed. But I can have one, eat it in tiny bites paying attention to every bite, and write it down.
Some Of My Favorite Fashions!
I admit it - I'm a clothes-a-holic. Or is that closetholic? Whatever you call it, I love to find clothes at really great prices. Last year I fell in love with Norma Kamali's clothes, and this year I've added more of her things plus a few from Tina Knowles. Kamali's stuff looks fabulous, wears like iron at least so far, and is SO comfortable. I'm basing my new-size wardrobe largely around her designs. Her jersey boot cut pants are my very favorite - I have three pair of them so I'm never stuck without them! They look nice enough to pair with a nice silk blouse and dress up, and are casual enough to pop any top over. They have a very wide waistband and are so comfy.
WOW do I love Miss Tina designs! Tina Knowles, that is. I have fallen in love with her "sharkbite" tops. They are nice and long, really flowy, and lots of pretty colors and prints. Hard to pick!
My Favorite Things!
This is a maxi short sleeve T-shirt dress by Norma Kamali, available in blue and black, sold at Walmart.com on clearance for around $12. It is the single most comfy thing I have ever worn. I added a belt and had a sweater on because I was freezing!
"You become what you think about."
New Treats As I Find Them On Amazon!
I've found some wonderful treats I can actually eat guilt-free! (In moderation of course). I bet you'll love them too! I made the sugar free chocolate cake with fudge frosting and oh-my-gosh it was GREAT! I made it into cupcakes and i'm planning to freeze all the ones we didn't eat tonight for later snacks.
The Atkins Endulge bars I've never had before. They are like eating the real deal! Or so close, you are still very happy!
Act Like It 'Til You've Got It! - Shapewear can remove 10-15 pounds from your look!
Giving Yourself Permission To Succeed
I wrote this in 1992... and it's still true for me.
Imagine that you lock yourself into a room with a large window to the outside. You ask yourself, "Why can't I go outside?" The reply: "Just because you can't, that's why." Ridiculous? Of course. But that is the conversation many of us carry on-with ourselves-countless times each day, without even realizing what's going on.
Have you ever eaten something totally "off-plan," something that, perhaps, you didn't really want or need to eat? You've had the conversation. Have you stepped on the scales after a "perfect" week "on-plan" been dissatisfied with a "mere" one-half pound loss (or even a gain), then stopped for burgers and fries on the way home from the meeting? You've had the conversation.
The conversation I am referring to is the one in which you tell yourself, whether consciously or subconsciously, that you cannot succeed. I've had this conversation so many times-too many to count. My conversations are almost always subconscious. I eat something that I know I shouldn't have, then I sit and berate myself afterward for having eaten it. These occurrences typically have led me to outright lapses or, worse yet, periods of "Katy-bar-the-door" eating until I have come to my senses again. But not anymore.
I have finally learned that the key to success-whether it be in weight loss or in life is having an attitude of success. The first step is to give yourself permission - yes, I said permission - to succeed. Does this sound unusual? Perhaps, but I believe it's true. Let me give you an example.
For years, I complained to myself that "I wish I had gone to college. I'll never get ahead until I get a degree." All the "no" messages were always waiting to answer those concerns: "You'll never get the money to go. You don't have time. You wouldn't succeed. You'll be a... (here's the crucial word) FAILURE."
Know what? Those negative answers provoke a very interesting response. They validate our self-doubt and give us excuses. We feel better, knowing there is "nothing we can do about it." And we go on our merry way until the concerns arise next time. And again, the same negative reassurances are there, just waiting. It's a never-ending cycle.
On my 30th birthday, I decided enough was enough. I decided that in two years I would be 32 years old. I could be 32 with a degree, or without one. I enrolled in one class, basically, I believe, to prove I couldn't make it and shut up my conscience once and for all. Long story short, I received a college degree in 1991 with honors, having completed most of the coursework on honors scholarships.
Another battle was being waged along with the college studies-that of my lifelong fight against being overweight. I have been fat as far back as I can remember, way back to the first grade. I have never known another way of life. I have always fluctuated between 35 and 75 pounds overweight at any given time. My lowest weight was reached in 1986, shortly after my last baby was born. Only 25 pounds overweight, I thought, "You've got it made-you can lose the rest of it!" Unfortunately, in the fall of 1989 I had a period of very rapid weight gain, and the scales soared upward-39 pounds in four months. I was terrified, and I joined a weight loss program on January 3, 1990. I lost steadily for the first few weeks, then leveled off. I managed to maintain my 36-pound weight loss for almost 18 months by attending weekly meetings and doing what I refer to as "Program-Plus." (plus chocolate, plus cookies, etc.)
