Weighing In

It’s a great feeling to reach a goal, but often success means just staying in the game. That’s how it feels when you’re on a long weight loss journey.

Even as a teenager I was not fully comfortable with my weight. It’s not that I was fat, in fact far from it now that I look back. But women really are indoctrinated from a very early age that if you’re not waif-thin like a super model, then you must be overweight.

During college and then over the next few years I gained a little weight. Then in my 30’s I had two children and then was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. It took a while to get the thyroid condition under control, and I have never been good at maintaining an exercise program, so I continued to gain. I tried some fad diets, but they only resulted in yo-yo weight losses and gains. Over a couple of decades, my weight ballooned up to well over 200 pounds on my 5’ 4” frame. It is incredibly uncomfortable to acknowledge that even to myself, so writing it here for anyone to read is really an unprecedented level of candor for me.

In addition, I live with a chronic illness/condition called Achalasia. Some people who have it lose dramatic amounts of weight, because, frankly, eating with Achalasia is not always easy. That did not seem to deter my body from gaining. It’s ridiculous, but true.

As a result of the weight gain I had high cholesterol and was pre-diabetic. My doctor had me on a cholesterol lowering medication and wanted to start me on meds for my blood sugar level and triglycerides. Because my father died in his early 70’s after complications from diabetes, I knew I did not want to go down that path, and my doctor made it clear that losing weight would help me reduce the likelihood of diabetes.

Left:  Before my weight loss (during karaoke at the neighborhood block party - my neighbors will be grateful that I cropped them out) and Right, with my eldest daughter after my weight loss.

Left: Before my weight loss (during karaoke at the neighborhood block party – my neighbors will be grateful that I cropped them out); and Right: with my eldest daughter after my weight loss.

I had just turned 50, was facing the prospect of sending my oldest daughter off to college, and had these health issues staring me squarely in the face. It was then that one of my best friends called and said she was joining Weight Watchers, again. Neither of us can really count the times we have joined and then quit, but when she asked me to go with her it was like the stars were aligned for this to happen. In fifteen months we each lost about 60 pounds. Then, over the next two years my weight crept back up by almost seventeen pounds. I have spent the past couple of years taking them back off and am happy to report that as of this week I have taken those pounds off and have reached my goal weight.

Five years ago I started this journey because I wanted to be healthier, to have more energy, and to make sure that I can be around to watch what comes next in my daughters’ lives. The real goal is not just to live a long life, but to have the quality of life that allows me to remain somewhat active and to not become a burden on my children later in life. It is now possible for me to take a walk without pain in my knees or getting too winded, and it’s much easier to climb stairs and work in the yard.

I will never be skinny and that’s fine, but I am in this for the very long haul. So I will watch my portions and try to make healthy food choices as much as possible. Of course there will be times when I choose to eat ice cream, or potato chips, or cookies, or potato chips, or cake, or potato chips. Actually, potato chips are practically banned from my home because they are just too tempting.

Weight loss is a deeply personal journey. It can’t happen unless your head is fully in the game. It comes down to a series of decisions every single day. So each day I remind myself that I am choosing to be healthier; not a health freak and certainly never an exercise nut, just healthier. As for my own health stats, both my cholesterol and blood sugar levels are now perfect, with no medication required. And that, for me, is so much more satisfying than being able to buy a smaller size skirt, though that’s not too bad either.

I do not judge others on their weight. I have been there and know full well that there are all kinds of reasons why we gain and don’t lose. Now, five years into this journey I feel like my life can be both longer and better, so I am sharing my experience just in case there is a slim chance (pun intended) that it could help someone else. I sincerely wish you good health.

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