From the second grade all the way up to adulthood, I had been overweight. In third grade, I weighed 100 pounds. When I got married at 21, I weighed 220. When I had my daughter at 26, I hit 300 … and up and up and up … until I saw my highest recorded weight at the doctor’s office in 2010: 426 pounds. I was wearing the biggest jeans available at women’s stores — size 36 — and I was having a hard time fastening them.
Still, that wasn’t the turning point. Not until my daughter gave birth to my grandson, Isaac, did I realize it was time, and I was ready, to change. I knew that I would not be around for him, or the rest of my family, if I didn’t get my weight under control. It was hard to even get up off the couch by myself, let alone with a baby in my arms. I was sick of being sick and tired. So I decided to fight to live life to its fullest.
Being overweight is one vicious cycle. The bigger I got, the more I hurt. And the more I hurt, the less I moved — and the bigger I got. My dad had lost more than 100 pounds, and that helped me start to believe it was possible. With the encouragement of my high school friend Patty and my dad, I finally decided it was time to try again. If I was going to succeed, I knew I needed support. So in April 2011, Patty and I joined TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), a nonprofit weight-loss support group at our local recreation center. There we attended weekly weigh-ins and took part in contests to keep us motivated to move and lose. The support from the group gave me all the encouragement I needed, and in so many ways, it saved my life.
I slowly changed my habits by eating less junk and incorporating more whole natural foods, but I never felt like I was dieting. It was a daily choice, and I realized along the way that in order for me to make lasting changes, it had to be about waking up every day and making the best healthy choices I could. The same was true for movement. When I started exercising, Patty and I took walks after work almost every evening. During my lunch breaks, I’d do Leslie Sansone’s walking tape with coworkers.
Facing the scale at TOPS each week held me accountable. I knew that as long as I was making the choice to eat healthy foods that God made and using the body He gave me to move each day, I would make it to my goal eventually. Sometimes my progress seemed slow, but I always reminded myself that I was better than where I started.
When I lost the weight, I finally felt free of the limits that being overweight had put on my body. I didn’t have to worry about fitting into seats at the movie theater, about getting turned away from riding a roller coaster … or even something as simple as walking. I no longer had to take medication for high blood pressure or diabetes. I could get up and down with ease. My back and knee pain decreased. I could go to the park with my grandson and play with him for hours. Having struggled for so long, I didn’t — and don’t — take feeling good for granted. At 50, I began to run. I may run like a turtle moving through peanut butter, but at least I can run.
My diet is full of healthy foods like salmon, chicken, veggies, fruits, avocado, nonfat Greek yogurt, Quest bars, and skim milk. That’s what I’m eating 90 percent of the time. I use MyFitnessPal to track my daily intake (I average anywhere between 1,500 and 2,000 calories). I try not to eat out more than once a week and avoid keeping junk food in the house. My motto is: Out of sight, out of mind. If I want a treat, I’ll have it, but I make sure to log it and fit it into my daily calorie goal. I’m mindful that treats aren’t supposed to become habits, so one meal or treat is fine, but then it’s back to normal eating.
For exercise :
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