I spent so much of my younger life not registering that I was overweight. I was a very active kid – was in sports, elected captain by my peers, started for most/all teams I played on. I have been as tall as I am now (a super-tall 5’6″) since 5th or 6th grade. I continued to play sports, and was always in good shape, through high school.
College resulted in much more than the freshman 15 – it was probably more like the freshman 50. I lived on pizza and Busch Light. I was also not getting as much exercise as I used to(unless you count arm curls with beer cans). As an adult, I personified “ignorance is bliss” when it came to my body. It just wasn’t something I focused a lot of time or energy on thinking about. I have dated. I have been approached by men. It just wasn’t something I thought about a lot.
Food is another issue. I remember sneaking money out of my piggy bank as a kid to go buy chips at the local store. As an adult not only did I tend to eat more than I needed – but I also made horrible choices. I rarely cooked. My food was prepared by the local pizza place, McDonald’s, Burger King, Culvers, etc. where not only are the portion sizes larger than necessary – the calorie, fat and sodium counts are off the charts! I would hide it – obviously knowing I should be ashamed. I would eat in a very different way (and very different quantities) when people were around versus when I was by myself.
When did you start dieting? What have you tried to lose weight?What has worked? What hasn’t?
The first time I remember really dieting was in 10th grade. That was the smallest I have ever been – and I was a size 14. When younger and dieting, I would typically just eat next to nothing – like a small baked potato for a meal. Filling up with Fruits and Veggies wasn’t something I really thought about.
When I got older I tried Weight Watchers and LA Weight Loss. The truth of the matter is – every program works if you follow it! I would combine the better eating (going from Big Macs to fruits and veggies would make a big difference) and exercise more. But I have a disorder I have named “self-destructive personality disorder”. Basically – any time I would get to the point where I was really starting to feel better, and look much better, I would stop. Stop eating well, stop going to the gym. Everything works if you do it. It doesn’t if you don’t.
Was there a point at which you decided that you were more serious about weight loss? That “this time was going to be different”?
Last December my family sat me down for a “Fat Intervention”. (you can read the whole story on my blog – I won’t bore you with all of the details here). At that point I realized that this was it. My weight issues were no longer just effecting me – they were effecting the people I love most in this world. I was to the point where I was fed up with being the size I was, and living (or rather not living) the life I was at the time – but the prospect of trying to deal with losing it all on my own was daunting.
In February I went to Duke Diet & Fitness Center in Durham, NC for 4 weeks. It was great. It was nice to have a month where all of your meals were prepared, you took classes on nutrition, weight loss, behavior and life style – – and you only worried about you. While I was there, something clicked. They never told me I couldn’t have pizza, or chips, or any of the other things I love that aren’t great for me. They said to eat well the majority of the time, and move your rear! It is amazing how I can make something so simple, so challenging.
So far I have lost 60 pounds in a little less than 3 months. Granted – I have about 140 more to go – but it seems possible now that I am finally feeling better! Moving isn’t such or chore, or so painful! Going to the gym isn’t such a task, because I can do more than I could when I started. My friends and family have been so supportive! I will not ever figure out a way to properly thank them.
How has your weight effected your life?
Counting up the ways it hasn’t effected my life would probably be easier! Again – before last December, I just didn’t allow myself much thought on the subject. If I would have – I probably would have spiraled down into a horrible depression. Instead, I would just avoid situations where I knew my weight and size would be highlighted.
I wouldn’t go to summer happy hours where I knew the outdoor chairs would probably be small, and have arms that wouldn’t accommodate my huge butt. I wouldn’t go to baseball, basketball or football games for the same reason – stadium seats are the devil. I would make sure I traveled with friends on any flight I took, and they were kind enough to allow me to put the arm up, and use part of their seat. I would pray that movie theater seats had arms that went up, and would always put myself on the end of the row so I could use 1+ seats. Any amount of walking or standing was uncomfortable. I would sweat from standing…not doing anything but standing! Seriously! Thinking back now, it is amazing the amount of things I edited out of my life because of my size, or I just wasn’t in shape enough to do them.
What do you imagine your life will be like once you lose the weight?
Free. Free to do what I want to do, when I want to do it. Not having to lose sleep or worry over whether I will fit, or whether I will be able to walk far enough, or whether there will be seating for me, or whether I can keep up with everyone else. Free to live the active life I want to. Free to go skip and jump around with my nieces. There will be such an huge weight lifted – literally and figuratively – from my life. I am going to be strong. I am already stronger than I remembered I could be.
How do you maintain your self-control and motivation to keep working out and eating right?
I still have moments where I want to eat what I shouldn’t – but I have amazed myself with my ability to make concessions. I want a burger – I LOVE BURGERS – but instead of going and getting a Big Mac, I buy the leanest ground beef I can find, and make myself a burger at home on my George Foreman grill. It is still delicious. It is still completely satisfying, but it is so much better for me. I have had pizza, but I only go out to have it. No ordering in where I will be tempted to eat too much, or eat it for multiple meals in a row.
I am finding substitutes that really work. And when they won’t, I have cut myself enough slack to eat what I need – and then get back on track. When I have gone off track in the past, I would never come back. Falling off the wagon meant permanently off the wagon. I haven’t had that yet. I have days where I don’t want to exercise – where the gym is the last place I want to go. I have had a few days where I haven’t gotten my activity minutes in – and that is OK. I haven’t gone more than 2 days straight without at least 45 minutes of exercise in the last 3 months.
The truth is – when you feel better, you want to eat better. When you are feeling lighter, and more agile (describing myself as agile is a bit ridiculous, but it is kind of true) – it is easier to want to move. I am not going to lie to you – the fact that the sun is shining, and it is getting warm outside, doesn’t hurt!
What advice would you give to people trying to lose a lot of weight?
Be as good as you can be, when it is easy to be good – and give yourself a break when you can’t. Eating horribly one day, or going a few days without the gym, is not a reason to completely quit. Trust me – I have done that enough to know that it will only create bigger problems down the road.
The most important thing? Surround yourself with people who you can relate to, who will support you, and who you enjoy being around. If your friends and family aren’t the greatest support system – because they just don’t understand the battle you have with your weight, or don’t want to understand it – find yourself a group! Join Weight Watchers, or a class at the gym. Check online for a walking group in your area, or start one yourself. Having a group of people who understand what you are going through, and who are there to support you, is the most valuable thing. You know you can do it. Believe in yourself. Value yourself enough to keep going. You deserve to be healthy – for you, and for everyone else in your life that loves you.
Are any of your working on really big weight loss goals? Any questions for Natalie?