I was living a good life. I had a husband, two children, just built my dream home, and reached my personal goal of finally completing my four year degree before 40! Then the pain started: aching and swelling in my feet and my knees. I got scared, and made a doctor’s appointment.
I was afraid I had diabetes. I was working, going to school, and caring for my family while handling all that stress with chocolate (and any other sugar to be honest)!
I had stopped weighing myself several months before I made my doctor’s appointment. I knew I was gaining because everytime I bought a pair of pants, I went up one size. Of course, I avoided clothes shopping – until a family event or office party forced me to buy something new!
By the time I saw my doctor, I weighed 208 pounds and stood 5’4”. Blood tests were ordered, and I held my breath. The good news was I didn’t have diabetes, but I was borderline. The doctor said If I wanted to live a long life, I had to make some changes. He said that my family’s heart health history was dismal and I was predisposed to heart disease as well.
Deep down, I knew that I needed to lose weight long before this. I had always fluctuated between 125-130 pounds as a adult (except during pregnancies). But I was in denial, and in retrospect, it is difficult to believe that I ignored it. I was always so conscientious about my appearance (my polite way to say I am vain – some would say very vain). With the test results and shock of a nurse saying – to my face – that I weighed 208 pounds, I couldn’t ignore it any longer!
Throughout my life, I had tried whatever weight loss plan was popular at the time to drop a few pounds for special occasions, but I knew none of those would work long term. With the amount of weight I needed to lose, I needed something sensible and sustainable!
I didn’t start out with a particular plan, choosing “baby steps” instead. First, I cut out chocolate (oh so painful), and substituted sugar-free hard candy. Then the next week, I cut out sodas and sugary juices because I read there was no satisfaction in drinking your calories (as in liquid diets I had tried before). Next went the chips and other unhealthy snacks, and I learned to stock my pantry with healthier foods. I reduced my red meat intake and ate my vegetables first while saving the meat for last which seemed more satisfying. Now I know this sounds so BORING, but I did reward myself with a special treat when I had achieved a goal, just so I didn’t feel so deprived!
After about a month, I started to exercise. It wasn’t all that difficult because I had been using the treadmill in my bedroom for a clothes rack for over a year! I scheduled my treadmill time around whatever TV show I wanted to watch (before on-demand programming – aren’t we lucky to have that now!). I started with 15 minutes of walking at my normal walking pace, increasing it by five minutes each time I walked and increased the speed.
After five months I had lost 55 pounds and was down four dress sizes. I was SO excited! People started complimenting me (yes!), though hardly anyone mentioned weight. They said things like, “You look so healthy”, “Did you do something different with your hair (or your makeup)?” I never said I had lost weight or was on a diet, because we ALL know that is just another four-letter word. So in end, after eight months, I had lost 86 pounds! I didn’t have a total weight loss goal. I monitored my weight every two to three days, and if I lost two pounds a week I was satisfied.
But the very BEST moment of this journey was my yearly check-up! My doctor walked in, sat down with my chart, and looked very puzzled. He looked at me, looked back at my chart, and said, “If I didn’t have this chart in front of me, I would say I had never seen you before in my life!”
That was 20 years ago, and so far, I have only gained six of those pounds back. I am okay with that because I got married just over a year ago, and I am 64 years old (don’t tell anyone that part). And, while I am confessing, I must confess that I am Coach K’s mom! So stick around, I might tell you a few secrets about her next time.