Monday, January 17, 2011

My story and my trigger

I read a really great post this morning written by Lynn at Lynn's Weigh (love her, she's another one of my heroes). She tells the story about the one thing that triggered her start towards being a weight loss success story. She realized she was worthy of good health.

Even though I'm not yet a weight loss success story, I will be one day. Here's the story of my one thing...

Flash to February 2006
After years of crash diets, Jenny Craig, NutriSystem, South Beach (the list goes on and on) I weighed 240 pounds. This was the heaviest I had ever weighed. In college I got up to 145 pounds and I remember how I thought I was such a fat pig. When I met my husband 25 years ago I was 132 (I'm 5' 6"). I was trying to starve myself to what I thought was my ideal weight of 125.

How did I get to 240 pounds at the age of 51? More importantly, why? I had difficulty walking. I wouldn't even attempt to climb the two flights of stairs to my office, I'd take the elevator. I was uncomfortable and miserable. The clothes that did fit looked terrible on me. My self-loathing was at an all-time high.

I remember when I ripped the seat out of two pairs of size 18 jeans trying to squeeze my very ample behind into too small clothing. Both times the ripped jeans incident happened while I was at work. Those were two of the most embarrassing moments of my life. The fabric simply couldn't stretch to fit my size 20 (probably more like size 22) bottom. I bought my first pair of size 20 slacks, and I was horrified. I was more depressed than at any other point in my life. Yet I still wouldn't or couldn't get motivated to do anything about my weight. It was like I was frozen in some sort of self-made hell.

Then I starting having strange pains in my joints. They came on suddenly one night as I was sitting in my recliner watching TV (we no longer own recliners). The agony started as shooting, knife cutting pains in my left knee. It was excruciating. I could barely stand up. I had no idea what was wrong. The pains lasted for a few hours and then went away. It happened again the next night and the next. Then the pain just disappeared.

A few days later the same type of pain started in my left elbow, again, at night while sitting in my recliner. It scared me. I thought I must have some horrible, life-threatening disease. The pain would move around to different joints every few days. Left knee, right knee, shoulders, elbows. Yet I refused to go to the doctor, because, well, you probably guessed, I was embarrassed about my weight gain of 60 pounds since the previous year. I know that sounds crazy, but it's the truth.

One day around this time of the strange pains I was walking by the pharmacy in a drugstore. I stopped to take my blood pressure at one of those free machines. I'd always prided myself on my great blood pressure and low cholesterol levels, even during my fat phases in my life my blood pressure was always around 120/60. The reading on the machine:  180/110. Seriously? Could that even be possible and still stand upright? I thought the machine must be broken. I went to two different drugstores and used their blood pressure machines, all the readings were very close to 180/110.

I was scared to death. This time I knew I really could die. I was 51. I called my doctor and she told me to get a free BP check at the fire station where they would use a regular blood pressure cuff (I never knew why she did this, I have medical insurance). She said maybe the machines were inaccurate. That was another really embarrassing moment when me, the fat, middle-aged woman asked the gorgeous, hunky firefighter to take my blood pressure. When he had to get the extra large sized cuff because of my fat upper arm, I wanted to die. The results were once again 180/110. He looked at the number and told me I needed to see my doctor immediately.

This time I knew my life was in danger, and I saw my doctor. She immediately put me on blood pressure medicine. I'm off of the medication now, and I check on my own blood pressure all the time at home. Lately it's been a little on the high side, 128/73. I know it's the last 25 pounds I gained back.

My doctor also talked to me about my weight. She held one of my hands in her hands, she looked me in the eye and said "Diana, you're a beautiful woman. Why are you doing this to yourself? You have to lose the weight or you are going to die." The "you are going to die" part really shook me up. I could see her concern, and knew she was saying this to help me. I knew I had to do something about my weight.

I immediately started a diet. South Beach, a diet I'd done the year before and lost 40 pounds before giving up and gaining it all back, plus some. It was the first "diet" that I actually felt like I could probably live with the rest of my life.  However, after several months of South Beach, but still counting calories, I had only lost 20 pounds. I was stuck and finding myself slipping back to old habits.

That's when a friend at work asked me to join the Weight Watcher "at work program". Reluctantly I joined with her since I was stalled on my own, but I secretly knew it wouldn't work for me. The first week I did everything perfectly, eating all my Points, my activity Points and my Weekly Points. I was sure this was too much food, and I'd gain even more weight. I lost seven pounds the first week following the plan exactly. I proceeded to lose a total of 60 pounds in seven months and then, I'm not sure why, I just quit. I gained it all back very quickly.
February 2008, this time it is for real
There I was again, February of 2008, sitting at 240 pounds. I needed to lose 100 pounds. Why did I do this to myself over and over? I never once tried to answer this question and really thought I just didn't have any willpower. When in reality, I have willpower of steel.

Once again I joined Weight Watchers because it felt like the right thing to do. I knew it worked. This time I did something different, I started using my gym membership, going almost every day. I'd had that membership since 1996 but had probably only been to the gym ten times in 12 years. Now I go almost every day for an hour or more, I really believe the exercise and Weight Watchers is what has changed my life.

You're probably thinking, but Diana, it's been almost three years and you're still not at goal. You are correct. I've been struggling for months, in fact, pretty much for all of 2010. I'll call that my lost year. I started the year at 180 pounds and ended it at 180 pounds. I dropped down during the year to 162 but never got back to my 2009 low of 152. True, 2010 wasn't my greatest year, yet I take great pride in the little fact that I didn't go back up to 240 pounds. My goal was and still is 135 pounds.

