I am 5’3″. At my heaviest, I weighed over 170 pounds. That’s a lot for such a little body, and even more when you consider the biggest I had ever been was 130. I was clinically obese. My knees hurt, my feet hurt, my back hurt, and even just walking a few blocks could wear me out. I was taking Zumba twice a week (it was only offered in my area that often), and Zumba is hardcore. You burn about 500 calories in an hour. I would walk the few blocks there and back, and come home covered in sweat, so I was working hard. But nothing was changing. I just kept getting bigger.
I was eating all of the time because I was hungry all the time. I was completely unhappy.
Then I looked at a pill I was taking for the off label use of adult acne (spironolactone). I remember sitting on the couch one day and thinking, “Could my pills be making me fat?” I looked up the med on WebMD or something. Weight gain was not listed as a side effect. Then I just googled the med. BOOM. I found page after page of people on the med who had all gained weight. Could this be it? I called my dermatologist to make sure it was safe to go off, and told him why, to which he replied, “Weight gain isn’t listed as a side effect.” I went off of it anyway.
I had hoped that the weight would just fall off as easily as it had come. I immediately lost three whole pounds and then….nothing. Maybe it wasn’t the meds. Maybe it was just me. There are some big people in my family, maybe I was destined to be one. I tried to tell myself that it was ok, I was still cute. And I’d gained the weight more or less proportionally all over my body. It was fine. Really.
But it wasn’t.
And then I read something that opened my eyes, held a mirror up in front of me, and made me realize that I didn’t like what I saw. I read a post on actor Sean Patrick Flanery’s blog Shine…Until Tomorrow (http://www.shineuntiltomorrow.com/). It was a post titled, “Wonderful News: NO ONE HAS A WEIGHT PROBLEM!!!” I got excited, then read the first sentence.
“But some people DO have eating problems!”
At first I was offended as I read the post. How dare he judge me! He doesn’t even know me! But then I read it again. And again. And I saw myself. I was making excuses. I was only looking for shortcuts, and when I didn’t find one, I was giving up. I had started “working out”. I was power walking, and it was HARD. I would walk to the park and back, 8 blocks round trip, and I hated every second. I was doing it three days a week. That was how I’d lost my three pounds.
This wasn’t enough.
I needed to do more.
Because I was WORTH more.
The longer I stayed big, the worse it would get. I was hearing words I really didn’t like: diabetes, heart disease, blindness, DEATH. No. No way.
In September of 2015, I decided I needed to get serious. This was my very life we were talking about. It may not be the best life, but I sure as Hell wasn’t ready to check out! I started logging everything I ate into myfitnesspal.com. That helped me see exactly what I was eating and if I had any patterns. I was kind of disgusted, really. The first week I just logged it all, and without changing anything. I noticed that I ate more at night, I was eating a lot of crap, I was eating more than a normal portion at meals ( I would eat until I felt like I was going to explode, instead of stopping when I was full). Then I started tweaking what I was eating. I had a food scale I’d bought for a dollar at a garage sale a few years ago, and I pulled that out and dusted it off. I started eating normal portions of food (a 1 cup serving of vegetable stew, instead of 2 1/2 bowls), and slowly but surely cut down the junk food. I’m not gonna lie, I still eat cookies! BUT, I eat 2 or 3, not 7 or 8. And I stepped up my walking to 5 days a week.
On September 25, 2015, I was ready to do it all. I decided that I would keep a log of my weight. I would weigh myself on Friday, first thing in the morning, in my underwear. At that first weigh in, I was 156 pounds exactly. I’d lost more weight! Then the next week, I was….159.2 pounds. What the hell????
I refused to let it discourage me. I kept it up. I added one more day, working out 6 days a week, walking to the park and back. Again, I hated every damn minute. However, I noticed how good I felt afterward. Accomplished. I likened it to hitting yourself in the head with a hammer because it feels so good when you stop. It wasn’t easy. I didn’t get below 150 pounds for four months. But the thing was, I’d made a deal with myself. Do it for 6 months. If there is really no change, find a way to see a doctor, because that’s not right.
The only times I didn’t exercise was a few times when I got an upper respiratory infection (all the heavy breathing would lead to coughing), days when I had migraines, and Sunday was my day off.
Here I am, 15 months later.
Here I am, 44 pounds lighter.
Here I am, alive and well.
I had it out with someone in an online group who said she was “unable” to lose weight because she couldn’t afford weight loss pills or a gym membership. She was looking for excuses and shortcuts. I have not taken one “weight loss” pill. Every morning I take a basic multivitamin…and I took that when I was a fattie, too. I have never set foot in a gym to lose weight. I even stopped doing Zumba (I couldn’t afford the classes anymore). I told her that if a pill worked, we would ALL take it. I told her to start small. Walk to your mailbox and back. When that’s easy, walk to the corner and back. When that’s easy, walk around the block. I started out walking eight blocks, huffing and puffing all the way. I now walk between 3 and 4 miles (weather permitting) every day. When it’s raining or too cold out, I work out with my Wii or one of the workout DVD’s I own. Don’t have workout videos? Get a library card, they usually have several to choose from, and you can try a different one every week! Your library is small and doesn’t offer videos/DVD’s? Check out an exercise book, there are dozens out there. If you spent as much time trying as you do making excuses, you would be halfway there.
There are no shortcuts, there are no magic pills. There is only hard work, and with hard work, there are results. It won’t happen overnight. But look at it this way: you didn’t gain this weight overnight. You won’t lose it overnight, either.
The other thing to touch on is diets. Diets don’t work. Look at Kirstie Alley. She had been on Jenny Craig a bunch of times. Every time she went off the program, she gained back all the weight she lost and then some. You have to change how you eat, not just what you eat, and prepackaged foods aren’t going to help you. The only program that I have heard of that has worked is Weight Watchers, as they actually teach you how to eat right. But you have to depend on yourself to do it, not Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig or Hydroxycut. You have to make a lifestyle change and commit to it.
But if you fall off the wagon, don’t beat yourself up! We are humans, and we make mistakes! Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again tomorrow. I’ve screwed up, too. And don’t deny yourself anything! Like I said earlier, I still eat cookies! Are you at a birthday party and that cake looks delicious? THEN HAVE SOME. Have a small piece, and enjoy it. It’s Thanksgiving, and grandma has made her homemade pumpkin pie? HAVE SOME! Have a small piece instead of 1/4th of the pie (I was so guilty of that in the past). For my own birthday, we no longer make cake. Because then there is cake in the house, and you don’t want it to go to waste because there are starving children in Ethiopia. Instead, my mom goes to the local sweet shop and buys me a super fancy cupcake. It’s fattening, yes, but it’s one thing. One thing will not destroy your plan and undo all your hard work. I once heard Madonna quoted as saying that she watched what she ate all week so she could splurge a bit on the weekends. Now if you’re really trying to lose a lot, you might want to keep those splurges to a minimum….not every weekend.
I won’t lie. It’s hard work, and it’s not always pleasant. But the end result is SO worth it. Because not only will you look and feel better, you will be prolonging your life. Not just for yourself but for your family. You will be around for them for that much longer.
YOU ARE WORTH IT.