In the spring of 2007 I weighed 225 pounds at 5’3″ tall. As a nurse of many years, I had cared for patients whose lives were forever changed by health issues related to being overweight. I had been so busy taking care of my career and family I had forgotten to take care of myself. I knew I had to get control of this situation. I looked at the amount of weight I needed to lose and felt defeated before I even got started. I had no idea where to begin so I joined my local Weight Watchers group. My daughter, who was recovering from a sports injury at the time, was looking for an avenue to stay physically fit and active while not playing a sport. One day at work, I mentioned this to a co-worker who told me about the gym where she worked out and thought it would be a good fit for my daughter. She warned me this was not a fancy gym. It was a bodybuilder’s gym. Whatever that meant. Later that week, I drove to the Westside of Cincinnati for my daughter to workout and for me to unknowingly find the solution to my problem and something I would become passionate about.
A few weeks go by and I was approached by the owner and head trainer who asked me why I wasn’t working out. Clearly I was the one who looked like they needed it not my daughter. I cheerfully replied ” I do my own thing-I’m good.” After watching what they did there wasn’t anyway I would be able to do it. I just watched my co-worker every week drop pounds while I dropped ounces! My daughter was looking like she was in better shape than when playing all her sports. I grew increasingly frustrated with my weight loss or lack of and made the jump. After all, I only had weight to lose and maybe some pride if I couldn’t do it. I had never lifted weights before in my life. Thoughts like what if they laughed at me? What if I fell while trying to squat? Fear is a great paralyzer in life but I had to overcome it and stop making excuses. I felt like it might be my last opportunity. So I signed up for my first session. In the consultation I was asked “How much weight do you want to lose?” I said “Twenty pounds.” He must have thought I was crazy at my size. What was twenty pounds going to do? See to say I wanted to lose 100 pounds just sounded impossible to me. I promised myself that if I lost just 20 pounds I would try for 20 more and so on until it stopped or I had lost it all.
I started on a very restrictive diet, lifting weights and devouring whatever information I could find about exercise and nutrition. I had no idea what to expect and little did I know the impact this was going to have on my life. I thought that if I did exactly as I was told, followed the diet and made all my workouts then I could blame the program when it didn’t work. I had never seen diet and exercise succeed for those who were in my situation. Mentally, I didn’t believe I could do it. I really felt that the only way to lose this much weight was by drastic measures. The weeks turned into months. The pounds kept dropping and I kept going! Don’t get me wrong. It was difficult. One of the most demanding tasks I have ever done.
As I said before, I read many articles and books while I was traveling down this road. I was developing a passion about this subject. While changing on the outside, I began to change inside- mentally. I started thinking about what caused me to eat and to get to this place in my life. I came to the realization I ate out of boredom and maybe a little bit out of stress. Watching TV at night was terrible because every other commercial was about food. So I stopped watching TV. If I got too hungry after my last meal and was wanting to cheat I went to bed. YES some nights it was at 8PM. I began crocheting scarves to keep busy in the evening. I had scarves of every color and trendy kind of yarn they made. I found my workouts relieved the stress. I just kept that vision of a fit and healthy new me first in my mind. Nine months later, after making all my workouts and staying on my diet, I was down to 125 pounds and felt fantastic. I was walking past people who knew me and didn’t even recognize me! I had doctors I worked with asking me if I was OK? Was I ill? There were even rumors that I had some kind of surgery. Little did they know that what I had done took hard work, determination and commitment. I had achieved getting the 100 pounds off but now faced the new challenge of keeping it off. After a year at my new weight I was still doing the same thing. I was still restricting my carbs and fats significantly and training. I was told initially that once you get the weight off we will build you back up. In other words, put muscle back on. Three years had gone by and I still was just skinny. I didn’t look like I had envisioned. I was still being asked occasionally if I was ill? Something was wrong with my new lifestyle and in my next post I will talk about the second phase of my journey back to health.