I still believe Weigh Watchers is the best plan for me. I know it doesn't work for everyone, and we each have to find the thing that works for us. Whether it's counting calories or even a surgical procedure, there's something out there that will work. In truth, they all work.

What I'm finding out is that the real work is looking inside of ourselves and really finding out the "why" of our overeating. Why did we get overweight in the first place? That's the real question.

To say "well, I just love food and I can't help it" is not the answer. I said that same thing for years. Nothing wrong with me, I just lov efood. The truth, most people love food yet they don't have the issues of overeating like the morbidly obese. Without self-examination we can still lose weight, but it's very questionable whether we can keep it off forever. You know how I know? Because I've been there, done that....more times than I can count. Now I'm working from the inside out, versus just focusing on the outside.

Like Lynn asked, what was your one thing that triggered you into starting a weigh loss plan, and this time you know it's for good? Have you figured out what caused you to become overweight in the first place? I'll share with you in a later post what I think caused me to gain 100 pounds, lose it several times, and never keep it off in the past.

A before picture, 240 pounds. This was right before the stange pains started. I didn't think I was a person worthy of good health. I just thought I was fat, ugly and stupid (I had just started a new job). When I saw this picture I was horrified but it still didn't make me try to lose weight. It took a death threat to make me take action.

Now I'm working on learning to like myself, and acknowledging that I am worthy of being healthy.  It's not just about gaining the weight, it's about so much more.

240, from the backside:

I don't have an after picture because I'm not at goal. Today I weigh 179, so I found this picture where I weighed 175 from 2008. My hair is different now, a little shorter, but I'm too lazy to put on makeup and take a picture today. I still have a lot of work to do on myself, inside and out, but I'm working on it. It's a multi-faceted project. :)

2011 is going to be my year!


Rettakat said...

I totally agree with you that change, for it to be permanent, must come from the INside out. It may not be the fastest way, to have to figure stuff out. But it can be the permanent way. So.. good job!

A New Dawn said...

I loved reading this post it made such sense to me....I know exactly how you felt. I'm new to this but hope to be following my new life journey too...I shall follow your blog
Thanks for posting

Anne H said...

What awesome progress!
With or without a picture.
The change we make on the inside shows up on the outside!
Truer words were never spoken....

MizFit said...

I wasnt thinking that at all.

Roxie said...

I'm anxiously awaiting your next post. I know that through the years I lost and gained and lost and gained. Vicious cycle - and I do believe that for some of us, the change must come from the inside in order to make it stick.

I'm wishing you all sorts of peace and success, Diana. And you are drop dead gorgeous - at any size.

Joy said...

What a process!! It's amazing what it takes to get us motivated!! So proud of you!!! You are going to reach your goal!! This is your year!!

You can do it!!

Stay focused!

Helen said...

So you DID know that I declared 2011 The Year of Helen, right? Oh, alright, I'll share it with you ;-)

Lisa said...

such a huge difference in pics! I say 2010 is not a lost year because you did something I could NEVER do which is maintain.

Jenny S said...

You are so beautiful, Diana!!! Wow, I just love looking at your pictures. I also love love love reading your blog. I love how you are real and talk about real stuff. I wish we could meet sometime, I know we live relatively close. Maybe even go on a walk. Not a Diana level walk, mind you, but a Jenny level walk. Lol. Good job continuing to fight the fight. The words that your doctor spoke to you, are speaking to me today. You sharing those words and your story is going to help others, and I thank you for that. God bless.

M Pax said...

Yes, it must come from inside. For me, I didn't want to become a published author and meet the public as an insecure, heavy woman. That motive sticks with me. I consider my bigggest accomplishment as maintaining the same size these past 3 years. I don't think I've ever been a stable size before in my adult life.

We have to figure out why we're feeding ourselves. Me, I was drowning my anxieties and depression and dealing with a sh*tload of crapy. My life ovewhelmed me and swallowed me whole.

I changed my whole life since then. I'm so happy I did. I don't think I would have been able to make these health changes permanent otherwise.

Brooke said...

There are a million reasons why I love your blog - you just made reason million and one. I was drawn to you almost two years ago now, and I still read almost every post. I am just inspired and motivated by your honesty and insight. So, thanks again, Diana. You're my blogger idol!!

Alan (Pounds Off Playoff) said...

Everybody else nailed it. This is all about perseverance, and you've got that in spades. And as you pointed out recently, honesty. I think all I can add is for you to keep this post handy as a reminder of how you can believe in yourself.

Deniz said...

Your photos (from way back then and from more recently) show your outer beauty quite clearly, but every time you write your inner beauty shines through too.

2010 may not have been a year you'd care to repeat but you won a major victory when you ended it without a major gain. Well done, Diana. You ARE a weight loss success!

You are right when you say that we need to learn to like ourselves and to acknowledge that we are 'worthy'. That's true in all sorts of ways, like worthy of good health and worthy of our own 'love'. It can be a hard path to tread, overturning all those years of negative self-esteem, but it is something which brings benefits in all sorts of ways - not only in losing weight or maintaining loss.

Keep going, my dear. You will win - I know you will.

This Old Woman Says What? said...

Wow, I really needed to read this post today! I just finished posting on my blog about not being perfect, but about each step making a difference.
I've been struggling every day, for so long. It's taking more effort to struggle with myself than to do the darn exercise!
Thank you...for your honest, insightful posts, and for saying out loud what I need to hear so badly.

bbubblyb said...

Can't believe I missed this post but I think you look terrific in your after pic and honestly I think you looked good in the before pic at least 10 years younger than your age. I think we both need to start focusing on the person we want to be on the inside and just go along taking care of the outside the healthiest way we can. Big hugs my friend.