Then the inevitable happened. I had a series of drastic lifestyle changes in early 1992. We moved out of state, separating me from my weight loss group. I had to leave my job of almost nine years and find new employment. I had just finished over two years of full-time college studies and I was tired. In short, I was about as stressed out as I can get. So, I ate. I stopped on the way home from work and picked up 3 or 4 candy bars, ate one, and hid the others for later. I deliberately bought grocery carts of junk food and ceremoniously ate them, thinking, "This will push me over the edge - I'll get disgusted with myself and have to go back on program." Looking back, I can't believe the mess I got into.
Everyone has a "fat outfit." Know the one I mean? The one that is stretchy and forgiving, the one you can easily hide 15 or 20 pounds in comfortably. I outgrew my fat outfit and I knew I was in trouble.
I sat down, evaluated what was going on, and struggled for hours trying to figure out what had happened. I wrote down every saying my leader had taught us that had helped me to lose weight before. I re-read all my group's materials. Finally, I decided to forgive myself for what I had done.
I made a "deal" with myself. I was still feeling very much out of control in my eating, so I decided to write down everything that I ate, no matter what it was (diaries had been a key factor in my success previously). The other part of the bargain was that I find the nearest meeting and attend weekly. I felt tremendously relieved. I had to write down "2 candy bars" a couple of times in that first week, but something about going back to the diary triggered my motivation and I immediately felt better about myself.
I walked into the meeting on a Thursday evening two days later. I apologized to the weigher saying, "I know I've had a major gain." The response: "You are successful because you are here taking care of it now." Those words were like soothing medicine.
A week later, I had lost two pounds. The next week, another two pounds. By the third week, I am now thinking like a successful person again. I called my old leader in Kansas City, Jennifer Winder, and said, "Hi, Jennifer-have you ever had a long-distance meeting?" We had a wonderful conversation and I felt even stronger afterward. I find that I miss hearing her say, "I'll see LESS of you next week!" I am sure that I will enjoy my new group as I get to know them, as well. The important thing is that I know they are there for me.
Now, back to that "conversation" we spoke of earlier. If your aunt, or husband, or friend handed you a giant piece of cake loaded with chocolate and caramel and nuts and ice cream, knowing you were trying to lose weight, you would probably suspect them of trying to sabotage your efforts. But if you, standing before the fridge door at midnight, take out just a "tiny" goodie just because you're "hungry for something," you wouldn't suspect yourself of anything other than boredom or hunger, or maybe an insatiable sweet tooth. What I have come to believe about myself is that when I make that fridge run, I am subconsciously sending myself a message that I do not want to succeed. I'd deny it, of course, and say "I just couldn't help myself!" but that would be a lie, I now realize.
I heard a well-known weight loss celebrity say, "You are responsible-you hold the fork." Those words really sank in and I gave them a lot of thought. I've heard similar wisdom from my leader. The aunt or husband or friend does not literally put the food into your mouth, you do.
We are taught defenses for sabotage by others, and they can be very effective. The other night, 2 weeks into my current effort, my husband went to the grocery store after I had just returned from the store. He returned with Fritos, cinnamon rolls, a bag of Chex Mix snacks, and much more. He sat down beside me and opened the Chex Mix. He decided after one bite that he had bought the wrong flavor and didn't care for them, so he offered the bag to me. I politely declined. (boy, that felt good!) After awhile, he said, "You know, maybe I could take these to work and pass them around to the guys." (Crucial moment, Sheila, don't blow it.) I would rather do almost anything than give food away, but I made it. I said, "Yes, perhaps you should." I felt WONDERFUL!
O.K., so we all know we can defend against the attempts of others. But what about all those messages we are sending ourselves? Anyone who compulsively overeats while wishing to lose weight can understand the two "little voices" that always fight it out. "You know you'll never get to goal anyway," one says. (Go ahead, eat the whole pizza)." If you can listen to the other voice most of the time, you can succeed at weight loss.
I decided to test this theory. I tried to remember several of the negative messages I catch myself sending, and wrote them down. Then I countered each with a positive response. Maybe they'll help you, too.
1. "You know you'll never get to goal. Eat."
1a. "I will reach goal if I make positive changes in my eating lifestyle. It is inevitable that I will succeed."
2. "If I go back to the meetings, everyone will know I've gained weight. I'm a failure."
2a. "I deserve the support the meetings provide. Other members have had similar experiences. No one is perfect."
3. "I'm not losing weight fast enough," Or, "Ive only been maintaining my weight for months. I'm a failure."
3a. "What would I weigh now if I had not maintained this weight loss? What will I weigh if I stop trying?"
You get the picture. For every negative, there is a positive alternative. I have written the following questionnaire to check on myself every day. It will go along with my diary until I reach goal and, I believe, will help me over the rough spots. Try making up a questionnaire of your own, focusing on your usual roadblocks or negative attitudes, and be aware of what you are telling yourself.
1. My highest priority today was
2. The situation that gave me the most difficulty (or stress) was
3. On a scale of 1-10, today was a _____. Reason:
4. I felt tempted to eat most at _________ (time). I wanted to eat:
I managed this feeling by
5. I felt most successful today when I:
6. I caught myself